Julie Guthrie mage face detail

The Solis Media
Guide to painting miniature figures


  It's all in the preparation  

Julie Guthrie Ranger

A ranger from the Ral Partha range of Julie Guthries Fantasy Personalities

Our first tip is one that is often overlooked, even by old hands. You get better results if you prepare properly. That means removing the moulding flash from your figure and cleaning up any mould joint lines. This is especially important if the joint runs over the main part of the figure. We then go on to clean the figure with a mild water/detergent mix, using a soft toothbrush. Buy a new one for this, its not expensive and better than some old grime ridden one you pulled out of the cupboard by the sink..... Anyway, this actually removes grease from your figure and means your undercoat (what do you mean 'what undercoat?') will adhere to the figure evenly, and since this will be the basis for your masterpiece, it needs to be good.

Dont forget to prepare your paints, brushes, clean water etc. before you start too, you dont want to open that all important shade of rancid-flesh only to find it dry as old bone half way through your zombie diorama now do you?

So, heres the latest Julie Guthrie figure, all clean, fresh and de-greased..... and we go and pick it up with the same fingers that changed the chip pan oil just a few minutes ago. Not a good idea. Thus a good idea is needed, and that is to mount our figure on a firm base which will allow us to manipulate the figure whilst painting and to stand it up whilst drying. We tend to use a small coin mounted on a wooden or cork bung or an old cotton reel. The figure is glued to the coin with a small amount of glue that isnt permenant - so you can take it off later!

Now we are ready to go!

  Pass the roller, its Undercoat time!  

Well so it might be, but lets be a little bit careful here. The undercoat serves two purposes. Firstly it provides a key for your top colours to adhere to, and secondly it provides an opaque surface that will influence the way the colours you use work. The 'key' bit is pretty obvious, and you will notice that most undercoats have a matt finish that makes most matt paints look glossy by comparison! There are lots to choose from, but you can make your own. We suggest experimenting. Remember to apply a thin, even coat and let it dry completely before you start.

Now, the way you want your figure to look at the end will influence your choice of undercoat. There are two basic schools here - light and dark.

Choose life, choose Light.....
Light allows your colours to shine, they appear bright and sometimes gareish. Great for lime green Warhammer Orcs (oh and we've done a few of them in our time) and a real must for techniques using ink wash or transluscent paints giving a porcilain finish. We use a flat white spray undercoat for cars, and spray several figures at a time in a box. The paint will be quite evenly distributed, even in the crevices. You will need to turn the figures around and respray, but its a good idea to wain until they are dry. With modern spays, this is a few minutes. You can use any other colour you wish, depending on the results you want in the end.

Choose the Dark Side, my Son....
Now, purity and light is all well and good, but when you need power and impact, there is only the Dark..... I like to accentuate the three dimentions of the figures and since they are so small, this needs to be given a helping hand. Thats where the dark undercoat come in. It pushes shadows into the recesses of the figures, and truely brings them to life. Again, you can use a spray, but I have never found one I like. My prefered colour is a dark brown, almost - but not quite - black. I make this from Tamiya Flat Black (XF-1) and any matt chockolate brown I can find (the armoury one is/was very good). I also use dark greens, purples and blues depending on the general colour scheme.

  Still here? O.K. time to start PAINTING!!  

Or is it........ Got your brushes sorrted? checked your paints? got clean water in several jars? got some kitchen roll handy? got a good light source? What??? Yes, a good light source is important. We prefer natural light in a bright room, but not too sunny as acrylics dry really fast in the sun. Try a daylight bulb (they look blue) if you need to paint with the lights on. O.K. thats about it then.


2000 Solis Media    
faces | flesh tones | gallery page | shields and banners | HIGH IMPACT
15mm examples | Preparation | Dry brushing | Shading | Contouring
Ink Washes | armour | fur and feather | Flags and Banners
trees and rocks | scales, fangs and all things nasty | Varnishing | Clothing and leatherwork