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Painting miniatures is a great hobby that overlaps both the gaming realm and the collecting realm. It is also a fundamental part of diorama making. This is a guide that shows you how to paint your fantasy miniatures. Begin your painting process by laying out a clear workspace with plenty of room. Make sure you have more than adequate lighting. Typical room lighting is insufficient because you are working with very small objects and extremely fine detail. I recommend you put a table lamp right on your workspace as additional lighting. Inspect the pieces you will paint. Look for any flaws, problems, and excess metal or plastic. Remove these excess pieces with a file or side cutters.

Prime the miniatures with a white primer. This primer will protect the mini from damage, will prevent the paint from peeling off, and will help you see the finer details of the model. Make sure you apply the primer very thin and very evenly. Avoid letting it clog up the finer details.

Paint all the basic colors on the miniature starting with the deeper sections. What you are doing is reaching into the inside parts and painting them first. Think of this as layers of clothing. Paint undergarments first then the shirt and pants then finally the boots, belt, and hat. You work from the inside to the outside.

Wash the miniature in a very wet black ink solution. This is a very important step of the process and it will lend realism to your miniature. It will look great after this step. What you do is take black ink or black paint and add a lot of water to it so it is very wet. Then you wash this liberally over the mini. What happens is that the black will flow down into the very fine cracks. Do another wash with clear water if you need to. This whole washing process will add significant detail to the model and it looks particularly good on chain mail or large clothing pieces. It also adds resolution to musculature.

Do Highlighting and dark lighting. Highlighting and dark lighting means you take a section of the miniature, for example the thigh of a human, and duplicate the color in a variable shade. A human thigh would be flesh color so you take your flesh color paint and add a little white to it. This makes a lighter shade of flesh. Now you dab just a little bit of this lighter color on the high points of the thigh. You also do this with a darker flesh color and you dab small amounts into the lower areas of the thigh. Continue this process for any large parts of the mini.

Do your detail work. As you are painting the mini you will make small errors in paint. You should go over it and correct these then add any final details like jewels on the belt or helm. You should also add paint or texture to the base the mini will stand on.

Finish up by assembling the pieces together if needed, and spray the whole figure with a matte sealer. This sealer will protect it from damage and will keep the colors vibrant for many years.

About Color Schemes

Color schemes are always a subject for debate and some people insist on traditional schemes. I generally paint my miniatures in any scheme that looks good. The most important thing about color is that you should try to vary the colors away from the basic primary colors; even if you have to mix your own. This will lend realism to the mini. If you stick with just primary colors the end result often looks a bit like a cartoon. When buying color paints I recommend you get some specialized colors like gold metallic and silver metallic for weapons, flesh for body features, and leather for clothing. These colors are near impossible to mix yourself.

Don't be afraid to get adventurous with color. There is no reason why you can't mix your own shades. Sticking with all the primary colors is okay but if you make some custom colors the mini will look much better.

Painting Miniatures takes a lot of patience and concentration. But it isn't hard to do. Once you have done a few of them you will get a good feel for how it is done and you will be making some fantastic miniature works for displaying, gaming, or just showing off to your friends.

by Will Kalif

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