The Base Coat

It's better to apply two or three light coats rather than one thick one. Overly thick paint takes a long time to dry and can leave the surface lumpy and the details clogged. I usually like to start with a medium or midtone color, adding the lighter and deeper tones (also known as highlights and shadows) in later steps. Add a drop or two of paint to your wet pallet (if you chose to use a ceramic pallet you will need to add 5 or 6 drops, depending on the size of the wells.), and then thin your paint. Dip your mixing brush into your rinse water and carry over one drop. Mix that into your paint and check your consistency. For base coating I like my paint to be like whole milk.

Once you have your mix right it's finally time to break out your good sable brushes. First wet your brush in your rinse water and blot it off onto your paper towel, then dip just the tip of it into your color mix. DO NOT plunge it all the way into the paint! You only want to have paint on the bottom third of your brush tips. Now lightly twirl the side of your brush against the surface of your pallet to bring the tip to a fine point. This off loads some of the excess paint and also tightens the tip.

When you apply the paint to the mini, try to not let it accumulate and pool in any one area. You want to spread a thin even layer across the surface. Cover the section you are working on and then let it dry completely before applying your second coat. If you rush it, the first coat will peel up and become a gooey mess. If after the second coat is completely dry your coverage is still a little streaky and uneven apply a third coat. It's important to have a good solid even base coat. Subsequent layers have a translucent quality and the basecoat will show through.

Highlighting and Shading are done with lighter and darker shades of the basecoat. If you are using Reaper Master Series paints you have the colors already mixed for you thanks to their handy Triad system, but you can also add a dark or light color to the basecoat and mix your own shades. For this step it's better to thin your paints to the consistency of 2% or non-fat milk. The best way to determine where highlights should be placed on the mini is to think about where you would be wet if you had been caught in the rain, like the tops of your shoulders and the tops of your boots.  Conversely, shadows belong on the underside of fabric folds, underarms, etc. Those are the areas that would for the most part remain dry in that rain storm.  Neutral areas that are vertical like the fronts of your legs should stay a midtone color, or your base color.

The trick with layering is to not completely cover up the base color. Ideally you want to split the surface into thirds, 1/3 should remain the original base color, 1/3 becomes highlight, and the last 1/3 will become shadow. With every new color you want to shrink the area you are applying it to, slowly building up more color in increasingly smaller areas. Load your brush, blot off the excess and hold your brush to the mini so that the tip is pointing down into the valley of a clothing fold. Pull up to the top of the fold and lift the brush away. When applying your shadow you do the exact opposite. Put the tip of the brush near the middle of the section, sweep it down into the deepest part of the valley and lift off. With this motion you will automatically deposit more paint where you want the color to be more opaque. This technique helps to blend the transition between two colors.