OK, so sometimes you need a little less finesse and a little faster
paint deposition. I like painting miniatures to an above average quality
level, so I am most worried about not compromising the detail and final
paint job with the spray approach. I wanted to paint my army of Tyranids
for the sci-fi miniatures wargame Warhammer 40k. That's about 140 models,
so I was eager to cut down on painting time. I decided to paint and
basecoat them. Here's what I learned in the process. I was using Black
Spray Primer and Dark Angels Green Spray Paint from Citadel Colour
A can of spray paint (or sealer) basically contains paint (or sealer),
solvent, propellant, and a mixer ball. Your goal is to get that paint
cleanly and smoothly deposited on your models.
- Shake for at least 60 seconds after you hear the mixer
moving around - I know this is on the can, but
it bears repeating as lots of people disregard it. This can be
a show stopper; if the paint is not mixed up well, you cannot
get a good result.
- Take a break from spraying and shake the can for 10 seconds every
few minutes to keep the paint well mixed.
- Sweep across models - Start spraying away from the model, then
sweep across it; when you start and stop the flow of paint, globs
of paint or solvent can come out, marring the coat of paint.
- Faster sweeps put down less paint, so when you first start painting
or if you are using a can for the first time, sweep quickly at first
until you get a feel for the flow rate. You want to find a happy
medium between dusting (too fast, unless that's the effect you want)
and dripping (too slow).
- When you are finished, invert the can and spray until the flow
of paint stops (propellant will still spew out). This keeps the nozzle
clean; a dirty nozzle can make a can of paint useless.
- Spray 10"-12" away, just like the can says; this is far
more important than you might think (see
- Read everything else on this page.
Drop Cloths - One Meter Radius Minimum
I used some of the free newspapers distributed in the area and laide
them down for about a meter around the space I wanted to work. When
you are done painting, you will see what appears to be paint beyond
your work area. Don't panic! It's probably jsut paint in the form of
dust that can be easily swept away with a broom. If you actually are
painting the ground, then you should probably extend the area of dropcloth.
Humidity - 85%+ Is Definitely Bad
I painted some models and got great results at about 70 degrees F
and about 65% humidity. Then a day came along that was 85% humidity.
With the same cans of primer and paint, I had different results than
the previous days. Both coats, primer and basecaot, were duller. I
have not tested the difference in painting over them yet. Here's a
picture to show the difference.
|The left model was spray painted with black primer and a basecoat
of Dark Angels Green under normal humidity and temperature (70
The right model was painted the same way with the same cans of paint
when the humidity was high (~70 F, ~85%).
Wind Can Be a Show Stopper
This is pretty simple. Don't try to spray where it is too windy. The
paint will go where you don't want it and you are more likely to get
dirt embedded in the paint on the models.
Protect Yourself - Good Ventilation, Mask,
Buy a filter mask. It's no more than US$30 and it canhave a profound
impact not only on your longterm health and brain cell count, but in
the short term it may prevent a nasty headache. I used a filter mask
from Home Depot (a local DIY supply) that was rated for paint and pesticides
(MSA Safety Works Respirator for Paints and Pesticides, Model
# 00817662). It worked perfectly. I did not get a single whiff of the
foul solvents while the mask was properly in place.
Good ventilation is just a good idea. You don't want to trap the fumes
and endanger others, and you don't want to wear the mask all day. Be
careful not to get into too windy of an area though.
Gloves are useful for masking your hands. I bought some cheap work
gloves. I wear them so that I can hold the minis on the mount continuously
and still be aggressive with getting the paint where it needs to go
without painting my hands in the process.
Getting Good Coverage - Lots of Thin Coats
From Various Angles
The simplest way to say this is spray with single smooth quick passes
from eight angles, spraying up at the corners and down at the corners.
Basically, hold the model(s) straight in front of you. Rotate 45 degrees
horizontal and 45 degrees vertical. Spray, rotate 90, spray, rotate
90, spray, rotate 90, and spray. Now you should have sprayed up at
the model from all four angles. Repeat this same process by spraying
down at a 45 degree angle at the four corners. If I can get pics up,
it will be more obvious what I am trying to say.
Resist the urge to make multiple passes until those coats have dried,
even if you only wait a couple of minutes. If you are painting a bunch,
just do a circuit and by the time you come back, the first model should
be dry enough for touch up coats.
How many cans?
I averaged about 30-40 models per can.
|Bubbling/foaming and/or dripping
||You're probably spraying too close. You should spray at about
12" from the model. Be careful if when you move the can during
spraying that you are not getting the model too close in the process.
|Rough, gritty texture to paint.
Two possible problems:
- High humidity 85%+
- Spraying too far away. This can cause the paint to dry up
into dust-like particles before they hit and you end up putting
down dirty paint, in effect. You should spray at about 12" from
the model. Be careful if when you move the can during spraying
that you are not getting the model too far away in the process.