Figure Painting Tips

Brush Care

Don't use your good brushes for drybrushing, painting inks, mixing paints, or applying varnishes or glue. Drybrushing and paint mixing is harsh on your brushes bristles and will quickly destroy your brush. Varnishes and glues are harder to clean out of your brush, and will lead to clumping or fraying of your bristles. Inks and glazes are so thin that they run up the bristles and accumulate and harden at the base of the bristles. This will also destroy your brushes.


Scrap Figures

It is handy to keep either old figures that you don't plan on using or the scrap pieces from old conversions around. Primer them and set them aside. If you are ever painting a figure in a color scheme that you are unsure of, you can test it on a limb of the scrap figure. This is kind of like what normal painters call a 'color study'. You don't want to paint the limb (or even torso, or whatever) to any kind of fine level of detail, you just want to see how the colors work. This can save you from being disgusted with the final look of a miniature that you have just spent the last 15 hours painting.


Wet Slide Decals

If you look at most of GW staff painters' decal work closely, you will notice a discolored area around the decal. You may have seen it on you figures as well. This is from the trim film. When Mike Mcvey was the main painter for GW, he would paint over the entire decal, really only using it for a template. While his end results were impressive, they are wasteful and obviously not duplicated by GW's current staff. So how do you avoid that problem. It's very easy actually, but it means borrowing an old trick from plastic model builders. Before you apply any decal, paint the area with a bit of brush on gloss coat and allow it to dry. Once done, apply the decal as normal. Once you spray finish the figure the glossy area and the trim film should both be Unnoticeable.


Thin your paints

Self-explanatory almost. You should almost never apply paint without thinning it first. Use the thin paints in multiple thinner layers rather than one thick coat. The thinner coats make it easier to preserve the detail of your figures and blend colors. Plus it's far easier to paint detail with thin, easy flowing paint.



I am a big fan of inks and glazes. After I am done painting an area, including any highlighting and shading, I typically carefully paint on an ink over the area. It helps smooth the painting I've done so far and defines edges and details that might otherwise be difficult to notice. When doing this, I do not recommend just using thinned down paints. This is not what Citadel inks and glazes are. Citadel inks and glazes are very concentrated pigments in a translucent medium. They don't tend to get nearly as chalky as most thinned down paint gets. I have also heard that some artist style inks work very well, but I have never tried them.