Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Painting the little blighters

As I said in my last post, I made great progress with the forces of Pumbaaskaya and Timonistan over the weekend and more last night. This is how they looked after Sunday night's painting:
But before the 'after' pic, I'll tell you how I've painted them.

First, I'm not a great painter and I'm certainly not about to enter any competitions let alone win them, nor would I want to. With my 28mm miniatures, I block paint them and then add magic dip & a final coat of satin varnish to tone down the gloss and I'm more than happy with that. I want to get the figures ready for a game and the less time spent painting them the better.

Right, with that disclaimer out of the way, on to my 3mm painting. The main thing to remember is that 90% of the time the miniatures will be seen from arm's length - a distance where you can't even see a window on a 3mm vehicle or an infantryman's face, let alone tell if a) it's been painted or b) what colour is.

Just before I started this project, I'd been painting some 3mm 80s cold war mini's and I'd tried a number of colour schemes with them - including 3-colour camo schemes that make the minis look a complete mess - and arrived at a method that works for me. One side has vehicles in a single colour and the other has a 2-colour camo. My 80s cold war Soviets have Coat d'Arms (CdA) Russian Green & Russian Brown, which when dip has been added, looks like this:
Their US opponents have a single colour paint job (no pics atm). It provides a good contrast between the sides and enables the vehicles to be easily identified.

Painting 3mm infantry: I initially painted flesh on the face & hands .. not easy I can tell you! After doing this & finishing some infantry bases I found that you couldn't see the flesh at arm's length.  So I decided that - for me - the time it took trying to get the flesh in the right places was simply not worth it. As a result, painting infantry now consists of:
  1. glue the mini's to their base, then undercoat
  2. paint their weapon black - I originally tried both dark grey and gun metal, but found the contrast was not great enough
  3. paint the rest of the figure in the uniform colour you have chosen
  4. rely on the dip to show the detail on the figure - which with Oddzial Osmy figures is excellent
The results of this can be seen in the 80s Soviets pic above - those are 1cm squares so you are likely seeing the picture with the mini's at larger than life-size and probably closer than you would when playing a game.

With the imagi-nation project vehicles, Pumbaaskaya has the single colour scheme and Timonistan has a 2-colour scheme. Painting the vehicles, I did in these steps:
  1. glue the vehicle to its base & undercoat
  2. paint tracks/tyres, any external MGs and main gun if it's small calibre (e.g. autocannon on a Bradley) black. As with the infantry's weapons, dark grey or gun metal does not stand out enough 
  3. paint the rest of the vehicle in the scheme you've chosen
  4. apply dip to the vehicle to show the detail
It's just occurred to me that I should say that I don't actually dip the mini's - I apply the dip - which for me is Army Painter's Strong Tone - with a brush.
Do this to the side of the tin not above it! Having to find a mini
that you've dropped in a tin of varnish is not fun ...
Anyway, here is a group shot of the mini's after dip has applied:
(I've used CdA Russian Brown for Pumbaaskaya and for Timonistan, a base of CdA Horse Tone Dun with CdA Red-Brown stripes; continuing that theme the Timoni infantry have CdA Horse Tone Dun uniforms and CdA Red-Brown helmets, but the Pumbaaskayan infantry is not painted yet)

And a not particularly good pic of the unfinished Timoni tank company HQ and overall force command base: (those are 1cm x 1cm squares in the pic)
You certainly can paint windows on trucks, boots on infantry and all kinds of wonderful details as the figures are definitely detailed enough to take it, but in the end is all that effort and time taken really worth it? for me it isn't ... but that's my opinion and your mileage may vary.


  1. It sounds like you and I have a similar attitude towards painting. I'll be starting on painting some Cold War 3mm models soon, so this was timely. I have a few questions, if you don't mind:

    I was planning to put mine on temporary bases for painting, but it looks like you paint them on the bases they're going to be used on, is that right?

    How do you paint the lower front hull on the vehicles? There's not much space to get a brush in!

    Do you just paint the bases, or do you use flock/sand/similar?


    1. I use 1ps for vehicles, 2ps for infantry & you're right; I glue them on after cleaning the mini's of flash and then blue tac the bases to some old 20mm square wooden battens - I get about a dozen on each & then undercoat them with halfords' primers

      Given the angle that they'll normally be viewed at, I'm not particularly worried about the lower front hull, so whatever is the base colour for the vehicle, I'll put that brush under the hull & try not to get it on the base!

      The bases get undercoated when the figs are, and I'll put flock or sand on them

      Just Jack at Matuta Hakuna Wars uses the same process (using a wash instead of dip I think), check it out here:

    2. Thanks, that sounds like useful advice. I was thinking of looking for craft sand for the bases, since it's very fine.

    3. Anytime Russell; I'm going to use children's playsand, which is probably as fine - I got a bag of it from Tesco last year (I think!) when they were selling it cheap - it's certainly much, much finer than sharp sand.

      I'm going to experiment with tufts & small pebbles on the bases to see if that enhances them or is not worth it. I'll post about it here when I get to it.

    4. Children's play sand looks like a good idea, and is probably cheaper.

      I doubt I'll go to the effort of tufts and the like, I don't even do that for 20mm :)

  2. Top Tips Colin...I'll have to follow your method!

  3. Cracking there tinier than I imagined! look brill though :)