A few painting tips and tricks

There are hundreds of things that I do every day that make my painting easier, faster and better and I’m still adding to this list every day. Of course practising and building skill is a huge part of it and you can’t avoid that but there are a few things you can focus on to make it appear as if you are progressing faster than average.

The goal here isn’t to ‘trick’ others or even yourself into thinking you’re better than you are, the goal is to put effort into areas where they will make the biggest difference in the shortest time. This can make you feel like you are achieving more and this will make you last longer in the hobby. Achievement is the secret to fun.

Learn to paint simple eyes

Learn how to do eyes. I know this is the bane of new painter’s existence but it is the first thing that will make your models look ‘finished’ and the pain is definitely worth it.

You don’t need to be able to do 7 layer detailed irises. A simple black on white eye that doesn’t look cross-eyed will go a LONG way to making your models stand out on the table.

Even if you only follow the first 3 steps from Arcane Paintworks (see the image below) then you will have something that is better than not trying at all.

MELBOURNE MINI PAINTER TIP 1: When you paint a simple eye, the black dot of the pupil should be off centre, towards the nose. If you paint it right in the middle of the white circle then the eyes will look cross eyed. When someone looks at something their eyes focus on a central point, so this means that the pupils are slightly closer to the nose, than the outside edge of their eye.

6 Step Eyes — Arcane Paintworks

Use contrast to draw focus

Not sure about your colour choices but something just seems off? When you don’t have a strong background in art theory (I certainly didn’t), it can be hard to understand why you don’t like your paint job, sometimes you just don’t. Sometimes something feels wrong about it even though you got the paint in all the right places. More often than not I find this ‘wrongness’ feeling is due to a lack of contrast, that is dark and light balances in your work.

MELBOURNE MINI PAINTER TIP 2: Take a photo in natural light of your model, then view it in black and white. You will find it a lot easier to see missing contrast transitions and areas when you remove colour from the picture. The image below shows what an artist created (the top line) and you can see how it all blends together, it’s still well painted but it doesn’t pop and make you focus on the most important elements.
In the second row, they have corrected this and in both the black and white and the colour image it is obviously a clearer and better finish.

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Difficult is not always better

While it is good to push yourself to try new things and to improve your skills, always painting at the edge of your ability can be stressful and can quickly take the joy out of painting. Switching between painting simple figures that you love and complicated models where you focus on new techniques can be a good way to keep the spark alive.

A basic baby beholder that took only 1 hour paint
A detailed bust which involved detailed blending and over 10 hours work

MELBOURNE MINI PAINTER TIP 3: Try keeping new challenges to 1 new skill at a time to avoid burnout. There may be 40 things in your list to learn, but choose the one that interests you most (or that best suits your current project) and ONLY work on that new skill.

Every piece you finish does not need to be your best

There will always be more you can do, but unless you are happy only painting 1 model for the rest of your life, you will eventually need to call a piece finished.

Try not to get too focussed on creating a piece that is the best of all your skills. You skills are constantly changing and trying to create your perfect work will, ironically, stop you progressing. I have lots of new pieces that are not necessarily as detailed or technical as ones I’ve done in the past. If every piece had to be my best work, I wouldn’t ever get any done. Take the following piece for example:

Shark Boy cyber miniature model painted by Melbourne mini painter

I could have spent days working on the metallic surfaces for this model, it’s a skill I really want to improve and something I don’t do a lot of BUT I chose to make the water pattern on the helmet, the focus of my skill building.

The metallic parts look ok, but they aren’t going to wow anyone, and that’s ok.

My goal here was to work on water textures and I’m really happy with the result I got for that.

I know that had I forced myself to also learn new techniques regarding non metallic surfaces and how they interact underwater, that I wouldn’t have finished this piece for months and that greatly affects my enjoyment.

MELBOURNE MINI PAINTER TIP 4: Small payoffs are important. Allow yourself to call a model finished so that you can share your piece and not feel like it’s still on your to do list. You can always build those other skills on your next piece.

Well that’s all from me, I hope these tips have been useful to painters or people wanting to get into painting. If you don’t already, please follow me on Facebook and instagram at: