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Figure painting (hobby)

Figure painting is the hobby of painting miniature figures and/or model figures, either in its own right or as an adjunct to role-playing games, wargames, military modeling, etc.

Miniature figurines come in a variety of sizes. Most figurines used in gaming range in size from 2 mm all the way up to 54 mm. Figurines also come in a variety of materials, with plastic, metal and resin being the three most prevalent. Popular scales for plastic figurines are generally 1/72 and 1/35 scale. Popular sizes for metal figures are 6 mm, 15 mm and 25/28 mm. Plastic figurine makers generally stick to scale, while metal manufacturers generally categorize by size.

Resin is generally used for smaller manufacturers of kits and figurines in the model kit hobby due to its relative lower production cost compared to other materials, and in the hobby gaming industry is used in lieu of metal on larger pieces that would be cost prohibitive if made of metal (i.e.: vehicles, large monsters and especially terrain items such as buildings).

Because of the small scale of these figures, the often finely sculpted detail can be lost by simply applying solid color. Many special techniques allow the painter to emphasize the detail in the figure and make it "come alive".

The miniature figurine hobby has really taken two tracks to arrive at its present state. Initially war gamers used plastic figurines to re-create conflicts on the tabletop. In the 1970s, with the rise of the fantasy role playing market, metal figures became more widely available, and eventually overtook plastics in many areas of the hobby, though plastic figures remain popular with many painters and gamers.

Initially enamel based paints were the popular choice out of necessity until the arrival of acrylic based paints. Enamels are still popular in the plastic modeling hobby, while acrylic is the most popular for miniature figurines. However, preferences differ among individual artists. Materials most commonly used by the figurine painter are some type of primer to undercoat the figurine (making the paint adhere better), paint, brush and often a sealant of some sort to protect the figurine after it is painted.

  • Sheperd Paine, Building and Painting Scale Figures ()
  • Jerry Scutts, Modelling and Painting Figures (Osprey 2000) ()
  • Alex Castro, The Art of Painting Miniatures Faces & Figures (Compendium Modelling Classics) ()


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