Legion 101: Getting Into the Hobby
Kevin Valliere Discusses Miniatures as a Hobby
Our community-driven series of articles covering the basics of Star Wars™: Legion continues with today's entry from Kevin Valliere. Here, Kevin demystifies what can be one of the largest barriers of entry for new players: assembling, constructing, and painting your miniatures. Whether you strive for movie-accurate versions of iconic units or are creating a unique look for your army, join him as he breaks down the steps you can take to bring your armies to life!
In the last article, we talked about why Star Wars: Legion is such an exciting hobby to start.
But what if you’ve never assembled or painted a miniature before? It can seem quite intimidating to learn and purchase everything you need at first, but it’s really quite a simple process to go from spare parts to a table-ready miniature. In this article, we’ll take a look at exactly what that process looks like!
Step 1: Assemble and Prime
To begin, we’ll need to assemble our miniatures.
For the Republic forces (just like for the Empire and Rebellion), all we need to do is dry fit the various parts together to make sure they fit (using the instructions provided in every Core Set and expansion), then use any old super glue to secure them to the main body. Easy is as easy does.
The Separatist forces, however, introduced a new, harder plastic for Star Wars: Legion minis that, while it allows the creation of miniatures with long thin pieces, like B1 Battle Droids, does require a bit more careful assembly. These miniatures come on sprues, or plastic sheets used in the molding process. Assembling them takes a bit longer, as you’ll need some clippers to cut them out of the plastic mold, and then you’ll want to use a plastic glue to fuse the plastic together. Both methods are easy to do with just a little bit of practice.
Once all of your miniatures are assembled, go to a well-ventilated area and prime them. Generally speaking, a white or grey primer works really well for these specific miniatures. While it’s possible to paint up to nice white armor from a black prime, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you just start with a lighter primer. You can either go ahead and glue your miniatures to their bases before priming, or secure them with a sticky putty and glue them on later.
To prime well, hold the can about a foot away from the miniature, then do a gentle sweeping motion in one direction, only briefly holding down the nozzle. This will give you a light, even coat over the whole model (and help prevent you from losing any cool details).
Let everything dry, then move on to step two.
Step 2: Color Block
Before we get too detailed with our models, we want to make sure we get the overall color scheme right. Start by identifying how many colors you’ll need (it may be just one or two, or as high as ten and up for more detailed and colorful figures). Then, using one color at a time, paint your miniatures without worrying too much about precision. This will be our base coat.
Since we want to water down our paints (so they don’t go on too thickly and show brush strokes), it may take a few layers of color blocking to get a good, smooth color. This is normal! White especially can be finicky, so don’t worry if it takes a bit longer to get to the color you want. For the traditional tan of the Separatist droids, it may take fewer.
As you go layer by layer, clean up your lines and make sure the details are nice and clear. Is the blaster clearly separate from the hand holding it? Have the lines on your trooper’s helmet bled over into the white space?
Don’t worry too much about perfection, especially for your first few minis. What we’re going for is “table ready” miniatures—that is, we just want them to look decent from arm’s length. It’s OK if some details get lost in the mix.
Some of you may choose to stop right here, and that’s fine! If the gameplay is more important to you than the painting, you’ll already have achieved a great product just by getting paint on plastic.
But if you’d like to know a few more ways to make your minis stand out, keep reading.
Step 3: Shade & Highlight
To really give your miniatures an added level of quality, we can do two more easy things.
First, take what’s called a “wash” (think of it like a super-thinned down dark color) and apply it to your mini, taking care to wipe it off the tops of areas or any flat and smooth areas. This wash should run naturally into the cracks and crevices of your miniatures, giving them some really nice shadows that help the brighter colors stand out.
Second, for highlighting, put a bit of paint that’s lighter than the color you want to highlight on a wide, flat brush. Dab that brush generously on a paper towel, getting most of the paint off. Then, gently, flick the brush back and forth over the tips and peaks of your miniature. If you’ve gotten enough of the paint off, this will just catch the edges and give a really nice highlighting effect that takes seconds over the more complicated methods.
Step 4: Base
Once the miniature itself has been painted, it’s time to base.
There are a number of ways you can accomplish this, and it will ultimately depend on how much time and effort you want to put into your mini. You could easily paint your whole base one color (black looks great, unsurprisingly) just to give it a nice, clean look.
Or you could go to your local hobby shop and purchase basing textures and foliage to give your base a forest feel or a desert feel. The sky’s the limit! And don’t forget: you can always go back and do a base later if you just start off by painting it one color now.
Step 5: Protect
Finally, we want to protect our miniatures.
There are a number of matte varnishes you can buy as a spray can that work wonderfully. Go to a well-ventilated area, give the can a good shake, and use the same technique I mentioned in the priming section.
Matte varnish will give your miniatures a flat finish, so if you want shiny armor you may choose to go back with some paint-on gloss varnish to give it some shine again.
Doing all of this will make sure that not only do your miniatures look great, but that they stay looking great throughout all of the handling and transport you’ll need to do.
And with that, you’ve got everything you need to know to take you miniatures from zero to hero. But whether that’s hero of the Republic or hero of the Separatists is up for you to decide!
Coming up in our next article, we’ll start to talk about the next step: what happens when you throw your painted minis on the battlefield and kick off a game of Star Wars: Legion.
Need tips on painting your Star Wars: Legion miniatures? Check out a tutorial on our YouTube channel here!