Painting Tips Part 2

II. How to get good at painting? The adventure continues :-)

>One thing not included in these comments is the ability to maintain firm control on the brush as you paint lines and fine detail.

Duh'Oh - good point well taken.

But actually the secret IMHO is not a firm grip, but a moderately loose grip on the brush and figure. Clenching too tightly will cause extreme fatigue and shaking that makes fine detail almost impossible to paint well. Kind of like what the golf pro told me about my grip - "I was holding on too tight."

Also good breathing technique - when I am sending a 5/0 pointer into the eye socket of a 25mm figure to place the pupil "just right" I gently breath out. The same technique as used when pulling the trigger on a rifle.

>Use of caffine products, whether coffee or soda will make it harder to
>maintain a steady hand. [and the other controlled substances go without mention] Moderation, not excess in consumption is advised.

But NO caffine makes it quite impossible for yours truely to focus his eyes, rendering a steady hand quite useless! ;)

>Likewise some wrist strengthing will also assist in building control.

I suppose. But good body posture helps more. I paint figures with both my arms resting on the table, a 1/2 inch thick cloth pad (two old tube socks folded together) under my left foream for both bracing and comfort. I lean over the painting table, moving mostly my fingers instead of leaning back in my chair with the figure held up at eye level. Since I am depending upon the table to give me stability, I don't have to have deal with fatigue from holding my arms out in front of me.

>Moderate the time spent painting without a break. The longer you
>maintain the grip, the tougher it'll be to maintain the same level of
>control. Pause, take a break.

Agreed - I break for almost ten minutes of every hour.

My thanks to the folks kind enough to express their support for my effort on the NG - it was much appreciated. And to those of you who sent me personal e-mail, I'll try to answer all your questions in time. But I'll also try to answer a few of those queries as this particular thread continues.

Now for some clarifications / continuations:

>1. Use only acrylic paints - I use Creamcoat by Delta along with hobby paints by Polly-S and Ral Partha. Oil-based paints are just too tough to use and too slow to dry.

I made no mention of primers - for 25mm figures or larger I use a grey spray primer made by Krylon. But for 15mm figures I've found that slightly thinned down ordinary arylic grey or white paint works great.

Mold: One problem with acrylic paints I've found is some brands and colors will "mold", getting thick clumps of some obviously noxious foreign growth. This has been a particular problem with some shades of green and brown and Ral Partha pewter/aged metal. What I've done to combat the problem is to keep a small medicine bottle with a built-in eyedrooper filled with ordinary ammonia (the non-foaming kind). Just a few drops of the stuff into the paint bottle when you discover the problem will help control it.


Since I wrote this article, I've discovered something that works better than ammonia. I spray Lysol disinfectant spray directly into an empty paint bottle until it's about half full (holding 1/3 an ounce of liquid or so). Then I pour the captured disinfectant into a small medicine bottle with a built-in eyedropper and dispense the mold-killer drop by drop into the effected paint.

Mixing paint: I've seen lots of people recomend putting ball bearings in paint bottles or storing paint upside down, none of which I do because I belive they harm the paint or bottle or seal integrity (letting air in and drying it out).

Most of the non-hobby paints I buy (Ceramcoat especially) come in tall, 2 oz (for 1.49$, such a deal!) plastic squeeze bottles with screw-off lid - these I shake, unscew the lid and paint out of the top of the lid.

But for specialist, hobby paint in small 1/2 oz bottles (Ral Partha, Polly-s and others) I prefer to stir the paint with a toothpick. Then use an old brush to scrap the paint from the toothpick to form a puddle in the bottle lid, which I then paint out of. I've found this method has several advantages over simply shaking the paint.

a) No paint gets into the threads of the cap, clogging it and making the bottle tough to open or close. It also prevents the paint from soaking through the paper seal and allowing air into the bottle.

b) Paint doesn't form a thick layer along the bottle sides, which can chip-off into the liguid paint and ruin it.

c) The paint remains fresh and useable right down to the very bottom of the bottle - I have odd, special colors of paint over 10 years old which are just as useful now as when I bought them.

  • Gettin' Good: An introduction, explanation and disclaimer.
  • Part 1: How to get good at painting? A professional's opinion.
  • Part 2: How to get good at painting? Dissenting opinions are heard.
  • Part 3: The selection, care and feeding of brushes.
  • Part 4: Questions and answers from the gentle readers.
  • Part 5: A primer on using stains and washes.
  • Part 6: Ragged Rebs (or painting irregular units in a regular way).
  • Part 7: Painting Ponies I. Just what sort of beast is that, anyway?
  • Part 8: Painting Ponies II. Your basic black, brown and chestnut horses.
  • Part 9: Painting Ponies III. Fancies - whites, greys, duns and finishing touches.
  • Part 10: A primer on stripes, checks and tartan plaids.