I offer many wonderful resin figurines for you to paint on my website.  Our pieces are printed with a state of the art resin printer which provides amazing details, even in the smallest scales.  Our pieces are carefully cleaned, and then primed for you so that they are ready to paint and display in your favorite miniature setting.  I have learned some helpful tips and tricks about painting and finishing these pieces along the way, and wanted to share a few with you.  I will use pieces from our recent series of Holiday Shelves to demonstrate some basic techniques, as well as providing information on the various products that I have found work well.  Please feel free to use your own brands, etc.  I hope this tutorial will be helpful to you, and will occasionally update and add additional techniques and tips 
 
TOOLS AND SUPPLIES  
Good brushes are very important . Look for the smallest pointer brush you can find . I have some that are as small as 20/0. If you're planning on doing dry brushing techniques you will also need a small filbert or cats tongue brush. Also helpful are small, very pointed toothpicks. They come in handy to remove paint as needed or to make tiny eye dots.

You will always need a small container of clean water, and paper towels at your work station while painting.

Good lighting is also very important!  And if needed, use some type of magnification.  I wear a pair of Mag Eyes when working on the smaller pieces.
We use acrylic paints available at any craft store such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby. Ceramcoat, Folkart or any other brand of acrylic paints will work fine on these pieces.
I use a product called PanPastels to blush the cheeks, backs of hands, knees, etc. on my figures.  It is a cake powder product. Just gently wiping a small soft brush across and then applying to the piece works wonderfully.  If you do not want to purchase this product, you can also get a stick pastel in the appropriate color and crush a small bit very finely and brush it on.  Or, you could also use just a bit of your own powdered blusher!
TOTAL GAME CHANGER!!!!
I recently started using this product, and it has totally changed not only my painting, but my enjoyment of using acrylic paints on these small piece.  Being a traditional china painter, I am used to using oil based paints and mediums that blend and flow easily, and take a LONG time to dry.  I can paint the tiniest eyelashes on the smallest of dolls with no problem.  But doing those details in acrylics was frustrating beyond words.  If I got the paint thin enough and sparingly applied to a fine brush, it would be half dry by the time I moved the brush to the piece.... or if I got there... it would be dry or dragging before I was half done with the line or detail.  Thinning seemed to only decrease the coverage... and did nothing for the flow of the paint.  Blending was NOT fun either.  And the paint just did not want to flow smoothly across my surface the way I wished it would.  Well... problem solved!!!  Add just a drop of this extender to the little puddle of paint on your pallette and mix.  Your paint will go on so much smoother.  Tiny lines are now so much easier.  And shading and blending is also so much easier and the results are amazing.  I can't recommend this product highly enough! 
This is antiquing medium made by Folkart it's a wonderful product it will add an entirely new dimension to your pieces. After you have completely painted your piece you can apply the antiquing medium using a soft brush and then immediately wipe it off with either a Q-tip or a soft cloth. The antiquing medium will fall into the nooks, crannies and crevices of your piece bringing out all of the very fine detail that might not otherwise be seen. Wipe gently, and continue to remove the medium until you achieve the effect you desire. You can also slightly dampen your cloth to remove more of the antiquing if desired.  Just use care not to get the piece too wet or rub too hard or you could accidently lift off some of the paint. Some pieces need just a bit of accenting, but others lend themselves very well to a heavy antiquing effect, such as a "carved" piece.
I will provide photos of items which have been antiqued later in the tutorial in the techniques section.
Another product you may find helpful is staining an antiquing medium. This is a clear gel that can be mixed with any of your acrylic paints and water. This turns them into an antiquing medium that can be used in the same way as the previous product . However by using the clear gel you have the ability to create an antiquing medium in any color you desire.
  To finish and protect the painted pieces, a coat of waterbased varnish is recommended.  This is the brand of brush on varnish I use on many pieces.  I  use the matte finish on most of my figurines, and the gloss finish on my teapots. The matte does not dry completely flat, and does give a bit of a sheen.  If you are doing a piece that should be shiny, like a piece of pottery, etc, then use the  gloss finish.
  One last suggested product is Diamond Glaze.  This is a water based product that provides a VERY high gloss.  I occasionally use it on my teapots to replicate a fired ceramic glaze.  It is not mandatory that you use this product either, you can use any high gloss glaze you have on hand, either brush on or spray on.  But I like this product, and always try to keep a small bottle on hand.  It works great and is easy to clean up.
BASIC PAINTING TECHNIQUES  
The little pieces can be difficult to hang on to. And fingers can really get in the way! We use a piece of blue painters tape doubled back on itself into a loop and stick it on top of a spare paint bottle or even a water bottle to give us a nice handle to hold on to when we're painting our little figure.  This makes it easy to rotate and get to all of the angles and sides of the piece.
When painting your pieces you will find it very helpful to keep the very tip of your brush moist at all times period.  Make sure your acrylic paint is smooth and fresh. If it's older and too thick you may need to thin it just a bit with a bit of water. Dip ONLY the tip of your brush in clean water and blot onto a paper towel often as you paint . Do not dip the  ferrule (the metal barrel that holds the hairs) of the brush into the water as it will collect water which will then run down and spoil your paint. Keeping your brush tip moist will help you apply a smoother layer of paint.
Do your best to apply smooth even coats.  Work from the wet edge of the paint when possible, and use long flowing strokes.  You can not load a lot of paint on these fine brushes, and it will dry out very quickly on the brush so it is important to clean and wipe your brush often.  Darker colors will probably require two coats to get even coverage!  Be sure to allow the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat.
OOPS!  FIXING MISTAKES:
If you end up with a puddle in a crevice, (and this happens often with these tiny detailed pieces) grab a completely dry  pointed brush and use it to reach into the cranny and absorb the excess paint up into the brush. Wipe the brush clean and repeat.  When the majority of the excess paint has been removed, you can slightly dampen the brush and gently rub it over the remaining paint that needs to be removed.  Don't scrub too hard, you do not want to remove all of the paint, only the offending paint that doesn't belong.

If you get paint on an area that you have already painted, and need to remove it, work fast.  Use a soft damp brush and stroke across the mistake as needed to remove, washing the brush between strokes.  If you are not able to completely remove it, don't worry, just allow the area to dry completely and then repaint as needed.

If you accidently paint over an UNPAINTED area, you can remove with a damp brush or if it is a small area, use a damp toothpick.  Remove your paint accident, but do not scrape off the primer that was applied by us to your piece.
MAKE A PLAN:
When starting a piece I find it helpful to plan the order in which I will apply the colors . This applies especially when painting a person. 
It's much easier to cover a lighter color with a dark than vice- versa . For this reason, I apply the lighter colors first.  For this little pilgrim girl, I painted her skin tones first -  both her face and her hands. I then applied all of the white paint including her apron, hat, collars and cuffs. Next came the hair color. Finally the brown paint for her dress was applied.
Where the edges of the brown and the white meet, or the hair meets the face, a small error is less noticeable if the dark color goes over the lighter. I always paint the facial features last and I used Pan Pastels and a soft brush to gently blush the cheeks . You can also use regular chalk pastels, or even a little bit of your own blush out of your makeup drawer. Any accents such as the flowers would then be painted. A coat of brush on or spray on finish should be applied to protect the paint.  I prefer matte finish on figures such as this. 
ADDITIONAL PAINTING TECHNIQUES  


DRY BRUSHING:
Here is a simple piece to give you an idea of how to highlight your painting with a dry brush technique.
Apply a base coat in the desired color.   Be sure to get all those nooks and crannies. (You don't want any white spots poking thru the paint.)  Let dry completely.
Now, lets add some highlights using the dry brush technique. 
 It looks huge in this photo, but this is a very small flat cats tongue brush.
My brush has been slightly moistened, and then blotted well on a paper towel.
 I have applied a bright ochre paint to just the tip of the brush and now I'm going to remove the majority of the paint by wiping on a dry paper towel.
You want to leave just a very small amount of paint on the tips of the bristles.
Gently stroke the brush over just the highest parts of the piece.  This adds lovely highlights and depth.  Start with a very light hand and as little paint on the brush as you can manage.  You can always add more.  You can build up highlights using a single color, or multiple colors....its all up to you.
Dry brushing is a really easy and fun method to use.  Just remember to use a light hand, a dry brush and a minimal amount of paint.

Dry brushing can also be used to highlight the top areas and to deepen the shadows on a piece, as shown in the next example.

HIGHLIGHTS AND SHADOWS USING DRY BRUSHING:
This deer was part of our Christmas shelf project.  He is a stunning piece, and the painting was quite involved, but well worth the effort.  I am going to show you all of the steps that were provided in the class tutorial, so that you can see the techniques used. You will find them helpful in painting ANY of your pieces.

I applied a medium brown over all of the body parts, applying as smoothly as possible.
I then used a darker brown to add shading in the folds at the hips, across the  knees, and under the chin at the top of the neck.  I used the dry brush technique to accent the darker areas.   Study your piece and determine where the darker areas should fall. 
Next, I used an off white color to frost the tips of the antlers, and also to dry brush over the end of the nose/mouth area. 
I also dry brushed the front of the deer's neck, and the underside of his belly area. The same color was used on the inside of his ears.
And finally, I dry brushed some of the off white paint to the underside of the tail area.
A very fine brush and black paint were used to paint the eyes and nose.  The hooves were also painted with black.
The wreath is quite involved.  It has leaves, but also tiny red fruit (apples?) and tiny pinecones.
I thought it would be easiest to take the time to locate these details and add just a bit of paint to prevent me from covering them up while painting the leaves.  I will go back after the greenery is finished and apply a second coat of the red and brown, but for now, this will keep me on track to paint only the green areas.
There are a LOT of nooks and crannies in the leaves.  Use a very small brush and a lot of patience.
When the green paint was dry, I used the side of a very small  brush to rub some gold metallic paint along the edges of some of the leaves.
I then reapplied the red and brown paints, and added dark brown stems to the red fruit.

Inspect your piece carefully and do any touch up work needed.  Apply a coat of brush on  matte water based varnish to the piece.  It will NOT dry perfectly Matte, but will keep the paint from looking chalky.  I do not recommend using satin and NEVER use gloss, unless it is a piece that I want to represent glazed pottery etc.  Too much gloss in small scales is a jarring distraction, whether it be on a figurine, or even a piece of furniture. Just my personal opinion.
Front view of finished deer. 
ANTIQUING  
USING ANTIQUING MEDIUM:
Antiquing a painted piece can change the appearance completely.  It will bring out the details, and warm the piece.  It is appropriate for some pieces, and honestly, not great on others...

After you have completely painted your piece and allowed it to DRY COMPLETELY, you can apply the antiquing medium using a soft brush and then immediately wipe it off with either a Q-tip or a soft cloth. The antiquing medium will fall into the nooks, crannies and crevices of your piece bringing out all of the very fine detail that might not otherwise be seen.

Wipe gently, and continue to remove the medium until you achieve the effect you desire. You can also slightly dampen your cloth to remove more of the antiquing if desired.  If necessary, use a soft dry brush to remove excess from tight spaces and corners. Use care not to get the piece too wet or rub too hard or you could accidently lift off some of the paint Some pieces need just a bit of accenting, but others lend themselves very well to a heavy antiquing effect, such as a "carved" piece.


I want to give you a couple of examples of the effect of the antiquing medium.  Here's one of our new Thanksgiving turkeys. In the top photo he has been painted using acrylic paints. And he looks great. However in the bottom photo a layer of antique medium has been applied and then wiped off. The antiquing medium has warmed up the piece and also brought out all of the tiny details around the feathers.
Here is our cute little set of three autumn birds. In the top photo the birds have been painted with acrylic paints and a small amount of dry brushing has been done on the wings to provide accent colors. When the birds were completely dry a coat of antique medium was applied as seen in the second photo. Once again you can see that the antiquing medium provides additional depth and detail . Look at the kernels of corn on the center bird and the creases and crevices in the little pumpkin gourd on the left .
While this is a wonderful technique, it may not be appropriate for all pieces. If you are doing a human consider applying the medium to the clothing, hair or accessories but perhaps omitting the facial features. The medium can collect in the tiny features, such as the eyes, nostrils, etc., and may be difficult to remove. 
PAINTING FIGURES &
STAINING MEDIUM
 
  This sweet little cherub was a piece from my Valentine's Day Holiday Shelf.

I am again going to provide the instructions that were included in the shelf project tutorail.   You will find that there are techniques in the instructions that are applicable to many other pieces.

 I started by painting the gown a soft white, called magnolia white.  I then used a light flesh tone called natural buff and painted his face, hands and feet. Both of these colors are from delta Ceramcoat. 

I used 2 shades of golden browns on the hair, applying the darker shade first, and then lightly dry brushing the higher areas with the lighter shade.

  I used a soft rose color,  mixed 50/50 with the staining and antiquing medium. This is the clear gel product mentioned above which can be mixed with any color of acrylic paint.

 I applied the mixture to the base of clouds and let it sit for about a minute.  I then took a soft cotton swab and gently wiped the paint off of only the high areas in the clouds.  You can also use a tiny piece of lint free cloth, or even a soft paint brush.  However, if you use a brush, be sure to keep it FLAT against the area you are wiping.  Don't let the bristles fall into the crevices and pull out the paint.  Wipe the removed paint from the brush onto a paper towel as you work.

The paint/medium mixture will stay open for a good while.  If you find it has begun to dry before you are finished wiping back, it can also be reactivated with a small bit of water on a brush.  And more can be applied if you remove too much.

My advice is to work quickly, don't overwork the paint, and don't overthink the process.  The effect is supposed to be soft and random, not a "paint within the lines" appearance.
  I applied the same paint/medium to the wings and then wiped them back also, leaving a strong antiqued effect.

I then painted the face details with acrylic paints, and used pan pastel and a small soft brush to blush his cheeks, backs of his hands and tops of his feet.

Use a very soft small brush to apply any finely ground pastel to the areas you want to blush.  You can also do this with paint, but I seem to get better results using the powered pastel.  You could also use your own cosmetic blusher!
After allowing everything to dry completely, I used the water based brush on satin varnish I mentioned earlier over the entire piece.


  This cherub, also from the Valentine's Day shelf was painted using many of the same techniques.  The baroque base was painted with a gold metallic acrylic paint.
This tiny cherub teapot is a good project to show how planning ahead is helpful.  It will also demonstrate using the staining and antiquing medium again, as well as the diamond glaze product.

All of the leaves and roses were done using the stain/antiquing medium mixed 50/50 with my green and pink paints.  These were large areas with lots of common edges between the colors.  I found that painting the green leaves first, and taking care to keep the edges tidy gave the best results.

If I accidently got green paint where it did not belong, I used a clean moist brush to remove it.  Fixing those errors is very easy, because the medium makes the paint very open and easy to remove.

I let the mixture sit for just a minute and then wiped back using a cotton swab.  If you find that you are not able to remove enough paint with the swab, you can moisten it VERY LIGHTLY, as the medium is water reactive.
I then applied the light rose paint/medium mixture to all of the roses.  I again wiped back using a cotton swab on the highest areas, leaving the paint darker in the deep creases.

I let these areas dry well before proceeding.  If you handle the piece while it still wet, you may find that you are removing paint from your roses and leaves.  When the piece was dry, I then painted the flesh, hair, and facial features. No medium was used for these areas, as they need full opaque coverage.

I then painted the fabric sash a light blue.  I added medium to a bit of the blue and very carefully painted the wings and carefully wiped them back.

  When the entire piece was completely dry (it is best to leave it dry at least overnight) I applied two coats of diamond glaze, allowing the piece to dry completely between coats.  I think that the end result achieved the look of glazed china.

This is another of my wonderful teapots.  This piece is wonderfully detailed, and fairly easy to paint.  All of the white areas were done first, then the face.  The dark green and black areas required two coats to get good coverage.  It is important to always let the paint dry completely before applying a second coat, or frankly, you will remove more paint than you add and may end up having to wash it all off and start over. The pan pastels worked wonderfully to blush his face, and silver and gold metallic paints were used to paint the accents.

When the piece was completely dry, I applied two coats of diamond glaze. I do not over brush the glaze, but allow it to flow over the piece and allow lots of time between coats so that it can dry completely.
 

 

I hope that these tips and techniques will help you progress in your painting skills.  Remember that the photos in this lesson are MANY MANY times the actual size of the pieces, which serves to accentuate any flaws.  The same applies to when you are working!! While you are working under magnification, remember not to be too self critical.  Take those magnifiers off occasionally and view your piece with your naked eyes, which is how they will be seen in the future, and you will find that they look really fabulous!!!

 

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