Miniature Painting Tips – Applying Multiple Coats
When I was painting my Deadzone miniatures I was trying to get them painted and on the table as fast as possible. This meant I did everything I could to speed up the painting process. The one thing I didn’t do, however, was apply a second coat of colour when the first wasn’t fully dry.
Applying a second coat too early is an easy mistake to make with consequences an inexperienced painter may not even realize are connected but are obviously annoying.
In a perfect world we could get perfect coverage in one coat of paint. The reality is that you often need a second or a third coat to get a nice even coverage. This adds time to your paint jobs and it’s very tempting to rush things by applying another coat before the first is fully dry. I mean, it’s mostly dry, right? Just a few wet spots.
Well, those wet spots are the problem. The paint there hasn’t dried and when you re-apply your paint your brush pulls the half-dry paint away and applies fresh paint. This means that while the dry spots get a second coat the wet spots still only have one. This leads to a blotchy uneven surface. Since you’re already impatient you may go back and recoat, never realizing why you can never, ever, get an even coat.
What’s worse is you can ruin the surface. Each layer of paint is very thin but they will build up and you can get noticeable depressions in your final paint coat which will play havoc with washes and other paint applications.
This isn’t even considering what happens to that half-dried paint you just mashed around your miniature. When acrylic paint dries it starts with evaporation until the amount of water (and thus space) between the polymer molecules is small enough that the molecules start attracting each other. Pretty soon this attraction will squeeze out the remaining water until the paint is cured. If you interrupt this process at the wrong stage the water in the fresh paint won’t be able to get between the molecules of polymer and you end up with lumpy paint.
There’s hope though, although not for the miniature you already messed up. Strip that sucker. For your next miniature invest in a cheap hair dryer and leave it at your painting station. When you finish a coat give it a quick zap with the drier being careful not to cook your miniature or push the paint around. It’s best to do this at the beginning of the drying process when the mechanism is evaporation as the last bit of drying relies more on the paint squeezing out water which won’t be effected by a drying.
Another option is to find some other task to do while you wait so it’s not “wasted.” Right now when I’m painting the bases on my Deadzone miniatures it takes so little time to apply a coat that it feels like forever before it dries and the bases are simply multiple coats painted to create a mottled effect. I spend the time waiting to prepare the next miniature for painting, from sealing gaps in the base to mounting onto my painting stand and even priming.