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Trolls, Brushes and Bones

Carrying on from the last post, the Ral Partha Legacy trolls have moved to the painting table. Now I’m not an expert painter, and nor do I profess to have a great artistic knowledge or ability. But I will discribe what I do in the hope you might find it useful, and occasionally even humourous.

Dirty Troll

First job is to wash the miniatures in a bit of soapy water. Scrubbing with an old toothbrush is also recommended. This should be done with all miniatures you’re going to slap paint on, be they plastic, resin or metal. Simply put, you want a clean surface to start work on. Metal miniatures are cast in rubber moulds, which are dusted with talc before the minitures are cast to help stop the new cast figures sticking to the rubber. The downside is of course your new mini is covered in a very thin layer of talc. Resin miniatures need spray on mould release to get them out of their moulds, and injection moulded plastic might well have something similar. If you want your paint to stick, wash the mini first.

Mould Lines & Flash

Then comes the prep work. This is boring, most painters hate it, but if you skimp on it now, it’ll come back and bite you on the bum. I speak from years of experience where preparation was a quick wizz over with a craft knife and a fake promise to myself that the paint would cover the mould line anyway. Believe me, it doesn’t, so now I do try and spend more time on prep. I’m not going to go into great detail here as I’m assuming you already know to trim off the mould lines, file down the mould lines, and if necessary use a thin filler to help disguise any problems the casting might have. To pimp one of the products I sell, this stuff from GSW is very useful for blemish removal.

Once you’ve got the minis looking free from mould lines, give them a coat of primer, and then look over them again. White metal is very shiny when it’s new, and it makes it hard to see everything. Primer takes care of that, and will also show up any areas you’ve missed. Now you can return with knife, files and filler to correct these bits. I said it was boring.


Choice of primer is up to you. Many like spray primers, and there are good brands on the market. Car paint primers in spray cans are also popular. Just remember to only spray where you have proper ventilation, and have the good sense to wear a mask. Also beware of overspray. A two tone kitchen table is difficult to sell to one’s significant other as an attempt in avant garde upcycling. I have used sprays, but find their coverage isn’t uniform. The undercuts on the miniature get less primer, and trying to tilt the can upside down to reach these areas can be bothersome. if you have a lot of minis to prime, then I can see the appeal, but I prime by brush. I also find it a good way to get to know the mini too. Look at the details, try to understand what the sculptor is trying to convey, and start the thought process on possible paint schemes.

Fade to Grey

Primer colour is something to consider. Not only will it affect the look of the finished mini, it also affects the colours you place over it. Black primer makes everything dark. Trying to put yellow or white over black primer is never going to work very well. Lighter colour paints have less coverage that the darker ones, and over a black primer that really shows. White primer helps lighter colours cover better. Darker colours will come up a bit lighter too, but the effect isn’t as bad as trying to get light over dark. I prime grey as a sort of happy medium. I find it shows off the detail best, and allows just about all of the colours to do their thing.

So once you’ve done all that, and stuck your miniatures onto little holders, re the headline picture, you’re ready to start putting on some colours.

New Brushes

In honour of this commission I wanted to give myself the best chance of producing something Jacob would actually want to put in his gallery. I think it’s called ‘ Setting yourself up for success ‘, and it’s a useful thing to think about in many aspects of life. For the trolls, it means having a good place to paint, good light, enough time, and some decent tools with which to work. A brush that holds a point is essential. How much you want to pay for said brush is up to you, but it must have a point. I’ve used natural sable for years, and it can be fickle however much care you give it. Sometimes they just split once dipped in paint, sometimes they’ll work perfectly for years.

This time I’ve gone for some synthetic brushes from UK company Rosemary & Co. I had one of their series 33 brushes years ago, and wasn’t overly impressed with it. it was a small brush and I though a bit light on the hairs, but I’m no brush expert. I’ve tried lots of brands since, but decided to get these three and test them over the course of painting the trolls.

Top one is a Shiraz Rigger, middle is one of thier new Designer Red Dot brushes. Bottom one is a Snowdrop pointed round. I will report further once I’ve been able to put them through their paces.

Bones USA Miniatures

Reaper seem to be releasing a bewildering amount of plastic miniatures at the moment, but these are a little different. Up till recently all their plastic miniatures have been produced in China and shipped over to Texas for storage and distribution. This can cause popular minis to run out before they’re able to get a bit enough order together for a re-stock. As the name suggests, the Bones USA line are actually made in the US, and by Reaper themselves. I’ve started getting a stock of these together now, and I have high hopes for them. Have a look for yourselves here.

That’s it for now,