...for people - like me - who don't like painting minis!
Let's get this out of the way: I've never been a quick, or good, painter despite doing it for the last maybe 30 years. Getting back into wargaming post-Covid has gotten me back into painting, and I've been watching and reading a few tutorials in dreadful anticipation.
The most inspiring advice was along the lines of "staying in the lines is less important than getting contrast on the mini"; that struck a chord because I'm always disappointed with how flat my colours are.
I really appreciate the impression of volume that shaded and highlighted miniatures have, but never had the patience or the skill (or the time) for all that blending and shading. Having watched loads of interesting YouTube videos on "sketch style" or underpainting and glazing, this is my low-effort take:
|Some attempt to show the steps in the process...|
Step 1: Prime black with brush-on black primer - because I hate getting in all the crevices with spray primer. You can use black spray primer but the only really important bit of this step is getting black paint on the in-between and underneath bits of the mini.
I reckon this is around 10 mins a mini, it doesn't need to be perfect because:
Step 2: Zenithal prime with grey and white spray primer, for super-fast underpainting that doesn't need an airbrush. You could use one. I have experimented and for the best results I think I am settling on:
Spray gray at around 30 degrees to the horizontal, just leaving black in the underneaths and inbetweens. We don't massively want to paint those bits anyway.
Spray white at around 60 degrees to the horizontal for a good base for bright colours. I'm looking for maybe 50% of the mini white and obvious shadows.
This is basically "prime white with shading" and takes a negligible amount of time, especially if done in batches! The shadows create negative space and give the minis an appearance of volume.
Step 3: Block in the colours with Contrast paint. You could glaze with normal paints, but frankly I have never been able to get the consistency right. Contrast applied in a thin coat has great colour coverage and translucency over the shaded basecoat.
Depending on how many details I pick out this takes 30-60 mins a mini, and to be honest I could call it done by my previous standards. Shaded block colours are superior to flat block colours, even shaded with washes which was my previous best. I always wanted to layer light and shadows on my minis but lacked the time and patience (and skill)!
|I would have been happy to call this done last year...|
Step 4: Edge highlights. I never really did edge highlights before, mainly because I never really understood what they were for.
Edge highlights add contrast and visual interest, that's what makes the mini "pop" - which is another reason for the zenithal basecoat too. Light and shadow on a miniature needs to be exaggerated because of the scale. I don't take them as extreme as some people, but that's just personal preference.
Also, when I inevitably and invariably go outside the lines with my base colours it's usually the edges of the wrong part that get caught. Edge highlights do the secondary job of covering up the wobbly colour blocking and save time in step 3!
Highlights and details have been taking another 30-60 mins per model, including corrections, but I can maybe get this down quicker in future.
|Happy to call this done this year!|
This is the first time I can remember being happy with my finished minis, and because they're taking me less than half the time I'm finally finding I'm actually enjoying painting now too.
Comments and questions welcome.