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Subject: Total Newbie Painting Problem rss

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S C
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Hello, I've decided I want to learn to paint and so I have bought some cheap mechs to practice on. Before even doing that I thought I would practice on the bases they come with as they would be even cheaper to replace.

Now I washed them, sprayed them with gray primer (it's definitely plastic primer paint) and left them to dry. So far so good they look well primed and as I imagine. I add some paint to a plastic lid and thin it with water and begin.

However the paint just doesn't seem to want to stick. It just flows off the plastic and leaves some rubbish streaky thin mess. Is this a problem with the paints I'm using (The Works finest) or am I doing something wrong?
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C Stoffa
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If you thinned it too much, you might have simply created a "wash". Maybe try less thinning and see what happens. A wash is usually thinner and allows the paint to seep into crevices to help with shadowing and highlights. If your bases are smooth, you might get your result.

BTW, I am no expert, so take this as one beginner to another.
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Are you using acrylic paints? The bottle should say if it is. You may be adding too much water.

A mix of 3 drops acrylic paint and 2 drops water tends to work for me—but it can fluctuate by brand. a 1-1 mixture might be better, if thicker.
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Jeff K
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Can you post pics? How much did you thin them? Are these acrylics? Also, was the primer enamel, or other? We probably need more info before you can say what is really happening.
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George Ramos
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Yes, as others have said, make sure your primer is not enamel, and that your paints are water based. Assuming you did that already, did the primer set correctly? Can you rub it off? If the primer set well then I agree that you diluted your paint too much.
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S C
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The primer is Halfords gray plastic primer, others have used it for models across the internet without any problems. The paints are acrylic (and others say they have used them) and I've tried everything from unthinned paint to paint so runny that it drips off (aka wash) and most give the same result.

Is it just because it's a smooth flat surface?

I didn't want to post pictures due to embarrassment but I guess it's necessary. hang on.

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S C
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That's mainly after drying and several 'coats'.
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Gar Per
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I don't think this is your problem, but I generally have found grey primer to just be the worst and most difficult to cover. You would think it would be a nice middle ground between white and black, but it isn't. Both take less paint to get a smooth even coat compared to grey. It is hard to get enough paint on to stop "seeing through" the paint to the primer.

I think what I would try is getting a completely different mini to paint from your LGS (a cheap bones or something). If you get the same effect, you know it is has something to do with the paints and not the plastic.

Is the paint "flowing" into lines behind where you paint, or does it just look streaky in general?
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Jeff K
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Yes, with the flat surface of the base that's going to happen with a lot of cheap paints, depending on the pigment and the medium in them. I looked up "the Works," I assume they were very inexpensive, craft-grade acrylics?

It's not really a major problem, you'll just have to do lots of coats. I doubt it will be this pronounced on the actual figures, due to their texture. But, yes, as someone who has used (and written about ) cheap paints, this is pretty standard behavior for them. It's happened to me in similar situation with these craft paints many times.
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The unevenness is also easily visible in large flat surfaces. It won't be that apparent in small, curved surfaces.

I can say from experience that uneven cover will show up in enamel paints as well when diluted too much, especially matte black...

I have recently started 'basing' my bases with sand and rocks and other small appropriate bits glued in. There's no issue with uneven color anymore. Unevenness makes the bases just more alive.
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Rog B
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scott3387 wrote:
Is this a problem with the paints I'm using (The Works finest) or am I doing something wrong?


some people might say 'paint is paint' and not to bother with proper paint designed for painting miniatures.

I am not one of them

do yourself a favour and get one of these
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Army-Painter-Wargames-Starter/dp...
and a couple more brushes of different size.

practice basecoats and layering highlights.

the -quickest- way to paint acceptable game ready models is basecoat -> wash - > drybrush highlights.
in which case, you will want a set of washes/shades.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Army-Painter-Warpaints-Quickshade-In...
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Broti
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One Problem with cheapish paints is that it is harder to work with them. But you can do it.

Uneven coats can have several reasons, most of them were discussed already.
Not thinning enough leads to brushstrokes.
Thinning too much leads to uneaven coats and maybe even the problem of the paint gathering in blobs rather than an even layer. This happens especially on larger and flat surfaces. One solution to this is soft water with a hint of dish washing agent to brake the surface tension. Sometimes that is all that's needed. I also had success by thinning with denatured alcohol. But then the paint dries extremely quick and your brushes won't last long.

Another problem especially with crafts paints is that pigment and medium tend to separate quite quickly. You have to give your paint a really good stir or throw something heavy in the bottle and shake very well. I use two stainless steel bearing balls of about 6.3mm diameter per bottle for that purpose. You can use nuts and other things as well as long as it is stainless. The bearing balls can be found very cheap on ebay for example.

And then... yes. Get yourself some decent paints. They are not cheap, but your life as a miniature painter becomes a lot easier. They are extremely high pigmented and therefore cover way better which leads to more even coats.
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Jake Staines
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I've been using Halfords' grey primer on and off for years and while the price has gone up notably recently, it remained excellent when I last bought a can about a year ago. I doubt very much that that is your problem. It can be harder to get a really bright colour off of a grey basecoat, but I've never had any coverage problems over grey in particular.

scott3387 wrote:

That's mainly after drying and several 'coats'.


Looking at those pictures, I would agree with the other guys above: the problem is that your paints are rubbish. I've never tried The Works' own-brand stuff, but I've never seen miniatures paints/craft paints in there either, only "artist's acrylics" which are nearly always too pigment-poor for mini painting.



If you have a Boyes near you, they sometimes sell Vallejo paints in their modelling section; I'd recommend you try a couple of pots of those and see what you think. Vallejo have a 'Game Colour' range which is made to match GW paint colours and pre-thinned for brush painting, an 'Air Colour' range which you want to avoid unless you have an airbrush (they are excellent in an airbrush, though) and a 'Model Colour' range which are intended for military modellers and are more pigment-dense than the game colour paints.



Don't buy a huge number of any brand before you have a chance to try a pot or two and see if they work for you. And be aware that there are certain colours, like red and yellow, which are basically never very opaque and will always require a well-chosen base colour (often white) and multiple even coats to look good. Whites, greys and blacks are usually good for coverage, blues and browns are often fine and greens are a mixed bag, in my experience.


EDIT: and problems like this are exactly why I would always recommend any newbie to miniature painting should start with proper mini paints and experiment with cheap craft paints after they already know how to deal with the pitfalls, but that's an unpopular opinion on BGG and there's always some guy who painted really well for thirty years with just some half-dried-out craft paints he inherited from his grandmother, a toothpick and spit, who doesn't believe anybody should ever have to pay more than 5p a pot for colours and anyone who says otherwise is an idiot.
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George Ramos
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Yes, I should have mentioned: I use Vallejo Game Colors, and also some Citadel / Games Workshop paints. I can vouch for their quality.
 
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James Boardgame
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I painted a lot of minis with The Works and worse paints. They can be ok, though I usually used a white undercoat. Better paints are much easier to paint with, but a significant investment - you're better off getting a bit of experience with the cheap stuff, though on figures you can afford to be less particular about. It sounds to me like you're probably thinning them too much though - I don't think I would tend to thin my cheap paints, just use a suitably damp brush.
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Jason Gardner
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My guess is that the paint is too thin. Some craft paints don't have enough pigment to cover well after thinning. I have had this problem with some brand & colors of craft paints.

I paint mostly with craft paints, b/c I like to have lots of color choices and I hate mixing custom colors each time.

Not sure if you can get it where you are, but I find that the Delta Ceramcoat acrylics are quite good. GIve it a good shake, then thin a couple drops of paint (~60%paint 40%water or other fancy thinner) and mix well. The paint should flow nicely and be a bit like milk consistency (not the nonfat milk, but the good "whole" milk stuff). If you can't get Delta, Americana is good too. NEVER, EVER, EVER get Craftsmart, as it's pure crap. Folkart is decent, and their metallics are quite good...I usually don't thin the metallics. Applebarrel is on par with Folkart, but I like the Folkart metallics better.

I also use paints designed for miniatures, buying them when I can find a sale. The miniature paints in reds/yellows/oranges and lighter colors usually cover better than the craft paint versions of those colors.

I also make all my washes with Delta craft paint (umber, black, dark umber are nice). I find that some of the craft paints don't have enough pigment to hold up as a wash, particularly the Craftsmart stuff (aka Crapsmart).
 
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Jake Staines
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brewgeek wrote:

Delta Ceramcoat acrylics are quite good.
...
Folkart is decent, and their metallics are quite good...
Applebarrel is on par with Folkart


For what it's worth, since the OP is in the UK: out of all the American craft paints that get regular mention, I've only ever seen Folkart on sale in an actual shop over here. The others occasionally show up in online craft shops. I have a few bottles of Folkart and they're perfectly good - just not quite as good as Vallejo Model Colour, which was my preferred paint a few years ago when I last painted miniatures seriously.

I don't know what the prices are like in the US, but those brands in the UK tend to have per-pot prices a bit more expensive than Vallejo paints or other 'proper' mini paints that aren't Citadel. The difference is just that the pot is three to five times larger. For example, a 17ml pot of Vallejo Game Colour costs between £1.50 and £2, in my experience; the cheapest I could find a 59ml/'2oz' (it weighs 3.4oz, WTF?) pot of the FolkArt colour was £2.20 a couple of years ago, and I saw some places charging up to a fiver a pot!



The FolkArt paints definitely represent a significant saving, but at the same time I used to paint miniatures in pretty much all of my spare time and it would still take me literally months to use up a single pot. Personally I would still recommend - given the UK prices at least - the 'proper' mini paints if you're new to miniature painting. A basic set of Vallejo (or similar) paints will still set you back less as an initial investment than the equivalent craft paints, and they're still better. If you find that you really like it and need a lot of paint, then by all means dip into the craft paint after that!
 
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Jason Gardner
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Thanks for the info Jake. In the States, the craft paint is insanely cheap. I can get the 2 oz (59 ml) bottles for less than $1. If the vallejo and other mini paints where even close to that price, I would opt for them every time.
 
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Jeff K
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This is the deal with cheap craft paints. You can get a 2oz bottle for $1. Most good paints run $3-$4 per 0.5oz. bottle. So that's 6x - 8x more expensive. But the other thing to consider, as mentioned above, is that your consumption of most paints is pretty low. You have to weigh this against the savings. In many cases it just isn't worth it, but it might be if you have a ton of painting to do, or want every color under the sun.

I can tell you from experience that there is almost zero difference between craft paints. What it really depends on is the color and what pigment they are using. Results vary wildly, even within one single manufacturer because they will use different pigment. You may find that the black from Apple Barrel is great, but then buy the white and it blows. But Folk Art white might be okay. That's just an example. They all suck, you just have to expect it.

There is much more consistency with the good paints. If you want to improve the quality of your cheap paints, you have to doctor them with quality additives. I never paint with cheap paints right out of the pot. That does not give satisfactory results, usually. I suggest something such as liquitex matte medium for thinning, instead of water:



Also, consider using a flow extender for those paints which tend to be "chunky," which are a lot of them. Using these two additives can really improve the quality of your el cheapo paints.

Also, I highly, highly recommend using acrylic ink instead of these ungodly expensive washes that companies sell. Those washes can be really, really expensive. I never buy washes, always make them because you use so much of it. Thinning 1:10 - 1:20 in 50% strength matte medium makes a very nice wash (black, or burnt umber or sienna for flesh):



Also: don't use tap water for thinning. The salts in tap water ruin the surface tension of the thinned paints, and can displace the pigments. If you find your washes are running off and simply leaving some whitish residue in the cracks instead of pigment, the water is the reason. Use DI or distilled.
 
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