Figure preparation

Using A Milliput Wash –  CoolMiniOrnot

. . . Once the figure is dry, if there are still some rough or pitted areas, I use some very thin washes of Milliput dissolved in water to fill in the rough texture on the surface. In my opinion, the best Milliput to use for this is the standard yellow-grey variety – I only use this type, and it works especially well for the ‘Milliput washes’.

It works like this: I mix up a little putty, then stick it to the bottom of a well in my palette. Then I add some clean water, and stir things up with an old brush, until I have a milk-like, opaque, beige-coloured mixture.

Then I carefully paint layers of this mixture onto the surface of the figure in the problem areas, similar to applying a wash. Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 coats before the pits and texture on the surface are filled in.

And if you feel the surface may still be a little rough, you can wait until the Milliput is dry and carefully sand the surface with very fine sandpaper (1000-1500 grade).

In this photo, you can see the evidence of the Milliput washes if you look carefully. I have drawn some red areas to some of the areas where it can be seen on the figure.

About these tutorials:

This is a selection of tutorials I found online that I have found particulatly interesting or helpful. Some are simply linked to other pages on the web, others are so useful I have transcribed their basic content.

With all these tutorials, you can click on the link embedded in each title to go to the original source material –  or, if you wish, in some cases, download a PDF backup of the page they are on.

(I created these backups as an insurance because I have been disappointed to find in the past that some of my favourite tutorials suddenly disappeared from the web. Also a few of the backups have been translated (with varying degrees of success) into English from their original language – saving you the trouble of doing it).

Preparing A Metal Figure by Stephen Mallia

Great article on the El Greco site on preparing a metal figure for priming. Metal figures are less brittle than resin or plastic and one of the advantages of white metal is that it can be polished and buffed for realistic armour.

It is however much heavier than resin and figures above 120 mm, like my Little Generals kits from the 80’s, are markedly more difficult to work with than resin.

Although big gaming companies like Games Workshop still sell metal figures, they are less prevalent than they used to be in the world of military and historical modelling; probably because resin is cheaper and capable of sharper detail.  However there are still some great vintage kits around

(PDF Backup)


Priming A Figure

Here is some good advice on using a spray primer from a games forum (contributor unknown):

First, be sure you shake the paint well. It says on the can you should shake it for a full minute, so I do it for two minutes. Shake during use, too.

The second thing is spraying the figures with the `good’ stream of spray. You do this by starting the spray before it hits the figs and stopping the spray after it hits the figs. The spray that comes out of the can when you first start spraying and when you stop spraying is incomplete — it has too much or too little paint, and/or too much or too little carrier.

What I do is put the figs out on newspaper and start spraying the newspaper to one side of the figs, when the spray has been coming out for a half-second or so, I pass the spray over the figs, and when the spray has passed over the figs, I stop. This assures that only properly mixed paint is falling on the figs. It takes longer and wastes some paint, but the finish is worth it to me.

Next, keep the can as upright as possible, and keep the nozzle about 10 inches from the figs. Any closer and it’s too hard to control the amount of paint on the figs. Any further and the paint starts to dry before it hits the figs.

And finally, IMO you should never use a whole can of paint (on figs anyway). It seems like when the can is about 3/4 of the way empty, the paint is really crappy, uneven and it comes out of the can in spurts.”

# TIP: Cleaning Superglue off your fingers

“A little note, if you’re working with super glue keep a wet teabag handy. If you spill super glue on your hands wipe it on the teabag and the teabag will absorb it – teabags are highly absorbant of chemicals. It works great for me and I don’t end up with shells on the ends of my fingers of dried super glue.” Tom Harris

“A preventive technique is to use “barrier creme”, not a lot of mechanics in this country use it even though it is very common in the UK, but I have obtained it by asking for it in pharmacies/drug stores. You put it on like hand lotion before you get into something. It dries to a thin film that protects your skin from most solvents, gas, oil, etc., and washes off with soap and water.” John F. Bailey

# TIP: Surgical spirit

Available at your local chemist and not much more expensive than spirit but without the oily residue, I’ve become a great fan of surgical spirit for cleaning up gluey fingers and models. It works especially well with two part Epoxy. Helps if you like the smell – luckily I do.


Material Damage – Roman, Massive Voodoo

A useful tutorial on pre-distressing models that are supposed to be chipped and damaged.


(PDF Backup)

Working with Photo Etched parts – Scale Model Guide

Photo-Etched-fret-cuttingVery useful and informative guide to working with brass photo-etched parts by Kris at Scale Model Guide

(Download PDF backup)

I also highly recommend this guide from Hawkeye’s Squawkbox



Modelling and sculpting tools

Even if you have no ambitions to be a sculptor, you’re going to need some simple tools for filling seams and air bubbles and maybe doing some groundwork. These can either be bought or made yourself with a little patience and a few basic materials.

Dental Tools are a favourite. Many modeling shops sell these in sets. They are made in stainless steel and the most useful tend to be the ones with flat or spatulate ends. In the UK, these are available from shops like Maplins or online companies like Proops

Artist’s sculpting tools are available in a variety of sizes and made of wood, plastic and metal. Particularly if you want larger sized tools, this is your best source.
Found tools, such as small screwdrivers, penknives and scribers can also come in handy. Be on the look out for likely objects


Hand made tools

If you want to make your own, all you need are small pieces of dowel and nails.

Carefully hammer the nails into a handle-sized length of dowel. Avoid nails that are too thick and chunky like masonry nails. Small cabinet makers pins work well for this – remember you can flatten them out afterwards. Bite off the heads of the nails with pliers and then hammer and file the ends into your desired shape.

Alternately you could drill a hole in the end of your dowel and insert a piece of soft wire, a knitting needle – or anything else that you think might be useful with a bit of glue to keep it in place. (Tip: A particularly useful tool to make using this method is a small loop of wire for scooping out excess putty since they don”t tend to manufacture these commercially in a small enough scale).

You can optionally force a piece of metal tube over the end of the dowels to stop the wood from splitting or bind it with string or fuse-wire. It’s a good idea to reinforce the wood even if you only use tape.

Finally – you can make a basic but very effective modelling tool by whittling the end of a toothpick and then dipping it in cyano glue to harden it. Many skilled sculptors use nothing more complicated than this and get amazing results.

David Clough©2003