14 October 2008

Brightening the Dark: A beginner's guide to painting your Descent: Journeys in the Dark figures

By Sally Karkula and Bexley Andrajack

The moment in which I first opened that gorgeous Descent:Journeys in the Dark box, I was both giddy with wide-eyed anticipation and incredibly intimidated by the sheer enormity of a game that dwarfed my own frame. Though the character cards and dungeon pieces were beautiful, I had my mind elsewhere. I lifted up the cardboard innards of the box, came eye to eye with the menacing face of the Dragon, and my heart was consumed by pure joy. I then carefully arranged all of my minions on the table before me so that they might pay me proper reverence, and decreed then and there: "I'm going to paint every last one of you!"


But how to begin such a delicate operation?

Luckily, I work at Fantasy Flight Games and there just so happens to be an incredible painter/sculptor/visonary right down the hall! Bexley, the lead painter on the Mutant Chronicles CMG and the man behind the awesome terrain pieces making their way around the country in the FFG Mobile Tour Van, took a few minutes from his busy GenCon construction schedule to teach me a few things about painting miniatures.
So without further ado, I present:
Bexley's Beginner's Guide to Painting Descent Figures
Clean-up: Avoid using files or sandpaper to trim the flash and mold lines from Descent figures. The PVC they are made from has a tendency to shred and not come off cleanly. It’s better to trim the lines with a sharp hobby knife. Hold the knife perpendicular to the mold line, and scrape the line rather than slice it.
Once all the mold lines are removed, wash the figures in warm soapy water, and let them dry thouroughly. The molds that the figures are cast in are treated with a release film to aid in removing the figure after casting. This film can leave a light residue on the figures, which can prevent paint from sticking.
If you need to straighten a bent figure, you can do so by holding it under hot tap water until the plastic becomes soft. Bend the figure into the correct position, then hold it under cold water, keeping it in the correct position until the plastic re-hardens.
Primer: Most any spray primer will work, but you will get even better paint adhesion using a flat primer specifically formulated for use on plastics. This type of primer is available at most good hobby game shops, and can also be found at hardware stores.
Painting: A basic painting method is the midtone/shade/highlight technique. If you’re painting a green cloak, for example, you’d paint the entire cloak a medium green. Then the shade color is applied. Using a darker green paint, the crevices between the folds of the cloak are painted. Then, an even darker green would be applied to the deepest parts of the folds of fabric. Next is the highlights. Using a green slightly lighter than the midtone green, paint the higher parts of the folds. Then using a very light green, paint the highest points of the fabric. Of course, I went with pink for my Dragon, but the same technique applies.
Thanks, Bexley! That sure was a wealth of helpful tips. One can't help but wonder if this information will come in handy in the very near future…stay tuned!

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