Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tavern Talk: Painting; Beginners and Beyond

 I have decided to try a different thing this time around.  I thought I would offer you this scenario and see what your advice would be:

A new starter to the hobby has approached you, their army has been selected (insert your own preference if needs be) and rather than ask you questions about how to game or army composition they instead ask you about painting.  Your reply is....

Basically, what tips would you give to a new starter in the hobby.  Everything from paints, to basing.  What are your top tips? 


As a painter who has taken about 15 years to get to the level where I can produce at best semi decent table top quality jobs, my advice to a new Dark Elves player who wants painting advice would be as follows...

1.  Basecoat/Prime in black.  For an inexperienced painter, priming in black is a lifesaver.  Long story short, painting in black is very forgiving.  If you miss a spot in a recess or hard to reach with a brush area, it will be black and difficult to see.  If it was primed white, it would stand out and look terrible.  Prime black.

2.  Use lot's of boltgun metal.  Despite wearing light armor, Dark Elf models are heavily armored.  Boltgun metal is another very easy to use paint.  Dry brushing boltgun metal on all the armored places of the models followed by a quick black, blue, or brown wash is very easy to do, and the results look very good.  The more of the model you paint with this plan, the better it will look, especially massed infantry units.

3.  Don't do the cloth parts in purple.  I know, I did my army's cloth parts in purple so I'm a hypocrite.  But everyone does theirs in either a dark purple, dark blue, dark brown etc.  Try doing the cloth parts in a fiery red or orange, or a bright turquoise.  Your army will stand apart from the other Dark Elf forces you'll see.

4.  Sepia Greyphone wash.  They call it "talent" in a bottle for a reason.  Any flesh, bone, or earth tone looks 100x better after a wash of this magical stuff.  It's so good on bone and flesh tones that people who aren't in the know will assume you are an experienced painter, when you're not.

5.  War Hydra are easy to paint.  And good on the tabletop.  You'll want them.  BUT... they are insanely hard to model.  If you aren't a very experienced modeler who can do pinning or green stuff, pay someone who is to assemble Hydra for you.  Modeling a Hydra if you aren't ready for it will break you down mentally and probably physically too.  It's worth throwing some cash at a guy to build yours for you.


  1. So, are you asking for tips from your readers in the comment section?

  2. The italicized part at the top is what Kuffeh posts as the topic for the week, and the rest is my response.

    But feel free to post your tips here!

  3. Ah, I see. Well I agree with the points above (well I haven't painted a war hydra but it makes sense). If I had to add something I would really like to stress how important it is to invest on an airbrush as early as possible. If you are painting a mostly one colour scheme (like most marine chapters) then it's really going to speed thing ups for you. Especially for vehicles.

  4. When you paint dark elf skin, if you're a beginner I'd just stick to a bsecoat of elf flesh followed by a wash of some sort (like your sepia example) then re-applying the basecoat to the raised areas, giving the skin some depth and shading without much work or bother.
    If you're a beginner, I wouldn't bother with mixing paints for highlights, e.g. If you're highlighting green go from dark angels to gobin to snot green in successive highlights - it won't look as good as it does when one mixes paints for a smooth transition, but it will get the basic desired effect.
    Drybrushing is also probably one of the greatest techniques for painting if you're new to the hobby - just slap a basecoat on and highlight using this simple technique, your models may look a bit grainy but will still look ten times better than flat colours.
    For a simple base I'd recommend using modelling flock over a goblin green base - its simple but looks fine on the tabletop.
    Those are just the techniques that I used when I first began painting (taught to me by my biology teacher some 5 years ago - he's a warhammer fanatic!) and I found them incredibly useful. So, that's what my response would be :)

  5. Yep, my armies went from SUPER UGLY to decent once I learned how to Drybrush.

    I'd say another thing I've learned that I wish I had known earlier is not to simply cake paint on if the coat isn't thick enough and the black is still showing through. Wait for it to dry, and put another layer on. Using the foundation paints before the 'actual' color also helps a lot.