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Keeping A Painting Journal

journalBetween a sluggish painting speed and the occasional hiatus I've occasionally found myself at a loss when trying to remember how I painted older models.  I can usually remember the technique I used but don't always recall specifics like paint mixing ratios.  Late last year I finally decided it might be a good time to start keeping a basic painting journal.  There's a number of electronic options out there, from Google Docs to a wiki (either personal hosted wiki or on a stick).  At some point I'll probably transfer most of my notes over to some sort of taggable or sortable format but for now I've found it most convenient to keep a small notebook and pen next to my painting area so I can jot down notes or paint recipes as needed.

I keep each miniature to its own page, even if I'm working on multiple figures at once.  I start with the miniature's name and the date (month and year) I began work on it at the top of the page, with the date I finished the figure to be added upon completion.

A typical entry make look something like this:

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Different Strokes: Technique and Painting Speed

Recently I've been experimenting with a few of the techniques that the Privateer Press painting staff talk about in their recent books.  It's taken a while to adapt to a new way of doing things but after getting used to it I've been able to increase the speed I can paint a figure pretty significantly.

Vice Scrutator Vindictus

Vice Scrutator Vindictus

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Basic Basing

In a previous post I mentioned that I use concrete patch as a basing material.  It's an alternative to sand that's a rock solid way to model dirt to-scale on a base.  It requires a bit more effort than the traditional glue and sand but I think the end result is worth the extra work.

Base WIPs

Base WIPs

The most difficult aspect of working with the concrete patch is that in order to attach models, you have to clip the pewter tab from the base of the figure, give it a quick filing, and pin it to the base.  I've always preferred that method anyway, so it's no big deal. But if you're used to just gluing and slotting the figure, then switching to concrete patch is going to involve some extra steps.

Usually I'll glue the pin to the miniature and drill a hole on the base, cover the base in concrete patch, and before it sets, press the miniature down where it'll ultimately stand, and remove it.  Once the concrete patch dries, the indentions left by the miniatures feet will cup them in place securely.

If you want add accessories to a base - things like small rocks, gears, or the like - the patch itself will hold them in place if you press them in before it dries.  For the most part this has been all I'll need to do, but occasionally if a piece is loose I'll pop it up after the patch dries and glue it back down into the same divot, making it very secure.  For tiny rocks made from cork I'll just put a drop of glue over it while attached, and that is usually sufficient. I prefer superglue over craft glue for these steps.

As for painting my bases, I picked up a recipe for craft colors a few years ago that I use for all of my bases.  I can't remember the source anymore, but the combination works great.  One note though, before going into painting - make sure you have an extra old brush.  Drybrushing over concrete patch will ruin a brush like nothing else.

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Some Basic Brush Care Tips

I had a request as a comment on a previous article to talk about some basic brush care tips.  I'm no expert on the topic but I've ruined more than enough brushes to know there are a few traps to avoid in order to keep your brushes in working condition as long as you can.

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Workhorse Brush

When I upgraded my brushes to Winsor & Newton Series 7's a few years ago, I started paying more attention to brush care.  With the brushes' higher cost, I wanted to get as much life out of them as possible.  For me that meant keeping an older brush around to do my painting dirty work.

Before I started using the S7's, I was pretty rough with my brushes.  I was guilty of all of the brush sins, including things like stabbing at models sometimes with the brush and letting paint get into the ferrule regularly.  While this wasn't a big deal when I was spending a buck a brush, I knew I had to change my habits with the new brushes, but doing so would slow me down.  Lets face it - when you're base coating, dry brushing, or otherwise just trying to lay paint down quickly, doing things right takes more time.

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Miniature Sealant

Once a miniature hits the table, it's inevitably going to be subjected to the rigors of gaming.  Even the most careful of gamers will have accidents.  It's painful to see hours of hard work spent painting a figure vanish in one quick tabletop accident, but that's why most gamers seal their miniatures after painting them.

So how do you want it?

Sealants come in a variety of finishes, but for the most part they can be grouped as gloss, satin, and matte.  Most people prefer a matte finish on their gaming miniatures but this brings with it a problem.  Unfortunately the strength of a sealant is usually proportional with how glossy the finish is, meaning matte sealants tend to offer the least amount of protection to miniatures.  This isn't as much of an issue with a display pieces but with a model that will face the rigors of the game table it means being more susceptible to damage.

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Makeshift Miniature Braces

When I first started painting miniatures one of the things that was suggested was to not hold a miniature by a freshly painted area so as to not accidentally rub paint off of the model.  It's still a practice that I follow when I can, and part of that has been coming up with a few ways to mount and hold miniatures securely without having to worry about disturbing a paint job.  Most painters develop their own methods; here are a few of mine.

Binder Clip

Binder Clip

The biggest deciding factor on how I mount my miniatures is if I base them before I paint them or after.  My usual preference is to base the model after I paint it if possible  - that means there's no base making it harder to get my brush into the underside of the model.  I also tend to clip the pewter tab that connects a models feet and pin them to the base with brass rod.  This makes it easier for me to base them (no tab to deal with covering) and opens up some options for mounting, as shown here.

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