Oil painting for miniature painters

Oil painting for miniature painters

Oil painting for miniature painters – oil paints have been rightly prized for centuries by artists. With excellent blending properties and slow drying times that allow for experimentation and tidying up mistakes, it is easy to see why. More and more, oil paints are being appreciated by the miniature painting community, too! They offer distinct advantages over traditional hobby acrylic paints. With a Redgrassgames glass palette, you have the perfect tool for using them. Take a look at this video from long-time RGG supporter, Juan at JH.Miniaturas, for all the best tips and tricks- along with a few of our own!

Table of Contents

Oil painting for miniature painters: SET UP

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Set up couldn’t be simpler. Prime your miniature (or in this case, diorama setting!) with your usual acrylic primer. For instance, you can use spray can primers, airbrush primers, or brush on primers. You could prime your miniature with oils, of course, but using an acrylic primer is much faster and we want to get onto the fun oil blends as quickly as possible! If you do prime with an oil paint, be prepared to wait a long time for it to dry- possibly days. You can ‘seal’ your acrylic primer layer with a coat of gloss or matte varnish, but it is not necessary. The oil and acrylic paints won’t interact with each other nor will the oil thinners strip most modern acrylic paints. Rather, the varnish will provide a different surface for the oils to work on. Gloss varnish will certainly help blending oils over the top. Here you can see Juan from JH.Miniaturas has primed his base with an acrylic light gray primer.

Qualities oil paints

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Juan advises that you have a good understanding of color for oil painting, as you can create very unique colors and blends that would be otherwise impossible with acrylic paints. Most oil paints are also labelled ‘opaque’, ‘semi-transparent’, or ‘transparent’, so that is worth being aware of. Different thicknesses of oil paint will interact differently. If you thin to oil paints to the same consistency they will blend, whereas a thick oil and a thinned oil might not. Equally, the extent to which the oils have dried will also play a part. If you are layering, it is important to allow each layer of oil paint you apply to fully dry before working over the top with a new one. Given their slow drying times out of the tube, this can take days! Miniature painters often thin their oils with odorless mineral spirits to speed this process up into the 30-60 minutes range per layer. Equally, some companies now offer oil paints specially formulated for miniature painters with faster drying times, like Juan is using in his YouTube video.


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Cleaning is super simple! If you are using oil paints on your glass palette you can clean away unwanted oil paints and mixes with a cloth soaked in thinners, like odorless mineral spirits. Dried paints can be scraped way gently; but refrain from using sharp or metallic scrapers that might damage the tempered glass surface.


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Now for the fun part! Here, in the video by JH.Miniaturas for his YouTube channel, you can see the intuitive way you can apply oils. Working off a source material, Juan was able to apply patches of different colors directly over the acrylic primer. Colors that would be harder to mix with acrylic hobby paints are much easier with oils. Just remember to use brushes you don’t use for acrylic painting- they don’t mix! You can use synthetic brushes for oils, which get damaged by thinners far less than premium kolinsky acrylic brushes. If you don’t intend to blend the disparate colors into one another, you can leave the layer as it is to dry. But, the glory of oil painting comes from being able to blend and mix them…

Oil painting for miniature painters: BLENDING

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Using a clean, dry brush, here Juan blends the oil colors into one another, creating and softening transitions, mixing colors by changing the movement and pressure of his brush. When the paint is fresh, you can blend almost indefinitely! But is often best to leave it after a while to rest, before repeating the process of applying and blending. In this way, you can create interesting depth. Oils behave differently to acrylics, and their translucency can create very subtle transitions and volumes.


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Thanks to the RGG Glass Palette, mixing and highlighting is easier for Juan at JH.Miniaturas! Instead of painting one oil at a time, or risking a color combination straight on the model, use a glass palette first! Here, Juan can apply all the colors he needs for a model in one go, which saves time and paint. Thanks to the superior surface, he can blend colors together to create subtle gradients for the model’s highlights. The process of oil painting follows a similar cycle – applying the oil paint, then subtracting it or blending it with other oil paints. It is a straightfoward but rewarding process that can only improve as you come to appreciate the subtleties with proficiency. So what are you waiting for?!


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The Redgrassgames Everlasting Glass Palette isn’t just good for oils! This premium tool can add even more functionality and versatility to your painting space. Heavy-body acrylics, pigments, drybrushing, and even green stuffing are all well-served.

If you want to maximise your hobby space, you can even insert one of our new RGG Glass Palettes into our wet palette case lids- like Don has done here! The possibilities are near-endless.

Oil painting for miniature painters: VIDEO TUTORIAL

Still unsure how to get the best out your Redgrassgames glass palette? Watch the full video from Pro-painter Juan at his YouTube Channel! Watch and learn!

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