You will be using glues, paints and thinners that may give of fumes or contain toxic
materials. Always check the warnings printed on the product labels and work in a
well-ventilated area. Some paints aimed particularly at younger modellers in the hobby and
toy markets are required by law to be non-toxic, but some higher quality
("artists") materials, particularly oil paints, contain metal-based pigments
that must be treated with care. Enamel and oil thinners are also flammable, and the fumes
they give off can produce toxic by-products in the presence of lit cigarettes. For
example, when the vapours emitted by Carbon Tetrachloride are inhaled through a lit
cigarette, it changes into Phosgene, a toxic gas made notorious by its use during the
First World War. If you must smoke, break off what you're doing and move away from your
To avoid major spills, transfer small quantities of bulk items such as thinners to
smaller, working containers. They're easier to clean up after an accidental spill and you
don't lose all of your material at one go. Keep a supply of paper tissues or kitchen paper
handy to deal with accidents.
If anything is splashed into your eyes, wash thoroughly in
cool water and seek immediate medical attention.
Epoxy glues, cyano-acrylate adhesives (superglue or Krazy Glue)
must also be treated with some respect, and epoxy putty or similar fillers may cause skin
irritation if you are particularly sensitive to them. Wash your hands before and during
work to keep your model clean and to reduce any irritating effects. It is also inevitable
that if you regularly have a cup of tea or coffee on your workbench, sooner or later you
will try to wash a paintbrush in it.
Finally, resin is a particularly hard plastic and when cutting and sanding models tine
dust is formed. For this reason, wet-and-dry sandpaper wetted with plain water is
recommended to avoid filling the air with dust. This keeps your work area cleaner and
reduces the risk of inhaling dust particles. If you are doing any major sanding or cutting
jobs, it's safer (and friendlier to the house furnishings) to work outside, but do
remember to clean up the work area when you've finished.
The models are moulded in a pale tan or light grey resin and can be used immediately on
the wargames table. However, with a little work and a relatively simple paint job, they
can be made to look much more attractive.
There are several types of paint available. It is not necessary to obtain all of the types
of paint described. You can start with a basic set and add to it gradually as your skill
and confidence improves. You will soon gain a feel of what paint suits your style best.
The basic paint types are:
ACRYLIC OR ENAMEL:
1. Acrylic is a water-based medium available in pots and tubes. It is durable (important
for gaming models that may experience rough handling), bright, quick drying and available
in a wide variety of colours. Several, thin coats must be applied to cover darker colours.
Water soluble while wet, it becomes water-resistant when it has dried.
2. Enamels are thinned with white spirit (or turpentine) and available in small, metal
tinlets, jars and aerosol cans Coverage is good, but takes longer to dry than acrylics
and, until fully hard, may be lifted by over painting with very thin subsequent coats of
3. Acrylics and enamels can both be thinned for use with an airbrush.
4. Acrylics and enamels are both used in very much the same way, and, in the beginning at
least, it is recommended that you stick to one or the other until you have gained some
measure of skill at using the paint. Your basic selection of colours should include white,
black, burnt sienna (dark brown), raw sienna (sandy brown), terra cotta (brick red) and
persimmon (orange). Optional colours include Red, blue, yellow and green for decorative
OIL: Artists oil paints tend
to be expensive, but are slow-drying, allowing careful mixing to produce a wide variety of
shades. There are two types, opaque and translucent. Ochres (earth colours) are
usually opaque, while hues are translucent. Mixing hues with white produces a soft tinted
opaque colour that covers well. Oil paints are available in tubes and are thinned with
distilled spirits of turpentine. It is not recommended that oil paints be sprayed with an
airbrush. A basic palette would include deep red, burnt sienna or burnt umber, raw sienna;
Paynes grey (very dark grey), titanium white and yellow ochre. A selection of hues may
also be useful for coloured details
INK: Watercolour and drawing inks are water-based and
available from artist's suppliers in small glass jars. When thinned with water they can be
used as colour washes over dried layers of paint. Use Winsor and Newton brown (nut or
peat), burnt sienna, deep red, Rotring yellow, together with an optional selection of
other colours including Winsor and Newton green and blue.
All paint types are thinned to help them mix and to adjust the degree of coverage. Thinner
is also used to clean the brushes during and after use. Each type of paint requires its
own thinning agent. Clean water is used for acrylics and ink. Use white spirit for enamels
and distilled white turpentine (not turpentine substitute) for oil paints. Don't mix
different kinds of paint together while wet, though you can over paint one kind with
another if the first layer has been allowed to thoroughly dry out first (see also the
later section, "Paint Compatibility").
TURPENTINE SUBSTITUTE SHOULD NOT BE USED to thin oil or
oil-based enamel paints, because it is not fully chemically compatible with the paint and
can cause uneven drying or poor mixing. You can, however, use turpentine substitute to
clean brushes and degrease models before painting, providing you give them plenty of time
to dry thoroughly before use. For the same reason, only use distilled spirits of
turpentine to thin and blend artist's oil paint.
Especially, do not use powerful organic solvents such as acetone, methyl ethyl ketone,
chloroform and carbon tetrachloride, as these attack paint and damage brushes. They also
give off fumes, which can be dangerous in confined or poorly ventilated area.
As the old saying goes, oil and water don't mix (unless, our scientific friends point out,
you add an emulsifying agent). It is not a good idea, therefore, to attempt to mix paints
that have different thinners. It is possible, however, to mix water-based paints with each
other and oil-based (that is, paints that use organic solvents such as turpentine)
together. For example, as both acrylic and ink are water based they may be mixed acrylics
can be mixed with ink, since both are water based. Less successful results are obtained
with oil-based paints (artist's oils and enamels).
Oil-based paints naturally wet (adhere to) the surface they are applied to. Water based
paints sometimes have problems, particularly when applied to surfaces previously painted
with oil-based paints. The paint sticks to itself better than the surface, and will form
droplets that stand on the model without wetting it. This is usually most apparent when
trying to apply an ink or acrylic wash to a primed or enamel-painted surface. There is no
hard-and-fast solution to this problem. Sometimes, applying a wash, wiping most of it oft
and then allowing it to thoroughly dry applies just enough water-based medium to make
subsequent washes stick. Alternatively, you could try adding a wetting agent (acrylic
wetting medium or just plain old washing up liquid - very sparingly) to your mixing water
- a couple of drops to a cupful usually does the trick.
Generally, the most expensive brushes are the best, and if treated with respect will last
a lot longer than the cheaper ones. Keep them clean, dry them well after use, and store
them such that their bristles do not get bent or damaged (a closed container is best, but
simply standing them upright in a clean jam-jar is perfectly adequate). Putting the first
layers of colour (including a brush-painted primer) onto resin models can be rough on
brushes, since the paint has to be worked into fine crevices in order to fully cover the
model. Flat, oil painting brushes (½" to ¾" wide) are good for this, since
they are stiff enough to withstand the punishment. Delicate details need softer brushes,
but require a lighter touch, so finer brushes are needed. Kolinsky sable is the best, but
these can be very expensive, and are usually saved for painting figures. Water-colour wash
brushes (½" to ¾" wide) are good for general work and dry brushing and oil
painting brushes (which are a little stiffer than watercolour brushes) are better for use
on textured surfaces. You'll also need one or two fine brushes (sizes 1, 0 and 00) for
small detail work. Artists' supplies shops often have a good selection of brushes at a
wide range of prices.
Generally, the brushes selected can be used for oil, enamel or acrylic work. In practice,
however, I find it better to keep separate sets of brushes for each medium and avoid using
brushes, say, that are usually used with acrylic paint, to apply oil paint. (This also
means that I have more brushes than I know what to do with, but that is beside the point.)
A hint on choosing brushes: - Given a choice, always-select brushes with longer bristles,
as they are easier to straighten to form a fine point. This is important when doing detail
OTHER TOOLS AND MATERIALS
Generally, the models are made in one piece. Where permanent
assembly is desired, the pieces can be glued together with cyano-acrylate (superglue) or
two-part epoxy. Repairs and modifications, where needed, can be made with two-part epoxy
putty such as Milliput.
Basic modelling tools may be required for conversions or modifications. These include a
strong craft knife and blades, tweezers, a set of needle files, a pin holder and a
selection of fine twist drills. A few sheets of various fine grade of sandpaper
(preferably waterproof or "wet-and-dry" paper) will complete the basic toolkit.
For major conversions, a razor saw is a good investment.
Your painting area should be clean, well lit, well ventilated and comfortable.