Sunday, March 13, 2011

A beginner's thoughts on painting technique and tools

With a degree in art I at least have the background for the basics of painting, though when I paint on a canvas it tends to be very broad stroked and abstract.  The one thing I need  to work the most on is the very fine details on my models, and for that I think I'm going to need a couple of tools.  I definitely need some kind of magnifier on a stand, and I'm going to need to get some finer brushes and remember to only use them for details (I tend to be a multi-use kind of guy with most tools).  I'm also thinking that I need some kind of tool like what my grandfather (a silversmith/jeweler by hobby, a design engineer by trade) called a third arm so I can not be bending over whatever table I'm using, at least not so low, and so I can only have the movements of one hand to worry about, and not the one that's holding the figure.

Right now I'm mostly using 4 brushes - 2 from AC Moore, one of which is good for broader work, the other of which is pretty much shot and I only use for the occasional spot of dry brushing, 1 GW/Citadel detailing brush, which is mostly shot and I'm using for smaller broad work, and a newer Citadel brush which I just love.  It's keeping its point really nicely and bends just enough in use to give me the fine strokes I want, despite being bigger than two of the three other brushes.  I think I'll be looking at the Citadel brushes again when I go to find a really fine point brush... but that will wait until after I have some of the other tools.

Still trying to get some more pictures today... I'm finding that having most of the body black in combination with the dynamic poses I've been building my minis in is giving my camera some trouble in focusing.  We'll see if I can progress a little with that between relaxing and working on my assault marines today.


  1. I use citadel brushes myself, but some people swear by some high end art brushes. As I'm sure you know, in general with brushes you get what you pay for. But also, since you're spending hard earned money on your minis, you shouldn't scrimp on the tools you use to paint them.

  2. As far as the pictures go, I've found that when I have trouble focusing, I just back up with the camera a bit and that helps. Cameras these days have insane amounts of pixels, so even if the miniature fills a tiny fraction of the field, even cropped the picture comes out with plenty of detail.

    I also always use a flash because I've noticed that everything always looks too dark otherwise, even after messing with it in photoshop for a while.

  3. Thanks... I'm definitely going to try backing up with the camera and maybe trying without the macro settings. As far as brushes go, I've found that like almost everything else, you sometimes wind up paying for names - art brushes are, sadly, not an exception. Now, I've read a few blogs that talk about using higher end sable or other natural hair brushes, which I like using on canvas, so if I wind up not liking the Citadels, or need a brush they don't have available, I'll probably try those.