Gremlins in the Garage!


Getting Started
Painting Basics
by Denis Bohm
So you have your kit primed and ready for painting? OK, lets go! There are three basic steps in painting your kit: base coating, shading, and detailing. The basic supplies that you will need are: acrylic paints, wide flat brush, stiff wide flat brush, fine tip brush, paint palette, plastic cup, bottles, gloves, cloth. You may also want to try airbrushing. For airbrushing you will need: airbrush, compressor, and masking compound.

Base Coating

The first step in painting is to apply a base coat to fill in the basic colors. The base coat is a flat coat of the "average" color that you want an area to have. Later you will use some combination of drybrushing, washing, and airbrushing to add dimension to the base coated areas. Make sure that you have an ample supply of your base coat color. You want to have some left over after base coating so that you can tint the color and use it for drybrushing, washing, and airbrushing. Take the time to achieve an opaque coat so that you won't be trying to cover things up later during detailing.
The base coat can be applied with a wide flat brush. Make sure that the paint is fairly thin, if it is to thick then you will see brush strokes. Let the paint dry thoroughly before drybrushing or washing so that the paint will not smear.
When airbrushing use a large needle size with a reasonable flow rate. Thin your paint until it is the consistency of milk. Use many light coats and let the paint dry briefly between coats. You can use a blow dryer to reduce the drying time between coats to a matter seconds. If you see blotching then your flow rate is too high, your paint is too thin, or your coats are too heavy. If you see splattering then your paint is too thick.

You can use a masking compound to protect areas that you have already painted. Make sure the paint is dry before masking. Latex mold making material can be used for masking. Paint it on the areas that you want to protect in a fairly thin layer then wait for it to dry completely. After painting use a sharp point to lift up one corner of the mask. The rest of the mask should pull right off.


Shading is used to add dimension to the base coat. If done properly the details of your kit will really pop out and make the kit look much more realistic. The idea of shading is to hightlight the base coat in raised areas with a lighter color and deepen the recessed areas with a darker color. When doing this you want to pick the positions for imaginary light sources and shade more lightly near the light sources and more darkly away from them. While you are shading make sure to step back from the kit and reduce the lighting so that you can see the kit in it's final viewing environment. This will help you judge how much contrast to achieve. The basic methods of shading are drybrushing, washing, and airbrushing.
Drybrushing is used to lighten raised areas. Take some of that extra base coat color and lighten it with some white paint. Don't thin the paint, thicker paint will work better. Now get a stiff wide flat brush and moisten it with the lightened paint. Then wipe paint off the brush by stroking it back and forth on a piece of paper (yes, that's right, wipe off the brush) until it is almost dry (well this is drybrushing, right?). Then wipe the brush lightly back and forth over the raised areas. You should see the raised areas start to stand out. You can repeat this process with a lighter shade each time to get a nice smooth transition from the base coat color to the lightest color.

Drybrushing can also be used for that used and abused metal effect. For silver metal use a black base coat. For gold or copper use a dark brown base coat. The more you drybrush the newer the metal will look. There are other variations as well. For example, to create a leather effect try drybrushing brown over a black base coat.

Washing is used to deepen recessed areas. Get some more of that extra base coat color and darken it. This gets a little tricky because most black paint isn't really black so when you try to use it to darken certain colors (like yellow) you will end up with a pretty disgusting green color. To darken yellow you can use orange or brown. Thin this paint with airbrush thinner or a 50/50 water/alcohol mixture. You might want to add a touch of dish soap to the water/alcohol mixture to make it flow better. You want to have a very thin mixture that will flow off the raised areas of your kit and into the recessed areas. Use a fine tip brush to push the paint around and make it stay in the lightly recessed areas. You can follow washing with drybrushing to improve any hard edges that appear.
An airbrush can be use with a fine needle and color cup to create dark and light shades. Thin your base coat paint and put a small amount in the color cup. Then you can tint the paint directly in the cup. Use many light coats over the areas to be shaded to create very subtle transitions. Airbrushing can give you a very natural organic look that can't be beat!


There are a lot of different aspects of a kit that can be detailed. I'll cover some of the really common ones: eyes, gums, and teeth. People naturally look into the face first, so the face can make or break a kit. You may want to start out with a larger kit or a bust to get the techniques down.
First you want to create an off white color and paint the whole eye area. You don't what to use pure white because it won't look natural. Depending on what character you are painting you may want to make a very light charmel, yellow, or red off white color. Next create a red wash and dab it all around the edges. Now you can place the black circles for the pupils. Make sure you center these exactly the same in each eye. If you don't then your model will look pretty goofy. Now if you have fairly large eyes you should choose an eye color and paint a circle inside the pupil that almost touches the edge. Then lighten the eye color with white and get your brush moist, not wet. Touch the side of the brush from the colored edge to the center, repeat this over and over at all rotations. This should create very light streaks that radiate out from the center of the eye. Then a final black dot in the center will finish things up. Cover the eye with a clear gloss so it will look shiny wet.
You can start out with a pink base coat on the gums. Then follow this up with a red/brown wash around the edges. Next you want to drybrush a very light pink color onto the raised areas. Cover the gums with a clear gloss coat.
Like eyes, teeth aren't really white either, so you want to use a very light charmel brown on the teeth. Then mix a darker brown wash and let it seep into the cracks and around the base of the teeth. You might want to follow this up with a even ligher charmel on the fronts and tips of the teeth. A clear gloss coat can also be used on teeth to make them look wet.


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