The Beginner Painter's Toolbox
Nicely painted miniatures add immensely to the spectacle of a wargame. Your paint scheme adds character and life to those small pieces of plastic and resin. So while painting can seem daunting at first, it's well worth taking the time. We'll cover some tips later for developing your painting skills, but for now let's take a look at what you will need to get started.
Paint - The obvious place to start. We'll be diving a bit more in depth on the different types of paint in a future article, but for now suffice to say that there are quite a few different ranges of acrylic paints designed specifically for painting miniatures. Acrylics are easy to use as they clean up and thin with water, and dry quickly.
You may also want to use a spray paint to basecoat your models. This isn't essential, as you can do this with a brush, but it does tend to give a slightly more durable end result. Use a matte or flat spray, and unless you're prepared to experiment and find a cheaper paint that gives the result you want, it's probably preferable to stick with sprays that are specifically designed for miniatures. Along with being the right consistency and finish to paint over, these are often matched to brush on colours from the same company, so can make the whole process a little easier.
Brushes - There are a wide range of different paint brushes out there and choosing what to buy can be a little confusing until you get a feel for your own painting style. As with the paints, we'll look at the different brush types in more detail elsewhere. When you're just starting out, though, you should find that some reasonable quality synthetic brushes will do the job without breaking the back - go with a size 1 for general work, and a size 00 for fine details. You may also want a slightly larger (size 2 or 3) flat brush for base layers or drybrushing. Avoid super-cheap brushes with plastic or pig hair bristles, as they won't keep a point and will be difficult to be neat with. Taklon brushes give good results for the beginner.
Stirring Stick - Most paints can be given a good shake before opening them, but sometimes, particularly if they're a little thicker or you are mixing some colours together on a pallet, you might want to give them a stir. An old, no longer usable paintbrush, or a toothpick or skewer is handy for this purpose. Don't use a good paintbrush for this, as you will wreck the point!
Pallet - Some model paints come in dropper bottles, and some in flip-top or screw-tops. Whichever type you have, it's not a good idea to paint straight from the bottle, as keeping the bottle open for extended periods of time causes the paint to dry out. Instead, drop a little of the colour you want to use onto a pallet and paint from there.
Pallets come in two main types - wet pallets or dry pallets. A dry pallet can be a tile, an old plate, a plastic container - anything flat that won't absorb the paint. Wet pallets are a little more involved, usually being comprised of a sealable container with some damp, absorbant material and a waxed paper top sheet. The paint is dropped onto the top sheet and the moisture underneath slows down the drying, keeping the paint fresh for longer than a dry pallet.
Water Cup - You will need something to keep water in for washing out your brush. While there are various painting cups on the market for this purpose, you can do just fine with any old cup or mug. While most acrylic model paints are non-toxic, it's best to avoid using something that you're actually using for drinking out of.
Replace your water as soon as it gets murky. Dirty water won't get your brush properly clean, and that will shorten the lifespan of your brushes.
Brush Wiper - A piece of paper towel or absorbant cloth is used for drying your brush after rinsing. It can also be handy to have a second piece on hand for blotting up paint spills or wiping off the paint stirrer - keeping this separate to your drying piece avoids accidentally wiping wet paint back onto your brush.
Dropsheet - Model paint is rather fast-drying, and as a result spills can be somewhat catastrophic on furniture. So it's a good idea to put down a sheet of newspaper or butcher's paper to protect the surface where you are working. This can also be used for wiping excess paint off your brush as you paint.
Good Light - Painting is an awful lot easier if you can see what you are doing. If your painting area has good natural light from a window, then that may do you at least for painting during the day. Otherwise, investing in a decent lamp that you can position over your work area will be a big help. If you have trouble with fine details, you may also find a lamp with a magnifying lens built in useful.
The above will get you started with your painting. There are other things like brush cleaner or painting handles that you might find useful as you go along, which will be covered in future articles when we go a bit more in depth into the hobby. You will also probably want to expand your range of paint brushes as you start to develop your painting style. Don't be afraid to experiment and find what works for you!
For more modeling articles covering a wide range of different types of kits and materials, check out our Tips and Techniques, Modeling Articles and Terrain Building Articles Hobby sections.
You can find the full range of Maelstrom's Edge models in the webstore here. Be sure to share your modeling projects on the Comm Guild Facebook Group!