Like a Pro
Eight: Finishing Touches
by Mike McVey
the last few months we've looked at different techniques to prepare and
paint your D&D Chainmail miniatures, so by now you should
be able to turn bare metal castings into fully painted warbands. Now it's
time to put the finishing touches on your miniatures -- all those last
stages that aren't really painting, but are vital to the overall look
and finish of a model.
|Attach the shield
to a small piece of card to make it easier to hold while your painting
-- a strip of double-sided tape is ideal to hold it in place.
you buy miniatures, much of the time they come in two or more pieces,
and assembly is something we looked at in detail in Part
2 of this series. In most cases, the
best way to tackle these multi-part models is to assemble them completely
before you begin painting. But sometimes it's easier to paint one or more
of the pieces separately and join them together when finished. One of
the most obvious examples of this is when a miniature has a separate shield:
If you glue the shield onto the miniature straight away, you usually block
a significant part of the figure and make painting the miniature considerably
harder. In this case, it is far better to paint the shield and the miniature
separately and attach the shield later; you will also find that the shield
is easier to paint effectively as a separate piece. It comes down to common
sense, really -- look at the different pieces and judge for yourself which,
if any, to paint separately. If a piece blocks other parts of the miniature,
it's a good candidate.
you decide to paint your miniature in parts, the best approach is to first
clean up all the parts and make sure they fit together snugly. If you
plan to pin them together, drill the holes and glue a long piece of wire
into the piece you are painting separately; that will give you something
to hold while painting. I prefer to hold the wire in a pin-vice to keep
my fingers well out of the way. When you finish painting, just snip the
wire off to the correct length and glue the pieces together. Always touch-up
around the join, but make sure the glue is fully dry -- there is no better
way to ruin a brush than by getting super-glue on the bristles.
|When the paint
on the shield is dry, attach it to the painted miniature. Make sure
that the two surfaces that you are actually drying are bare metal.
If you glue onto paint, the join will not be strong.
are pretty much always better painted away from the miniature. I generally
attach them to a small piece of card with double-sided tape -- that way
they are easy to remove when finished. If the back will be visible when
attached, paint it first, then flip the shield over and paint the front.
Shields generally cover some of the surface of the miniature to which
they are attached, and some people anticipate this by not painting the
"hidden" area. I prefer to paint the miniature completely and
then attach the shield; that way if you decide to remove the shield for
any reason, the miniature is fully painted underneath. But it's really
up to you.
is an often-neglected area of miniature painting, and some people do it
almost as an afterthought,. But in reality it is as important as any other
stage of the process. If you present your model on a badly thought-out
and poorly finished base, all your hard work on the rest of the miniature
goes to waste. There are really no ends to the different ways to base
a miniature. We'll look at just a few of them here.
|Paint the top
surface of the base with white glue. Be careful not to get any on
the feet of the miniature.
are a couple of very straightforward ways you can finish off the base
on a model. The first is to use scenic flock: fine, dyed sawdust used
mainly for railway or scenic modeling. Flock comes in lots of different
colors -- generally in natural shades of green or brown -- so you can
choose one that best suits the miniature. Simply paint a thin layer of
PVA glue (white woodworker's glue, such as Elmer's) on the top of the
base and cover it in flock. Even though PVA is water soluble when wet,
always use an old brush and wash it thoroughly after use. Be careful while
applying the glue; make sure you don't get any on the model's feet or
the sides of the base, or the flock will stick to them, too. If you do
get flock where you don't want it, remove it straight away.
simple way to base your miniatures is to use fine sand instead of flock,
and then paint the sand. The technique is the same: Apply glue to the
top of the base and cover it in sand. (I keep my sand in a shallow container
and dip the base into it.) You must allow the sand to dry thoroughly before
you can paint it. But once it's dry, you can get all sorts of good effects.
If you want it to look like grass, for example, just paint it mid-green;
when dry, drybrush it with lighter shades.
|Dip the base
into flock as soon as the glue is painted on. Don't blow or tap away
any excess flock until you've given the glue a chance to dry.
of the base also need paint. Again, this is mainly a matter of personal
taste. I prefer black or very dark green, but it depends on the color
of the basing material and the general feel of the model. Sometimes the
base has little molding marks on the side -- make sure these are trimmed
off and the sides are neat and even before you apply paint.
way to add a little character and originality to a miniature is to put
it on a scenic base. It's good fun, too. There really is no end to what
you can do; as with so many aspects of the painting hobby, it pays to
think about the character of the miniature you've painted. For example,
it's no good covering the base of a subterranean monster with grass-green
flock -- it would be far more in character to create a dungeonlike feel.
Or if you are basing a wood elf, what you really want is some foliage
to put the model in context.
simple level, you could use both flock and sand to create a broken, more
natural feel. Just paint glue over part of the base and cover it in flock,
then repeat the process with sand. As an alternative, use "static
grass" -- a material similar to flock but made up of tiny fibers
that stand upright when glued to a base and look almost like real scale
grass. Modeling putty can be put to good use to create basic groundwork;
you can then work over it with different materials to create some great
do decide to put a little more effort into your bases, the best place
to start is in your local hobby or modeling store -- especially those
that cater to railway modelers. Have a look round the shelves and you'll
find all sorts of things that will make great bases for your miniatures,
such as balsa wood to make broken stakes. Pieces from other miniatures
also work really well: Try adding bits of broken weapons or bones from
old models. Small pieces of detail can look really effective. Sometimes
keeping the effect simple works the best, rather than loading the base
with details that draw the eye away from the miniature.
stage of miniature painting is varnishing, and while it's not exactly
a painting technique, it's a vital stage in the process that protects
all your hard work. A spray varnish is easiest to apply. I prefer to give
the miniature a coat of gloss first, which gives great protection, then
a covering of matt to get rid of the shine. (Make sure you let the varnish
dry thoroughly between coats or the finish won't come out matt.)
miniatures look good if you selectively gloss parts of them. For example,
you can make armor parts appear lacquered, or make the fangs of a monster
glisten. To do this, buy paint-on gloss varnish and apply it to the specific
parts when the rest of the model has been protected.
what are you going to paint?
Check out the
latest selection of D&D miniatures in our online
to the D&D
main news page for more articles and news about the new D&D
or check out
message boards for a lively discussion of all
aspects of the D&D game.