Whether you are a beginner or a pro, these are handy tips that you should know if you love painting miniatures. Painting of any type requires some skill and when it comes to miniatures it can be a little challenging if you don’t have the right tools, right mindset and the right techniques in place.
A Brief History
Miniature paintings are also called limning and they date back to the 3rd century. They got their name from a medieval painting technique used by the Artists of 16th & 17Th century, they used to paint using minimum also known as Red Lead.
A miniature (from the Latin verb miniare, “to colour with minium”,
a red lead) is a small illustration used to
decorate an ancient or medieval illuminated manuscript;
the simple illustrations of the early codices
having been miniated or delineated with that pigment.
The earliest miniature painting can be traced back to 7th century AD! These were so intricate and very detailed even though tiny. It is really amazing that the artists of that time used to paint such intricate details without the use of any fancy tools!
Over the centuries the art of painting miniatures has come a long way. The modern versions are are different from the older ones but the techniques involved are mostly the same.
With modern tools it can be said that is a little easier for the artists to create even the tiny details more clearly. But still it requires a lot of skill and precision but with practice you can become a pro at it!
1. The Right Tools
If you have the right tools the process becomes so much easier and also comfortable. Sometimes we don’t have the right tools and give up easily because of that. The frustration of not getting it right can be sometimes due to the use of incorrect tools and materials. For example you can’t just use any paper for watercolor, it has to be specific 100 percent cotton paper to get the best possible results. With that said, I won’t encourage you to get the best possible stuff available out there, but a bare minimum is a must. If you are confused about what to buy and how to buy or how to start on a budget, you can check my FREE guide here!
As for miniatures you can use smaller version of the same material, like small paper, mini sketchbook or cut it to size, lower number brushes or detailing brushes and the paint anyways remains the same.
The magnifier also comes in very handy if you want to see the details clearly, I personally find it difficult to use, so I never use it! So it is totally up to you whatever suits you!
The right mindset is needed for anything you do! Isn’t it? Don’t just assume that miniatures are very difficult just by looking at other Artists work. Give it a try first! Paint at least 15-20 miniatures and then decide. Never give up or quit unless you give it your 100 Percent.
Nothing is impossible.
The word itself says “I’m possible!”
3. Stroke Practice
It is very important to have a stable hand and for this you need to practice, forget about paintings, first start with the drill even before you think about painting something. Warming up is vert important. When I am painting miniatures I like to doodle a few lines and patterns just to make sure I have a steady hand and the brush has a good point! A little warm up will always set you on the right path whether you are a beginner or at a more advanced level.
4. Always Sketch/Draw Light
Watercolors are mostly transparent and if you draw dark it will be hard to hide the pencil marks with the paint unlike other opaque mediums, and it can totally ruin your work. That’s why always remember to sketch very lightly if are doing so.
5. Always Start Simple
Don’t go ahead of yourself and start with something very challenging, if you do that although it may sound very brave but you will end up giving up too soon. So remember to paint something very simple when you begin.
6. A Good Brush Point
Does not matter whether you are using miniature brushes or regular smaller number brushes the brush point has to be good. The whole of miniature painting is like adding very intricate details even when you are painting the background! So be careful about this, good point is a must not just for adding the details but required just for painting miniatures.
7. The Power of Light
Always paint in good natural light, avoid painting at night at all costs if you can, no matter how many bright lights you put it will strain your eyes, if you try doing that in artificial light. A mix of natural and artificial works best for me.
8. The 2 Jars Rule
Dirty water is a call for disaster! Unlike other mediums the transparency of Watercolors can not handle even the slightest of dirt, else you will get muddy results.
9. Right amount of Water
You have to be really careful with the amount of water on the brush, a little extra can turn the game around, always keep tissue handy and be mindful of the amount of water you are using.
10. The Right Size Matters
Don’t just directly jump on the smallest possible size to paint, always start with something that you can comfortably do and then come down to smaller size.
What is considered a Miniature,
An often-used definition is that a piece of miniature
art can be held in the palm of the hand, or that it covers
less than 25 square inches or 100 cm².
So it can be anywhere between a palm sized miniature and a Micro Miniature like this one, smaller than a Nail!
11. Do your Layers Right
With watercolors you have to be careful with layers, study your painting mentally first and plan how you will go about it. Remember light to dark is the key!
12. Don’t forget to have Fun
No matter what you do don’t forget to have fun. Unless you enjoy the process you are not going to like it.
13. Practice! Practice! Practice!
Practice is the only key! Remember there is no short cut! No matter how expensive your supplies are or what all fancy tools you have, you will not become good at it unless you practice. Keep at least 15 minutes everyday and paint something.
I hope these tips will come in handy and enhance your miniature painting skills!
Till next time,