Saturday, January 17, 2009

Painting Tools

Sure, brushes are the basic painting tool. But what else is helpful? I took a pic of my painting tray just to see what I've collected over the years.

The tray itself is just a piece of plywood, an off-cut from a long-discarded project. I think it's really helpful to have a solid base like this: all the lead and paints get heavy and I do have to move it around a bit. At the back is a little wooden tray I made to hold paint jars; there's a shoebox as well that I set on the right. Doesn't matter how you organize your paints, but being able to put your hand on just the right bottle quickly is a real plus.

At the back of the paint tray is a piece of paper. I've made notes about the colors I use. "Which blue did I use on the tunic of the Chasseurs d'Afrique?" Very helpful. Although you can't see it really, I've also made "chip charts" on 3x5 cards and stuck those to the left of the tray. Useful because the dried color hue is different than the wet one. But now that I've gone to using the artist colors more I find I don't have as many paints and don't do that as much. When I do, now I'm using bigger swatches and painting them on high-quality bright white paper. I have one for the khakis and tans I use a lot.

With acrylics, water is the essential clean-up medium. I have two little plastic tubs there. Got these from drinking a whole lotta powdered tea mix and I have an almost unlimited supply. One contains clean water for adding to the paint with the eye dropper and the other one is for cleaning the brushes. You'll note the bottle of acrylic cleaner--plain water isn't enough to keep your brushes clean, but regular dish detergent works just as well. When the dirty water gets really dirty I've been known to use it as a dark wash. There: now you know my dirty little secret.

The pliers is for opening stuck lids and the X-acto is for cleaning the dried paint from around the tops. Another little tea tub holds all the toothpicks I use to stir the paint. I get a lot of "Do you paint with the toothpicks?" from non-painters so one day I tried it. Not bad to quickly "patch" a spot. When my brushes are ready for the trash I cut off the ferrule and viola'! A bigger and longer paint stirrer for the deep bottles.

A paper towel for cleaning and drying the brushes is on the right. I used to use old t-shirts in the enamel paint days but they don't absorb water well. I'll have to get rid of that one I just noticed. They tray tends to get so crowded sometimes it's hard to fit the figures on it. I also use the paper towels to take off extra paint when I'm dry brushing. If I continue to use the same spot, sometimes I go back there instead of the paint source for just a little bit.

Where to paint from? You can just dip your brush in the paint jar or sometimes the lid but as you can see to the left, the little bottles really make you squeeze out a couple of drops at a time. This helps preserve the paint from drying out so that's nice. Whenever I'm using that kind of bottle or just mixing colors, I put it all on the pickle jar lid you see in the center. They're a good size and I tend to make a color wheel of it as I go along. My wife really likes pickles so there's a never-ending supply of those, too.

Oh, one last thing. Glasses. 2.5X magnifiers from Walmart to be exact. I actually took a figure in to the store to try out the best magnification. Once upon a time I used to amaze all by telling those who asked that yes, I did paint all that detail with the naked eye. Alas, age has caught up with me and I would no longer be able to see all the detail on these little buggers much less paint it without some help.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the larger photos Al! It really is a great help. Nice job on describing your tools and methods.

    I take notes on the colors I use for units too ~ just wish I had begun doing that years ago! I have to wear glasses to paint these days too. But at least now I can see what I'm painting!

    Great work! I'm looking forward to following your progress and learning more from you. (It looks like my first, sample pack, Berber is a little bit darker than he should be.) Very helpful. Thanks again.

    ~ Tom T