Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Army Painting

Until I can get a chance to put miniatures on a tabletop and play out the looming battle, I’ve got a little personal discovery from Christmas time I wanted to share with everyone. Maybe this is all old news, but to me personally it’s come as something of a new discovery. What with all the talk doing the rounds over various blogs, I felt it would just be plain nasty of me to not point this out to people facing a mountain of painting.

I was browsing around when I came across a copy of Wargames Illustrated magazine, which I hadn’t seen for years. It contained an advert for a bunch called Warlord Games ( who were selling a product they called ‘Army Painter’ which made the eye-catching claim that it was ideal for people who wanted to paint large numbers of figures to a good standard, quickly.

Normally I undercoat my figures black, then dry-brush on the colours so the little nooks and crannies get a black line left to add some definition. It works, but takes time. The Army painter idea is to do the opposite. You paint the whole figure in flat, blocks of colour over each appropriate area – no detailing, no nothing, just a straight paint-by-numbers ‘fill in the areas’ paint job. Once complete, you get the tin of (my present at xmas) quick-dip, which is a kind of murky substance not too unlike a kind of runny syrup. The figure then gets dunked in the tin (or liberally brushed over, if your nerves can’t take it) which dries overnight.

The result: the dip settles in all the lines and crevices of the model surface, instantly picking out all the detail – sometimes in surprisingly fine lines. Plus, that’s the model protectively varnished. All that remains is to give the model a quick spray-down with a finisher to take away the glossy finish, and there you go! I’ve had an experimental run myself, so if the results look promising for you then have a look at the company’s pretty good website. One lesson though – if you brush the quick dip on, the small-print instruction that you need cleaner fluid is not joking with you!

The flat, unaltered painting base-coat.

One quick dip later, the figures just starting to dry.

Pretty much indistinguishable from the results I used to get!


Bluebear Jeff said...

For me the most important thing to keep in mind about painting an army is that you will be viewing most figures from 3-5 feet away while they are surrounded by similar figures.

Except for some 'special' figures (e.g., Generals), I don't do any 'fancy painting' . . . and the units look good at gaming distances.

Sure, they aren't that great when viewed close-up . . . but that's not how we view them.

-- Jeff

abdul666 said...

A very sensible approach for wargaming figures, for the reasons Jeff gave.
In my 'active' days I used a similar technique, dipping the painted minis in wood "outside" 'clear oak' varnish. But additionally in my case it hopefully concealed for a part how awful a painter I was!


ColCampbell50 said...


You are using the method commonly known as "The Dip" where one uses a stain or wash to get the shadow effect. If you go to the Painting Message Board on The Miniatures Page and search for "dip" you will find a number of threads about the technique, including several about the product you are using.

The dip does turn a basic paint job into a better looking product. I use it myself and have been very pleased with the results. I have found that brushing on a coat of Future/Klear over the paint reduces the "toothiness" of the paint and allows the dip to flow into the cracks and crevices better. I then brush on a matte sealer after the dip has dried completely to take away the glossiness of the dip.


Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

I like the way your figures look, both pre- and post-dip. It's interesting how your dip finish seems to give the colors a richer look once in place. How does the dip work on horses?

Best Regards,


A J said...

I'm all for ease of painting, and have speculated about using the dip method. Your figures look very nice, and have persuaded me to give it a try.

MurdocK said...

Yes the dip method is great and I have been using it liberally with all my minis since 2004.

I have not been using a particular product called 'dip', I have been using a Polyurethane called Polyshades from Minwax.

I do not 'dip', I use a couple of long stir stix, a wad of cotton batting and a pair of elastic bands to apply the dip, then toss out the applicator. No need for cleaning.

For horses the polyshades is excellent! It makes the animals look a bit 'lathered' and brings in a darker sheen on the undersides of bellys etc.

I did have one white coated officer end up a bit darker in one section than I wanted him to, however the effect was more like he had taken a tumble from his horse into mud and that ended up acceptable.

CWT said...

Glad to have brought out a bit of discussion on the topic - most of my old figures were done in the same sort of method, but I used thinned-down black paint for the same effect. This 'dip' stuff does just as well, plus it throws in varnishing into the bargain!

SteveI said...

For a cheaper aslternative go to B&Q and buy some own brand wood stain (water based) it is the same product as Army Painter (as is the product mentioned by Murdock), works in the same way, gives the same result and is about 1/3 the price.