Monday, September 1, 2014

Readers' Requests - How do I paint things up, and what do they look like - Photos!

Chirine's staff of Bearers, part one. I hired these folks in Meku, after I got made a Lord, to carry my baggage to Fasiltum. I don't own slaves; I was involved in the clean up after the slave revolt in Ferinara, back in the day, and I would intensely prefer not to be murdered in my bed. It would cost a fortune to get the blood out of the carved woodwork on the thing, anyway.

Chirine's Bearers, part two. I asked the Clan of the Truning Wheel, a carters' and porters' clan, to provide me with some people on contract; I paid their salaries, provided food and lodging, and they have been with me ever since. They were scandalized by Si N'te not having any maids, so some of them filled in for a little extra money. I never heard the end of it from them.

These are figures from Howard Fielding and The Tekumel Project - I think these are pre-production samples. The baskets all come cast on the figures, and there are sprues of seperate loads to be glued on the tops of the 'blank' baskets. These are very nice figures; very crisp, and full of character. It's not really obvious, but there are two poses for each gender.

The Lorun 'sacrifice vignette', again from Howard and The Tekumel Project. The unfortunate Hmellu is a treat; I used a dilute solution of an enamel paint to get the red to flow into the very fine quartz stone that I used for the bases. These are sculpted by David Soderberg, who also provides me with figures via his own Bronze Age Miniatures. He does very dynamic sculpts, and I really like them.

Light infantry slinger girls from the Gurek of the Clan of the Silver Worm, again from Howard and The Tekumel Project. I really like these, and they are a joy to paint up. The expressions on their faces remind me of my daughters, especially when they get into some sort of mischief.

A closeup of the girls; the young lady in the center has had all of her trim painted. These figures are really easy to paint. All of the trim and decoration is raised sculpting, and is a snap to paint with a very fine brush. I just have to take these girls slowly - the fine detail takes a little extra time, but is really worth it.

A little something from the past - from 1976 onward, to be exact. These are figures from our game sessions out at Prof. Barker's, in the original Thursday Night Group. The 'custom of the house' back then (as it is today in my games) is that once you rolled up your character, I was commanded to produce a proper 'personality figure' for you:

"You have a week, Chirine. Get cracking." "Yes, Professor." To hear is to obey, Phil... :)

From left to right: Nyssa (Lady Tsahul's maid), Lady Tsahul the Livyani, Chirine, Si N'te (Chirine's wife), Si N'te's cousin, whose name I can never remember, Vidlakte (Harchar's marine captain, played by Ken Fletcher), Princess Vrisa Vishetru of Saa Alliqui (Baron Ald's clan-cousin, played by Kathy Marshall), Prince Mridan Vishetru (Vrisa's feckless younger brother), and Chirine's deck chair for those long voyages to the Southern Continent with Captain Harchar. (See the Purser for details.)
I got a comment / question on my last post that I thought deserved a longer answer, so here we go:

Joseph Bloch - August 31, 2014 at 10:21 PM

A technical mini-painting question if I may, since I'm currently on a tear painting a bunch of old 25mm Grenadier AD&D miniatures for my forthcoming 5th Edition D&D game. 

Do you use Quickshade or any sort of analogue in your own painting? I was startled to see just how much better it made my minis, and was wondering if you had used some sort of similar inking wash. Especially since you seem to work in considerably higher volumes of miniatures than I do...

Great question - let me see if I can give you a decent answer!

I generally don't use any of the Quickshade or 'brand-name' washes on my figures; I use good-quality latex paints and a wet brush, and I can get the kind of look that I like that way. Let me run through the process, if I may.

First, I clean off any flash and sprue - like everyone does, and then I prime the figures with a flat white enamel metal primer. Hardware (ironmongers, for our UK readers) and the 'big-box' DIY stores have this for cheap. I normally do not prime with black, which is what GWs suggests in their painting manuals, or with grey; if I do use these, I make sure to use a flat paint as it holds the paint better. I use white because I can get a lot more 'depth' to the paints I'm using, and they tend to look brighter - which is a look I prefer for my Tekumel figures.

I use acrylic-fiber brushes; you can get some very nicely pointed ones in some of the 'student' ranges for a lot cheaper then in the 'pro' or 'artist' ranges. Find a brand that you like, and stick with it; I admit to being a 'brush hog', and I have probably several dozen brushes that I use. I use wider brushes for larger areas, and finer ones for finer detail; everything from 10 'O' up to 1/4". I have a separate set of larger brushes for scenery and terrain work; they make the work go a lot faster, because I can cover larger areas more quickly and more controllably. (And yes, I do use airbrushes, but that's another story for another time.)

I prefer the 'Liquitex' paints, which are available from artists' supply shops and crafts stores; these will thin out with water to really fine washes. I also use the various 'crafts' and 'hobby' paints, as needed, and depending on what colors I need for a specific figure. Again, all of these are acrylics.

I keep a pot of clean water on the workbench for thinning paints, and a pot of 'dirty' water for cleaning the brushes. If you are like me, and like to sip your soda, coffee, or tea while painting, use a covered travel glass or mug; mistakes can happen, like the time I rinsed out my brush in my Coca-cola, drank the paint water, and then - adding insult to injury - sprayed my Oreo cookies with Dull-coat varnish.

I 'mass-produce' my figures; I usually do them in whatever units I need, such as the ten City Guards or the twenty slinger girls. I also usually have a number of personality figures that need doing, and they'll get whatever colors they share with the units at the same time. I 'work from the skin out', painting fist any skin, then tunics or kilts, and then the armor or other clothing; details like belts and weapons are done last. I also try to do the lightest colors first, working from light to dark in the color scheme - one has to be flexible in this, of course!

I shake the bottle of paint really well, and then load up my brush with clean water. I dab the end into the paint, and stir the tip around until I get the density of pigment that I want. The slinger girls, for example, got a thinner coat of leather color to bring out the folds in their tunics; same with the green I used for the kilts. The paint tends to settle in the deeper folds, as well as along any sculpted lines, and you get much the same effect as you would with the 'Quickshade' washes.

I work my down the line of figures, and normally the first color on the first figure is dry about the time I finish that color on the last figure. Start again at the head of the line with the next color, and repeat until you are satisfied.

Generally, this process will do the trick and I'll get decent-looking figures; have a look at the pictures here and on the Photobucket page and see what you think.

And, having said all that, I do use washes as I think needed to bring out the detail on a figure - I'll use dry-brushing for the same reason. I just don't do it as a matter or regular practice; I do use it in 'special' figures like personality figures, though. I prefer to use thinned out-colors from my normal paints, and also thinned-out inks from calligraphy suppliers. I really like to use a thinned-out black ink on mail, for example; it settles into the links, and makes them really pop out. I also use some of the fancy 'iridescent' colors that one can find in the various 'fantasy colors' ranges; I like to use these to put a shine on areas of cloth to makethem look like silks or such, and this usually works pretty well - the metallic elements in these paints settle into the folds of the garment, and pop out the fabrics really well.

I have also used thinned-out enamels for this kind of thing, and also thinned-out wood stains - especially on wood! I do not use some of the various 'home mixes' I've seen suggested on the Internet; I hate stripping a paint job because I messed it up with a dodgy wash.

I've seen the various Quickshade products used on figures; I just don't use them, myself. If they work for you, and you like how they handle on your figures, then you are doing the right thing - the goal, after all, is to get playing!!!


  1. The slingers and Lorun are very nice!

    1. Thank you! I am very happy with both - very dynamic, and full of charm!

      - chirine

  2. Thanks for posting the pictures, Chirine! The bearers are indeed samples. Two of those poses are actually damaged. They were slightly crushed when the master mold was made and have to be repaired. One of the male's legs are out of position and one of the female's arms is damaged. I think it can be seen if they are examined closely. Anyway, they will be repaired before they are released. Part of the problem stemmed from my instructing the sculptor to use pegs instead of an integral base. I wanted people to be able to use resin scenic bases with paving stones and the like. Unfortunately, I have learned that the legs need support to hold them in position during molding. Or I have to get resin masters done first, or otherwise change production techniques. One of the males should actually be walking forward but his legs have been pinched together. *sigh*

    1. Thank you for your comment - very informative! I do like these figures; they look like the porters are just getting ready to go off on a trip, and are getting their baskets settled. They really painted up nicely; my pictures don't do them justice!

      I loved the different baskets, and the sprues of different loads! I really enjoyed the very quick assembly, and getting the loads painted. The fish, by the way, are a treat!!!

      Thank you for doing these, and for sending me some - they are wonderful!!!

      - chirine

  3. Wonderful. Thanks for the very informative answer; it's most appreciated.

    1. You are very welcome, and thank *you* for a great question! That's what this blog is all about - people talking to each other.

      Should I do a painting video? I tried to tell how I paint figures, and I hope I did a good job of it. I could set up the Bloggie on a mount over the workbench, and shoot something if you think it would be useful...

      - chirine