I thought I would start out my tutorial section with prep since it is the first thing you do before painting and is equally as important.
The tools, there are lots of tools out there for miniatures some of the most important are clippers (for trimming flash and excessive mold lines), a good set of small files, and either a scalpel or exacto blade. Other items I find helpful are fine grit sandpaper, superglue (not just for the assembly), sculpting putty (greenstuff or milliput) and liquid green stuff.
Some miniatures should also be pinned to help strengthen joints, but pinning could be a tutorial of its own so I will not go into detail about that now.
The first thing I do is remove the worst mold lines and flash with my clippers, after the worst is gone I will take the exacto blade and gently remove as much as I can with the remainder. Metal minis are harder to remove mold lines with just an exacto blade, plastic and resin will easily shave off with very little pressure. When using an exacto blade try to go in one direction when removing a mold line and if you are having trouble with it just leave it rather than destroy detail. There are other ways to hide it or even it out that I will touch on later.
After using your clippers and blades it is time to use your small files on metal minis metal files work best. On plastic try not to use metal files, sand paper or a plastic file will do a better job and leave less marks in the plastic. When filing a curved part of a miniature use a round file for flat surfaces a flat file will work best. It is also better if possible to file in one direction and try to keep the file level, this helps avoid damaging surrounding detail and removes the mold line with less files marks on your mini.
Once you have spent some time clipping and filing it is time to wash the mini. Molds leave residue on the miniature and it is better to wash them prior to assembly as the glue will not hold properly if there is residue left on them. I use a toothbrush with dish soap and scrub the miniature under warm water. Before assembling make sure the mini is completely dry and there is no water hiding in the small crevices or joints that you will attempt to glue.
I use super glue to assemble my miniatures always apply less that you think you need as it will easily pour over details you would not want touched. After assembly don’t put that superglue away yet. If you have any stubborn mold lines that you couldn’t quite reach with the files use a toothpick and apply some superglue carefully to even it out. You can also use liquid green stuff for this. I recommend buying some I love it for hiding imperfections in the metal or for evening out mold lines. If you decide to try some liquid greenstuff squeeze what you think you may need onto a plate or palette as you do not want air to hit the greenstuff in the pot any longer than necessary. It will dry it out. After it is on your palette add water to it to get it to the consistency you need for the application you want to use it for. If you want to use it to fill a small gap use less water as it will maintain a putty like texture for gap filling. Using it for small imperfections or a mold line use more water so it will flow where you want it without ruining detail.
I try to assemble most of my miniatures prior to priming as it makes a nicer product without the fuss of trying to assemble without damaging what you painted. Some miniatures need to be left in pieces to be able to reach all the spaces properly. In this case I usually take some blue tac and test fit the mini to make sure it doesn’t need any gap filling and decide on the pose. I will leave the tac on the joints while priming and basecoating to protect them from paint as it makes them easier to assemble later if there is no paint or primer where you will be gluing. Some miniatures can be magnetized, especially warjacks and large figures to make them interchangeable or to store them easier in pieces.
Choosing the right color to prime, black, white or grey. Grey is a good all-around primer color as it doesn’t obsure detail and can easily be covered by lighter colors. White will give your miniature more vibrant colors and works well for light colors and flesh tones. Black is useful for hiding those touch to get to cracks and crevices for easier shadows and black lining.
After you decide what color there is spray primer and brush on primer. I use both for different reasons. Spray primer cannot be applied in high humidity as it will get a grainy finish, but is easy to apply the rest of the time and covers easily and quickly. Brush on primer is great when you want part of your mini primed in a different color or for reaching hard to reach areas with Spray primer.
I usually attach my mini to a bottle by using carpet tape or blue poster tac prior to priming. You don’t want to get your oils from your fingers on your mini and this will secure it to something easy to hold. Some people use wine corks or pill bottles. Use whatever fits in your hand nicely and you can use while painting comfortably. Once it is secured on something you should be able to turn your miniature in all directions without it falling off this will make priming it easier as you can turn in upside down to get coverage on the underside.
When you apply primer it goes on best when the can is warm. So keep it somewhere warm and make sure the can is warm when applying. It is ok to spray in cold weather outside just make sure the can is warm and the mini is warm then go outside and prime your miniature and bring it right inside. Do not overprime the mini it will easily take over details remember the primer is just there to help adhere the paint to the metal or plastic not to completely cover it. It is ok to see a little metal through the primer, trust me it is better than a solid coating of primer that is too thick.
Be sure the primer is dry for best results a few hours or overnight is best prior to painting. Now that your mini is prepped and primed you can begin the fun of painting.