The New Painters' Glossary (by Iffy)
When you first get into the hobby of painting miniatures, you're going to hear so many new terms your head will spin. What is a glaze? How does it differ from ink, who is Privateer Press and what do they have to do with Warhammer or Rackham. To that end, here's a quick painters' glossary. It's still a work in progress so I don't have everything nailed. If you come across a term you'd like to add or want to suggest an alternative definition, just add it to the article.
Acetate - A transparent film available in a variety of thicknesses which can be used as a surface for animation; for overlays; or cut into different shapes for stencils.
Airbrush - Invented by the watercolour artist Charles Burdick in 1893, the airbrush is a mechanical colouring tool which mixes air and paint together and propels the combination at a surface in the form of a fine spray. The Airbrush consists of a fine internal needle, a nozzle where air and paint are mixed, a colour receptacle and a pen-shaped body. It is connected by a hose to a propelling device and operated by a lever or push button.
Air eraser - A device operating on the same principle as an airbrush, the air eraser is used to propel fine particles of an abrasive, thus removing unwanted areas or mistakes from Artwork. It is more subtle in its effect than ordinary methods of erasing.
000 Brush - The smallest size of brush, typically used to paint small detail.
Basecoat - The first layer of paint applied on top of the primer coat.
Basing - The process of creating or decorating the base of your figure. This can be as simple as painting the stand green to creating elaborate scenic wonders.
Binder - The binder is the actual film forming component of paint. It is the only component that must be present; other components listed below are included optionally, depending on the desired properties of the cured film. The binder imparts adhesion, binds the pigments together, and strongly influences such properties as gloss potential, exterior durability, flexibility, and toughness.
Citadel - Sometimes used synonomously with Games Workshop (for old timers). Citadel used to be an independent company, but is now a brand of Games Workshop.
Comments & Criticism (C&C) - A typical acronym used when someone posts a posts a picture in a forum setting and asks for feedback, comments, and suggestions on how to improve the figure.
Conversion - Any modification of a miniature or figure. Like basing, this can be something as simple as a hand or weapon swap, or a full-blown project with custom sculpting, extensive changes, and addition of new components.
Cutters - Basically, a pair a wire cutters. You'll want to look for cutters that taper to a sharp tip and have a flat cutting surface. Privateer Press and Citadel sell versions for $15.00. You can probably find one in a DIY store for half of that.
DIY (Do It Yourself) - A home improvement or Do it Yourself store.
Drybrush - A painting and weathering technique in which most of the paint is removed from the brush before the brush is touched to the model. The "dry brush" is then stroked lightly over the model to bring out raised details and textures.
Extender - Extender lowers the opacity of paint. It's essentially like adding more binder to the mix. More binder means less pigment by volume, and therefore more transparency (from Brushthralls.com)
Extreme Highlighting - See Line Highlighting.
FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) - Your local game store
Flock - Typically finely shredded colorized foam that is applied over a base to achieve a realistic scenic effect.
Flow Release - Paint additive that lowers the viscosity of paint and allows for smoother coats. Flow release also enables paint to run into small areas of detail.
Fluff - Background history and context for a game.
Foundation paints - An 18-color range of paints by Citadel specially designed with a higher concentration of pigments for create a solid block of colour with one application over any undercoat. The colors are formulated to complement the existing Citadel Colour and Citadel Washes ranges, the Foundation Paints have been designed to provide great coverage.
Frame - A frame is one complete output of a plastic mold. Depending on the figures, it may be bigger or smaller, but represents a single output from a plastics mould.
Games Workshop (LSE: GAW) - Games Workshop PLC is a British game production and retailing company that manages a number of distinct brands, including Games Workshop, Citadel, Forge World and Black Library. They publish the Warhammer Fantasy Battles, Warhammer 40K and other related games. They also produce the Citadel Colour range of paints and tools and publish White Dwarf magazine.
Glaze - A thin (mostly) transparent layer of paint, used to modify the color of an underlying color.
Glaze Medium - Glaze medium is a paint additive used to thin paint, retard drying time, and improve transparency. By itself, glaze medium is colorless. Glaze Medium will not adds any extra texture or body to the colour, but will increase the transparency and slightly slow down the drying process.
Green Stuff - Also known under the brand name of Kneadite, though several manufacturers make it now. Games Workshop specifically markets it under the name "Green Stuff". Generically, green stuff is a two part epoxy compound. It comes a long, bi-colour strip and the two sections need to be kneaded together before use. The act of kneading the two components together activates the putty and begins the hardening process. It's known as green stuff because there is usually a blue strip and a yellow strip, which ends up with a green putty when mixed together. However, the lighter color strip could be a number of colors: white, green or yellow. In general, if you use more of the darker strip, the resulting mix mix will be firmer and hold its shape better. More of the softer, lighter strip and the material will be easier to manipulate, but very soft and sticky.
Ink - Similar to washes. Games Workshop once had a line of inks but have now been replaced by washes.
Line Highlighting - Another technique used to highlight a model where a thin line of lighter color is painted along a contour or edge that would naturally catch light and reflect it. This works best for simulating glossy surfaces, highlighting edges and corners, or highlighting fine detail like straps and trim. (cite: Brushthralls)
LGS (Local Game Store) - Your local game store
Miter Box - Hobby tool used to guide a hand or razor saw to make precise 90- and 45-degree cuts.
NMM (Non metal metallic) - a painting technique which does not use metalic colours to achieve a metalic effect on a miniature.
Overbrush - Overbrushing (also called wetbrushing) is a technique similar to drybrushing however there is more paint left on the brush. As a result, overbrushing doesn't produce the classic "dusty" appearance you achieve with drybrushing.
P3 - Privateer Press's branded line of paints and tools.
Pinning - The process of inserting a metal pin between two pieces of a model to strengthing the join. The typical bit size used is around 1 mm.
Pin Vise - A hand powered drill used for drilling small holes. Modellers use them for pinning or drilling out gun barrels.
Primer - The first or preliminary coat of paint applied to a surface of a metal or plastic miniature to prepare it for further painting. White and black are the colors most commonly used, as is grey, but you can find primer in a number of other colors like tan, rust, olive drab, etc.
Priming - The act of applying the primer coat to a miniature.
Privateer Press - Game publisher of Warmachine and Hordes. Also produces the P3 range of paints and model tools. Publishes No Quarter magazine.
Rackham - Game publisher of Confrontation and AT-43. Also produces the Rackham range of paints.
Razor Saw - Hobby saw with a particularly thin blade. Useful for cutting metal components and large plastic pieces (like buildings). The saw's blade is so thin that you can cut the head off a model and still use both components.
Retarder - Paint additive. Slows down the drying time of paint, which faciliates wet blending.
Sealant - Typically refers to varnish that is used to cover a painted miniature to protect the paint job from handling wear and tear. Sealants come in gloss or matte varieties and can be sprayed or brushed on. Gloss varnish tend to be more durable, but shiny. This can be offset by finishing off a coat of gloss varnish with a coat of matte varnish.
Slotta base - Basically a round or square plastic base, designed with a pre-formed slot, where the tab on a figures feet can be inserted. When first introduced, this was quite revolutionary as miniatures had always come with pre-cast bases.
Snap Fit Plastics - Typically very simple 2- or 3-part plastics where each piece has a peg that fits into a corresponding hole on the main miniature. This makes it very easy to assemble, but somewhat limits the modellers' ability to customize the figure.
Speed Painting - Significantly upping the amount of figures painted within a certain time period, sometimes by lowering quality but sometimes simply by learning how to apply more paint faster. Speed painting exercises tend to be event driven (e.g., must have army finished by tournament) rather than a sustainable increase in productivity.
Sprue - The plastic frame that holds the components of a model.
Static Grass - Static grass is used in basing miniature figures create realistic looking grass. It consists of small threadlike particles charged with static electricity, making it stand up when glued to a surface.
Varnish - A transparent, hard, protective finish that is brushed or sprayed on top of a finished figure to protect it from wear and tear. Can come in glossy or matte varieties.
VGC (Vallejo Game Color) - Vallejo's range of paints designed for fantasy and science fiction miniatures. Comes in 17 ml dropper bottles.
VMC (Vallejo Model Color) - Vallejo's range of paints designed for historical miniatures. Comes in 17 ml dropper bottles.
Wash - A thinned mixture of paint, water, and/or ink and glaze medium that is applied over a basecoat to provide shadowing. The wash will flow easily into crevices and settle in the folds thereby providing darker shading when it dries. Painters have historically had to create their own washes, but Games Workshop has recently released a boxed set of 8 pre-mixed washes that can be used straight out of the pot.
Wet Blending - A painting technique where the painter, using a damp brush and two colors, blends them together where they join to create a smooth transition from one color to the next.
Wet Palette - A sealable container with a layer of absorbent material, such as paper towels or a sponge, that will hold water, and a semi-permeable membrane (e.g., baking parchment) over that. The paint sits on the membrane and is kept wet by osmosis, which extends the working time of your paint and facilitates blending.