Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dipping Miniatures

In the above video I go about how I perform the 'dipping' technique when working with miniatures (music by the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets in the background). I have used super glue to affix large nails with a flat head to the underside of the bases and then I proceed to insert these nails (now with figures on them) into the chuck of a power drill. The spinning action of the drill is more than sufficient to remove the excess dip, and by doing so inside an empty copy paper box, there is zero mess, in fact, you can do this indoors on a rainy day if need be. I fine tune the wiping off of the excess with a foam cosmetic sponge that you can get in the makeup aisle anywhere. Cotton balls and cotton swabs will not work as you end up with getting a lot of fibers stuck to your figures, go with the latex foam sponges, you get a lot in a bag for a cheap price. Allow drying time overnight.

I was on a kick there for a while where I dipped everything. I should point out that either Army Painter products weren't around yet, or I just never heard of them. For the dip I use a MinWax Polyshades Black Tudor Satin 360. Yes, this 'flavor' exists, and no, you will not find it at a large chain home improvement store (and the clerks there will swear it doesn't exist). I get mine from a smaller, locally owned Ace Value hardware type place, and they've got both large and small cans, the one in my video is the large size. If you can't find it, don't think another flavor will work equally well, it won't, I know because I've personally tried several different kinds. If you absolutely cannot find a can of Black Tudor, get the next darkest thing you can get and run a test model first (well, always run a test model).

Andy on the one hand will brush on the dip, just skimming the top layer of the liquid in the can after it has settled some. Not for me, I dunk the entire mini in the can, a couple of times, swish 'em around a whole bunch, then, well, you've seen the video up top. Wiping off the excess dip is a very critical step in the process because its wood stain for crying out loud, it's not designed to go on our lovingly painted models, and it will pool up in the recessed areas making it quite unsightly. I don't dip a whole lot as of late, for no real reason, and I am certainly interested in Army Painter products now, even if it means nothing more than less mess. If you don't have a dedicated 'dip brush' and clean it with turpentine or mineral spirits, you'll have one ruined brush on your hands. Also, if it gets on anything (concrete, clothing, walls, etc.) it will not come out, so don't go dipping in 'night on the town' clothes or anything. I should also point out that dipping is a great time saver, but it's not the magically delicious answer to painting. It should be used as one more tool in your overall painting toolkit, not as a shortcut to quality. It will take a very average (or poor) looking mini and make it look much better, but it won't do much at all for a mini that already looks great.

A shout out goes to blogging compatriot 25mmW with his recent post on using Army Painter products on an Eldar trooper, and by extension Ron at From the Warp with his recent call for all time-saving tips to put into another useful tutorial.

Here's a quick gallery of some of my dipped examples:

WM Khador Warjacks, you can dip any size mini large or small

A Reaper Dwarf, look at the detail brought out in the hair and beard

More WM, a Dwarf Warcaster and his Warjacks

Side-by-side comparison of WM zombie both before and after dipping process

A pair o' WM Ogryn Bokurs

Warzone Troopers after a shot of Dull Cote

15mm Star Grunt II troopers completed

The Dwarves from my YouTube video

A closeup of the Dwarven standard bearer


  1. Some good ideas in there Mik. I never thought of using a drill as a centrifuge. Do you paint them glued to the nail already or is that an extra step.
    The latex make-up sponges are another good idea.

    I use a Magic Wash/Dip on almost everything these days. I custom mix mine using Future tinted with black and brown inks.

  2. You could totally paint them up on the nails first, I'm not the kind of painter that mounts their minis to something while they work on it, but this would work here easily if you were.

    I've looked at Magic Wash (Sauce, whatever) and others, and I just saw the price on Army Painter dip, so forget that, heh. I may be stuck with my messy and sticky six dollar can of MinWax. Really, I've been using GW washes a lot lately, and they do such a good job I don't feel the need to dip the whole mini anymore.

  3. Bloody Friggen Brilliant!!!

    Your post has my wife once again telling me "I told you so." She gives me so much crap about TAP products. They are expensive but I know it works awesome!. Heh, she's gonna rig up that drill technique for me that you have there (yeah my wife is way more mechanical than me:)

    I'm not too sure about using the cosmetic sponge the way your using it thought. Looks like it leaves the finish splotchy. I usually wait a minute or so until the TAP hardens a bit and then use a toothpick to get the excess off (q-tips suck and sing another brush is problematic).

    It does make figures look better though. I have zero talent when it comes to painting. That Eldar has a perfect shade that I just wouldn't have been able to achieve without the quick shade. I invite you to judge for yourself mate. Look at this post...



    and... (j/k :)

    You can see the models I used TAP on verses the three post above where I didn't that the TAP ones are significantly better (at least they look that way to me.

    Thanks for the shout out bro and thanks for an absolutely terrific post! Really, this is one of the best I've seen in a long time.

    Bloody Friggin Brilliant!!!

  4. LOL... I didn't dip the nids... used good 'ol fashioned GW red ink.

    The Nids and Marines were done with corresponding inks. I think TAP looks better than what I can do however and saves a ton of time.

    I'm painting with purple for the first time and gonna be using ink on that. Wonder how that's gonna turn out.

    Thanks for the grass tip... was wondering why my grass wasn't looking right. :)