Tips ‘n’ Tricks

I was asked a week or two ago about preventing paint chipping and figured it might be worth a quick note here, in case others out there are having issues.

The two points below should help greatly reduce the chances of paint chipping or wearing away through use during gaming, shipping or general handling. They work for different reasons, and have different advantages and drawbacks which I’ll discuss. However, it’s worth noting that there’s little any amount of prep or protection can do against models that are dropped onto hard floors or that are handled very roughly.

Proper Pre-paint Preparations

Beyond mold lines and pinning, the step I skipped for the longest time was washing the model with warm water and dish soap. I was either too hurried to paint the new shiny toy, didn’t put any credence into that step, or merely forgot – but I ignored it for a long time. Then, in one of Meg Maples‘ classes when asked about this very topic, mentioned that she doesn’t seal any of her pieces at all because proper prep was sufficient when models are carefully handled.


This is all to say: Don’t skip the wash step. The oils used to help the cast parts release from the mold also act as a barrier to paint. They interfere with it’s ability to stick to the metal or plastic, and that makes it much, much easier for the paint to chip off.

This should be done on all of your models, regardless of whether they are game play pieces or display pieces. No matter what the model’s used for, helping the paint stick to it in the first place is a great idea! Duh.


This is the most common angle people take on this issue, but there’s a particular way that works better than others.

The best way to create a protective coat is to use a hard gloss coat. Gloss varnish flows together to make a uniform, solid shell. Flat varnish does it’s best to not flow together, instead attempting to dry in a rough surface (this is how the flat look is achieved). The nature of these two types of finish means that the glossy coat is far more resilient than the flat one.

So, that means that only gloss coats do any work towards protecting your model. However, rarely do you want a super glossy model, right? It’s great for model cars but rather out of place for anything else.


So, the best way to seal a model is with a solid gloss coat, and then a dusting of flat to kill the shine.

I use Future Floor Wax (purchased by Pledge a while back) for my gloss coat. It’s thin enough to put through an airbrush, and being floor wax, it’s designed to be very durable. Plus, it doesn’t smell terrible like spray paints because it’s designed to be used indoors. You could easily brush it on also. For the flat coat to fix the glossiness, I run Liquitex Matte (Flat) varnish through my airbrush. I’ve found that quick short bursts work best, because the varnish relies on not staying wet too long, so a thick coat ends up being satin rather than flat.


So, there’s my two-pronged approach for this problem. First, you want to do your best to help the paint stick to the model on the first place. This will help the paint not chip off to begin with. Secondly, sealing the paint on gaming pieces helps it from getting worn off due to all the handling that comes with being a gaming piece.

Good luck, and let me know if this works for you (or doesn’t)!

Consistently, the piece of advice I get and give out at critiques is “more contrast”. Contrast adds interest and captivates the viewer, and models that don’t have contrast seem flat and therefore boring.

I recently learned that there are several forms of contrast available to painters, but the first one that most painters conquer is light-dark contrast. In short, shadows and highlights. In color theory, this is called value, and represents the lightness of color. Not a color’s closeness to white, but it’s brightness, luminosity.

Here’s a quick method for testing the light-dark contrast on your models: use desaturated (black and white) photos.



What makes this super easy to use is that this feature is available on most smart phones. All you need to do is take a picture of your well-lit miniature, and apply a greyscale filter.



Looking at the above pictures, I see a few spots that I need to adjust. For instance, the eyebrows meld straight into the forehead. The hands

The biggest issue with this method is the finish of the paint you use. If your paints have a satin finish (slightly shiny) then the reflections of your light source may produce false light spots. Keep that in mind when photographing your models.

NOVA Open.

It’s rather awesome having such a large convention so close to home. The con takes place over Labor Day weekend every year in Crystal City, and focuses on a massive 40k Grand Tournament along with events for nearly every other tabletop system that you’ll find on a shelf at your LGS.

Killer Terrain

In fact, NOVA threw some serious money and effort at the X-Wing event this year, commissioning an LED lit, to-scale Star Destroyer for their narrative campaign:



Pew! Pew! We’ll get you, you Rebel scum! It’s really hard to not make ship noises around that thing.

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Since I enjoy playing Khador and Legion who both hail from the snowy northern regions of Caen, I need snow.  I also want snow that’ll be on par with my paint jobs.  I’ve tried the GW snow and I used white glue + baking soda for the Pink Khador.  The GW stuff is horrid, and the Baking Soda yellows with time.  The Baking Soda is also rough, so if you touch it with anything at all on your hands, it pulls the oils off your skin, staining the bright white. Permanently.  Needless to say, I don’t want to do that again.

So, off I went in search of the right product.  I looked at Woodland Scenics’ snow, and it looks promising, but when I saw this picture…

"Blood and Snow" by Mathieu Fontaine

“Blood and Snow” by Mathieu Fontaine

… I knew I wanted whatever it was that made that.

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Ron, over at Mini Armies, Huge Time Sink has several great tips for those heading into a Journeyman League, or painting under a crunch.  Which I will be, soon.

Check it out here: LINK

His tips are great, and he knows what he’s talking about – his painting not only looks great, but he can churn out models amazingly fast.

In addition to Ron’s advice, it can be helpful to keep in mind my tips for Speed Painting.