Losing My Miniature Virginity

Today, miniatures I painted for several PCs in my party were featured on Robot Viking. First off, thank you to Robot Viking and those that frequent their site who decided to come over to check out this blog. Second, I’d like to briefly discuss how I started to paint minis last year, and suggest how you can do the same if you haven’t already started the hobby.

Lelu Multipass - Elven Ranger

Do not let the sweet banner for this site fool you, I am not an artist! I assembled and painted (poorly) some Star Wars model ships when I was a teenager, but that is the extent of my craft work. Even when I got back into D&D a couple of years ago, I never considered painting miniatures because it seemed well beyond my abilities.

However, another player in my new D&D group asked me if I wanted to go to a free miniatures class/session at a local gaming store. He was quite earnest in his effort to get me to join him for the event, and I agreed to go. When I arrived at the store, I was able to paint a free mini while gaining tips and suggestions from the leader of the session and other painters at the store. It was a pleasant four hours, although it was slightly frustrating because my dexterity with the brush was just a shade less subtle than a train wreck!

The first experience painting minis was enjoyable enough that I committed to taking up the hobby at home. My friend suggested Reaper Miniatures and paints. The Reaper website also provided me with an essential guide for the materials I needed to start the craft. I used this list to buy all the products I needed to get started. If you are thinking about painting, please start with the guide of materials you need. It saved me a great deal of time, and also educates you about the craft.

I started with a small collection of Reaper Master Series Paints (red, blue, green, yellow, white, black, grey and a metallic silver and bronze) and a few Winsor and Newton Series 7 brushes (I primarily use the 1, 0 and 001 sizes). Later I purchased a magnifying OttLite, which improved my painting significantly. The OttLite Lamps are expensive, but the combination of clean lighting and magnification allowed me to focus on smaller details while painting. I found this magnifier lamp at a local craft store on sale for about $50. It truly is worth it!

If you are hesitant to start painting minis, then I suggest you start slow and begin with minis that you are not tied too emotionally. I would shy away from buying the “perfect” mini to represent your PC in a campaign or the big boss in your world as a DM. Start with a mini that is simple and experiment with the various painting styles. There are also tutorials on YouTube and other sites for techniques like dry brushing. I have also avoided building bases for my minis, which is another artform entirely. So far, I have used 1″ washers for each minis’ base. It’s functional for our games, but in the future I’d like to learn more about how to create more artful bases for the minis.

I’ve found that painting minis can be fun and relaxing. I structured the hobby by painting PCs for the players in my campaign. Now that the minis for the PCs are painted, I can go back to focus on my DM role . . . and form plans to kill those PCs in all manner of gruesome and creative ways.

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About The Id DM

The Id DM is a psychologist during the weekdays. He DMs for a group of fairly loyal and responsible PCs every other Friday night. In the approximate 330 hours between sessions, he is likely anxious about how to ensure the next game he runs doesn't suck.
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10 Responses to Losing My Miniature Virginity

  1. boccobsblog says:

    The fig looks amazing. I love Reaper’s minis and their paints. I love the triad system they do where they show you what colors match each other for those of us with no eye for color/matching.

    Good post.

    • The Id DM says:

      Thanks for the feedback!

      I slowly purchased more colors from the Masters series over time. I did alot of mixing of colors to get various shades, which is a good option if you’re on a tight budget. I think each bottle of paint is $3. That can add up quickly if you need many colors. I would suggest getting at least one metallic option, since that is good for armor and weapons.

      • boccobsblog says:

        It does add up quickly. I have been painting figs for about 20 years off and on, and the reaper & warhammer paints are good, but any craft store acrylic will do I buy them from Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, or even Walmart for about .50-.99 cents a bottle (and thats for 2 oz. vs the 1/2 once of brand name paint).

        I use Apple Barrel Colors brand. Give it a try, they work great.

  2. MisterDrow says:

    Warhammer 40k is what got me into painting miniatures about two years ago. Since purchasing the original Assault on Black Reach starter set, I have since purchased at least $200 in additional army figures and only played twice. I quickly discovered that I enjoyed painting the minis and building terrain more than I enjoyed playing the game itself.

    I look back at that first set of minis I painted and it’s a great reminder of how far my skills have come!

    For a long time, I used the cheap-o craft paints from Hobby Lobby and, while they worked, I learned that the pigment counts are very low in them an it takes a lot of coats to get decent coverage, which then covers up the details of the mini. Since then, I have started using Citadel and Vallejo paints which, while more expensive, last a long time due to the smaller amounts needed on a model. For Christmas, my wife purchased a set of premium artist acrylics in tubes and when thinned with a little flow-improver, are absolutely fantastic to work with!

    Perhaps I’ll take some photos of my WH4ok minis and post them to my blog along with some D&D minis I am working on currently.

    • The Id DM says:

      I have never played Warhammer 40k or the other war games. They are intriguing, but I only have so much free time to spare. It looks interesting though. You make a good point about figuring out if preparation or execution of an activity if more fun. That’s a really interesting discussion for all hobbies in general. For example, I think some players enjoys creating and tweaking their PC in Character Builder more than using them in the game. And some DMs probably like to create adventures moreso than running them. Hmmm . . .

      The advice I read stressed that it was important to paint with good brushes and paints. Otherwise, you were just setting yourself up for more frustration. I’m glad you have a good system with your materials. I’d enjoy seeing some photos if you have the time to post them.

      • boccobsblog says:

        Two things I found you can’t go cheap on: primer and brushes, but the acrylic paint I’ve used is as good as the expensive stuff. As a matter of fact, you can leave craft store paint for years in its tube and its fine and I have met a gamer paint yet that doesn’t dry up in it container.

      • I like playing more than anything… Cept sometimes I have to sit on the shelf and watch the other minis play cause my player canceled and didn’t show up….. *sniff sniff..

  3. boccobsblog says:

    Wrote that too quickly

    Haven’t* its*

  4. The Id DM says:

    J’hari, sometimes you have to just hang out when your player needs to spend the weekend entertaining in-laws. :-D

    boccobsblog, I’ve seen the same message constantly on different sites. “Be sure to get excellent brushes as it’ll make your life easier.”

  5. Pingback: But Now Here You Are, And Here I Am | The Id DM

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