The Definitive Guide To Painting 6mm Miniatures....
There have been many published articles which can be found on various websites and before I begin it's worth mentioning from the onset that very much of what is to follow is for the part "common knowledge". That said my own methods which have been inspired by the work of many others have been tweaked to give optimal results but still in a reasonable amount of time.
I did attempt to seek the advice of Mr Shaw before starting off but after calling round to his house for chat all I could do was take this photograph from his painting studio as he declined to talk about his famous techniques, better luck next time I guess.........
I will be breaking the series down into several parts as I want to go into some detail on the various stages of the process.
In part one..........
PREPARATION & PRIMING
Like most things preparation is key to a good job and it's no different when you are thinking about painting up miniatures. When the figures arrive in their packs more often than not (but better of late) they will have flash and mould lines which need to be removed before you mount them on sticks ready for priming.
Failure to clean up the figures at this stage will only lead to a dis satisfactory result so it's crucial to spend the time cleaning your figures up.
Micro files - These were one of the best buys I made. Essential for cleaning up your 6mm miniatures. These were picked up at the Derby Warganes Show about three Years ago now but have lasted very well considering the use they have had!
Be sure to pick a set up at this Years show !
The micro files are the first stop for the figures. The files are so well designed that you will nearly always be able to get to those hard to reach areas on the models. This sometimes takes a long time and I would say that next to basing is the most time consuming part of the process. Some figures are notoriously worse than others, Pikes come to mind...........
Once you have cleaned up the figures it is time to mount them onto painting strips. Cheap strip wood from a DIY store will do the trick nicely. You can pick up a 2.5 mtr length for a couple of quid. Just cut these down into 250 - 400mm lengths to suit.
Cleaned up and superglued to strips, these have seen some use and are mainly made from layers of paint and glue!
3M Surface cleaner - 99% alcohol
1 litre is around £6-7 on ebay and is readily available
Once the glue is dry I always de grease my figures with Isopropanol alcohol. Using an old brush just liberally soak the models and use a circular motion with the brush to gently clean away all mould residue and any debris from filing. I have read that it's recommended to use warm soapy water but this just takes more time as you have to let the models dry. The Isopropanol evaporates very quickly so you are left ready to go with nice clean models.
It is another handy tip but your primer will adhere so much better on clean figures.
Models prepared for the next stage
With the figures now ready it is time to prime.............
After the models are dry (the alcohol evaporates very quickly) it is time to apply your primer.
I discovered the Vallejo surface primers about a Year ago and have never looked back, It's about £7 for a pot and it goes a long long way. You can brush it on but since I invested in my airbrush it is so much quicker and efficient to spray on.
The primer comes in many colours which is helpful if you are looking to save base coating in certain colours. Other than your standard black, white and grey the other colours are very much of a military theme.....
I use the German green brown for my WW1 British. Works a treat and saves loads of time too.
Compressor & Airbrush - a worthwhile investment.
For just over £100 you get everything you need to start off in the world of airbrushing.
There's a whole lot more you can do with one of these but for the time being I am only concerned with using it to apply primer.
Loaded and ready - this much paint will prime all 180 figures.
There is much opinion on what is the best colour to use as a primer. All I will say is that for the purpose of what I am looking to achieve black is the future.
Whilst grey or white provide a better base to allow colours to be more vibrant the drawback for me is that you have to shade the figures either by applying a wash or black / brown lining. Whilst this undoubtedly gives good results it is none the less time consuming and you will see that by using black as a base colour you can achieve natural shading with no additional process
Initial coat - you can see how fine the paint goes on with the airbrush
Here again from the rear of the strip....
And again, this time some Levy Spearmen
Almost finished strip of 60 figures
After all the figures are sprayed there is still paint left in the reserviour of the airbrush. I just empty this back into the bottle. You can see how economic the airbrush is, much more so than a can version of primer for sure.
All finished and primed black.
With the 180 figures all primed it is just a matter of leaving them to dry (about 15 -20 minutes) before I begin to apply the paint.
One of my goals with this series is to time each and every process so that I can see just how long it takes to paint up a fair amount of 6mm figures and base them up ready to use. So far in part I I have spent....
45 MINS CLEANING / PREP WORK ( including fixing the models to the strips and de greasing)
10 MINS PRIMING
Well that's it for part I. In Part II I will be painting in all the base colours on these models and going through my techniques along the way. Once this is done it will be time to apply some highlight's to the figures before finally moving on to part III which will be finishing and basing the figures.