Sunday, March 30, 2008


Usually, when people first see our figs, it's when they are all done - if they are interested, we show them our painting area in the den, where there are always a few pieces in progress.
L and I have been painting together since we first moved in together (about 12.5 years ago) - we started out on a little rickety desk that barely held all of our paints, brushes and other stuff. When we painted at the same time, it got pretty crowded.

A couple of years ago, we bought a big U-shaped desk for the computer & printer; we use one arm of the U to set up all of our painting equipment. It's a nice relaxing hobby - we put on some music and just sit and work on our figs. The cats visit us (they always want to sit on us, but their fur gets in the paint and they tend to move around & jostle us). Today, we listened to Leonard Cohen and The Cure. The hours pass pleasantly.These are our paints. They are a mix of Testors model paints, Partha Paints, Citadel Colour (Games Workshop) and Reaper Miniatures. Some of them are pretty old - we keep them from drying up by just using the colour from the lids and adding water when needed to thin them out a bit. There aren't many places in town to buy paints anymore, so we try to conserve what we've got.
The tubs of what looks like sand are our modelling materials: dirt, sand, grass, pebbles. All different shades and sizes. These are great when a piece doesn't have a very interesting base, or when working on a larger grouping on a big base. Equipment
From the top: Zap-A-Gap (best glue out there for glueing figs together), a pen (for scale), 2-ended blade for poking putty into tricky spots, Xacto knife for carving moulding flash off, 2 needle files (flat, triangle and round) for sanding down rough spots prior to primering, primer brush (the red one), and my brushes from biggest to smallest: a 2/0, two 3/0s, two 4/0s, a 5/0 and a 10/0 (that one's for doing eyes and fine detail). The putty is for filling in gaps when glueing a larger piece together. A close-up of my brushes (L has his own set):

New Figure

This is what figures look like when we buy them:This will be a Pit Fiend with a ball of fire in his right hand. That's his head and the ball of fire on a piece of metal on right. My next job here is to sand all the pieces down, glue him all together, fill any cracks with putty and then primer him. He's going to be a big job, but will look great when he's done. The big pieces like this tend to make people ooh and ah, but the small figs are actually harder to do.

I'll post the Pit Fiend's progress as I work on him.


  1. Ok, so this 'floor polish' method - do you mean to say that you actually add floor polish to the paint? How could that work - is it water-based or something? Or is that a fancy pants way of saying mixing when wet (on the fig). I haven't painted for a decade, so your new-fangled technology frightens and confuses me. I'm this close to sticking my finger in a light socket here.

    I could totally nerd out on esoteric miniature talk, but I'll try to restrain myself.

    So not many places left to buy paints there? How about figs? Do you do mainly fantasy? (I notice L is doing some napoleonic stuff)? Any favorite lines? (I can look at the blister packs for hours) Do any scratch-building? Ever try sculpey? (tastes awsome)

    I'm lucky in that the best fig store in the city is about 4 minutes away if I walk slowly. So I do. They still carry everything I could ever want and all the lines (even though they'd love to drop Warhammer - apparently they are awful in their dealings with the independents since they have the Games Workshop stores).

    Speaking of Games Workshop, I keep threatening to my wife that I am going to go to the mall and start on my new career of fig painting. I can't help but stop every time we pass by and mock the paint jobs. I have trouble even going into that store though - it has that creepy guy basement vibe.

    Oh yeah, how are you doing?

    How's that for restraint?

  2. It's actually floor polish, clear Future Premium Floor Finish. You mix a little bit of it with the acrylic paints and it thins the paint out like water, but the pigments stay more evenly suspended than they do with water (where the pigments tend to settle down at the bottom, so that your wash is a lot less consistent in colour). I also use it to thin out paint when just normally painting, but you have to be careful not to add too much (1 dab of floor polish to 3 dabs of paint is good) or it will be slightly shiny.

    I know that shop! We totally binge and buy about 20 figs each whenever we go to Van (we're coming over at the end of the month to see Rush and are planning on a pilgrimage to the Comic Shop). Yeah, we buy mostly Reaper minis - some of the pieces we have are quite old, though (we each have over 100 unpainted still...and yet, we buy more. I'm insane). We still have some unpainted Ral Partha, and a couple of TSR/WOTC D&D figs.

    I like the Reaper - but I miss the big boxed sets that you used to be able to get. I have a boxed set called "Dr. Mordenheim's Lab" that's a Dr. Frankenstein set piece. Haven't painted it yet.

    Yeah, buying paints is difficult. There's a comic shop, a Games Workshop store (ptui! I spit on you, sellers of expensive plastic figures and pushers of poor painting methods!), and a hobby shop where we buy some Testors paints (their metallics are good, as is the white - good for primering - and the spray matte finish, and modelling materials, like sand, grass and pebbles.

    We're really careful not to let the paints dry up. Some of them are over 15 years old!

  3. Ok, could I make a photo request? It's kind of creepy. Could you take a shot of the floor polish so I buy the right stuff? I'd like to pick some up and try it. I have at least 30 figs awaiting paint. I haven't picked up a brush in over 5 years, but you're giving me the bug again.

    Actually the shop I go to is in Richmond. Imperial Hobbies. Autistic wargamers and model and comic guys hanging out all day. Literally. They litter the place and the owner knows what butters his bread so he lets them move in. If you can stand the smell, it's a great place. Check it out if you're even in Richmond. It's worth a look.

    I used to love some of the TSR lines (I think they were TSR anyway) - the humans had an almost cartoon feel. I hate overt realism in figs. It's much more fun to paint and look at caricatures.

    I always use Testors metallics and then wash them with inks. I used to keep brass, gold, silver and an even brighter one (aluminum?) on hand (and often blend brass over a base coat of gold - really makes it pop). Their white is pretty much indispensable. There's something about the light pigments (white & yellow especially) that just doesn't work with water-based paint. They dry up in no time and tend to be 'grainy.'

    I have some paints that are ~15 years old myself - these giant glass bottles of citadel paints. I loved them. There was a hobby store that went tits up and was selling them for $.25 each, so I bought one of everything they had. Super smooth but not thick, a slight satin sheen to some of the hues, but still very nice (a spray coat of matte varnish takes care of that). I think I have two of those left.

    I see you also have posts about fashion... they frighten me.


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