Paints and Brushes for Miniatures

Painting Miniatures in 1:72 Scale

Paints and Brushes

Expensive sable brushes of size 1 and 2 are an essential piece of equipment. These brushes can cost as much as US $ 10.00 (£ 7.00) each, but they are worth every penny considering the excellent painting results one can achieve with high quality brushes. Sable brushes will last a long time, particularly if they are cleaned with dishwashing detergent on a routine basis. Cheap brushes lose their tip almost immediately and they are ruined very quickly.

Smaller brushes of size 0 or even 00 are not recommended for painting miniatures in this scale. These small brushes hold so little paint that they need to be reloaded practically after every single brush stroke. The constant interruption will result in a lower quality output and it will significantly slow down your painting speed. With the proper brushes, painting a regiment of 24 figures in one evening should be no problem.

Paintbrushes and Accessories

Enamel Paint & Thinner

  • Revell, Humbrol, Testors etc.

Artist Acrylic Paint

  • PRIMAkryl, AQUATEC, or FERRARIO

Painting with Enamel Colours

Painting instructions are usually found on the reverse of the figure boxes. The required Revell Colours are listed with order numbers, for easy reference. These colours are already available in the exact shades required to paint the figures. Enamel paint needs to be stirred thoroughly before use, in order to achieve a matt finish.

Figures need to be degreased before painting, to ensure that the paint will stick to the plastic. Wash them in warm water and dishwashing detergent, then dry the figures with a towel. Mount the figures on a narrow wooden ruler or on a stick of balsa wood, to facilitate handling. Distances between figures can be as little as 10mm, provided that all parts of a figure can be reached with the brush. Infantry are usually mounted side by side and turned 45 degrees to the right, cavalry one behind the other. Mount figures of the same pose immediately next to eachother, you will learn to paint them more quickly and with greater precision as you repeat the same brushstrokes on similarly posed figures.

Figures should be undercoated with matt white enamel paint to achieve better luminescence of the uniform colours. The undercoat can be applied with a large brush, spreading the paint evenly and in a thin layer. Let the undercoat dry overnight. It is useful to prepare several regiments at the same time, wash them, mount them and undercoat them all in one evening.

Painting is done in the same order that a figure would normally dress itself, shirt, trousers, jacket and cuffs, belts and pouches, boots, headdress, weapons and so forth. Areas that are difficult to reach must be painted early on, this is called painting from the inside out. Paint figures from the same regiment in one batch, 24 trousers followed by 24 jackets and so on. Doing so requires some discipline, because results are not immediately apparent, but this assembly-line process is the quickest way to success. Figures in this scale are most impressive when displayed en masse, mounted on scale terrain. Mass production is the way to achieve this result quickly and in high quality.

Revell Colours dry quickly, facilitating mass production. When figures are painted in assembly-line fashion you need not wait for paint to dry, the first figure will have dried enough by the time you finish the last figure in the batch. White belts or facing colour applied over red uniforms may sometimes turn pink, but this problem can be corrected later with another round of white paint. An even better way to prevent red paint from bleeding into white crossbelts is to undercoat the belts with black before painting them white. If the black paint were to bleed through, it would give the belts a nice shading effect. A fine black line should be left along the edges of the belts, shading the undersides of the belts, where they meet the uniform.

A darker version of the uniform colour is used to shade folds, creases as well as the undersides of arms and legs that are not exposed to direct sunlight. To highlight the uniform, white is mixed with the uniform colour and applied to any raised surfaces. Enamel paint dries very quickly, making it relatively difficult to achieve gradual changes in colour by blending the uniform colour with the shades and highlights.

Enamel paint flows very well when it is thinned with paint medium, it may also stay wet longer and allow some blending of shades and highlights. However, when too much paint medium is used, the enamel will dry with a semi-gloss or even glossy finish. In this case, clear matt varnish may be applied to the figures to restore the matt finish.

Enamel paint hardens when dry. Accordingly, when painted soft plastic figures are bent, the enamel paint may crack and even chip off. Extended weapons, arms and legs are often damaged in this way. It is nearly impossible to prevent this kind of damage, other than by not touching the painted figures again. Some painters will undercoat their figures with nailpolish to harden them even more, but even this treatment offers very little protection. In addition, nailpolish obscures some of the fine detail on the figures. As a rule, figures painted with enamel paint should be kept behind glass, where they are safe from grasping hands.

Painting with Artist Arcrlics

Acrylic paint forms a strong bond with soft plastic figures. As it dries, the paint will shrink onto the figures like a second skin. Acrylic paint remains surprisingly elastic and it does not easily chip off when the figure is bent. If you play with your figures or use them for wargaming, acrylic paint will give you a long-lasting finish. Acrylic paint is water soluable and brushes can be cleaned with water, unhealthy thinners are not used during the painting process.

One disavantage of acrylic paint, particularly the hobby paints sold in jars, is that it will simply run off the figure if thinned too much. Undiluted artist acrylics in tubes must be used on soft plastic figures. These paints are a little more expensive, but they last a very long time. Fewer paints are required, we will learn to mix any colour in the spectrum by blending a few base colours. This is possible because acrylic paint can be kept fluid over extended periods of time simply by adding water and keeping the paint on a plastic or glass palette. By keeping the uniform base colour fluid, it can later be shaded and highlighted as needed.

If you mix your own paint, 10 tubes of acrylic paint replace the 30-40 tins of enamel you might otherwise use:
  • Ivory Black, AQUATEC Nr. 45212
  • White, FERRARIO Nr. 1
  • Cadmium Yellow, FERRARIO Nr. 5
  • Carmine Red, PRIMAcryl Nr. 13340
  • Indigo, PRIMAcryl Nr. 13449
  • Burnt Umber,PRIMAcryl Nr.13669
  • Raw Sienna, PRIMAcryl Nr. 13662
  • Gold, AQUATEC Nr. 45281
  • Silver, PRIMAcryl Nr. 13881
  • Viridian Matt, PRIMAcryl Nr. 13559

Viridian Matt (green) can be mixed, but we use this colour so often that it is worth getting a tube of it. White is used in such large quantities for undercoating, highlighting and blending, that we recommend the 250ml tube by Ferrario.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Painting Miniatures