figure painting wrenchers way. long read


so a few people have asked about my painting methods for my figures and other things. I wanted to share a bit on how i do it. its really very simple and the supplies are for the most part very easy to find.

Like most hobby enthusiasts I have more than one hobby besides RC cars. i did a ton of model car and motorcyle building, model railroad with my father. The hobby I have always been very enthusiastic about since i was a kid has been Warhammer 40000. it is a miniature based wargaming strategy game. basicly you assemble and paint an army of models and have battles with other average model is about an inch tall. i have learned alot of my painting from this hobby. reading articles and around this hobby and lots of practice. I have painted 8 or 9 complete armies over the years.

the reason i am telling you all this is that i beleive the best way to get a good result is to use the right products that will work. The main paint i use for detail stuff is from the company called Citadel that produces the models for warhammer. there paint is meant to be used to paint very good detail on very small surfaces. there paint is one of the best!!!! another great brand of paint is Vallejo paint. they have several lines and thousands of colors. sometiems a little harder to find and usually more money.

The reason I prefer citadel paint is that it is easy to find and not very expensive. the color range is great, but the most important parts are that it is acrilyc (water soluble and water clean up) it is very fine and high pigment content, it actually has a shrnking agent in it to make it shrink up when drying, which makes it suck into surface detail insted of filling the details in. with all that great qualities it is still non toxic and odourless.

to see the line of citadel paints go here

on the left side of there webpage you will see a menu of different type's of paints for different uses. I only use the Base,shade, and layer types. the base is like a very high pigment paint to give you a good base coat of paint. you then use shades to do just that. shades are like using a wash. very thin coat that is transparent and settles in the low parts of the deatils gving you a "shade". the layers are the normal every day paint. you can buy these paints almost anywhere Warhammer is sold. I know there is a big store in metrotown mall and another over on northshore in a mall over there.

next thing to touch on is brushes. took me a long time to figure out wha type of brushes to buy. you go into a hobby store and most stores sell very cheap throw away brushes. i buy all mine at an art and stationary supply store. i like to use sable brushes. "sable" is the type of bristles on the brushes. they are natural hair from an animal of some type or another. but they are very tough and can be abused with paint and thinners and still keep there shape and not frizz out. there are some great synthetic brushes on the market as well. even at that i only pay around $5 a brush and they last for years if you look after them. i have brushes from size 3 all the way down to 10/0 for very fine detail.

ok enough about all that. I want to explain how the basics of all the painting i do works. first thing that must be done is to primer surface. always,always, always primer. I prefer to use white primer and flat or dullcoat. for fine stuff i use Citadel white primer in a spray can for bigger stuff (like a wild willy figure ) I use krylon rattle can in flat white.

next step is to put on your base coats. i usually put all my base coats on the entire model if it is to be more than one colour. once you have that done i will mix up a shade or "wash" to apply over most of model. If you look at this figure of willy it will help me explain what i mean. i painted on the brown for the gloves,the grey for the shirt, all the black and silver bits, the red on the hat, and lastly the flesh tone.


once all the base colours are dry ( less then 10 min dry time with citadel paints ) I use a black shade that has been thinned down with water, applied with a fairly good size brush to put a light glaze over everything. except flesh. for the flesh i use a wash that is called "gryphon Seppia" which is a reddy brown wash. what these shade coats or washes do is settle in to all the low spots on the surface of the model and give a nice shadding effect when they dry. i will use the flesh as an example. first coat is a colour called Bronzed flesh. then wash with gryphon seppia. you can see the shading around nose lips and eyes. Another great thing with these washes is that they can make broders on your colors. when you go from one color to another on a model it really makes it "pop" if there is a very thin line of black between the 2 colors. for example between the brown glove and the grey of willys sleeve. the wash will do just that for you.

painters trick #1 if you are trying to paint a surface and the paint just seems to bead up in droplets and not lay flat or spread evenly, it has to do with surface tenso of water. to counter act this you need something called 'flow release agent" very expensive and only found at art supply stores. the trick is found in every grocery store and you probably already have some in your house. its soap. the soap added to the water allows it to flow. dish soap works ok but can make paint go chalky. the best product i have found for this is a called Future no wax floor shine. a very small drop in your mix of paint and it works wonders.

once the shade has dried you go back over and hit the raised areas of models surface with a base coat to reinforce the colour. so on willy shirt i did the grey then black wash then back over only the high spots of folds of fabrics with the same grey paint, thinned down with water to make it almost s translucent coat allowing the shading to show through this coat of paint. on the face same thing. back over the high spots with bronzed flesh again.

next step is a highlight. it is either a lighter paint or the original base paint lighted by mixing on a light color to tint it. so on the grey shirt i use base paint with a bit of white mixed in. on the face i use a different color that is called Elf Flesh. it is a nice light skin color. sometimes it works good to do another highligt coat if needed. just mix another layer of paint a little lighter. for example on the gloves i use a base color called 'snakebite leather" shade wash then use base coat again. i then keep mixing in a color called 'bleached bone" to give it a couple hightlight coats, until i get the look want. the best thing to do when experimenting is to thin your paints with lots of water. this lets you build up the highlight color gradually. don't try to smear a bunch of thick paint on it will make for a hard line between one coat and the next which doesnt look good.

we are almost done the last thing i always do is clearcoat all models. either dull coat or gloss. what this does is seal all the layers together and put a protective coat over top to stop chipping and scrtching. it also gives a uniform top coat. usually i go cheap and find that Testors dull coat is the best. smells bad but works great. it is compatible with every type of paint i have used. never had an isuue with it reacting with base paints. cheap and comes in spray cans. it also seems to help blend the coats of paint together.

well thats about it. sorry for the novel but there is no other way to explain it all.

here are a few artists that have tutorials on there sites that i have learned from and may help as well. have a look at ther tutorials and articles.

well if you made it all the way to the end of this very long post thanks for reading. any questions feel free to ask.



New member
I usually skip to the threads with the most images but for some reason I decided to give this a read and I'm glad I did! Excellent write-up! The Warhammer store here on the Shore is in Park Royal South and I'll be sure to check out their paints and brushes asap. Maybe even try my first wash.:biggthumpup:


glad you guys enjoyed it.

wanted to mention a tip to making washes for shading. when i am using inks or shade dyes to create a wash i always thin them down with water. the inks i am used to using i start with about a 50/50 mix. you can always do a second wash if you want it darker. if your first wash is too heavy don't worry you can always put a thin coat of paint over it. you can use paint to create a wash but my experience is that when you thin paint out enough to make a wash it has a real bad tendency to get all chaulky. where as the inks don't.

it's a hobby so have some fun and experiment.

on another note about warhammer and citadel products. there sculpting putty is the best i have ver is calle dsimply Green stuff it comes in 2 forms. liquid and a putty. i have never tried the liquid but have heard it works great for filling small gaps and as a surface filler. there putty i have used a 1000 times. it is a 2 part that you work together and then it hardens. i find it is kinda like sculpting with bubble gum. kinda sticky so any tools you use to scuplt with dip in water every now and then to stop them from sticking. this stuff dries over night and is as hard as a rock when done. super glue sticks to it very well. one thing i did find out by accident was that super glue for soem reason makes it harden and dry instantly. if curious this is the stuff i use to do hair on a matt hicks med recently, for my FJ40 build.


wanted to add a bit more to my thread.

another great way of making textured surfaces really look awesome is "drybrushing"
I imagine alot of people have heard of this before, if not tried it. the name pretty much says it all. using a drybrush to apply a very light coat of paint to the very tips of a textured surface. the place i always use this is on hair. however i have done it on seats and other textured surfaces. take a look at the hair on this model. it is the best pic i have to show you guys how it works.


so the first step was like any other paintin i do. base coat and let it dry. in this case i used the color bleached bone to make it look like blond hair.

next was to do a wash with chestnut ink. it is a very brown toned ink.

after the ink has dried i take a fairly good size brush and dry brush the base color back over top. to dry brush the way i do it is to load the first 1/3 of the bristles of the brush with paint. I then wipe almost all of the excess paint of the brush. i then wipe even more paint off either on a paint tray or on a paper napkin. which i always keep handy to clean my brushes with anyway. the idea is to remove enough paint from brush so that you can very lightly brush the surface of the model and it put a very fine amount of paint only on the top of the textured surface. how do you know if you have gotten enough paint off brush before you start to try applying to a model? the trick i learned is to brush the side of my index finger and if only the finger prints get highlighted you are there.

again take your time and do several light coats. if you want it highlighted more do another coat. I have heard someone else say this..... if you get to a point where you aren't sure whether to put more on that probably means its time to stop.

the last thing i did on this particular model was to mix the original color 50/50 with white and do an even lighter dry brush getting just the very extreme tips.

well I sure hope you guys enjoy this and put some of this to practice. would be cool if others added to this post with there methods and experiences. one thing i really like about this website is the way people share there ideas and methods.



looks great, awesome read.. I'm a Chaos Dwarf kinda guy myself...


it is another great hobby. I enjoy the modeling and painting aspect most of all. if you can find a good group of people to have battles with it can be very enjoyable. I started playing when i was an early teen. i introduced both my sons to it. it gave us a common interest until they both got old enough to find xbox and girls. now i never see them anymore LOL