Painting Miniatures Figures Made Quick And Easy
If you are only going to drybrush/highlight, this step takes place after the basecoats. If you're also going to wash, the sequence is basecoat, wash, then drybrush.
Before we start with techniques, let's talk about what colors to use. Before I drybrush, I look for a base color and a highlight color. Generally I try to use a lighter shade of my base color for highlights. In the case of blues, browns, or grays, I sometimes use white (depending on how much of a color range I want to achieve) but for greens and reds, I try to use yellow.
If you're not sure what color you're going to end up with, mix some on your palate and see for yourself. Remember, don't automatically reach for the black to darken a color nor grab for the white to make a lighter shade. For some colors like red, mixing with white results in pink. While that's fine if your painting Tzeentchian heroes, it might not look so good on your core unit of black orcs. Black on the other hand has the tendency to make colors look dirtier not necessarily darker.
Brettonian knight and steed after drybrushing. Red was blended with orange and selectively applied to the raised folds of the horse and armor. Blue was mixed with a lighter blue and applied in the same manner
An exercise for beginners
Now let's talk about technique. If you've never blended two colors or drybrushed before, here's an exercise I want you to try. Get a white and a blue paint. If you're using Citadel paints, I believe the colors you want are Enchanted Blue and Skull White. Now find yourself an old number 2 or 3 brush and a clean white piece of cardboard. Dip your brush into the blue and wipe it all off onto the cardboard using even horizontal strokes. You want the first band of blue to be about 1/4 inch thick and maybe 2 inches wide. Now dip your brush back into the blue but then dip just a bit of the tip into the white. Wipe it all onto the cardboard. Make this band the same size as the first but below it and just overlapping a little. Keep doing this, gradually using more white and less blue until you are using pure white. If you do this right, you should have a big patch of paint that starts with blue and blends to white. You should also be able to see how smoothly it blends. It's as easy as that.
When you drybrush, you want to use a brush with just a little bit of paint on it. A lot of people dip their brushes into the paint then wipe it all off with a napkin. The actual drybrushing is done much like you would draw a feather across someone's cheek. You want to draw your brush lightly across the figure so that only the raised portions get paint. You also want to make sure that you're painting against the grain of any folds in clothing. If you want more color on the model, leave more paint on the brush and use heavier strokes. If you want less color on the model, wipe more paint from the brush and use lighter strokes.
Here are the same two snakemen after washing and some basic drybrushing. The drybrushing brightens the figure somewhat and highlights raised details
How much paint should I use?
Get out an old miniature you don't care much about and prime it black. Now use the same trick with the white and blue paint we discussed before and experiment. The black primer will really emphasize the areas you highlight so that it will be easier to see. When I drybrush, I usually have 2 or 3 jars of paint open on the table at a time.
I'm going to apply the blue and white paint to a cloaked figure. Paint the entire cloak blue then dip into the white a little. Wipe off most of the paint onto the cardboard (this will also help blend the paint on the brush) then drybrush the entire cloak using fairly heavy strokes but still against the grain of the cloak's folds. Repeat the blend but as the blend gets lighter and lighter, concentrate more on the raised parts of the cloak like hems, hoods, elbows, and knees. The key here is to emphasize the parts that will catch light.
What brushes should I use?
You can use any brush you want but make sure it's not your best one because drybrushing will destroy them. Use whatever brush appeals to you as long as you can control it and get to the areas you want. Most of the time I'll use a number 2 or a number 4 for large areas and as small as a 000 for faces. For small areas like faces or gems, I usually get more discriminating and paint directly onto the parts that need to be highlighted but the technique for blending is still the same.