Unsteady hands and blobby paint flying all over the place? Well not for long because I'm here to hit you with some knowledge. Improve your accuracy today, right now, just by reading this article.
For most of these demonstrations I'm using a pot of Citadel's Khorne Red and a Small Layer brush. I have also used an Imperial Fist and some Abaddon Black in the first example. No expensive equipment needed.
|I've set up a little practice area. Citadel will try to sell you a £20 water pot, but an old mustard jar will do you proud. The lid doubles as a palette too. Other than that you just need some paper and the aforementioned brush and paint.|
Brace YourselfI'm going to start with the thing I hear all the time all over the internet, but for some reason never hear the solution to; people complaining about having unsteady hands. The truth is that nobody is born with super steady hands that make them more accurate. The solution is as simple as it is complicated, although it will become second nature over time. This one comes down entirely to how you hold the miniature and how you brace yourself and your painting hand. For demonstrative purposes (as it really is the only was to explain this) I've taken some pictures of myself painting - specifically how I'm holding the model and where my fingers are.
For those who are wondering - I wasn't born with 500 fingers or anything...
Ok, so you can see that I have four fingers from my left hand in contact with the model. 3 on his base and the other against his backpack. My right hand is then braced against the left, creating another 2 or 3 contact points. Add to that the fact that my forearms are braced against the edge of the desk and you'll start to understand why my hands aren't shaking anymore.
There isn't a single correct grip that you can learn and use, as it will vary with the miniature and what you're painting on the miniature. You'll have to quite literally feel it out for yourself, but it is very much worth considering and practicing. If you've been struggling to get those small details, but are holding the model between thumb and fore finger, both hands will be shaking the whole time in different directions and you're going to have a real hard time of it. You'll have to try and find what works for you, but most people will brace with their forearms resting on a table and a few fingers on the model.
I'm also turning the model as I go to keep the angle I'm working at favourable. It is generally easier to pull a line straight down, or straight horizontally, rather than round corners - so rotate the mini as you go to make things easier for yourself.
|This long sweep would be a real pain if it wasn't for that fact that I've turned the model to make it easier.|
Paint QuantityYep, it's not just the quality of the paint that matters. Quantity wise I'm talking specifically about how much you're putting onto the brush when you paint and where you're putting it. Too much and you'll find the bristles are pulled apart and that finely honed brush tip will disappear - leaving you with a paint shovel instead of a precision instrument. It also matters where the paint is (and I'm not just talking about the model). The paint should be focused on the tip mainly, but with enough in the well of the brush that you will be able to pull a line without running out of paint after the first millimetre.
|An overloaded brush destroys accuracy!|
|Look at that fine point, you can see vague redness where the paint has been absorbed into the well of the brush.|
Paint ConsistencyThis is one of those things that people tend to disagree over. Generally paints should be thinned from the pot to a consistency where they will apply smoothly without giving a lumpy or uneven finish. Some people say it should be like milk, but I'm not sure on the correct analogy. The important thing is that it is thin and free-flowing, but not so thin that it is washy, or doesn't stay where you're applying it. Equally if the paint is too watery the bristles will splay. You'll also hear a lot of people say that you can't paint straight out of the pot. This isn't necessarily true as most colours of paint have different consistencies, so it's different for every colour. There's also nothing wrong with using the lid of a citadel paint as a mixing area for diluting the paint - I do it all the time (just don't mix colours in there!).
|Too much water pulls the bristles apart and prevents you from getting a fine tip.|
|Until you get the hang of it you can mix in water on a palette (or piece of plastic crapola like me)|
|Obtain a fine point by turning (or rolling) the brush in the paint slowly. This also helps get even coverage across the head of the brush.|