PREPARING THE MODEL
Monolith resin models are highly detailed and are almost completely finished, requiring
the minimum of tidying-up. The models are mostly cast in open-topped moulds. The open area
of the mould is usually the model's base. This results in the edges of the base being
slightly uneven and may have sharp edges. The models are usually deliberately cast
slightly deeper to permit these sharp edges to be polished flat. Use medium grade
sandpaper placed onto a flat surface (a worktop with a few thickness of newspaper to
protect it). Polish the sharp edges of the base smooth with a light, circular motion.
Periodically check the process until a regular, smooth edge that sits flat on the ground
The manufacturing process occasionally leaves small air bubbles or surface marks that need
dealing with before the models are painted. Surface marks can usually be rubbed off with a
finger or removed with the tip of a craft knife. Air bubbles may be filled with the
two-part epoxy putty and the surface detail restored with a sharpened stick.
A slightly cheaper alternative to car acrylic primer is matt enamel paint,
which can be brushed or sprayed onto the model. It is also available in a wide variety of
colours. If you intend to use enamel or oil paint washes, an enamel undercoat must be
thoroughly dry, (two to three days) or the undercoat may lift as the wash is applied. Matt
acrylic can also be used as an undercoat, applied in several thin layers for best coverage
without obscuring detail.
BRUSHING TECHNIQUES - DRY BRUSHING, WASHES AND STIPPLING
Reasonable effects can be obtained by simply applying flat areas of colour to the model -
white walls, brown woodwork, yellow roof, and so on. However, real buildings are subject
to environmental dirtying-up, known in the trade as "weathering". This can be
simulated on the models by a number of effects which, used together, can produce a most
Washes add shadows, dry-brushing (together with a similar technique called wet-brushing)
lightens highlights and stippling can enhance or exaggerate both highlights and shadows.
Study real buildings to get an idea as to how things get dirtied-up in real life, and
learn to notice how environmental impacts (foot marks, polishing from repeated contact
with hands, and so on) gradually build up patterns of wear and character.
BRUSHING TECHNIQUE 1 - DRY BRUSHING AND WET BRUSHING
Dry Brushing is a technique that can greatly enhance miniatures and, once mastered, is
fairly easy to do. Dry brushing is the application of a thin, dusting of paint onto a
model using a dry brush and almost-dry paint. The paint is put onto a palette and mixed if
required with a normal brush. Another, dry and clean brush is taken, and the tip of the
bristles used to pick up a small amount of paint.
The paint-covered tips of the bristles are then lightly moved with a circular dusting
motion across the surface of the model, just catching the corners and high spots. As the
bristle tips hit the model, a fine layer of paint that dries almost immediately is
deposited. The intensity of the dry brushing is increased by repeated applications,
gradually building up a subtle coating of pigment. Dry brushing is usually performed with
light colours, suggesting worn or high spots on a piece of material such as weathered
fabric or wood, or dust-abrasions on stonework. This is a delicate and subtle technique
that can produce most pleasing effects.
Wet brushing is a similar technique to dry brushing, but uses a fully charged brush
instead of one loaded with a small amount of paint. Wet brushing aims to apply a layer of
paint that does not cover recesses and undercut areas, allowing previously painted areas
to show through.
Don't forget to clean the brushes after use!
BRUSHING TECHNIQUE 2 - WASHES
The opposite of dry-brushing is washing. A wash is a very thin mix of paint and thinner,
usually half-and-half, although thicker or thinner washes may be used for different
effects. The brush is well wetted with the thinned paint mixture and applied liberally to
the model. Capillary action draws the pigmented wash into the cracks and crevices of the
model, delineating undercuts and recesses. On large, flat areas of a building model, the
wash-and-wipe method is used on a model with well-defined surface detail. This uses
unthinned or slightly thinned paint (usually oil or acrylic) applied generously with a
large brush, working the paint well into undercuts and depressions in the surface of the
model. Before the paint dries, excess wash is wiped off, leaving pigment in the undercuts
while removing it from the raised areas. This simulates erosion and general wear that the
real structure would experience. See also "Sponging", below.
Patting and wiping the model with a small piece of sponge or rag gives a variety of
effects, and a final wipe with a dry sponge gives an interesting, matt effect. Washes are
generally dark and accentuate shadows and undercuts, and their effect can be gradually
built up over a number of applications. Washes are also used to apply colour in a
controlled way to porous materials such as paper or plaster. Look at real buildings and
see how the light and shade delineates the texture and materials, and see how weather,
wear and dirt all contributes to their appearance.
Thinned paint applied directly with a brush onto a dry surface can also be used to add
rust streaks to damaged metal. Use sparingly and allow to dry naturally (that is, don't
wipe off the paint) to enhance fine detail whose undercuts would tend to naturally retain
oil and grime.
Inks are especially good for wash effects and can often be applied directly from their
jars, but be careful if applying ink over oil or enamel surfaces (see "Paint
BRUSHING TECHNIQUE 3 - STIPPLING
Stippling is the application of paint using the ends of the bristles held perpendicular to
the workpiece. This is a very good way of destroying an expensive brush, so proceed with
care, and use an old brush that's on its last legs anyway. Stippling is an effective way
of applying dirt, oil and smoke marks to an otherwise pristine surface, and can be
enhanced by dry-brushing over the top. Stippling is one of the few occasions when a cheap
brush can earn its keep!
The sponge pieces can be cleaned of paint using water or turpentine as appropriate and
placed in a dry, well-ventilated area to dry out.
MASKING TAPE AND FRISKET
Masking tape and masking film (also known as Frisket film) can be used to mask
areas where a straight edge is required, for example, to paint the thin, decorative
stripes around New Kingdom Egyptian buildings. Always use smooth, low-tack masking tape.
Let the first paint surface dry thoroughly (several days) before applying masking tape. If
you still have problems with the tape pulling oft paint, reduce its adhesive effect by
laying the sticky side on to a piece of clothing (across the top of the thigh of a dusty
pair of jeans is perfect), peeling it off and then applying it to the model. For tiny,
fiddley areas, use Blue Tac. Alternatively, Frisket film (a bit like thin, transparent,
low-tack, sticky backed plastic) can be applied to the model and trimmed to shape with a
sharp knife. Fine lines can also be made using charting tape available from business
stationary suppliers. Don't leave masking tape too long on the model and keep the taped
model out of strong sunlight, as the adhesive goes hard and brittle with age and under
To prevent paint seeping under masking tape or frisket, seal the edges of the tape with a
layer of the base colour. If there is a slight seepage, it won't be noticed against the
existing base colour. When this layer has dried, overspray with the top colour
To avoid ragged edges to masked areas, spray several light coats of paint instead of one
heavy coat and allow drying time between coats. After painting, apply markings (transfers
or decals) and overspray with a matt or semi-matt varnish to seal the surface and blend
together the edges of the successive paint layers and transfers.
When spraying, a soft edge to the masked area can be achieved by using card masks lifted
slightly away from the model's surface. By using card packers attached a short distance
from the mask's edges to ensure that it is a constant distance from the model's surface.
(Note the further the distance, the softer the edge). Spray vertically past the mask to
the model surface to ensure a consistent effect is achieved. Use coins or old white metal
bases to hold the loose masks down, or secure with tiny blobs of Blue Tak. (Grenadier used
to make white metal slotted bases, and the original Silent Death miniatures had metal hex
flying bases that make perfect mask weights.)
WHEN TO USE WHAT TECHNIQUE
There are few hard and fast rules when painting models. This note is for guidance only,
and you can adopt any technique that you are happy with and will give a pleasing result.
Generally, though, the
techniques are used in the following order:
Correct any casting faults and add any modifications. Prime (or undercoat) the entire
and wipe the base colour.
Block-in Details (windows, signs, etc.). Apply any transfers (decals) if required.
wash to accentuate shadowed areas (window frame edges, rust streaks, etc.).
fine details (door hinges and handles, door and window frames, signs).
stippling effects (weapons damage, smoke or oil marks)
Dry-brush highlights and wear marks. Use silver drybrushing to simulate worn metal and
additional tidying up, including rust streaks, moss marks and water damage.
dry-brush tidying up to mute the brightness of any detail added in the previous step.
desired, finally spray a couple of layers of protective varnish (matt or semi-matt as
desired) to protect
The above is intended as a general guide and is applicable to most of Monolith Designs'
models. There are a few additional techniques that are more applicable to specific ranges,
as described later. You may also find that some techniques can be applied to other
subjects. Don't be too afraid to experiment, as you can always wash the models in acetone
(in a well-ventilated area!) to remove the paint and start again.