Painted models fight better. Don't be "that guy" who brings naked models to the table.

There are many levels and standards of painting, from unpainted to Golden Demon (sorry for the GW reference). I will tell you up front that you will not learn GD level skills from me. My painting skills are not that good and I do not have the time or patience to acquire those skills. If you want your Mechs to look like they are ready to step off their hex bases and start walking around, stop reading this and go somewhere else.

fig painting a figStuff like this is out of my league, and I know it.

DISCLAIMER: I am not financially or contractually bound to any company mentioned in this article. I have found what tools and materials I like, and will promote them by name because I like and use their products. I receive no compensation from anybody for mentioning (or not mentioning their competitors) any specific tool, material or method.

Still with me? Good. I will teach you how to paint your Mechs and units to a tabletop standard. That means your units will look good at arm’s length, not necessarily under a magnifying glass. I will teach you a quick way to reach that standard, without spending multiple hours on each of your Mechs. If you have a battalion of Mechs, and you spend 2-3 hours on each Mech, that's a minimum of 72 hours to paint them. If you only have 2-3 hours a week that you can spend painting like I do, that's going to be at least 9 months painting them. I certainly don't want to spend that kind of time, and you probably don't either.

So, if I told you could paint your battalion in 10-20 hours, would you be interested? I thought so.

First, let's talk about the tools and implements necessary to achieve this goal. You are going to need paint, paint brushes, a palate and a small water container. I use the top of a discarded spray paint can to hold water to wash my brushes. NEVER use a glass or a cup. If you use a drinking glass, your spouse will be very upset with you (see the section on "sleeping on the couch"). If you use a disposable water cup, sooner or later you will reach for your brush cleaning water rather than your beverage of choice by accident and drink from it. Brush water is nasty. But then again, I know a couple of guys who have done that more than once. A "nice to have" item is double-sided tape.

Before I go any further, if you haven't already read my article on Assembly so you know how to assemble and base a Mech before you start painting it. If you assemble and basecoat a Mech without doing the preliminary basing, you will make your job a lot harder than it needs to be. So, go and check out how to put your Mechs together, and then come on back.

Ready? Let's go!

If you followed the instructions from Assembly, you have a naked Mech on your workbench. If you have a battalion of Mechs, so much the better. You can do it on an assembly line. When you can take 8-10 Mechs through a step together, you maximize your efficiency during those few hours you can devote to the project.

I use and will show you the Army Painter system. This system uses the assembly line method to paint your Mechs to a tabletop standard.

You can download a PDF of the Army Painter system here.

Basically, there are 5 steps to take a Mech from blister to battle ready: Assembly, painted, detailed, based and sealed. Let's go through the steps, shall we?

We've already done Assembly. No need to go into further detail.

Painted

Here is a short YouTube video of me explaining and performing the process:

You should already have a color scheme in mind before you purchase your paints. Know what colors you want to use. Now we start to paint the miniature. Take a disposable box, put it on an outside table (or a small box for those of you who have an indoor painting setup. Sheesh, I hate people who have money! ;) ) Lay down a strip of the double sided tape, sticking the miniatures to the tape. This will prevent them from falling over when they get hit by the spray paint.

Keeping the nozzle of the spray can about 6-8" away from the miniatures, aim off to one side of the group, start spraying, and move at a level with and at a steady speed parallel to and across the miniatures. Once you have passed the last miniature, release your finger and stop spraying. Go back and forth several times for each side. You will want to spray the miniature on the front, back and both sides. Make 2-3 passes, then wait at least 20 minutes for the paint to dry. Make a "high" pass, where you aim down upon the top of the miniature to make sure that part is covered. Then turn the miniatures 90 degrees, and repeat the process. The trick here is to make multiple light passes, rather then 1-2 heavy passes. Heavy passes will fill in and hide details because you globbed the paint on.

WAIT AT LEAST AN HOUR BEFORE THE NEXT STEP.

In order to get what was missed, lay the miniature on its back, and spray from the bottom to get underneath. You want to make sure the paint is completely dry before you lat the miniature down, else when you pick it back up, you will find a bald speck where the miniature contacted the box you are using and the paint stuck to the box there. You want to get the miniature front and back. Make sure all parts are covered by the base coat. Don't forget to basecoat the base as well. This will seal the grit applied during the assembly phase to the base.

Detailed

Here is where you obviously paint the details on your miniatures. Weapons, cockpits, Regimental patterns, whatever you want. If you have a lance/company/battalion's worth of units you are detailing at the same time, do this as an assembly line. You pick one color you are going to paint. Pickup your first unit, apply the paint in the manner you desire, then set it down, pick up the second unit and repeat the process. Repeat until you have added this color to all the units.

By this time, the first unit will be dry and you can apply the second color, repeating the entire process.

Shading

The other "secret" to the Army Painter system is the dip shade it uses. A can of the shading dip is expensive, but will do several hundred miniatures. The dip will wick itself into the crevices of the unit, making the detail "pop" out.

The methodology is very simple: using something like slip joint pliers, grip the unit by the base and immerse it into the dip. Pull it out of the dip, holding it over the can for 10-15 seconds to allow most of the dip to drip off the unit. Then you want to "whip" the unit to fling any small drops off the unit. Do this 4-5 times. Watch where you're "whipping it," e.g. at the Dining Room walls your spouse painted last week would be a bad idea. Then set the unit where the dip can dry. Keep some cotton swabs handy to wick off where it pools and becomes unsightly.

Back to painting. Next, we paint the base. I use four colors to make the base. Black, Beasty Brown, Plague Brown and Dead White. You paint the entire base Beasty Brown. Take your drybrush and go over the base with a light coat of the Plague Brown. Clean your drybrush, and go over the very high points of the grit on the base very lightly with Dead White. Last step for this phase, you paint the edges of the base black. If you have multiples of this model, some kind of labeling (on the back face of the hex base to make it less obvious) is recommended. Either dots of a color that stands out, or painting that entire face in a particular color, whatever suits you.

Sealing

This is the next-to-last step. You must do this right the first time, or you will have to strip all of the paint off the unit and start from the beginning AGAIN.

You can only do this on a low humidity day. If the humidity is too high, the unit will "frost" and it will become very unsightly. Using the method described earlier, make several very light passes over the unit, allowing each coat to thoroughly dry between sprays.

For a final touch, dab some white glue on 2-3 small areas of each base, and dip the base in your supply of static grass. Shake off the excess, and you’re done! Your Mech is now ready to take to the battlefield!

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