Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Weekend at a Painting Workshop

On Sunday I attended a very interesting workshop to improve my miniature painting techniques. This was organised at Villa El Pedrete, a new business initiave launched by two of my club mates: a space  dedicated to weekend wargames, workshops and many other non-hobby related events (seminars, working group gatherings, small celebrations, etc).

The fact is that after 30 years in the hobby, I've never been totally satisfied neither with the quality of my painting  nor with my efficiency to finish  a new project involving painting a large amount of lead (I'm so slooooow!). And when the workshop was announced, I jumped into it without a doubt, specially because it was taught by one of our club's best painters.

And what I did learn?  Nothing revolutionary but overall evolutionary.

Our maestro on Sunday shared some interesting painting tips. He has developed an efficient painting technique by which he does not spend a lot of time in details (like for example eyes or very ellaborated cammo schemes) but compatible with a high quality figure painting and excellent visual effects when on the table.

The result of that are significant paint time savings and increased productivity. Some relevant aspects learned:

1/ Prime in black and take care of not leaving any metal surface visible.

2/ Start painting the model's chain mail or metal parts requiring the use of dry brushing techniques. It seems that Game Workshops colours are specially good for this due to the lack of pigments. Use Bolt Gun as base colour and Mithril Silver for lights, but only covering the surface of the chain mail or part (the black underneath must be visible).

3/ For the rest of the painting, work from inside to outside, starting with faces and hands, webbing, shirt collars, etc and conclude with the outer garnments (coats, etc).

4/ Use fairly diluted paint and wait until each layer is completely dry before applying a second layer. Try avoiding  (as I usually did) painting several on the same place several times in a row. Just give one pass with the brush  (similarly to when you use an airbrush!) and paint over the same place once it dries.
5/ When applying lights, first look at the model from the perspective of a gamer playing in table (from above). Only highlight those areas that will be visible to the gamer, upward to downward and again using the one pass technique. This produces a sense of "volume" to the model.

6/ If you want to enhance that sense of volume, hold the figure upside-down and outline with diluted black paint the folds that you can see looking from above.

I tried some simple German cammo schemes with a Pak 40 crew I bought in winter uniform. Using as a base German Cammo Beige (Vallejo 821), mark the red-brown spots with German Cammo Black Brown  (Vallejo 822) very diluted and then fill with red-brown.
Similarly, use very dark green or even black to mark the green spots and then fill with Reflective Green. To conclude the work, use very diluted black and a fine brush to mark the folds of the tunic.

A final discovery was what our teacher called the "wet palette" to paint with acrylic colours. As many of you know, acrylics  tend to dry very fast on the standard artist's plastic palette. This "wet palette" extends the period in which the colour remains fresh and usuable

Use as a base a plastic nonporus element like a BBQ plate, a large platic box lid or similar

Put on the dish a kitchen paper towel or a thick paper napkin folded and sprinkel with a generous amount of water.

Then cut a piece of oven paper (is this proper English?) and place over the wet paper towel or napkin.

Et voila... the "wet palette".  Truly, it works like magic almost: the oven paper is not porous so the water from the paper towel does not flow to the surface, however it is damp enough to maintain your acrylics wet for hours! (UPDATE: See my new wet palette here)

The advantage is twofold: it saves  money (as you are not adding paint continuosly) and it allows you to dilute (with wtaer) or mix the paint with other colours (for lights or darker base colours) in a very effective and easy way.

I hope this post has provide you with some useful painting tips and now let's go practising!    




  1. Thanks. I will try out the wet palette.

  2. Greate blog post Benito!!!

    Sounds a bit like My impressionist painting style.

    At My club we used to have mutual painting sessions, you tend to get very effektive during them so its good for the painting ratio:)

    Thanks for the wet palette tip!

    Best regards Michael

  3. One of the most interesting things about this hobby is that you seem to learn something new every day, which is both refreshing and stimulating.

    Thanks to all the people involved, specially Mr. Vitaller.
    We all had a very good time and grew somewhat wiser...

  4. B, many thanks for sharing your colleagues experience, I will be following your advice.

    Oven paper will be greaseproof paper for those UK readers available from most supermarkets.

    Yours aye


  5. In the U.S. we call the paper parchment paper.

  6. Some very useful ideas!! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Wonderful post, Benito. I wish there was something like this weekend in the UK! I shall be trying the wet palette idea this weekend!!

  8. I would KILL to get to attend something like this. Thanks for sharing. I like the idea of coming from the bottom with diluted black.