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After a year's work and not much to show for it, I thought I'd throw out a few questions, to try to improve my technique, at the utmost foundation level.
When dipping a brush into a pot of paint, how much paint should end up on the brush? How much water should I add, and how? How many brushes should I keep? How should "closed" areas of models be accessed?
That sort of thing.
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I'm no Golden-Daemon winner but I usually get lots of compliments at my local store when I bring my stuff.
(Assuming you're using GW paint)
When painting from the pot (which, I do much to the ire of the serious painters I'm sure, ) I always put just the tip of the brush in the paint, and then usually wipe some back off on the inside lip.
I usually don't add water, but if you want thinned paints, no more than a drop of water in the lid area. I've heard from serious painters that a little paint thinner works better.
If your models aren't built yet then assemble them into sub-assemblies in such a way that you can reach everywhere without fuss. If they are all assembled, just take your time and reach where you can.
Lastly, I highly recommend GW washes for any project.
Well, I'd suggest not to paint straight from the pot. I used to do it for years but the alternative is just soooo much better.
Find something to use as a palette. Personally I use an old low porcelain cup, a bit like a tiny plate 4cm diameter. Anything not too large and slightly concave will do the trick. A jar lid with a dent/curve in it. The underside of a low jar, some old little metallic plate, even a large round plastic base turned upside down.
This will help you to keep the paint in the pot longer as you only take out a little amount and close the paint. To take out the paint I use a plastic cotton swab with the cotton pulled off and one end made flat using a few gentle bites with ye olde teeth. That creates a nice little spoon/shovel to take a few little blobs of paint and deposit them on your palette. After a painting session, just rub out all paint with a cloth.
The paint also handles a lot better when thinned a little bit, like one drop of thinner or water per 6-8-ish drops of paint. There's no set ratio as some paints are thicker than others but you want your paint to be just that little bit smoother. The same goes for inks and washes, although with those, just use water as paint thinner is usually slightly milky in colour.
Another good thing about using a little palette is that it's a looot easier to quickly mix colours for shading, highlighting, and concocting your own colour mixes.
For paint & brush, you want just the tip. Best up to a third of the brush, maximum half. The goal is to avoid getting paint all up to the end of the brush as that's a lot harder to clean out properly and your brush will loose its tip in no time. If you're working with inks and washes, this doesn't matter so much as it's a lot easier to clean out.
If you want to keep the brush at a good quality, I suggest to get some brush- or airbrush cleaner. When finishing up your session, first rinse with water as normal, put some cleaner in the cup of your hand (no need using a lot) and gently rub your brush around, and when finished, rinse with some water again...
'Closed area's' on model, arch a pain it is! If you want to paint fully assembled models, there's nothing more to it than a small brush, little paint, and a lot of patience.
I prefer to paint models half assembled to keep all parts as accesible as possible. It makes it so much more enjoyable to keep painting at a normal pace without unnecessary fiddly bits. And it looks better in the end. For instance my BA marines I painted them as follows. Legs and torso glued to base, arms plus shoulder guards, head, backpack. The small pieces I pinned to a cork with some copper wire. (take a look in my BA army thread, it's dead easy)
Oh and another good tip, use two cups/pots of water for cleaning. During the paint session, rinse your brush first in the 'dirty' pot to get of all the paint, and then rinse in the 'clean' pot to wash away the dirty water. It will keep your colour much prettier. The jar of the cleaner water is also a good immediate source to pick up some water from to thin your paints with.
This all may sound like a lot of mumbo-jumbo and a hassle to do, but actually it's not. It's just a slight adaptation of your paint habits that will make things go so much easier.