Stopping mistakes before they happen while painting Miniatures.

A comprehensive guide on how not to hate yourself after a paint job.


A world of hurt.

Anyone who is in the hobby of miniature war gaming, and that also paint their minis will understand this title well. It is so easy to make mistakes and as humans we are constantly subconsciously coming up with new and exciting ways to mess up something we are trying do. Since it’s impossible to prepare for all the variables that will be coming at you whilst painting, let’s take a look at some of the more common ones that we can correct, before they cause a chain effect of throwing things and making more mistakes because of having made a mistake.
Before we get into this though, I do want to mention, as with all of our posts this is only for those who don’t already know all of these things that will be talked about, obviously. I just wanted to make sure you all know I am not saying everyone out there has no idea what they are doing and needs some swift teachinlol. Okay so with that being said, let’s get into this.


Find your happy place.

This is in my opinion, one of the most important topics of this article. I myself have created enormous mistakes from just getting mad at one little mistake earlier on in the paint job. Luckily this isn’t a problem for me anymore, and it doesn’t have to be a problem for you either! This is one of those easier said than done sort of things, but it is really important. Let’s say if this is a problem for you, then next time you make a mistake, rinse your brush off and just go do something else for 5-10 minutes. I know everyone may not have a lot of time to paint, but that only strengthens my point. It will be a lot easier to cool down for 5-10 minutes than it will be to fix all the mistakes that can come from what I call “paint rage”. After all, some of us put 10-40+ hours into one miniature sometimes, so naturally it is something that will affect us greatly if something goes wrong.
The main thing to remember here though is, nothing other than calmly fixing the mistake, will fix the mistake. The more calm you are, the more likely you are to fix the mistake properly and not just make it worse, or causing another mistake due to the rushed touch up. Everyone who paints, it doesn’t matter how professional they are, are still making small mistakes I promise you.
So just do something that will calm you down. Maybe take your pet for a walk, or go grab a small snack and something to drink, maybe go on Instagram and follow Dark Millennium Studios I don’t know there is a whole world of ideas out there, but the last one is pretty good too! ;D
You could always do what I do and just watch some Bob Ross videos. The man is the embodiment of what this lesson is about. You will never see him get mad, you will see him make mistakes though. But as he says it “We don’t make mistakes here, just happy accidents!” Maybe that bit of black you got on your red armor could be the start of a really cool 3d scratch or bullet hole? Turning negatives into positives will make you a much happier painter!

Wearing gloves.

This is something I do for a few different reasons. The first being that as a commission painter, I want to make sure that I am taking the utmost care in our clients investments throughout the entire process. And something a lot of people don’t know is that if you are constantly touching your miniatures with your hands while painting than you are getting skin oil on them and that can cause paint to not lay down quite right. It will also rub the paint off at the points of contacts of where you are holding it. If you checked out our beginner’s guide then hopefully you aren’t having to touch the model at all!
Also it helps a lot for having a nice little palette for you to use on the fly with wet blending and other techniques, if the paint is applied to the area of the thumb that wont be close to the mini. This can help you work really quick as well as getting some really smooth transitions!
If you airbrush and don’t use gloves, or a cork or some other platform to have your mini standing on than you will most likely be rubbing a lot of paint off without even knowing until you are “done”. So take it from me and invest in some gloves, they are pretty cheap and can help tons!

Using lacquer and varnish.. a lot!

So what I mean by this is after every big step using a varnish or lacquer to lock those colors in and keep them safe! Now this isn’t a must, but if you want to keep from having any problem with paint rubbing off or chipping off due to accidents while painting then go ahead and follow this step.
Let’s use an example to clarify when and how I use a lacquer. First (Krylon Crystal Clear Gloss Varnish) Second and Last(Testors Model Master Lacquer Overcoat Lusterless Flat)

1. After the primer and base coat have been applied I will use the Krylon Crystal Clear gloss varnish. Now this is to protect it, but also because if you use a gloss wash over that then you get no coffee stain effects and the mini will be rock hard and super safe by the end of the process. Just make sure to have already done preshading and your base coat is where you want it.
2. Now that all the washes are applied it is time to hit the bugger with the Testors Model Master Lacquer Overcoat (Lusterless Flat) After that is dry you will notice the model isn’t quite as glossy as it was, but still a little bit of gloss there. This is where I will come in and do any layering and highlights that I want to do.
3. Now we hit it with the Testors again, also please make sure that you are actually getting the whole miniature with this at the same time because, well that’s just another headache waiting to happen, and that is just down right counter productive to what we are trying to do here. Also make sure that your coats are not too heavy as this can cause fogging.
4. Now that the second stage of the Testors is applied we go in for all the super tiny details, anything that needs to still be painted needs to happen now. And with the whole model painted up I will do two more stages of the Testors, although one will be fine. I just like making sure that if I or my customer doesn’t want it glossy, that it won’t be.
You now know how to create a mini that will rival any concrete floor it falls upon, ensuring chipping is just a thing of the past!


The little things

Well here they are, the little things. Sometimes this is all it takes to send us into a fit of paint rage and that is just no bueno. So let’s see what little things we should look out for to keep such events from ever coming to pass.

Rinsing Water

There are two things to watch out for here when you go to rinse your brush off in your container of water. The first is that making sure your water isn’t so saturated with paint that it actually begins to change the pigment of the paints you are using. This will happen most commonly to whites or other bright paints.
The second thing to watch out for is having water just chilling on your ferrule waiting for the right moment (usually when you are mid stroke of applying some paint) to come rolling down your paint brush and turning your paint into a wash that then goes cascading down your miniature. Let’s hope that if this happens you aren’t painting something that is primarily white, and you just want to add a bit of red to a cloak or something and then BAM, a red wash just goes down your nicely painted white miniature.
You can hopefully see how important it is now to make sure that you are changing your rinsing water regularly and also that there isn’t any droplets chilling on your paintbrush before you go to continue painting.

Not so handy paint

This one will still happen to me once in a blue moon. I will open a pot of paint that’s been used a lot, put some paint on my palette, and then go to continue painting. Even with having my mini on a cork, somehow, sometimes when the stars align just horribly right enough I will get some paint that came off of my pot on to my hand, right to the mini. This can happen from not making sure to wipe any excess paint off of the pot after a project while still being wet enough to do damage later.
The best thing to do to keep this from happening is as mentioned above. Just simply wipe the excess paint off of the lip and potentially back of the paint pot. This will also make sure that the paint stays usable for longer as less air is getting in. Sometimes though, it will happen to us.

A hairy situation

Do you have pets? Do you have a loved one with long hair? Do you have long hair? Do you have hair at all? Well if you said yes to any of those then you have probably already been a victim to a sneaky piece of hair slithering its way into a painted part of your mini. Getting stuck there like a bug to a windshield only until your pull it off with a pair of tweasers.
This sucks, and also happens. So the best way to keep from having to worry about this is to keep your work area dusted off and cleaned regularly. A lot of times the hair will just be chilling on your desk until your hand picks it up or the A/C turns on and sets the chain of events into motion.
So as off topic as this may seem, this is where just grooming yourself and your pets can help a lot. I have a German Sheppard and he is in a perpetual state of shedding his coat, though it seems like he has only gotten more fluffy. If my fiance and I (Mainly her if I am honest lol) didn’t brush him so much his hair would be in everything. It also helps brushing your own hair too, it keeps stray hairs from falling out all willy nilly. As ridiculous as all this may sound, if you want to take painting seriously then you want to take all parts that may affect it seriously as well!


Thanks for checking out the guide, and we hope that it has helped you keep these kinds of things from happening in the future! If you have any questions or feedback please don’t hesitate to contact us!

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