February Down

I didn’t get much done this month. I’ve been dealing with some personal stuff and haven’t had a lot of painting time.

I did get a little painting done. I painted the Bones Dire Crab by Reaper Miniatures with 5 colors.

I did however start some different kind of painting. I have started to do some landscapes following along with Bob Ross videos on YouTube. I’ve done 3 so far. I’m very happy with the first two.

The big difference between mine and the videos are that I’m using acrylic paints instead of oils. I am practicing to eventually make them much smaller and do miniature paintings. These are on a mixed media paper. I have bought some roughtly 2 inch by 3 inch canvases to scale it down. I hope to scale it down even further.

My ultimate plans are to make diorama backgrounds and small paintings for dioramas. I may sell these if there is enough interest.

I am going to get back to mini painting, hopefully, this weekend. I’ve got some things I want to finish by the end of next month.

I won’t get much personal painting done the weekend of March 5th through the 7th. I am “attending” the Reaper Virtual Expo. There are tons of FREE classes to watch and/or follow along with.

You can check out what classes are available at the Reaper Virtual Expo site. There’s also lots of other fun stuff like painting contests.

That’s all for now. As always, happy painting.

~S

Reaper Challenge League: January

The year has started and it’s already flying by. January will be over in a matter of hours for me. I have done a lot this month, at least compared to the last several months. 

This year I’m participating in the Reaper Challenge League. This is a thing that Reaper Miniatures is doing through their official Discord server. Here is a link to more detailed information on the challenge: Reaper Challege League.

It is a challenge to paint Reaper models, aside from the freebie (I’ll talk about this a little further down) and bust categories.

Each month there are eight (8) challenges. 

The first two change each month, the first is a theme, for example, January’s theme was fire or ice. 

There is also a limited palette challenge. You are given a set of three (3) colors, January’s were blue, green, and pink. You paint one mini with just these three colors with the addition of black and white. However, these do have to be Reaper paints to count for points.

The other six (6) categories stay the same. There are categories for a player character mini and a monster mini. There are categories for Duo’s and Trio’s. This is where you pair up with one (1) or two (2) other painters and paint the same model. There is a category for New Releases where you pick a mini that has been released in the current month or the previous two (2) months. Then last but not least there is a Freebie/Shelf of Shame category. It is for you to paint any mini, from any company, in your stash.

There are also additional categories that are due quarterly, bi-yearly, and yearly. Each quarter there will be a raffle. You use the points that you get from doing each challenge and turn them into tickets. The raffle is held on the last day of the quarter. 

I did not plan to do much with this initially but I am getting things painted so that is a big motivator to do things. I finished three (3) challenges this month. A player character, a trio, and a freebie. I have also started two (2) models, a mini for the large group and a mini for the large model quarterly categories.

Here is what I accomplished:

Player Character: Bryn, Half-Elf Rogue
https://www.reapermini.com/search/half%20elf/latest/77753
Trio: Andromedan Queen
https://www.reapermini.com/search/andromedan/latest/49023
Freebie/Shelf of Shame: Thac0vius, d12
https://www.reapermini.com/search/dice/latest/77650
Quarterly Large Group Model: Annoyed Rocky (WIP)
https://www.reapermini.com/search/rocky/latest/77921
Quarterly Large Model: Frost Giant Queen (WIP)
https://www.reapermini.com/search/frost%20giant/latest/77592

So that’s what I’ve been up to this month. More to come next month!

Happy painting,
~S

Brushes, Brushes Everywhere: Anatomy

Well, it’s time I finally got around to one of the hottest and most debated topics in the miniature painting world, paint brushes! There is a TON of information out there that can be conflicting and confusing at times and I’m hoping to help make it a little easier to pick out what the right brushes for you are.

“Awesome! What brushes do I buy?”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. There is a lot to know about brushes. There are also many opinions on what the “right brush” is. Whether it be brand, shape, or size; someone, somewhere will have an opinion on it.

“What is the ‘right’ brush?”

The “right” brush is the one that works for YOU. No matter what suggestions you may get or information you may read. Ultimately the best brushes are the ones that you like the most. 

Artist brushes are what are generally used for miniature painting, either watercolor or acrylic brushes. 

There are many factors to choosing a brush, just to name a few; how they’re made, what they’re made of, and how they act when painting.

But we’re not going to talk about any of that today. Today we’re going to be discussing the anatomy of a paint brush. 

“Anatomy?”

Yes, anatomy! 

Knowing what parts make up a paint brush will help you immensely. 

Like I mentioned, there are many factors to picking a paint brush but, whether you’re painting on canvas or on a miniature, brushes are more or less universal and are made up of three main parts: handle, ferrule, and bristles (also sometimes called the tuft). Most paint brushes will also have a number (the size) and one of, in some cases both, the type of brush and company that produced it. Below is a handy diagram so you can see what I mean.

brush_anatomy-diagram
Diagram drawn by Ian Allen Bird

“Tell me about handles first.”

Handles are pretty self explanatory. They are the part of the brush that you hold. There are many different types of handles and several materials they can be made from. They also come in long and standard, which varies from company to company. 

Because you will spend so much time with it you want to make sure it’s comfortable when held. Ask yourself “Is it too light or too heavy?”. If yes to either, then you want to pick a different brush. You’ll also want to pick the type of material that is comfortable. Handles are generally made from wood or plastic. I find that the really cheap synthetics are made with plastic whereas almost everything else is made of wood. I can’t stress this enough, if it doesn’t feel comfortable, don’t buy it.

However, if you live in a remote place without a hobby or craft store nearby, testing out how it fits your hand is not necessarily an option. If you know someone who paints you may ask to feel how their brushes feel.  

None of these are options, you say? You then might turn to the internet to purchase brushes. This is not a bad thing. In fact, you can sometimes get really good brushes online that you may not find in a store. This can end up being trial and error which can get expensive depending on the brand of brush you buy. If you find a brush that you find paints well but isn’t quite comfortable enough you could always make or buy grips or simply look for a different brush. I will talk more about grips at a later date.

A word of warning though, buying name brand brushes, like Winsor and Newton, off of Amazon or eBay is not necessarily the best idea. While it may be convenient and maybe even cheap there are lots of people that sell them and it’s never guaranteed to be a legitimate brush of that brand. I’m not saying you can’t buy brushes off of Amazon, I have tons of synthetics that I’ve purchased there that work wonderfully, just be cautious if you do.  

“What is a ferrule and what does it do?”

It is a piece of metal, higher quality brushes it is generally made of copper or brass alloys but they can also be made of tin or aluminum. The ferrule holds the bristles in place and serves several different purposes.

The ferrule is crimped at the bottom to hold it to the handle. If not crimped properly the bristles can fall out or the ferrule itself may come off the handle completely. Neither of these things are good. There are a couple things to fix a ferrule that is loose or that has come off the handle. 

First assess how loose it may be. If it only wiggles a little you may be able to re-crimp it. You can do this with either a crimping tool (that can be found easily online) or some needle nose pliers. With pliers gently squeeze where the original crimp marks are. After each squeeze rotate the brush a little until you’ve gone all the way around.

If the ferrule comes off the handle glue or epoxy is the way to go. Start by gently sanding (or otherwise roughing up) the handle. Next take super glue or (preferably) a fast curing epoxy and apply some to the inside of the ferrule. Now this step can be tricky. If you use regular super glue, as opposed to a gel type glue, you need to make sure that it doesn’t drip down into the bristles. If it gets into them then you may have just ruined your, possibly, expensive brush. You will want to then leave the brush upright until the glue or epoxy sets completely. Just let it sit, don’t touch it.

If none of these work you may be out a brush.

PROTIP: If you get paint in the ferrule, if you’re not quick to clean it out, it can dry and this will cause your brush to splay out and split in an undesirable manners as seen below. 

If this does happen, stop what you’re doing immediately and rinse your brush very well. You may even want to run it under some cool water to help. Continue to rinse until the water runs clear and you can no longer see paint near the ferrule. While rinsing you will want to periodically dry the brush on a paper towel putting a very small amount of pressure at the heel (where the bristles meet the ferrule) and see how much paint may remain in the brush.

If paint does dry in the ferrule don’t despair! It can sometimes be saved, not always though. There are products out there that can remove even the most stubborn of dried paint. These products, however, can be very harsh on the bristles. I’ll do a whole post about brush cleaning in the near future and go into detail about the product and process that I use to clean and maintain my brushes.

“So it seems like the most important part you’ve left for last? The bristles?”

You are, indeed, very observant. The bristles are the heart and soul of the paint brush. Without them it’s impossible to paint. This can be the really confusing part about picking brushes. There are many types of shapes, sizes, and materials that the bristles can be made of.

“That seems like a lot, where do we start?”

Let’s start with materials. There are many types of hairs that make up the bristles or tuft. There are two broad options, synthetic and natural hair. 

Synthetic hairs are usually made of nylon or polyester, these are sometimes labeled as “Taklon”. Brushes with synthetic hairs are, generally, much cheaper than natural hair brushes. Taklon is generally white or golden in color. I have not found much difference between the two.

Natural hair bristles are made up of different animal hairs. The two most common natural hair used in high quality miniature brushes are Red Sable and Kolinsky Sable hairs. Both types of hair come from animals in the weasel family not from a Sable.

Red Sable, while still of decent quality, are much cheaper than Kolinsky. They come from an animal that lives in a warmer climate than the Kolinsky thus making the brushes work in different ways. Red Sable can also come from the female of the same animal from which a Kolinsky comes from. It also does not come to as fine as a point as a Kolinsky because of the nature of the hairs; and because of this they generally will not hold a point as long or as well making it difficult to control.

Kolinsky Sable hair comes from an animal that lives in a much colder climate than the Red Sable hairs do. To be a true Kolinsky they must be made from the hair of the male. They will keep a point much longer than most any other type of hair on the market. A good Kolinsky brush can last years if properly cared for.

“Okay, what’s next?”

Now, like the brush itself, the bristles have their own anatomy. 

Bristles are made of the tip (or point) and the belly. The tip of the brush is one of the most important aspects in choosing one. The shape of the brush will determine the shape of the tip. The important thing to look for is that it comes to a point without flaws. 

The belly will vary based on the size of the brush. It is where the majority of the paint should sit after you have loaded the brush. The size will determine how much paint it can hold. The larger the belly the more paint it will hold. Very small brushes have very small bellies. This can cause problems because, depending upon the climate of your surroundings, the paint can dry on the brush before you even touch the brush to the mini. That is why it is recommended to use the biggest brush you are comfortable with. This is, however, not always practical; you probably can’t paint those tiny eyes with a size 4 brush, no matter how sharp the tip is. 

That is where we are going to leave off for today, thanks for reading!

“Wait! You mentioned that size and shape also affect how brushes work. What about all of that?”

That is for next time! It is much more information than this one post can hold.

Happy painting,

-S

Portfolio Overhaul

I’m hoping in the near future to get my portfolio more organized. I have not yet determined the best way to do that though. I’ve painted So Many Reaper Bones that I feel just putting them into one section isn’t helpful if you’re looking for something specific. I’ll let y’all know when I figure out a system because I may have to take that part of the site down for a bit to rearrange things.

Thanks for your constant patience.

Happy Painting,
~S

Happy New Year!

So it’s 2021 now, weird right? I will have been painting for 8 years this year and have come so far and don’t intend on stopping now. A couple posts ago I mentioned hobby resolutions. I have…many. I’m try to reign it in but it’s proving difficult.

I have two lists. One for hobby specific goals and one for hobby adjacent goals.

Hobby Goals:

  • Finish Ma’al Drakar
    • I came very close to this last year but Stuff (TM) got in the way. This might be the year it’s done!
  • Start Grimtalon
    • This is a gorgeous Roc mini by Reaper Miniatures from their Bones IV Kickstarter.
  • Baba Yaga’s Hut
    • A house. With chicken feet. Need I say more?
  • Eldritch Desert Diorama
    • I’m not sure I mentioned it last year but I started a diorama later in the year. It’s going to be a black and white film noir Lovecraft-esque thing.
  • Finish up Shadows of Brimstone that needs to be done.
  • Start painting Forbidden Fortress.
  • Finish up the minis started during ReaperCon Live 2020.
  • Clear some of the Shelf of Shame.
  • Participate in the Reaper Challenge League.
    • I’ll come back to this in a minute.

Hobby Adjacent Goals:

  • First I want to work on the blog.
    • I love being able to share things with y’all and, I feel, I’m not doing it enough.
  • Level up my photography skills.
  • Organize minis and paint
    • Lol, this may never happen well enough for me to be content.
  • Update the mini inventory spreadsheet.
  • Update the paint swatches and make sure they are inventoried.

Okay. That was a lot. But it is for the whole year so maybe I’ll get some things done.

Now, I mentioned the Reaper Challenge League. It’s a new thing that is happening on the Reaper Forums and Discord server. The only downside I have found is that you have to have a Discord account and be part of the server to participate.

I am going to attempt to do this for a while. I probably won’t make it the whole year with everything else I want to get done. But it’s a fun thing to try to challenge myself. It is NOT a contest. It’s purely a challenge to see how much you can get done. I’m using it to help me clear my backlog.

This is the link to the forum post with a ton more information: https://forum.reapermini.com/index.php?/topic/93204-reaper-challenge-league-2021/

I think that’s all I’ve got for now but looking forward to bringing some exciting things to y’all this year. In the meantime be safe, happy, and healthy.

Happy Painting,
~S

2020

This year has been a trip and it wasn’t one I planned for.

All told I painted about 36 minis this year. I can’t find an exact number because I did not write things down like I should have.

As it is the holidays I have broken out my Reaper Miniatures 2011 Sophie Christmas Ornament to hopefully paint before the end of the year.

For next year I have goals. I can’t say if they are big ones or not yet. I will have to think on them for a while before I can really say one way or the other. I will get my list of overall goals up sometime soon.

Lastly, I want to wish everyone a very happy holiday season.

Happy Painting,
~S

Busy

I have been busy as of late and will be busy through next month.

I haven’t been painting, I’m a little burnt out so I’m switching gears for a while.

I’m going to be participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I am going to, attempt, to write a novel or 50k(+?) words of a story in the month of November starting at midnight on the 1st ending at 11:59 on the 30th.

November for the past several years has been dedicated to Minivember but as I mentioned I need a break. I don’t know whether or not Minivember will be back next year as I want to try to get All Mini’s Eve sorted out.

Time will tell.

Just to reiterate, I’m not disappearing, just taking a break. I’ll be back soon!

Happy painting,

S

Personal Chat

I have been very busy as of late. Life just kind of hit the fan. A friend of mine from high school who I lost contact with a while ago passed away last week. Then on top of all that my migraines have been pure hell. But I am still doing a little hobby-ing.

Projects currently working:

Firstly.

I’m working on the embroidery for the All Mini’s Eve stuff and while it’s going it just going slowly. I’d /hoped/ so much that I would have had it all together by the beginning of the month and I could actually commence with putting it together and doing the project itself. But, alas, that did not happen.

I’m working on getting some more materials to get some of the finer detailed things embroidered. Should be able to get that this week.

Secondly.

I am working on a new diorama. It is on hold for now until I figure some things out but you can check those out over on the Reaper Miniatures forums. https://forum.reapermini.com/index.php?/topic/93022-eldritch-desert-diorama/

I go a little more in depth with my process over there. If you’d like to see more of this type of content here let me know!

Thirdly.

I know this blog is a little neglected but it’s been a weird couple of years around here so I haven’t had as much time to dedicate to it as I would have liked. I’m hoping in the next few weeks I’ll get some content planned out more appropriately and posted in a timely manner. And again I apologize for lack of posting.

Lastly.

I may be starting a second blog that is not geared towards minis but geared towards the history and anthropology behind different food. I need to do a lot of research on this before I do it but it may become a thing that kicks me in the butt to at least get this in gear.

I think that’s all for now. As always:

Happy Painting,

S

Mini Tips Tuesday #2: Primers

For this Mini Tips Tuesday we’re going to be talking all about primers.

“What is a primer?”

Primer is a coat of paint that allows your subsequent layers of paint to adhere better. It will help keep your paint job more durable as well. Without primer paint will easily chip off and ruin your paint job.

“What kind of primers are there?”

There are many different types of primer but, for miniature painting, it can be broken down into three different types: spray-on, brush-on, and airbrush primers.

Spray-on primers come in rattle cans. They are very helpful for priming a lot of minis at once or priming something large. 

Brush-on is a primer that you use your paint brush to apply. Primers for an airbrush can, in most cases, be used as a brush on as well. 

Airbrush primer is designed to be sprayed through an airbrush.

“Do they come in different colors?”

Yes! 

Black is generally considered the standard color to go with. I, personally, have trouble seeing details with black primer so I will generally go for white or grey. Another reason I prefer white and grey over black is because I paint a lot of difficult colors. It is really hard to paint a solid yellow, red, or white base coat over black primer. 

However, hobby primers have come a long way as there are a plethora of other colors out there. Army Painter, for example, makes a whole line of colored primers meant to help you get your base coat done at the same time. 

Colored primers are good for models that have the same base color. This is especially good for things like armies of minis that will be based the same. It’s much easier to start with your base color on all of them than to use a black, white, or grey base and paint over that a thousand times. It saves time and paint. Along with colored primers there are metallic primers. These are exactly what they sound like, a colored metallic primer, it serves the same purpose as any colored primer.

Airbrush primers are made to be sprayed through an airbrush. These however are also usually a good enough consistency to be used as a brush-on application as well.

How do I get the best results from a primer?

Spray on primers generally have instructions on the can. You want to follow these very closely. If it’s too hot or too humid it will affect the way it dries. If you spray too closely you risk clogging up details. If you spray too far away you risk the primer drying before it hits the model and you’ll get a rough surface. You may want to spray in a box or something similar to avoid getting primer all over everything in the area you are spraying in. 

Brush-on primers don’t need special conditions to prime. It should be fine to just pour some out on a palette and use it. There are a couple things to note when using. Shake thoroughly before using and work at a steady pace. If you go too fast you run the risk of getting bubbles in the primer and it will create bubbles on the models. 

If you use too much primer, spray or brush-on, it will obscure details no matter how thin your coats are. 

“How do I choose a primer?”

You want a primer that will adhere to the material you are going to be painting. So if you’re painting plastic make sure you get something that notes it will stick to plastics. It’s even better if you know what kind of plastic you’re working with but it is not usually required. This applies to metal miniatures as well.

In any case, you will want a matte primer. Paint does not stick well to glossy primer. 

“What is Zenithal priming?”

Zenithal priming, or highlighting, is priming that gives the effect of the sun shining on the miniature at different angles. It helps you pre-shade a model. 

You will start with a mini primed in all black. Then from above use a very light dusting grey primer at about a 45 degree angle. Then from the very top you do a spray of white.  

When painting over a zenithal highlight you don’t want to use super opaque paint. Doing this will ruin the effect. While it is generally done by spraying it is possible to achieve a similar effect with dry brushing.

“What about Bones minis? Should you prime them?”

Before I give my answer I will preface this by saying this is what I do and suggest, personally. It is a hugely debated topic.

First, it is possible to paint Bones without priming but it can be difficult due to the hydrophobic nature of the material..

Second, I do not prime, kind of. I use the liner paints that Reaper Miniatures makes as a primer. I like brown and blue. You can use these straight out of the bottle or with a drop or two of water without issue. Any more water than that and you run the risk of the chance of it beading up and running off.

I do not recommend aerosol primarily for one reason. Some, not all, of the spray-on primers will cause the mini to become tacky and sticky. This may or may not ever dry. It can also cause the mini to seem to be dried well at first but then later on will become tacky sometimes after you’ve already painted it.

I highly recommend that if you feel you must prime Bones to either use a liner paint, brush-on primer, or primer sprayed through an airbrush. 

But, to each their own I say. 

As always happy painting,

-S