Cleaning your mini is an important first step. You should always take a few moments to carefully examine any miniature you are going to paint. When a mini is cast at the factory, the molding process can create flaws in the surface, most notably excess metal that dribbles out of the mold called "flash" and seams called "mold lines". If you have trouble finding them, just look at the underside of the base. You can usually follow it all the way around the mini. Turn the mini this way and that, looking at all the surfaces from every angle. Mold lines are sneaky little buggers, and frequently don't show up until after you have primed your mini and are ready to start painting! Don't worry --- it happens to all of us.

I usually start with a hobby knife and a fresh blade, gently scraping all the way around the mold line. You should always use caution when working with a knife. Haste and distraction can lead to a nasty injury! Be careful working near fine details like faces and coat buttons. Once the worst of it is shaved off I break out my favorite micro files. I prefer the diamond coated, but many people have success with regular files. Using light pressure, gently continue to smooth out the rough areas. At this point I slowly creep in on finer details like eyes, hair strands and belt buckles. As a final step I like to hit everything with a small square of ultra fine sandpaper, just to give it a nice polish. This is not always necessary, and is purely an optional step.