Wednesday, March 8, 2023

My Miniature Painting Journey (Part 2: Speedpaint and Etsy)

This is an ongoing series about my newly re-discovered love of painting miniature gaming figurines. To read part one, click here. It was mostly about old lead minis and how I didn't thin my paints properly.

The last thing I shared in my previous post were a couple of Stormtroopers I painted, which were a pain in the ass because white is a really hard colour to work with. The reason I painted those Stormtroopers was because I was hoping I would be running a Star Wars roleplaying game. I've probably mentioned it before, but I'm a huge fan of the old Star Wars roleplaying game, and I was going through a phase where I was trying to convince my family to play a game with me. It... still hasn't happened, but it gave me an excuse to paint some Star Wars minis, which is lots of fun.

This batch were not official models from Lucasfilm, but from a designer called Black Remnant Studios. I bought the files from his Patreon and then had them 3D-printed on Etsy. After buying a couple of dozen of these is when I realized I should probably get my own 3D Printer.

After my poor experience painting Stormtroopers, I tried this Imperial Admiral using a dry-brushing technique. It worked pretty well, but it left a dusty texture on the mini which I don't like. I've since learned that this is caused by the material you use to wipe the paint off your brush, so I'm hoping the next one works better. There's also a little drip of red coming off his rank insignia that drives me nuts—I can't remember why I didn't fix it. I think I tried several times and each time I added white I messed up the colours, each time I fixed the colours I messed up the white, etc... sometimes you just have to know when to quit.

These Ewoks were done mostly with Army Painter Speedpaints. Speedpaints are a type of high-viscosity contrast paint that contains different weights of pigments, so the the darker, heavier pigments sink to the recesses of the models, and the lighter, brighter pigments sit on top. Basically it has your contrast layers built in, allowing you to paint your model much faster. In theory this is great, but it's a bit trickier than than the advertisements suggest. First, you really need to put this paint over a light, preferably white, undercoat in order for the colours to come out properly. It's hard to tell from these pictures because I messed with the brightness so much, but I used a dark grey primer on the Ewoks so they came out REALLY dark with the Speedpaint, which I was not happy about.

The other, even worse drawback is that Speedpaint never really dries. When you paint over it with anything wet, it reactivates and the paint mixes with your new medium. There are ways around it when you get the hang of it, but it's a huge headache when you're first using the stuff.

This batch of models was also some of the first I tried with custom basing (decorating the base the minis are sitting on). The Ewoks have "dry moss" material I got from the dollar store, which worked out okay.

These Jawas also used Speedpaints, which I was starting to get the hang of and worked a bit better. There are much nicer contrast gradations on their robes and belt pouches. The sand on these guys also came from the dollar store, but I painted it this time so it gave it a passable desert-looking appearance. 

This is the Crimson Corsair, a character who gets like 15 seconds of screen time in The Force Awakens. Still, it was one of my favourite paint jobs for a long time. I used a combination of regular acrylic and Speedpaint and I think it worked well. This was my first time using some gloss varnish for the helmet to give it a little extra pop (usually I use matte varnish for everything). Varnish is important for minis to protect the paint job from scuffs and scratches when you're handling them on a game table. I use matte varnish, which cuts down on glare and light reflections, which can ruin the details on such small figures.

Something varnish doesn't protect against though is the fact that 3D printer resin is really brittle. My daughter knocked this guy off a table and broke off the end of his rifle (it should be sticking overtop of his shoulder). I never found the broken piece and it irked me for a long time.

Speaking of my daughter, she picked this figurine out at the game store and asked me to paint it for her. This one is not 3D-printed, it's made of cast plastic (which is why the sword is bent—I've since learned how to fix that). It turned out pretty well—the blue is Speedpaint, which explains the really nice contrast there. The armour is a metallic silver with some darker wash in the recesses, which came out nicely. 

My daughter wanted her to have purple hair, and I bought purple metallic paint by accident, but went with it anyway. The sword was also metallic purple, but I tried to add a red tint to it and turned it completely red instead. Oh, well. My daughter liked it like that so overall I call it a success.

This is a dwarven toilet paper salesman. It was also 3D printed from Etsy. I bought it because it was hilarious and I don't regret it. Painted entirely with Speedpaint except drybrushing for the white, I was mostly happy with this one, and I was starting to get the hang of the Speedpaint... with Santa Claus  I didn't use any Speedpaint at all! This is another Etsy special... I paid a lot of shipping leading up to Christmas. For Santa I used all straight Vallejo and Army Painter acrylics, and tried to shade and highlight it by hand. I used a bit too much wash, but overall I was super happy with it, until I put on the varnish.

Up until this point I used Army Painter Anti-Shine Varnish, which comes in little 17ml bottles and is very forgiving. I was getting low on the AP stuff, so I bought a larger bottle of Vallejo matte varnish, and this was the first model I used it on. I shook it up well (which I guess you're not supposed to do) because it went on with tons of tiny little airbubbles. I noticed it but didn't think anything of it, until the air bubbles hardened and popped, leaving ugly craters ALL over my Santa Claus. They're hard to see in the picture above, so here's a close-up:
Apologies to anyone with Trypophobia.

Finally, since I did the knight above for my daughter, here's one I did for my son. We have a little pug named Grimm that he adores, so of COURSE I had to paint a pug dressed like a Grim Reaper! It would have looked better if it was a beige-coloured dog, but since our guy is black I had to work with what I had. I was also pretty pleased with this one, especially with the wrappings around the handle of the scythe, as well as the blade itself.

I've discovered as I go on with this hobby, I often find little things that I like or did well with specific models, and I try to incorporate those things with future paintjobs. I learn something everything time I paint a mini (especially at this point—I was in the middle of a rapid learning curve when I did the models collected here), so I am slowly add new skills to my toolbox. This Grimm the Reaper was also the first time I was happy with the eyes of a mini. You probably noticed from most of my models that I don't usually paint eyes... because it's REALLY HARD when the eyeballs are like half a millimeter wide. At least Grimm's were a bit bigger. 

All that to say, painting eyes is NOT something that's made it into my toolbox yet...

Anyway, that brings us up to Christmas, when I got my 3D Printer. Now I've started printing and painting ALL KINDS of stuff. Stay tuned for the next update!

Hugs & Kisses,


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think some of your detail work is getting really good.
I have several friends who have 3D printers and they love them. Someday!

C. D. Gallant-King said...

The 3D printer is such a time and money drain, but I love it, too!

Loni Townsend said...

Those are looking awesome!

Lu said...

I love miniatures, but mainly dolls house. In fact, I am off to a miniature show tomorrow. I look forward to reading your posts. Have a great April Luv Lu x

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