Scent of a Gamer

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The production line: painting miniatures in bulk, part 3: from undercoat to base colours

It’s important, as I have mentioned in previous parts, to know what you want in terms of a colour scheme before you start painting. It makes the process a lot easier, and avoids any mid-project slow-downs. Well, I decided to switch my painting scheme for the Perry miniature from blue and white to straight red. This held me up!

If you haven’t already read parts 1 and 2, I recommend you do this now.

3.1 Working it out

Before starting to paint anything over the undercoat, work out what colours you’re going to use. To help with this mentally (or in writing) divide the miniature into its different parts and work out what will do where. For the skeletons this was straightforward.

  • Bones
  • Bows/ spear shaft/ arrows
  • Quivers
  • Fletching
  • Swords/ spear tip

That is five separate paints to use for the base colours. For the Perry models it was a little more complex.

  • Skin
  • Coloured uniform
  • Leather uniform/ belts/ pouches/ boots/ leather helm
  • Pike shaft/ handgun wood
  • Gun barrel/ pike tip/ metal helm/ armour

Still I have ended up with five colours on models with more complexity than the relatively simple skeletons.

3.2 Gather paints and models

It is time to clear the area. The only things you want here are the models to paint, the paints you’ll use and paint accessories (brushes, water etc.). Everything else should be out of sight to avoid any distraction.

3.3 Be methodical

This is the pointy end of the production line. You should have just one paint in front of you at a time. Choose an area or areas, get your paint ready, and go!

For each model, pick it up, apply the colour to each area where needed, then move on the the next, and repeat. With five colours to apply I had five stages to move from an undercoat to a model with all its base colours in place.

To avoid missing out parts I tend to talk to myself (internal voice only). “left hand… right hand… face… neck… done” and so on. This is my way of ensuring I don’t miss part of a model. Having to come back for pick up jobs slows the production line down.

The speed benefit of painting one colour at a time across multiple models should be apparent. The more models you do the faster you get painting each one. There are limits, and for me it’s about 24 models. Note there are 24 skeletons and 26 Perry Miniatures in this article series. That was on purpose.

You need a decent number of models in the production line, as the point is that by the time you complete the skin on model 26, model 1 is dry enough for the next paint to begin. Round and round you go until all areas of all models are done.

Minimal down time equals maximum speed. I still have coffee breaks in there, and will occasionally remember to eat. For painting large numbers of similar models to a tabletop standard, this method is very useful.

3.4 The result



At this stage the models are looking quite basic. Is that an unpainted helmet in the front row of those pikemen? I’ll have to go back for that one. In the detail stage we’ll take the same amount of time to put less paint on these models and give each area a decent amount of attention.

The end of the base colour stage is a good time to take stock and make sure the models are on the way to turning out how you want. With the Perry models I’ve decided to add a sixth colour, as there is too much leather on these models to have just one shade. Something darker for belts, straps and pouches is in order. This can wait for the detail stage though.

One comment on “The production line: painting miniatures in bulk, part 3: from undercoat to base colours

  1. Pingback: The production line, painting miniatures in bulk, part 4: from base colours to details | Scent of a Gamer

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This entry was posted on August 1, 2015 by in Painting & Modelling and tagged , , , , .
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