Step 3: Collection, Building & Painting
Step 3: Collection, Building & Painting
So, you have an army list in hand that you want to build and play. Awesome! Now the real work begins. Once you have your army list pretty locked down, you can start creating your shopping list. I dive more into an overall shopping list in a bit, but first here's some general thoughts on the collecting and building of your army.
You may find that in some cases units will come in sets of 2 or 4 when you only need 1, but in other cases, unused pieces of a blister pack you buy may be usable for other platoons and you won't have to buy them. Worst case, you can always use any 'spare' pieces as Objectives.
Once you have your list of miniatures, we need to come up with our paints and supplies list. You may already have some of these items floating around and can save yourself some money. While I tried to document how to go about painting things below, I admit that I'm not a very good painter and there's some really talented and incredible painters all over the forums and elsewhere online. Spend some time looking and searching through the "Painting and Modelling" forum as well as across the internet. There's a ton of information and ideas on painting and modelling and places like YouTube are a goldmine of information.
All miniatures need to have an 'undercoat' of primer paint which will assist the later paint layers in adhering well to the miniature. People that field bare metal miniatures are generally known as 'Silver Surfers.' I've had better luck with decent primer, and I know bad primer will ruin your miniatures, washing out details and just making the mini look bad. (Hint: I've had bad luck with Games Workshop Primers.) Battlefront sells cans of "War Paint" spray paint for many of of the major powers that are both a primer and undercoat for vehicles. These are nice because you can knock out both the undercoat and basecoat in one shot and save yourself some time, but the cans aren't cheap. There's also other primers out there that I've used with success. I'm partial to "Army Painter" myself but others have recommended either the 'Board to Pieces' or the 'P3' primers, but any decent primer will do the trick. Do a quick search on 'miniature primer' and you'll find a ton of information and options. Black primers will 'darken' later coats and white primers will 'lighten' later coats. They make grey primer if you want something in between. I generally use black primers for most of my stuff, but occasionally white on infantry. It's really a matter of what you like. Your technique of applying the primer is probably ten times more important than the primer you actually use.
It would be nice if we were done after our priming step. Just like our 'Silver Surfers', there's a name known for folks that field figures that are primed black but not painted. They're running the dreaded 'Ninja Army'. People aren't going to give you grief if you show up to a few games with Silver Surfers or Ninja's, as we all know it takes a while to get things prepped and painted. But if you show up for months without making any progress on your miniatures, people may look at your Surfers and Ninja's funny.
Of course we want to try to paint our miniatures to look realistic as possible. Flames of War is a visual game, and well painted/based miniatures add a ton to the game experience. Battlefront has wonderful guides detailing what colors you need to paint the infantry and vehicles of all the different armies in many of the Intelligence Handbooks and Rulebooks.
For many of the armies, Battlefront sells "Paint Sets" that include many of the colors you are going to need for that army. There is also a "Quartermaster Set" that include paints and washes/shades that are common to many of the armies. All the paints used are Vallejo paints, so if you'd like you can pick up all the colors you need individually instead of in the box sets. Each of the Army Painting guides will tell you the Vallejo name and number for each paint. You don't have to use Vallejo/FoW branded paints and can also use paints from other vendors as well if you'd like. There's a few sites out on the internet that have compatibility charts listing what paints match each other from across the different vendors. Personally, I'd stick with the Vallejo paints unless you already have a large collection of paints from another vendor. You'll probably end up with about 10 to 12 bottles of paint to handle the bulk of your armies infanry and vehicles.
Once you've finished painting your miniatures, there's some finishing touches you can add to them for even more detail. You can get decals from Battlefront for your vehicles in your army so you don't have to attempt to paint symbols, letters or numbers by hand. You can also pick up a ton of different decals from I-94 Enterprises. You may want to use some 'washes' which are basically well watered down paints/pigments that will flow into all the nooks and cranies of your miniature to add depth to them. You can buy pre-made washes or even make your own if you'd like. With washes and watered down paint there's all sorts of effects you can create for weathering and making your troops look battle worn.
On most miniatures other than vehicles, you're going to want to get materials to add finishing touches to your 'base'. Most of the blister packs come with the small, medium or large plastic bases that you put your infantry and gun teams on, but their just plain plastic. There's some great tutorials in the modelling/painting forums and in the Hobby book on some things you can do to bring your base to life (FoW website). If you really don't want to mess with basing, Battlefront makes some pre-made 'rubble' bases that just need to be painted and you can glue your infantry/guns teams right into cutouts that are pre-made for them. Once all that is done, you'll want to seal and protect everything with a coat or two of spray varnish.
Woohoo! Time to start shopping! At this point, spend a few minutes to write up your own 'Shopping List' of what you need to get so you can keep things straight and make sure you get everything you need. There's nothing worse than getting ready to sit down and paint your minis and notice you forgot to buy brushes or forgetting to buy that Bazooka squad you needed.
Step 1) Prep - It's pretty similar to everything else you do while painting, set up your area and get ready to open that new purchase.
Step 2) Unpacking and Cleaning - Unpack the miniatures you plan to paint first. I wouldn't unpack everything at once because it's really easy to lose those little bits and pieces, especially if you're in a room with a carpet. Be very careful with the mini's, some of them are extremely fragile (especially the thin pieces on resin mini) and I've broken more fenders than I care to admit. Pick a squad of Infantry or a couple of vehicles, open them up and then spend some time 'cleaning' them. With a hobby knife and some small files, remove any of the mould lines, flashing, etc., from the parts, taking care not to damage or ruin any of the details.
Step 3) Water Wash - Wash everything with warm soapy water and gently scrub with a soft toothbrush to remove any oil or grit. A little tip, do it in a small bowl or something. Do not do it in the sink as it's really easy to drop one of those little pieces down the drain. Don't ask me how I know. Once you wash them, let dry thourougly by placing everything on a paper towel. I generally try not to touch the miniatures with my fingers anymore at this point so I don't get any oil from my skin on them. You can use a paper towel, latex or light cloth gloves if you want, but you can probably get away without doing any of that as long as your hands are clean.
Step 4) Assembly - First and foremost, go to the Battlefront store and check out the mini you've purchased to see if they have a "Spotlight". Many of the newer ones have a nice write up on the vehicle/infantry along with assembly instructions and some great color photos of what the finished product should look like.
With vehicles it's usually best to glue on most of the small 'bits' using Zap-a-Gap or super glue at this point with a few caveats:
- On any vehicles that have tank treads that have the fenders attached to the tread piece you can just glue them to the body now. For treads that don't have attached fenders (the fenders are on the vehicle body) it's much easier to paint the treads separately, and then mount them to the vehicle.
- Do not glue down any turrets since they need to rotate to point at targets. You can leave the turrets loose in the body of the vehicle if you want, but it's a good idea to look into using 'rare earth' magnets to mount the turret to the body. Sometimes these are supplied with the miniatures, but you can order them from Battlefront or AmazingMagnets.com. I've used the .25" x .03125" disks for turrets.
- If you do decide to use the magnets, here's a few other tips:
- The rare earth magnets are crazy strong and will stick to and attract just about anything. Keep the stored well so they're not causing problems with all the metal tools you have on your desk.
- Separate 2 magnets from the rest and keep them stuck together, then apply paint or permanent market the outside edges so once they are separate you can easily tell which faces of the magnet attract to each other (the ones without the paint/marker) and which faces should be glued to the turret/body (the ones with the paint/marker.)
- Depending on the vehicle, you may need to countersink the magnet into either the turret, the body, or both. You need to do this carefully as you can easily damage the body or turret with a drill bit or dremel tool just a smidge larger than the magnets. The easiest way to determine if you need to countersink the magnets is to first dry fit the turret into the body and check to see how snugly they fit together or if there is any gap. Now remove the turret and place the two magnets in the body of the vehicle and put the turret back into the body. Check the fit and if the magnets are creating a larger gap than you originally had you'll need to countersink one or both of the magnets. You can usually eyeball the centers of the body and turret on where you need to drill out the hole to countersink the magnet into. If you glue the magnets in the holes, they should line up pretty closely. If you want to be exact try the following. Glue (after countersinking if necessary) one magnet into the center of the turret bottom. Let the glue dry thoroughly (an hour or two at least) and then attach the other magnet to the one that's glued down. The magnets are crazy strong and you could easily pull the magnet glued into the turret out if the glue isn't fully dry. Dab a little bit of shoe polish or color the outside face of the 2nd magnet with a marker and place the whole shebang back in the turret hole. Give it a few twists with some light downward pressure and then pull it out. You should then have a nice outline in the vehicle base of exactly where the magnet sits in the turret body and can glue (after countersinking if needed) the second magnet down at the marked spot.
-If you do need to countersink the magnets you need to be careful to not drill the holes out too deep. One way that works is to determine how deep you need to drill (1 or 2 magnet heights) and wrap a ton of masking tape around your drill bit at that length up the bit. This way you know when to stop at the right depth.
- When super gluing the magnets it's difficult to get them into place without getting your fingers stuck to the super glue. You can use a little bit of blu tack on the face of the magnet that is not being glued down as a grip to hold onto while put the the magnet in place so you don't get your fingers stuck to the crazy glue. A simple toothpick can be used to position the magnet in the glue as well.
Step 5) Creating Handles - You need some sort of 'handle' to hold onto parts while painting since it's very difficult to hold onto the pieces and bases of the miniatures while painting them without getting paint all over your fingers or fingerprints all over your paint job.
- For larger vehicles, treads and turrets you can hot glue or blu tack them onto old paint pots, 35mm film cannisters (put some sand in them to weigh them down so they don't tip over) or even popsicle sticks/tongue depressors.
- For infantry, the easiest thing to do is blu tack or hot glue (I definitely suggest hot glue over the blu tack if you have the option) the infantry to the heads of decent sized nails or golf tees or as I have found plastic cutlery. You can then hold the nail in your fingers and easily work with the mini, spinning it around as needed. You can make a 'handle holder' out of scrap piece of wood (check your local hardware store if you don't have one, they usually sell scraps for next to nothing). Drill a bunch of holes in it, making sure you don't go all the way through. Use a drill bit just a bit larger than the nails you are going to use so that the nails can fit snugly in the hole. Just make sure there's enough room between the holes so the figures won't hit each other. Another option is to just use a piece of styrofoam and jam the nails (or you can even use golf tees) into it. Just make sure the styrofoam has enough bulk that it won't tip over when the miniatures are stuck are in it. Another great idea I've seen is to cut a corrugated cardboard box about half way down and stick the nails in the ridges of the cardboard.
Step 6) Painting the Undercoat - I'm sure you all have your own way of applying primer, I like to hand paint using Citadel Black Undercoat which I have thinned slightly. This is mainly due to issues I have with Spray Primers and I can't afford to shell out for a dehumidifier.
Step 7) Basecoating - Give the undercoat time to dry. I usually wait at least 12 hours, but if I can give it 24 hours, I do. Once the undercoat is dry, give the miniature a good look over. If there's any flashing or mold lines that you might have missed during cleanup, they'll probably stand out now. Just fix them and touch up the miniature with some of the primer and a brush and areas you had to fix or maybe missed with the primer. If the mini looks good and you didn't paint a vehicle with the FoW 'War Paint' that does undercoat and basecoat in one shot, you want to paint your basecoat(s) on the entire miniature. For vehicles I basecoat with the single primary color. Infantry I start with skin, then do coats/jackets/shirts, then pants, then the boots, then hats/helmets, all matching the color scheme shown in the books. While you are painting it's a good idea to have a small cup with some brush cleaner/water or even a wet/damp sponge in a small bowl. This way you can 'refresh' your brush to clean off any paint globs and refine your point every so often by swishing it around in the fluid or running it across the sponge. Once I finish all the basecoats I go back and touch up everything in reverse order to fix any places I accidentally over-painted onto.
Step 8) "Magic Wash" # 1 - At this point I like to do my first wash using my pre made washes to pick up some of the more obscure details. I use very thinned down Snakebite Leather over a dark yellow basecoat (1:20 paint to water ratio)
Step 9) Painting the Details and Adding Decals - Now I paint all the rest of the details. I use smaller brushes for painting the details on the miniature to match the color schemes shown in the books. Here is where I do rifles, weapons, belts, straps, pouches, tools, mufflers, etc. Then I go back and retouch up everything again (including your basecoat colors since you probably over-painted some of the details onto them.) Look at the Online store and in the Intelligence Briefing handbooks and PDF's for pictures of the miniatures actually painted for some ideas and guidance. Remember, if you screw up, don't worry, you can always strip the mini and start again.
Once you've finished with all your painting steps, if this is a vehicle or other miniature that you want to add a decal too, this is probably the best time to do it. You could do it now or any time in the following final magic wash, dry-brushing and weathering steps. I think it's better to get some of the weathering and wash on the decal to make it look as worn as the rest of the vehicle.
To add decals, figure out where you are going to place it. In that spot you can brush on a little bit of glosscote varnish to give you a nice smooth surface to put the decal on and let that dry for 15 minutes or so. Next, cut out the decal you want to place on the model taking care to cut just a little bit bigger than the decal so you have some of the backing paper to hold onto. Put the decal in water for about 30 seconds. While the decal is soaking, brush on a little bit of the decal softener solution (or distilled white vinegar) onto the area you brushed on the glosscote. Take a clean paint brush and get it a bit wet and then pick up the decal with a pair of tweezers, making sure the tweezers are not touching the decal, only the backing paper. Move the decal near where it's going to go and then gently 'brush' the decal off the paper and onto the miniature in the correct spot. You should be able to shift it around a bit with the damp paint brush to position it correctly. Once it's in the right location, take a cotton swab and gently roll it across the decal to smooth it out and dry up some of the water.
If you screw it up, don't worry, just try to remove it or scrape it off gently before it fully sets and try again with another decal.
Step 10) "Magic Wash" #2 - Magic wash again and let sit for 12 hours or so to dry.
Step 11) Drybrushing - 'Drybrushing' is a great way to add highlights to any miniature. Simply put, you load up (let the paint soak into the brush tip) the brush with paint the same color or just a smidge lighter color than the area you are dry-brushing (a few drops of the paint and a drop of white will do). Then dab just about all the paint off the brush and run the brush over a paper towel or coffee filter until you see hardly any paint coming off of it onto the paper. Then take the brush and "dry-brush" by brushing and flicking it over the areas you want to highlight. What should happen is the tiny flecks of paint still trapped on the brush will stick to the higher portions of the mini, making them stand out. Search around on this fair forum for drybrushing tutorials.
Step 12) Other Weathering Techniques - It's really up to you if you'd like your troops to look like they just came from Boot Camp or off the factory floor shiny and new, or if they should look battle worn and covered in dirt and grime. Try 'weathering' your mini a bit if you'd like. Maybe some brown/muddy colored magic wash on your tank treads and infantry boots, or a some flakes of snow along the fenders. The sky is the limit. One suggestion though. If you do any more magic washes, it'll sometimes dull any drybrushing you've done. You may want to drybrush areas after they've seen their final magic wash. Once again, the Boot Camp pages, the Hobby Book, the forums, Google, YouTube for more information on 'weathering'.
Step 13) Basing Research - Once your miniatures are painted, if they're infantry or gun crews (and the occasional vehicle), they need to put on a plastic base. You can remove your infantry from their 'handles' since they're going to need to put them on the plastic bases. Take care not to bend or break the mini when trying to break it free from the glue/blu tack. Depending on the size of the unit, they'll go on a small, medium, or large base. Usually small team of 2-3 Infantry will go on a small base, larger groups of infantry 4-5 and smaller gun teams (HMG's/Mortars) will go on a medium base, and then big gun teams like AT guns and artillery will go on a large base. Try to put a bit of thought into where you will place the mini's on the base and don't just haphazardly stick guys on the base with no rhyme or reason. Imagine you are creating a mini diorama of a still picture from the war. Are they charging in for an attack? Are they hunkered down behind cover on defense? The officer waving his hand leading the charge should be in front of the soldiers (unless he's a Komissar 'encouraging' some conscripts with his SMG from behind). Dry-fit your guys on the base and see what looks good.
Placing your miniatures on the base is just the first part of basing. You want to do some research on your army that you are basing and try to make sure the base 'theme' you are going with makes sense with your unit and miniatures. If you are basing a company of British Desert Rats that are wearing shorts, they wouldn't be on snow covered bases, they'd likely be on a base with a desert look. For most units you can probably go with a generic spring/summer or even city/rubble base. You don't need to go overboard, but don't skimp either. A well painted miniature will look like crap if it's on a poorly done base, while a well done base can make an average painted figure look great.
Step 14) Basing Foundation - There's many ways to base your miniatures on the small plastic bases. It's difficult to list all the different possibilities but I can walk you through the general steps I go through. As you start basing more units, you'll find out what works for you, but hopefully this will give you a good starting point. There's a great basing article on the website that's worth a look.
First, I take the proper sized plastic base I am going to use and I scour/scuff it up a bit with a hobby knife. The grooves will help the mini's, glue and basing texture material to adhere well to the smooth top of the plastic base. Next I super glue or hot glue gun the models down, taking care with their placement so it looks like they are in a combat situation. Now you need new 'handles' so you can easily work on the bases, so you can either hot glue or blu-tac the whole base to your handy nail/golf tee handles. Once that's good and dry, I coat the base itself with my thinned black undercoat mixed with a crushed pumice stone. You can use other materials, but the pumice works the best in my opinion. You could coat the base first with the texture and stick your miniatures right into that as opposed to gluing them down first and coating the base with the pumice mix around the miniatures afterward. I'm just paranoid and want to make sure my mini's are solidly attached to the base, but it adds a lot of work trying to work the pumice around all the miniatures and trying to keep most of it off them.
The key to applying the basing texture material is working to hide the metal base your mini is standing on so it looks like their feet are actually on the ground and the base isn't visible. The pumice texture is extremely messy, but I've found that you can 'spoon' it onto the base with a tiny screwdriver or tooth pick and then spread it around with a big brush soaked in water. You probably want to use an old brush specifically for this purpose as it can get gunked up from from the pumice. I use the wet brush to form and move the texture about the base and clean any of the texture off the miniatures that got up on the legs, etc. You'll want a cup of water nearby so you can continuously clean the brush and re-wet it or the texture will start to stick to the brush. It takes a bit of experimentation/practice, but once you get the hang of it, you can create some awesome looking scenes and it's pretty easy. If you'd like to have the base sides smooth, use the water soaked brush to clean off the base edges as you go. The pumice will start to harden and get sticky after a few minutes, so if you notice any of the texture up on the mini's in places you don't want it to, clean it off as soon as you notice it with the wet brush or even a pair of tweezers for stubborn pieces. If it hardens you'll likely mess up your paint job trying to get the pieces off and need to do a lot of touch up. Another thing to keep in mind is that now is the time to stick any scenery into the texture material that should look like it's half buried or coming out of the ground. Things like tree stumps, rocks, etc. can be pushed right into the texture and with a few swipes of your wet brush can be made to look like they are part of the landscape and not pieces glued on after the fact and floating above it. Let your bases dry a good 12-24 hours so the texture hardens up really well.
Step 15) Base Finishing - Once you've let the texture dry up solid, put down a coat of paint on the texture to simulate the main ground color. If it's a desert scene, paint it the color of sand, if it's any other scene, paint it the color of the underlying dirt/soil. Basically what color would the ground be in bare patches of grass and such, that's what the texture will look like. I use a 1:1 paint/water mixture and the pumice takes it really well. Take care to get all the nooks and crannies and be careful not to get anything up on the feet/bottom of the miniatures. If you do, you may be able to clean it off with a different brush soaked in water. If not just touch them up the original color. Also take care around any of the scenery like rocks/tree trunks you shoved into the texture and try not to get too much paint on those either, unless you want them to match the 'soil' color. Let the textures paint color dry a couple of hours and then give the painted pumice a nice black magic wash to add some depth to the little holes and such. Once again, I let that dry overnight or so.
From here, it's just a matter of giving character to your scene. If there's any extra bits and pieces like shells, boxes, gas cans, etc., that come with your miniatures and need to be added to the base, you can crazy glue them down to the ground now. Once that's done, you need ground cover, bushes, etc. You can find all sorts of flock/materials at your local hobby shop, but you really should check out Scenery Express online. They have just about everything you can possibly imagine. Unless you are going with a desert or city rubble theme, you'll probably want to go with some static grass, and various tufts of flowers/shrubs/etc. These can all be easily put on the base by using an old brush and spreading a 1:1 water/pva glue mixture in the areas where you are trying to attach things. Small bushes/branches and the like will need to be placed with tweezers and held in place in the glue for a few seconds till it sticks well. Static grass can just be sprinkled over the wet glued area. The static grass will go everywhere so I try to do it over a paper towel or even better, a coffee filter so I can capture and reuse and of the grass that didn't stick. Unfortunately, the static grass that does stick will often lay down flat in the glue. There are techniques to try to get it stand up with expensive devices or DIY built static generators. But you can try to just hold the mini upside down and blow lightly on the grass you just put down to try to get some of it to stand up. Once I sprinkle grass on, I'll usually do that and tap the bottom of the base very gently (don't want to knock the base off your handle) to get rid of some of the excess and hopefully let gravity pull some of the grass strands upright. Another way to add some stands of great looking grass is to use Silfor Tufts. I find it's better to do the entire scene on a base all at once and then move on to the next base so you can visualize the whole scene. Once you've got that all down, use a dry brush and tweezers to brush off and remove any stray static grass/foliage that got stuck to your mini's. Give the base/glue an hour or so to dry.
Step 16) Sealing and Protecting your Miniatures - You want to seal and protect your base and miniatures with spray varnish. I like to make sure my miniatures have had a good 24 hours of drying time after I've done any painting/weathering before I varnish them. Before you apply any varnish though, take a minute and look over all your miniatures to make sure none of the base texture or static grass/etc is stuck on your miniatures in places they shouldn't be (like forming a green moustache). At least give all the mini's a quick brush down with a clean brush to remove any dust, etc. I spray the first coat of varnish and give that 30 - 60 minutes to dry. Then I do the final coat of matt/dull coat with a brush.
Step 17) Rinse & Repeat - Take a moment to step back and take a good look at what you just painted. Anything you might do differently next time? Once you've pondered that for a while go to Step 1 and repeat till your army is done
Last edited by Ratvan; 06-06-12 at 01:48 PM.