Painting Guides: Paint-by-Numbers to Picasso? | Print |  E-mail
Sunday, 18 March 2007

Paint-By-Numbers to Picasso?

Dwarfman takes a look at two big-name painting guides to see if they can take your brushwork to new heights.


One of my favorite aspects of the hobby is painting � I absolutely love the smooth feel of applying paint to a well sculpted model. I had always considered myself to be a fairly good painter, but wanted to take my painting up a notch. So, I decided to get hold of some painting guides. I acquired the ones by Foundry, Citadel, and Sascha Herm, and immediately read/watched all of them.

Foundry Miniatures Painting and Modeling Guide (by Kevin Dallimore)

This book, at 176 pages, is jam packed with goodies. It was split into four main sections: the One Color Method, the Two Color Method, the Three Color Method, and the Masterclass section. Each section contains loads of pictures and detailed instructions about how to paint the specified Method. The One Color Method is basically a section on how to get your army on the table quickly. These pages do not include anything that is useful for wargamers that have been painting for longer than a month. I am sure that beginners will find this section useful, but I did not.

However, I did start learning things when reading about the Two Color Method. There are very useful pages on painting iron, leather, horses, ancient Greek Gorgon and Roman legionnaire shields. There was also a wonderful set of directions on how to paint dark skin.

Moreover, there is a section on making flags, which I found very informative. Now I know what to do with my old toothpaste tubes!

My copy of the Foundry Modelling and Painting Guide, front and back.

Each of the sections include at least two "stage-by-stage" painting guides � complete with a picture for every stage. I found that the Foundry guides were much more detailed and informative than the Citadel ones, which did not include too many words or pictures. One thing I found very helpful in the Foundry book was the fact that each section included a guide to painting a Seven Years War Prussian Fusilier. Painting this same model in a different Method each section really was a good way of showing the reader the difference in the three techniques. There was also a nice, 16 page Interlude which was packed with great pictures of painted models. These range from Greeks and Huns, Seven Years War Russians, to Cowboys and Pirates.

The Three Color Method and the Masterclass section are really for those wanting to take their painting to the next level. There were lots of very useful tricks and tips on painting faces, fire, jewels, and much more. There was even a whole page is devoted to the different colors of horses and how to paint shadows and highlights on them. The Masterclass section also includes lots of information on converting models, varnishing and basing, which I found extremely helpful. The back of the book is filled up with work from guest painters, and a section on painting vehicles and buildings. I particularly liked the Guest Painters section. The section included work by Andrew Taylor, Jim Bowen, Chris Steadman, and Tom Weiss.

Overall, I thought that this book was extremely helpful. After reading it through I can saythat my painting definitely improved in leaps and bounds. Before I found this book, my models looked flat and one-dimensional � almost without life. After reading the book, however, my models began to look three-dimensional and life-like � and my friends started commenting on how my painting had improved! The only drawback is that it costs $50. Nevertheless, I thought the book was worth every cent. A reader must realize that, when buying the book, you are not only buying an instruction manual, but you are also purchasing all of the things Kevin has learned in his many years of painting. This is really a great book and guide that encourages you to pick up those brushes and start painting � it certainly motivated me!

Kevin Dallimore has an excellent website with loads of pictures, that can be viewed at:

How To Paint Citadel Miniatures

(By Rick Priestley et al)

This book came a lot cheaper than the Foundry one; $20 for a 96 page manuscript. It was divided into five different parts: Materials, Preparation, Techniques, Finishing Touches, and Stage-By-Stage. Rick Priestley wrote this book in a different format than the Foundry one � he chose to give the reader all of the techniques he knew, then, in the Stage-By-Stage section, put those techniques into practice. This differs from the Foundry book where the techniques were taught to you in each stage. Personally, I prefered the approach that Kevin Dallimore took. It was much easier for me to see the paint applied to the model, and learn as I went along, then to have to imagine what techniques look like. Then 10 pages later you see those methods put into practice.

Despite this fault, the Games Workshop book still is very useful as a guide. It does not include as many extras as the Foundry book, but it did include just enough to satisfy me as a reader. Notice that this book is titled, "How to Paint Citadel Miniatures." It does not have any of the nice modeling tricks and tips that the Foundry one does � and the Foundry guide has a LOT of modeling tips!

The Materials and Preparation sections include information on what you should have to start painting and how to clean your models. Nothing new here. Most of this information can be found on the internet or in Games Workshop rulebooks, and is included for those who have never painted before. The section was very long and drawn out, and in my opinion, took up way to many precious pages.

The copy I bought of the Citadel Miniatures painting guide, front and back.

The Techniques pages cover basic brushwork, highlights, shades, glazes, washes, painting eyes and much more. The Citadel style of painting differs from the Foundry style in that it uses washes, glazes, and drybrushing very often. So, the information presented is different than that in the Foundry book � most of it in a good way! Personally, I liked the Foundry style more, but this is merely a personal preference. There was an extremely useful section that explained Color Theory, and had a color wheel to illustrate. This was something that, unfortunately, was excluded from the Foundry book. The Finishing Touches section covers varnishing and basing. I was a bit disappointed at the lack of content in this section. Also, I found that Kevin Dallimore's book went into much more detail than did the Citadel one.

The Stage-By-Stage part shows all of the techniques that you learned carried out on a model. I found these guides a bit more confusing than the Foundry ones, as they did not include as many pictures. One good note is that the Citadel method of painting uses a white undercoat more often than the Foundry method. So it was nice and informative to see some models painted from a basecoat of white.

Overall, the Citadel guide is great for beginners, but I would not suggest it to someone who has been painting for a while. The guides by Mr Dallimore and Mr Herm were much better in this respect.

Volume 1 � How I Paint a French Officer of the Young Guard

(By Sascha Herm)

Sascha Herm ranks very high in my short list of favorite painters, along with Kevin Dallimore, Jim Bowen, Chris Steadman and a few others. From the moment I visited his website and saw pictures of his models, I was truly captivated. Once I realized he had released a DVD, I set out to see if it would play on my (American) DVD player. I am not very technologically savvy, but for some reason there is a difference between European and American DVDs. So before buying you need to make sure that your player will run European DVDs. There is more info about this on Sascha Herm's website. Because I was not sure about my DVD player, Sascha was very gracious to send me a DVD, but unfortunately, it did not play on my run on my player. Luckily, I borrowed a laptop that did play European DVDs, so was able to watch the film after all.

The DVD that I received from Sascha Herm, front and back.

The DVD starts off with a short gallery and introduction. I found the gallery very nice � it showed off some of Sascha's amazing work and gave you a clue as to what material was to follow. This is accompanied by a short list of the equipment that you will need to paint the model.

Next came the basecoat. I really liked this part of the film because Mr Herm showed how to evenly apply the paint over the figure; very slowly and carefully! After the basecoat is dry, the actual painting of the figure is shown.

The first step in painting the model is the jacket. In Kevin Dallimore's book, you see only Three Colors applied to the model. However, Mr Herm used over five in his demonstration! I especially liked viewing his method of applying paint to the model in nice, neat, small lines. This contrasts to the big, harsh stripes sometimes used by other painters. Following the coat comes the pants. As with the jacket, it was very interesting and insightful to watch the method that he used for applying paint to the figure. After the pants came the Lapel, Turn backs, Epaulettes, Shako ornaments, and the belt. I really liked watching how he added so much detail to these small areas of the model. Next Sascha Herm demonstrated how to paint the flesh. This was very insightful for me, and I learned a lot from watching his straight, even brush strokes applying paint to the miniature. Following the flesh was the hair, collar, cuffs, leather, gold metal parts, and the pompon on the shako. Again, it was very nice to watch Sascha tackle these minuscule details with effortless ease. He made it look so easy!

Once the figure proper had been painted, Sascha showed how to base the model. He used glue, sand, paint, and static grass to show off the painted model to great effect. Unfortunately, there was not a section on varnishing. One thing I would have liked to see is how Sascha varnished his models, as this is one of the most difficult aspects of painting and modeling miniatures. Hopefully varnishing will be covered in his next DVD, which is supposed to cover more advanced figure painting. Also in his next film I would love to see a section on how to take photographs of your painted models.

Overall, I found this DVD very insightful and a joy to watch. At first, I was a bit doubtful that the video format would work well, but after watching, I was proved very wrong! For example, with the painting guides in book format, you get an instruction telling you to apply X paint to the raised areas, but you are not informed how to apply the paint. Sascha Herm's DVD solves this problem! In this film you not only get the textbook learning that comes from guides in book format, you get the knowledge that comes from watching a master paint miniatures up close and personal. It was just like having a tutor in front of you, teaching you how to paint! This DVD was truly amazing, inspirational, and insightful. I look forward with nail-biting anticipation to the next volumes that Mr Herm will release. I will definitely be first in line to buy these!

Sascha Herm has a website, where you can view some of his painted models, and a link to where you can purchase his DVD off of eBay:


I can say without a doubt that after reading and watching all of these guides, my painting of model soldiers has definitely improved. Each guide had their strengths and weaknesses, but overall I found all of them very nice and informative. Both the Foundry and Citadel guides are suitable for a beginner, and included lots of helpful tips for a newbie. An intermediate painter looking to improve would be best off buying Sascha Herm's DVD and/or Kevin Dallimore's book I found the Citadel guide lacking in content, and would not recommend it to someone who already has a basic knowledge of how to paint miniatures. Even expert painters will find some information from watching Mr Herm's DVD or Kevin Dallimore's book. They really are that good. If you don't learn anything from reading/watching these guides, the least it will do is motivate you to whip out those brushes and paint some miniatures. It surely motivated me!

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