Category Archives: Tutorial

Free PDF tutorial : How to Paint Realistic Leather

Well, I tried Patreon, and sadly there just wasn’t the level of interest required for it to be worth carrying on with. However in the short time it was active I created a tutorial about how I paint realistic leather on my figures, it seemed a shame to let it go to waste, so here it is for you! Just click on the thumbnail and the PDF will open.

I hope you have fun with this tutorial on How to paint realistic leather, and be sure to send any pics of your figures to my Facebook Page if you use it, I’d love to see them!



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Winging it, or ‘Painting without a plan’

Experimental. This is the word I would probably choose to describe this post.

After the black tutorial did so well (thanks to everyone who read and shared it!), it became a question of what to follow it with. There have been many suggestions, all of which will be used at some point or another.

I decided that its all very well me showing you how to do things step by step, but how do you apply these techniques and thinking to your own models?

So in-between normal tutorials which will cover things like how to paint textured leather, and the perennial subject of skintones, I’m going to paint without having a real plan of what to do, so you can have an insight into the decision making process, and what happens when things go horribly wrong (which they will do, it happens to all of us at some point).

Continue reading Winging it, or ‘Painting without a plan’

The Black Tutorial

So here it is, the first proper painting tutorial for The Goldfish of Justice.

First of all let’s get the basics out of the way.

Paint consistency

Thinner is better in this case, about the same consistency as milk for your first highlight layer, and from then on even thinner, 3:1 or even 4:1 in favour of water and some of my black glazes are pretty much just slightly tinted water. You can use less diluted paint if you wish, but you’ll be spending a lot more time blending and smoothing out the transitions between colours.  The diluted paints also go some way towards negating the ‘chalky’ look that sometimes happens when putting pale colours onto black because you can build the layers up and glazes take less effort. Continue reading The Black Tutorial

How to make a display base from a picture frame

For the more experienced modelers among you, this may seem like a bit of an obvious one, but to a beginner starting out on the road to painting glory, this may just give you a boost of confidence, as a nice display base can really make your miniatures stand out (let me stress that It’s no magical solution to fix a bad paint job though, practice is the key as with all skills, it’ll just make it more professional which in turn should give you the boost to keep practicing)

Step 1:

Ok, first of all you need to buy a picture frame. most supermarkets will stock them now, I picked this 6″x 4″ up from Asda,  a pack of two for £2, bargain!

Picture frame

once you have your picture frame, tear it apart! Ok, well not literally, just take it all apart carefully (generally its just a few clips on the reverse that hold everything in place). The glass you’ve removed would make a good paint pallet, but other than that you don’t need it. Neither do you need the creepy picture of the fake family that comes with most picture frames, bin it (or burn it, I’ll leave that up to you).

Step 2:

Next you need to remove the stand from the backing board, it should just pull off. if your picture frame has any other clips attached to the backing board, remove these also. Once you’ve done that, superglue the board into place back in the picture frame and press the clips down to hold everything in place. it should look like this from underneath.



And when you turn it over….congratulations, you now have a picture frame you cannot use.


Leave this to dry for a while and if needed run some superglue around the clips on the back to give it a bit of extra strength.

Step 3:

Now comes the fun bit! Mask off the front of the frame like so.



Next you need some multi purpose filler (such as poly filler, but I use the cheap stuff without any issues) and fill in the middle of the frame with it. How you fill it is up to you (rough, smooth, ultra bumpy etc), it does depend on what model you’re putting onto the base. As I’m going to put a Dark Elf Cauldron of Blood on this base, I need it to be quite flat as the model is large war machine and I didn’t want to distract viewers from the model itself (Remember, the base is supposed to compliment the model not overpower it)

once you’ve applied the filler, remove the masking tape IMMEDIATELY, if you don’t, it will crack and pull filler away from the main part of your base. Leave everything to dry (I left mine overnight just to be sure).


in the picture above you can see that I have removed the masking tape and then re-applied it once the base is dry, leaving a small gap between the edge of the filler and the base, the gap is there just so the sand and pva covers the edges of filler.

Step 4:

Next just glue your chosen decoration to the base (you can even press things into the filler whilst its drying, I didn’t, but it is an option) and once the glue has dried on your details, chuck a ton of pva glue over the base, (there’s no need to be careful as the masking tape protects the edges), and while the pva is still wet, smother it in a thick layer of sand and GENTLY press down, being careful not to leave hand prints in the sand (use a wad of tissue or similar to prevent this).

Shake off all the sand back into your pot and you should be left with something like this.



Now, you need to very gently pull off the masking tape before the glue has a chance to dry, pva glue forms a skin very quickly and if it does, pulling off the tape can pull off all the sand in a weird gooey sheet.

If you got this bit right, here’s what you should have now.

7Even taking off the tape immediately, you can see that the pva pulled a bit and deformed the edges slightly. to remedy this, just take a cocktail stick and push the edges back into place. if you’re left with a few bits of pva showing, sprinkle with a bit of sand, once you’ve tipped off the excess, this should be your result (the colour difference here is due to me using two different grades of sand, one coarse and one slightly finer to add some variation.


And that’s it! all that’s left is to paint it, which I shall cover in another tutorial later in the week.

Here’s a money shot to give you a point of reference as to how I’m using the base.


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5 Tips on prepping your miniatures

prepOne thing that many new starters don’t get told is how to prep a miniature for paint. It’s a fairly simple process, but it does take time and can be the most unappealing part of miniature painting. So here are my top 5 tips on prepping miniatures. These are mostly aimed at beginners, so If it feels like I’m teaching you to suck eggs, don’t despair, more advanced stuff is on it’s way!

1: Take your time.

I know that when you’re starting out on the glorious road to painting stardom with thoughts of a fully painted army marauding across the battle field on your mind, you just want to get to the good bit straight away. I know I used to.

When I first started out, I tore straight into the boxes, quickly clipped off any obvious pieces of flash (excess material from the casting process) and mashed the model together before splashing paint all over it in a fairly unorthodox manner.

Now I’ve been doing it for a while, I know that the care taken with preparing the miniature has a direct effect on the outcome of your paintjob. The longer you spend  making sure your model is smooth and free of mould-lines, the better your paintjob will look and the quicker you’ll learn. It’s easier to see how to improve your blending for example, when you don’t have to try and look past a rough surface.

2: Use the right tool for the job

The expenditure required to start this hobby is more than people think, the models can cost a small fortune, as can amassing a decent collection of paints or the rulebooks needed to play a game. It would be a huge shame to ruin an expensive model by trying to clean it up with a potato peeler (an extreme example, but you see where I’m going with this)

If you’re dealing with a large lump of flash, use the side cutters. If you’re looking at a small mould line, use the scalpel to scrape it off (have the blade at a 150 degree angle with the sharp edge closest, then scrape away from your body.  Having the blade angled the other way, you risk the knife digging into the miniature and damaging it.) scraping technique(Obviously hold the piece in your other hand for stability, I couldn’t as I was taking the photo). And if you’re looking at a mould line a bit bigger, use the needle files to get rid of it.

When you start out, budget for a few simple tools. A scalpel, a pair of small side cutters, some needle files and a cutting mat.

cutting mat needle files scalpel side cutters

on the subject of side cutters, the angled ones that Games Workshop sell are good enough for the job but don’t last long, so it’s worth shopping around. There are cutters with a rounded head available but they make cutting some sprues a bit tricky. Scalpels are personal preference as to what feels comfortable, personally I use the GW scalpel handle with Swann Morton blades. (Swann Morton make surgical equipment too, so the blades they make are the sharpest I’ve ever found. Seriously, it’s like using a small power sword.) The GW handle is surprisingly comfortable to use.

3: Measure twice, cut once

It might seem a little out of place here, but the old carpenters adage of “measure twice, cut once” is useful for our purposes. The essence of it is to look carefully at what needs doing on the miniature before diving in. This way you can see any potential problems like awkward to get to mould lines or miscasts. Look for things that look out of place (compare with the picture on the box if you have one).

4: Put it down

odd one this, but it works for me. Once you think you’ve cleaned up all the mould lines, clipped off any flash etc, put the model down and work on something else. A degree of patience is needed with this but it’s worth it. Once you’ve done something else for a bit, go back to the model and have a look at it again, fresh eyes may pick up something else that you missed. I can tell you, finding these missed bits of flash are VERY annoying if you find them during painting.

5: Wash it

Once you’ve finished taking off mould lines and flash, give the miniature a quick wash under some warm water with washing up liquid and scrub it gently with an old toothbrush. There’s no point doing this before you’ve cleaned off all the mould lines because you’ll be handling the model a lot and of course, there’s oil on our fingertips all the time. The quick scrub with washing up liquid just removes the oil residue and any mould release left on the model (again, a leftover from the casting process, it quite literally helps the miniature be released from the mould)

These oils and mould release will prevent any undercoat from sticking to your miniature properly and subsequently make painting it a royal pain in the rear.

Note: If you’re dealing with Finecast (Games Workshop’s new resin which has taken over from most of their metal models) Make sure the water is cold or lukewarm, water that is too warm will make the miniature very, very soft and you could end up damaging something permanently.

I hope that these tips have been of use, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

Happy Painting!