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Painting my first mini

This is the first mini I have painted in nearly 25 years. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that this is the first mini I have ever really painted.

*Flashback to me aged 13*

I barely painted any first time around. I liked the game. I liked collecting and playing with them. I rarely painted any and never with any effort. I was the same with models. I liked buying them and making them. I hated paint and decals.

Feeling inspired

This time around I’m not interested in the game, only the painting. I want to be a miniature artist! I love the detail and working small. It’s an exciting challenge in creativity and control. I had a blast painting my first Gundam and wanted a new paint-based challenge.

I’ve been inspired by the likes of Scott the Miniature Maniac (aka Miniac) and Emil Nyström (aka Squidmar). In fact a recent video by Jazza pretty much sums up why I decided to do this. 

In for a penny (and the rest)

So armed with a false sense of confidence I walked boldly into my local Warhammer shop. I looked around and quickly realised things have changed and felt totally out of my depth. Luckily the people in the shop were not just bored and eager, but also trained for just such an eventuality.

In my possession were:

  • Some Citadel paints I’ve seen a lot of praise for when it comes to painting lifelike flesh tones (Cadian Flesh, Bugamn’s Glow, Reikland Fleshshade, etc.)
  • A squad of 10 – what I am assured are in fact Space Marines – Primaris Intercessors. Who the hell thought that was a good name?

Let painting commence (take 1)

I was now ready. I opened the box expecting a set of metal figures (likely made of gold or a gold alloy I deduced from the prices they were charging). These, I was certain, would be ready out of the box. Requiring little more than some light finishing, priming and painting.

This is what might have happened before. But things have changed in 20+ years.

Instead were a complex plethora of parts nested in convoluted sprues. There was no rational pattern to the numbering. They were also cast from a plastic that challenged my usual nippers and saw me switch to some solid side cutters (and half-joke about using bolt cutters instead). 

Pimp your Space Marine

Somewhat bewildered I followed the instructions to make a super cool Sergeant with all the accessories.

  • Wrist mounted tactical computer thing.
  • Bolt gun hanging loose and pistol in hand.
  • Helmet off and hanging on his waist and a cool grumpy face (so I can use my new flesh tones).
  • Some kind of book on his leg.
  • Some sort of rosette (for best in breed or something?)

Let painting commence (take 2)

Now I was ready to paint. I primed and had a go at the Zenithal Priming thing that YouTubers go on about. Black base coat and then white applied from above to create natural highlights and shadows. It did a great job bringing out the details.

Then reaching for a sharp sable brush, my home made wet palette, head magnifiers, and a cork to secure the mini to, I began.

I quickly re-evaluated the cork and substituted it with a universal work clamp as the tape wouldn’t hold and I got fed up dropping the model.

Applying the paint and pushing it around

This is the bit that YouTubers make look easy. Just building up thin layers and shifting paint around. Carefully creating natural looking highlights and shadows. It’s not so easy! But with perseverance and restarting several sections several times I started to be happy with the result.

Wrapping up

As a first attempt I’m very happy with the result. In fact I’d say I’m pretty bloody chuffed (that’s a good thing – for any of you unfamiliar with British colloquialisms).

My “technique” has drawn some comments (mostly positive and curious) and when asked what it is, I’ve described it thus:

“Naturally talented but clumsy and completely out-of-his-depth first-time miniature painter tries to emulate things he’s seen experienced people do.”

The author (being witty and self-deprecating)

I think I’ve gone about painting a 3D model as I would paint a 2D representation of a 3D model. And done so in a slightly impressionist style.

I’ll claim this as a deliberate thing if it sticks. Or maybe I’ll work out with repetition how to just paint in 3-dimensions.

Next steps

What I do know is that I made my life far harder by assembling the whole thing in one go with all the accessories in place. That made parts of the mini very hard to get to. Next time I’ll build and paint from the feet up.

More on that to come and in the mean time you can get updates on any progress my following me on Instagram.