The more you paint, the more tricks you pick up and the more tools you add to your toolbox. I’ve been painting for almost two decades and have had a couple of great painters tutor me. Each one taught me different uses for most of the tools I own. Everyone’s paint style is a little bit different, so your mileage may vary, but these are the top five tools (or groupings of tools) I use on a regular basis:
You could use plain water to thin your paints, but sometimes you get a weird separation of the pigments. Instead, I use three different mediums to keep the pigments suspended and even. You can get them from various manufacturers like those for fine arts, but the ones above are from Reaper.
Flow Improver: This little bottle gets quite a work out at my table. I use it to think down my paints when I want a thinner layer, but it is king at reviving almost dead paints. I’ve had some of my paints since I started and own their longevity to the use of Flow Improver.
Wash Medium: Perfect for when you have a thicker paint that would work perfect as a wash over your mini. The best part is that you can control how thin the paint gets.
Matte Medium: Works like Flow Improver in cutting the ratio of pigment to medium for thinner layers without making the paint runny.
Pin Vise and Rod
Pin vise and rod: A must if you have bigger models with multiple pieces, especially large models. It’s easy to use, just drill a hole and glue a small piece of rod in it, then match up to where the other hole should be and drill a second hole. It sounds scarier than it really is because you are controlling the speed and depth of the drill. Just be sure that you use thin rod and not wire. Wire will bend and not hold under the weight of the mini.
You can also you the pin vise if you want to switch out weapons on a mini. It’s a finer operation, but completely doable. You can even find kits that have appropriately sized rods for the pins, so you don’t have to go hunting for the right width on either.
Brush on Primer and Sealer
These aren’t paints per se, as you’ll be covering them up, but they have an impact on the final result, as the frist layer and the last layer can make a difference.
Brush on Primer: I primarily use a spray can primer, but there are days where the weather doesn’t want to cooperate (such as cold winter days or high-humidity days) or I missed a spot on the mini and don’t want to wait the extra time to take it back outside. This is also great if you live somewhere that you can’t use a spray primer.
Brush on Sealer: Again, great if the weather hates you or you can’t use a spray on sealer. I live in Missouri and the humidity has a tendency to wreak havoc on sealant (frosting the model, most of the time). Not only that, but if you want to pick out wet areas on a mini, like the mouth or blood, you can use glossy sealer on just those areas. I would suggest having a separate brush just for glossy primer because it can gum up your brushes, and you really want to take care of your brushes.
The stuff that holds my box together, sometimes literally.
White Craft Glue: Great for painting on your bases before pouring sand or flock on them. I usually buy the super thick craft glue because I can always thin it down if I need to and it stays put if I’m doing particular spots with different basing material (especially long grasses).
Super Glue: Most mini painters have this as a must because little else holds models together with very little material. Obviously, you need to be careful to not glue your fingers to the mini.
I couldn’t live without this in my paint box. It is the hero of my toolset, because of its multiple uses. It fills in cracks in minis when pieces don’t quite fit together. It allows me to sculpt bases or change out the look of a mini. It’s got a fairly long dry time, so you do need to leave it alone after you finish sculpting with it. I’m still learning the finer points of sculpting with it, but I foresee many altered models in my future.
One note on green stuff: the stuff in strips will have a dried out part where the blue and yellow meet. I love mine in two separate tubes just for that reason. What I have has lasted years without drying out.
What are some of your favorite tools you use when painting minis? Let us know in the comments below!
More Mini Painting Goodness!
- Miniature Painting 101: Using Games Workshop’s New Ghost Paints
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- Miniature Painting 101: The Importance of Proper Lighting For Your Painting Space
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Image Credit: Dawn Dalton