Teaching Young Children How to Paint

pallete of watercolors

With so many types of paint available, it may seem overwhelming when choosing what to buy for children. A boxed palette of watercolors can teach a child about mixing colors as well as how to take care of their arts and crafts supplies. Tempera paints offer more intense colors that work on paper as well as other surfaces

Materials for Young Painters Ages 2 to 12

Even a toddler can use a palette of watercolors. A palette of eight-to-ten colors is actually better for children than a palette twice that size because then the child has to mix colors to get lighter and darker colors than the kit offers. Children ages nine or ten and up might want to try using tube watercolors that require they squeeze a small amount of paint onto a plate or palette. Kids can try a variety of techniques with watercolors.

Tube paints are easier to mix and are good for children who like mixing colors and creating seventeen shades of green. Children eight and up may also enjoy exploring watercolor pencils since they can create a precision drawing with a pencil but soften the look with a brush and water.

Tempera paints are used directly as opposed to being mixed with water. Washable tempera paints are okay for painting on paper but if used on other surfaces and they get wet then the project is ruined. Use acrylics with children who possess the dexterity to manipulate a paintbrush and keep a neat work area.

Paintbrushes for Artwork

Purchase some inexpensive paintbrushes that are a better quality than the short, stiff-bristle brushes that come with watercolor palettes. Soft-bristled brushes require more control but they cover a surface (whether paper or wood) more smoothly.

Look for flat-edged brushes, pointed brushes, angled tip brushes, and even fan brushes. Quite often, sets of five brushes with different tips are sold in inexpensive sets. These brushes give more flexibility in creating different results and should be purchased for kids ages seven and up.

How to Use a Paintbrush with Watercolors

Dip the tip of the brush in the water and then in the paint. Rinse the brush thoroughly when switching colors. Change the rinse water frequently (which isn’t the same thing as providing a larger container of water). Have a rag or a stack of paper towels nearby to dab excess water off the brush. If using the same color, it isn’t necessary to dip the brush in the water between strokes.

At the end of a project, dip a clean paper towel over each cake of paint to absorb the excess water and mop up any dirty water. This way the paints will be clean for their next use. Show children how to clean up their paints at the end of a project. By age seven or eight, most children should be able to connect the act of cleaning up to the benefits of finding their supplies in the condition they wish to use them.

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Teaching Lesson Plan for Art Using Sgraffito With Paint

Sgraffito Art Technique

The Sgraffito technique is a great idea for an art lesson, for it is a novel way of enjoying paint. Not only does Sgraffito exploit the texture of the paint, it can also be used for decorative purposes, expressing patterns, movement and injecting energy into the painting. Traditionally, the Sgraffito technique was used to decorate pottery and ceramics, but it is also a great technique for painting.

Lesson Plan on Sgraffito

The art teacher may firstly explain to the class that Sgraffito is simply a painting method whereby the upper layer of paint is scratched off to reveal a different colour or texture beneath. Any scratching tool can be used for Sgraffito, including old toothbrushes, combs, toothpicks, palette knives or the other end of the brush.

Add Texture to Paint

Sgraffito can be used for several painting effects. The art teacher may show exemplars of different Sgraffito paintings and if necessary, conduct a painting demonstration in front of the class on how to use Sgraffito. The lesson will show that Sgraffito can be used to express:

  • Texture
  • Colour
  • Energy
  • Patterns

Demonstration Using Sgraffito

The texture of the Sgraffito can be enhanced when painting in impasto. Impasto means thick paint, the opposite of applying paint in thin washes. If using oil paint, impasto medium can be added to thicken the body of the paint. Alternatively, partially-dried acrylic paint can be used. Peaks and troughs can be etched into the paint in order to add texture and energy to the painting. If side-lit by a lamp, the texture of the painting will show up in sharp relief.

Experimental Art Activities for Adults

Sgraffito can also be used in a more decorative way by etching patterns such as swirls or crosshatches onto the upper layer of the paint in to reveal a different colour beneath. To use Sgraffito in this way, the painting surface must be prepared beforehand. This often means applying a contrasting colour onto the painting surface first.

If the painting is to be predominantly green, as in a landscape painting for example, a conflicting colour such as red or orange can be applied underneath. When the green paint is scratched off in strategic places, this contrasting colour will be revealed, adding energy and vibrancy to the painting. This under-layer of paint must be thoroughly dry before painting on top, or it may dirty the colour mixture of the final painting.

Art Materials Required for Sgraffito

In order to complete a painting in Sgraffito, the following resources are needed along with the usual painting materials:

  • Any scratching tool, such as combs, stiff brushes, palette knives or plastic cutlery
  • Acrylic paint
  • Impasto medium is useful for emphasising texture
  • Reference material such as an artistic influence, photographs or still life can be used. The composition must be kept simple.

Experimental Art Technique and Lesson on Painting with Sgraffito for Students

Students may find out for themselves how mark making will affect the painting. Using scratch marks to echo the outlines of the objects depicted, will add tension to the painting, as shown by the Expressionists. Munch’s The Scream is a good example. The French Fauves, such as Matisse’s paintings shows how mark-making to reveal a contrasting colour beneath can be used to add vibrancy to painting.

Art students may try out experimental art techniques in order to find inspiration for painting. Sgraffito is a great art activity for this purpose. Not only is it simple to do, but Sgraffito provides interesting painting effects. The only requirements are scratching tools, a paint thickener if texture is desired, and contrasting colours, if vibrancy is required. Experimenting with different techniques such as Sgraffito will inspire art students to explore other art techniques.

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Sugar Replacement Review: Four of the Best Artificial Sweeteners and Sugar Substitutes

Best Artificial Sweeteners

We’ve all heard of Equal and Sweet’N Low, but there are many other artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes out there that can dramatically lower the calories in foods, without lowering the taste. Here are four of the best artificial sweeteners on the market today, and information on what makes them so special.

Partida Organic Agave Nectar

Partida Organic Agave Nectar is a 100% organic sweetener that is made from the tropical blue agave plant. Though this sweetener isn’t calorie free, it contains less calories than sugar, with only 60 calories per tablespoon, so it is great for low calorie cooking.

At $3 for an 11.6 ounce bottle, Partida Organic Agave Nectar was originally meant to flavor cocktails, but it can be used for many other recipes. It tastes very much like honey, though it is slightly more runny in consistency. This sweetener is best in teas, coffees, oatmeal or any other food in which you might put a liquid sweetener like honey or syrup.

Sweet Fiber

Sweet Fiber is an unusual sweetener that is great for those wanting to add more fiber to their diet. It is the first no-calorie sweetener to contain fiber. Three packets of Sweet Fiber contains 10% of a person’s daily requirement of fiber and is 100% natural.

This sweetener tastes a lot like powdered sugar, but doesn’t have a strange aftertaste. It is a great choice for baking things like Low Calorie Banana Pudding Cake, since it can be purchased in wide 250 gram, wide-mouthed containers, which cost around $8.99.


If you crave a calorie-free sweetener that has the granular texture of white cane sugar, then NutraSweet, at around $7 for 100 count box, is a great choice.

Surprisingly, NutraSweet doesn’t have a bitter taste. It is as close as you can get to real sugar, so it’s great for things like fruit or recipes where you just need that gritty sugar texture.

Great Value Calorie Free Sweetener

Great Value Calorie Free Sweetener is a great choice for those looking for a great sugar-free sweetener that doesn’t cost a lot of money. A box of 200 packets only costs $2.14.

The taste is comparable to Equal, but with less aftertaste. The only catch to Great Value Calorie Free Sweetener is that you can only buy it at Wal-Mart stores.

A Note About Sweeteners that Are Not FDA Approved

There are some sweeteners on the market that are not approved by the FDA. This means that the product has not had sufficient testing to see if it is safe for humans.

One popular sweetener that has a lot of press, but not an FDA approval is the herb stevia. You should be cautious when buying products that contain this, and other types of sweeteners, that have not been tested for your safety.

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Mona Lisa as Leonardo Painted Her: New Louvre-approved Images of Painting in CA Exhibition: An Overview

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa by Italian High Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is arguably the most recognizable image in the history of Western art. But did you know that the portrait originally had eyebrows? Mona Lisa Secrets Revealed (October 17-December 31, 2007), a new component of Da Vinci: An Exhibition of Genius (August 4-December 31, 2007) at San Francisco, California’s Metreon, reveals facts about the artist’s mysterious masterpiece heretofore unknown. Recent scientific studies sanctioned by France’s National Laboratory and Paris’ Musée du Louvre, the painting’s keeper, irrefutably confirm 25 discoveries about the composition’s original appearance.

Da Vinci: An Exhibition of Genius

This breathtaking interactive presentation, a decade in the making, surveys the wondrous accomplishments of painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, engineer, scientist, anatomist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci. The intellectual interests of this quintessential polymath included: fauna and flora; mathematics and geometry; physics and mechanics; civil, military and hydraulic machinery; flight; musical instruments; and philosophy. Taken from designs in some 6000 intact pages from his personal codices (notebooks), 65 of 120 full-scale modern recreations of Leonardo’s inventions are on display, many fabricated by Rome’s Anthropos Association using 15th-century Italian techniques and materials. Among those on view are da Vinci’s glider, parachute, ball bearing and gear systems, early helicopter and military tank, bicycle, automobile and submarine.

Also exhibited are remarkable color reproductions of many of Leonardo’s famous works of art: the Litta Madonna (ca. 1481-97); anatomical drawings; and preparatory sketches for the Battle of Anghiari (ca. 1503). They’re joined by interactive presentations on the Last Supper (ca. 1492/94-98), Vitruvian Man (ca. 1490) and Equestrian Monument to Francesco Sforza (1493), explaining the artist’s experiments and achievements in painting, drawing and sculpture.

Mona Lisa Secrets Revealed

This recent installation illustrates the work of Pascal Cotte for the first time in the United States. The passionate French engineer invented the 240-megapixel Multi-spectral Imaging Camera to take multiple photographs of Mona Lisa using patented infrared technology and intense illumination. Over an almost three-hour period, Cotte photographed the portrait, his session resulting in 13 original images. Two years of technical analysis allowed Cotte to document precisely what pigments Leonardo actually used, where the artist made changes to his composition and where restoration efforts have occurred. This innovative kind of photography permits the viewer to see Mona Lisa as it originally appeared. The show features a high-definition color recreation of Cotte’s work alongside an accurate replica of how the painting appears today. Oversized copies of the portrait and its various sections, enabling one to examine the painting better, are also on display. Its original blue sky, vibrant mountains, green trees and Mona Lisa’s pinkish face are now visible to the human eye.

Some of the verifiable revelations about the painting’s composition are startling.

  • The painting was never cut to be framed.
  • The top of the sky, sitter’s eyes and lips were restored.
  • Mona Lisa had eyebrows.
  • Glazes or glacis (semi-transparent layers of paint) in Mona Lisa’s veil reveal the order in which Leonardo painted the portrait.
  • The artist changed the position of the left hand’s index and middle fingers.
  • Her dress had lace that has vanished over time.
  • A blanket, rising above the wrist of Mona Lisa’s left hand that holds it, covers both her knees and stomach.

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Martin Benka: Slovak Painter and Illustrator: The Father of Slovak Modernist Art

Martin Benka

Martin Benka is noted for introducing the aesthetics of folk culture into the formal language of Slovak Modernism at the beginning of the 20th century. Through his impressionist beginnings he progressed to inventing his own pictorial style of monumental expressiveness. His inclination to nature was in a strong contrast to the contemporary purist movements such as the German Bauhaus and Soviet constructivism whose stylistic priorities lay in functionalism.

Martin Benka was born into poverty in a village of Kiripolec (present day Kostoliste) in Western Slovakia. He began to draw at a very young age. As a young man he trained In Vienna as a painter-decorator. His spare time was spent visiting galleries and practicing his own art. Despite his meagre earnings he was still able to buy pigments, brushes, canvases and paper.

Prague Student

As there was only so much he could learn by himself, he started applying for an apprenticeship with accomplished painters who had their own studio and held classes. Accepted by the renowned Czech landscape painter Kalvoda, he moved to Prague in 1910. His first paintings were inspired by impressionism. His work concentrates on studies of natural motifs in various lighting conditions. Kalvoda praised his excellence in depicting forest scenery.


A significant stage of Benka’s career as an artist began in 1913 when he journeyed to his native Slovakia. Travelling across the countryside, he visited remote mountain regions and the local rural communities, making spontaneous sketches outdoors.

Martin Benka lived in Prague for thirty years but regularly travelled to his homeland. Around 1915 this fusion of influences resulted in landscapes in the decorative art nouveau style which later evolved into abstracted landscape motifs with decorative compositional arrangement and ornamental line.

Man and Landscape

In the early 1920s Benka journeyed to several European countries where he familiarized himself with the works of great masters. Seeing this variety of different styles encouraged him to dramatize his own mode of expression. At this period his typical monumental style begins to take shape. Benka’s goal was to amplify the substance through the reduction of expressive means and simplification of forms. He now includes a human element in his mountain landscape and focuses on the dramatic interaction between nature and man. The landscape is the background to the struggle between the two.

Unlikely Heroes

From 1925 Benka exhibited internationally and this period is also a landmark in his artistic development as his interest gradually shifted from landscapes with figures to figurative painting. His monumentalized paintings concentrating on the human are characterized by their epic symbolism. The figures as well as the landscapes they inhabit are generalized and stylized. Man and nature form an organic entity. Through the flatness of surface, bold delineation of forms and warm earthy colours Benka translates his own emotions experienced in nature into his works.

Folk Art

Benka’s work was inspired by Slovakian traditions and folk culture, including ballads and songs. The main protagonists of his paintings are people living in communion with nature. Colours and shapes derived from colour schemes and figurative motifs of folk art.

Benka’s brush transforms the trivial into monumental: a common man becomes a hero, an ordinary woman turns into a heroine, a mundane task is a noble deed. But Benka’s hero is void of political associations. The heroism he presents has a timeless quality: the ability to remain true to oneself and to one’s roots.

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How to Remove Paint From Wood

Paint Stripping

Removing paint from a wood surface, more commonly referred to as paint stripping, is the process of breaking the paint bond and exposing the wood underneath. Stripping paint is necessary when there are many layers of paint on the surface, dry paint has drip marks or simply to expose and refinish natural wood. Paint is stripped from wood moldings, furniture, floors or wood-based walls such as paneling. There are a few do-it-yourself methods to choose from, pick the easiest method based on your skill level and capabilities.

For Paint Stripping You Will Need

  • safety glasses
  • heat-resistant gloves
  • hot air gun
  • metal paint scraper
  • chemical paint stripper
  • tarp
  • paintbrush
  • mild detergent
  • belt sander
  • medium-grit sandpaper
  • fine-grit sandpaper
  • extra fine-grit sandpaper

Heat Stripping

  1. Wear safety glasses and heat-resistant gloves. Keep a fire extinguisher and phone nearby in case of accidental fire. Do not use heat guns near natural gas lines and electrical wires.
  2. Hold a hot air gun near the wood surface at a 45-degree angle. Do not touch the end of the heat gun to the wall because it is a fire hazard.
  3. Keep the heat gun in constant motion over a small, manageable area. Move the heat gun back and forth or up and down until the heat begins to bubble the existing paint.
  4. Use a metal paint scraper to scrape off bubbled paint.
  5. Move the heat gun to the next area and repeat until all paint has been removed from the wood surface.

Chemical Paint Strippers for Paint Stripping

Chemical paint strippers are messy, but very effective.

Wear chemical-resistant gloves, safety goggles and work in a well-ventilated area. If the area is not well ventilated, set up large fans or wear a chemical approved respirator.

  1. Lay down tarps or thick layers of newspaper to catch drips and accidental spills.
  2. Apply a thick layer of chemical stripper to the wood surface with a paintbrush.
  3. Allow the chemical paint stripper to sit on the surface for the length of time based on the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  4. Scrape off old paint with a metal paint scraper.
  5. Wash the surface with a mild detergent to remove chemical residue from the paint stripper.
  6. Allow the wood to dry thoroughly before refinishing.

Paste or Gel Paint Strippers

Paste and gel paint strippers depend on the same chemical reaction to break old paint bonds from surfaces. Paste strippers work slower than chemical paint strippers, but are more appropriate for areas that are difficult to reach such as carvings or corners.

  1. Apply a thick layer of paste or gel stripper with a putty, pressing it into carved areas.
  2. Allow the paste to react, which can take up to 24 hours depending on the brand.
  3. Scrape off old paint with a metal paint scraper.
  4. Wash the surface to remove excess chemicals.

Sanding Off Old Paint

Sanding paint works best for small or large flat areas without details, carvings or depressions.

  1. Load a belt sander with medium-grit sandpaper and sand the surface removing top layers of paint. This is also done by hand sanding.
  2. Change to fine-grit sandpaper and sand the surface again.
  3. Finally sand a third time with extra fine-grit sandpaper.

You can find success with any of these methods. Chemical stripping is the easiest, but also the messiest. Sanding will also remove a layer of the wood surface itself. If you are not experienced with sanding, you can cause surface depressions and indentations.

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How to Paint on Feathers

Feather Painting

My feather-collecting daughter was enchanted when we discovered the beautiful painted feathers by Northwest wildlife artist Julie Thompson. Since then, I’ve kept my eye out for feather painting tips and tutorials. Here’s what I have found.

What You’ll Need

  1. Feathers (thick and wide)
  2. Fixative spray (to hold feather together)
  3. Waxy paint marker (for outlining)
  4. Blue painter’s tape or artist tape (to hold the feather down)
  5. Acrylic paint (and water to dilute if necessary)
  6. Paintbrushes
  7. Spray-on gloss (for finishing and preserving the painting)

Recommended feathers: Turkey, peacock, pheasant, and quail. All are thick and wide.

A little inspiration: On Julie Thompson’s Featherlady Studio website, you can watch a slideshow of her famous painted feathers.

A History

Vanya the Faerie Lady of Sacred Earth Sacred Art presents “Arteplumaria” – Feather Painting Through the Ages,” an article about the art and practice of feather embellishment around the world.

Tutorials and Resources

  • Novawuff’s Tutorial on Deviant Art is a little rough-around-the-edges, but it gives some helpful tips such as prepping the feathers with fixative spray, painting with water-diluted acrylic paint, and finishing with a spray-on gloss.
  • Caroline Travisano created a series of eHow video tutorials beginning with Choosing Feathers for Acrylic Painting. Further videos demonstrate laying out the painting, choosing brushes, and finishing the painted feather. View the whole series: How to Paint Feathers with Acrylics.
  • In her How to Paint Feathers tutorial, eHow author Michelle Bell says feather painting is not as complex as it looks. She breaks the process down into seven simple steps.
  • Folk artist Kelley Patterson describes her feather painting process using Gesso, a paint binder with chalk, as an undercoat and oil paints on feathers.
  • Instructables.com author poofrabbit is planning to create an Instructable: Feather Painting as a project to share with children. The author answers questions about the project on this page.
  • Wildlife artist and feather painter, B. Curtiss, sells a downloadable ebook Painted Feathers, divulging the secrets of feather painting from start to finish.

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How to Paint a Doll’s Face: Faceup Tips for Pullip, Blythe, and Super Dollfie

Doll Painting

For doll enthusiasts, whether their obsession is a Pullip, a Blythe, or a Dollfie, there is no greater joy than customizing their doll. There’s also no greater pain than ruining a beautiful doll with stains or chemicals after the wrong care. For all that can go wrong with a faceup, however, so much can go right. Here are some tips for painting a beautiful customized doll.

Know The Medium

Each type of doll will require different care. The main types of doll that can be painted and customized are plastic dolls similar to Blythe and Pullip, vinyl dolls like Tyler Wentworth and Barbie, and resin dolls like the Volks Super Dollfie. Of all of these, Resin is the easiest to change, and vinyl is the easiest to paint, but stains easily. Aspiring doll faceup artists may want to practice on a few cheap ceramic dolls before tackling Tonner fashion dolls, or resin ball jointed dolls (BJDs).

The first step in painting a doll face is to remove the old face paint. In nearly any medium, this can be done with three items: an abrasive sponge, some acetone (resin only!), or some rubbing alcohol. When using any caustic material such as acetone, it may be a good idea to dilute it with water to avoid damaging the doll’s face. Dip a sponge into the alcohol or acetone and water solution, and use it to gently wipe away any current paint. Clean the doll head thoroughly after removing paint, as leaving chemicals on any material might damage it.

Painting the Doll

The next step in painting a doll is to seal the doll’s face. There are many substances to do this. Among doll hobbyists, Testor’s Dull Cote and the Japanese import Mister Super Clear are the most popular. These sealants not only protect the original material, but provide a texture that will hold paints and powders. Testor’s may not be suitable for Blythe or Pullip dolls, so always test a spare head first. Always seal a doll outdoors, in a well ventilated area. Hold the can at least a few feet away from the doll head, and lightly mist the head a few times until the area is coated with a transparent layer of sealant.

Many doll faceup artists begin with blushing. Blushing a doll adds a lifelike quality. There are several suitable methods of blushing. For those talented with an airbrush, airbrushed blushing is very natural in appearance. For beginners, however, chalk pastels, or oil free makeup will work. Makeup brushes, or natural fiber art brushes are best for blushing. Create the desired color by applying the brush to the chalk, or by shaving the pastels and mixing colors. Lightly dust the powder on the doll’s cheeks and nose.

Painting Doll Eyes and Lips

After the doll is blushed, another layer of sealant will protect the work so far. Generally, any mistakes with the paint can be removed with alcohol if applied quickly enough. The eyes and the lips are the next step. The level of detail here will depend on the artist’s personal preferences.

To paint a doll’s lips, first mix the preferred color of paint using acrylic paints. For a glossy look, mix paint with a thinner for some transparency. For a matte color, apply paint directly to the lips. Painting the eyes is done in the same way. First, apply a dark liner, and then allow it to dry. Eyeshadow can be done in either chalks or paints.

Eyelashes and eyebrows are often the hardest part of a doll’s face to paint. It’s always a good idea to have a piece of glass or plastic to practice the stroke and consistency of the paint before applying it to a doll. A liner brush with a long, fine tip is often the best tool for painting doll lashes and eyebrows. Paint the lower lashes first, with light strokes that taper at the ends.

The eyebrows can be difficult, partly because they should be symmetrical. This can be accomplished easily by designing the shape of one brow, and then using a stencil to paint it. Detail can be added as desired.

At this point, seal the doll’s face again with the sealant, and allow it to dry fully. Some artists use a clear acrylic gloss to add some sheen to the lips or eyelids. Do not seal after using a gloss, as this will dull the shine.

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How To Finish RPG Miniatures: Tutorial: Final Touches to Enhance Figures For Role Playing

RPG Miniature

Once an RPG miniature figure is painted and detailed, it is ready to be displayed. However, much as the drybrushing technique can be applied to improve a figure from decent to special, there are three final details that can take a special figure to the level of professionally finished.

It All Comes Out In The Wash

Washing an RPG miniature figure isn’t a way to clean it, but to dirty it. By applying a final coat of diluted pigment the folds and creases of a figure are deepened and enhanced and by contrast, the raised areas are highlighted.

There are two methods of washing miniatures:

  1. Ink washes employ a diluted (usually a 1:1 or even more diluted) solution of ink to the figure. Each section should be washed separately and the artist needs to take gravity into account since the dilute solution will tend to wind up most intense at the lowest point. For example, when washing a cape, lay the figure face down and wash the entire cape so that the wash pools in the depths of the various folds of the cape. Use an ink colour that is slightly darker than the the colour being washed. If done correctly, the ink will slide off the high points and adhere in the shadowed low areas.
  2. Paint washes are applied in the same way. Darken the main colour that was used on a feature with a dab of black paint and water the paint down to a consistency just a little thicker than water. The application process is identical to the process used for inks.

Washing takes a great deal of practice and not all painters use the technique. It can produce amazing results if done correctly. It should be noted that the paint wash is basically a reverse version of the three step drybrushing process detailed in Part 4 of this series. Beginners might be more comfortable using the simpler, less messy drybrush technique.

Covering All The Bases

The base of an RPG miniature figure is often left out of consideration. It should not be treated as an afterthought.

Incorporating the base in the early planning stages of painting the figure will save time puzzling out what to do with it once the figure is done. There are two basic ways to approach finishing the base.

  1. Painting the base is the simplest way to finish it. In the early days of figure casting, all figures had metal bases that could easily be painted, just like the rest of the figure. If the figure in question has a metal base, or better still a metal base that has some detail to enhance the figure, a simple paint approach can give the figure a perfect finish.
  2. Flocking is the technique that railway modelers use to create the grass, sand and gravel effects that surround railroad dioramas. Flocking is available in bags at most hobby stores. Simply pick a colour of flock, paint some glue (two part, five minute epoxy works well for this) on the base, taking care not to get any glue on any part of the figure that is attached or close to the base. Cover the wet glue in flock and let dry. Sand can be used in place of flock. It helps the finish to paint the base a similar colour to the chosen flocking colour first. The flocking technique works best with the modern “slot base” figures, but it works fine on metal bases too.

Seal the Deal

Finally, a sealant should be sprayed on the entire RPG miniature figure to finish it. A good sealant will help protect it from fading, chipping and repel dirt and oil from hands. Any art supply or hobby shop should carry several different matt finish sealants that will do the job.

Metal miniatures may be small, but with patience, practice and perseverance, painting and displaying them can a hobby worth the time.

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How To Drybrush RPG Miniatures: Tutorial: Using Drybrush Techniques to Enhance Role Playing Figures


Drybrushing Techniques

It is simple to paint a figure with a single coat of colour on each feature and detail. It takes some practice, but done with care even such a basic approach can yield decent results. With one simple technique, judiciously applied, those decent results can be refined into something very special.

Drybrushing is the most effective method of making a figure’s various features appear more realistic. It takes a great deal of practice and over time each artist will find ways to refine the technique for various situations. The best miniature features to practice the drybrushing technique upon are capes and armour.


Choose a figure that is wearing a cape that has as many folds and ripples as possible. Once the cape is primed and a colour chosen, there are four basic steps.

  1. Mix the basic colour with a bit of black (or brown if the basic colour is red or orange) to make a dark version. Paint the entire cape this colour and allow it to dry.
  2. Next, take the basic colour on a shading sized brush, but brush off most of the pigment on some scrap paper until the brush strokes leave only a light shading on the paper. Use the “dry” brush to gently paint the cape, stroking across the folds of the cape, not pressing too hard. This will take some practice. The best approach is “less is more”. Several very light coats can be applied until the desired effect has been created.
  3. Once the main colour has been applied, the cape will look like it has deep shadows. Now lighten the main colour with a dab of white and repeat the drybrush technique, only with lighter strokes and an even drier brush. Again, this will take a good deal of practice, but the effects that can be achieved are worth it.
  4. At this point, the cape should appear to have deep shadows and the lighter highlights should look like natural light shining off the material.
  5. The final step is optional: take a tiny amount of pure white and apply it to the shading brush. Using the same technique as before, wipe off all but the last hint of pigment from the brush. With feather light touch, drag the brush across the very edges of the cape and the bottom edge. Done correctly this white touch will appear as a subtle wearing on the fabric.


Whether chainmail, plate armour, or another metal feature, the basic technique to create an appealing finish is the same.

  1. Once the figure is primed and dry, the first step is to paint all the parts that are meant to appear as metal with flat black paint. Be certain to get the black paint into every fold, every divot, every crevice. Allow the figure to dry thoroughly.
  2. Use steel paint, not silver, for armour and metal. Drybrush the steel across chainmail and over the folds in armour. In some cases, it may work best to brush in only a single direction, since this will have the effect of deepening the shadows in the metal. In other cases, swiping the brush back and forth might achieve a more interesting effect.
  3. For a final touch, a very light coat of silver can be drybrushed to give the metal a gleam at the highest parts of the feature. This isn’t a necessary step, and some figures may look better without it.

Drybrushing requires a lot of practice and a lot of mistakes before an artist can use it to create an effective finish, but once the technique is mastered it has infinite applications and variations.

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