The Ultimate Guide to Beginning Modelling
Pic by Nevelon from the Dakka Gallery
So, you've decided to get into Wargaming! Ours is a proud tradition of fighting army mans, and it's sure to fill you with hours of enjoyment. However, assembling and painting these models can be a little overwhelming, so I'm hoping this index will be able to answer many of the questions common to new wargamers.
Where is the best place to buy wargaming stuff?
There are many good places to buy wargaming things! If you're in the US, one good place is The Warstore. They carry many different wargaming ranges and supplies. They offer 20% off on Games Workshop merchandise. Note that in the US, Games Workshop will not distribute to any web store that has a shopping cart - you'll see this a lot from US based suppliers.
In the UK, Maelstrom Games is very popular.
If you live elsewhere, Wayland Games is another popular choice.
In Australia, Dicebucket has good prices.
As always, you can get nearly anything on Ebay.You can usually score deals if you're willing to strip already-painted models of paint - see the paint stripping section of this article.
What tools should I own?
Pic by Somnicide from the Dakka Gallery
There are many tools available. If you check out The Toolbox article, it's helpfully broken down for you by user level. You'll definitely want to look at the basic stuff (in yellow).
What kind of glue is best?
There are many glues. Please see the Glue Article for more information.
These metal\large models are totally hard to assemble, or keep breaking. How can I fix this?
Pic by Ambull from the Dakka Gallery
You'll want to pin these models, Pinning is a technique where you use a very thin drill (called a Pin Vise) to drill a small hole (1/64" or so) into both target surfaces, and then insert a pin of the same diameter into those channels you just drilled. I prefer hat pins, which come in a bulk package from Hobby Lobby, Michaels, or other similar craft stores. An easy alternative, albeit at a larger gauge, would be paper clips.
So I just cut these guys right off the sprue? Any special care for my metal or resin models?
For plastic models, you can indeed just cut them off the sprue. It's best to use a dedicated snipper made for models to do so, and to cut them so that a little bit of the attachment point is left on the part - you can then trim it when a hobby knife. If you use your snipper to flush to the part, it can sometimes pinch or dimple the plastic.
For metal and resin models, however, you will usually want to wash the models first. The molds used to make these models are greased with mold release, which keeps the models from sticking to the mold. This residue will also do a pretty good job of keeping your paint from adhering well to your model! To clean these, just put them in a bowl of warm water with a little dish soap and scrub the crevices with an old toothbrush. Allow to dry.
My resin\Finecast model is bent! What do I do?
Long sections of resin, such as poles and rods, can sometimes bend out of shape with heat and pressure. To fix this, prepare two bowls - one with ice water, one with hot water. Place the model with the bent part in the hot water for a few seconds; this will soften the part. Straighten it out. Holding it straight with your finders, pour the ice water into the bowl to cool it an set the resin back in place. Some users report you may have to repeat this a few times for Finecast parts.
What's with these lines\pock marks on my models? How do I fix them?
Models are made in either rubber or metal molds, which have a front and back. While these usually align perfectly, you will sometimes see a line ("mold line") running down the sides of the model. Other times, some of the plastic\resin will run out of the model, which will leave paper thin flakes here and there (called "flash"). The flash can usually be flicked off with your fingers. So far as removing mold lines, you have two options. Option A is using needle files, which are thin serrated metal files that can be used to smooth out the surface. This is a good way to do wide areas. However, for most lines, I prefer option B, which is just scraping them off with the edge of a hobby knife. Just gently scrape along the lines a few times.
A different problem can occur with models made of resin or Finecast. In these models, there can be air bubbles present in the molds, which then manifest in the finished model as pock marks. To fix these, you have a few options. For very small ones, you can paint over them with liquid green stuff, and then using a damp brush smooth over the patched surface.
For larger pockmarks, I prefer normal green stuff, which is mixed 50/50. Once mixed, shape it into a point, poke it into the pockmark, and slice it off. You can then use your wet finger, or better yet a silicone clay shaper to smooth it into place.
What kinds of paint can I use?
There really is no right answer to this. Generally speaking, however, you will want to get a brand of paint that is specifically made for modelling or wargaming, usually acrylic based - it can be cleaned up and thinned with water. Craft store paints, such as American brand, are really good for painting scenery and terrain, but they tend to be less heavily pigmented than the specialty paints we use.
The most common brands of paint are:
Games Workshop Citadel Paint
Privateer Press's Formula P3
Reaper Master Series
Vallejo Game Color
You can see a Color Compatibility Chart here, for mixing and matching brands.
Do I just open the paint and start slopping it right on these plastic guys?
Slow down there, sparky. Before you can paint your models, you really should prime them. By prime, we mean you need to spray them with colored spraypaint, which gives your paints something to stick onto. You don't actually need paint labelled "primer", per se - I prefer flat black or white spray paint, Valspar brand, from Lowe's - like 99 cents a can. At that point you should let them sit for 24 hours before working with them, even if they seem totally dry after a few hours. I used to spray models and then take them to work 12 hours later, only to find that while they were dry, they also were a tiny bit soft, and holding them for extended periods would leave fingerprints in the primer.
What color primer should I use?
Well, the 2 most popular options are white, and black. Black is usually popular for models which are largely metal, which looks good with a dark undercoat. It also enhances shadow in areas which are hard to reach. However, for more brightly colored models, such as where the finished color will be yellow or red, you will probably want to go with a white primer.
On the other hand, Army Painter sells many different colored primers, which can save you a lot of work. It's certainly nice to start out with red for Blood Angels. for example.
My paintjobs suck. How do I strip the paint off models, so I can try again?
Pic by Fifty
Please see the Paint Stripping article.
Is there a way I can paint my models more quickly? I have to paint, like, a billion Orks\Tyranids\Shat Goblins, fast!
Check out the dipping article.
You also might want to look into Army Painter colored primers, which will save time for horde-style armies.
I posted a picture of my model, and someone said I should "give it a wash". It's not even dirty, what gives?
A wash is a special kind of paint. It's essentially thinned down paint which you broadly stroke over your existing paintjob, and it adds subtle tints to the base color. It also collects in the crevices of your model, and helps define them. A good example is a piece of chainmail armor - if you paint it silver, you can then give it a black or dark wash. The dark color pools in between the links, and makes it look more realistic.
You can buy premade washes in many colors. Alternately, Les Bursley has posted a truly epic thread that shows you how you can make your own washes.
I've finished painting my models. What should I do now?
You should seal them. By "sealing them", we mean putting a transparent coat atop the paint to protect them; otherwise your paint can easily get scratched. So far as what you should seal with, there are several options. Generally most people prefer a matte (non-shiny) coat of paint on wargaming miniatures. The usual choice for this is Testor's Dullcote, which comes in either spraycan or brush-on variants. Be careful when using spray cans of dullcote, as improper technique (painting too close) or painting in improper conditions (high humidity, muggy weather) can cause the clear paint to "frost up" and dry foggy. For more on this, see the next entry.
Oh no! I sprayed my models with Dullcote, and it looks all frosted and messed up!
Pic by MajorTom11
See the How To Recover From a Spray Sealer Disaster article.
I took some super-blurry pictures of my models, wanna see?
Not really. Taking pictures of models is really not hard, but it does require knowing a few things. There are several articles you probably want to read here, but you should probably start with this one.