Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Importance of Spot Colours


Have you ever looked at a technically well painted miniature or drawn image, and thought "It's missing something"? Even true to life models, which are weathered down to the anus of every man, need some colour to make them pop. There's an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, where Raymond's father sets out to paint Raymond's house. He decides on a yellow colour, much to the aghast of the extended family. It turns out Frank (Raymond's father) chose yellow because it made the house pop on the block. Needless to say you never actually see the house, but the episode really rung with me as a mediocre model painter who requires tricks to get around his limitations.This isn't so much a tutorial as a short diatribe on why all miniatures should aim to have some colour: 

My Examples: 

I painted a set of models today, 3 bunkers designed to be Viet Cong Bunkers for games I'm planning.
the obvious spot colour here is the red. Now unless you're colour blind (old mate Josh can fuck off) the first thing you're gonna be drawn to is the red tarp flowing off the side of the roof. Unfortunately, that's the only real spot colour on here. So, oddly enough, the basing becomes the spot colour. The other models are predominantly brownish aside from the corrugated iron roofing on the one bunker, so the grass becomes those part's spot colour that makes them Pop. 

This tau is a model I produced a long time ago, I'm not sure how well it has come out, b ut the first thing most people will notice is the orange and yellow pattern on the helm and target locks of the battlesuit. They are bright, out of place colours that once again, make them Pop. 

Examples from Video Games: 

This is also evident in a few video games, especially from the 8-32bit era, and especially prevalent within sidescrollers such as castlevania one and two, pictured below. 

In this example, the spot colours are the two player characters which share a slightly red, orange palette that makes them easily identifiable to the player. The other easily identifiable object on the field in the first screen are the enemies, which have a bright lilac colour palette designed to make them easily identifiable to the player. The Royal blue spot colour on the orb in the second image makes it easily identifiable as a quest item. Once again, the player is not going to perceive the skeletons as an enemy because they're not bright and colourful against the palette. 

The Best Colours for spots:

The best colour for your spot colour depends on your primary and secondary colours. Your primary colour will usually be a green, blue or grey (although fantasy gives room for changing this) so your secondary colour will be red for the first two and a black for the second. Good spot colours for green/red are yellow and orange, and green or white make good spot colours for blue/red. Grey usually has white or red highlights, although given the neutral nature of grey you can use almost any vibrant colour for spot colours.

I hope this might have helped someone with seeing the value of spot colours when painting miniatures. As always, if you have any questions, comments, critiques, anecdotes or just want to shoot the shit, you can contact me at 

Bonus round: 

Comment how many times you count the word pop! If you get it right, you'll get a prize. Here's a hint: The prize; It's like a lightbulb, it's pretty cool.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Basing Tutorial 1: Magnetizing a base.


So, you've made the dive into 15mm, or you just want a model that can be based on multiple surfaces. Maybe, you just want your units to all sit on a single piece of plastic duirng transport. Whether you're putting models to bases so they can be removed as casualties, or doing it because fucking magnets, this simple process can cut down the time spent magnetizing immensely. 


  1. A drill with sufficint fitting for a 7/64" (27.7mm)  drill bit. 
  2. Enough Magnets that are slightly larger than 7/64" for each model. IF you are magnetizing a 28mm model, or a model not based on a washer, you will need two magnets per model (the magnets being used here are ~30mm wide.) Obviously these should be small magnets, and these are usually called rare earth magnets. 
  3. Bases for magnetizing. 
    1. Movement trays if you're doing 28mm Historicals/fantasy
  4. A pair of flat-nosed pliers. The flat must be slightly larger than the magnet you're using. IT should also be magnetic to make this so much easier.
  5. A knife, because you're going to need to clean plastic. I suggest an standard blade, I did this with a curved blade and it was a pain in the neck to clean the magnet holes. 
Optional Items
  • Super glue: When done properly, these magnets will be in so firmly that you will need real force to pull them out. That is to say, you shouldn't be able to do it unless you intend to do so. 
  • Polar Magnet: Not necessary, but a good, large magnet will allow you to check the polarity of your new magnetic bases. Pick a side, and make sure that all your magnets stick to it.
  • Camera: So you can steal this tutorial, and make it your own, you view-loving whore. 


Step 1. Drill your holes 
This step is as simple as it sounds. Drill holes at a perpendicular line to your plastic base. Repeat as many times as required. Try to keep the drill exactly perpendicular to the base, as this give you a flush finish. Considering doing it into a board or table. 

About the only notable concern here is, (as I'm naughtily not doing in the image above) that you should drill into the rear of the base, rather than the top face. This means that the bit will not penetrate where your magnet will sit, and may mean the magnet will sit just a little more snugly. 

When doing this to both a squad/regiment base and a model's individual base, do the base first, then do the regimental base. For doing this, I suggest using flat bases rather than the raised GW bases. Rendedra produces great flat green bases that are perfect for this purpose.

This is most of the work. IF you want to be very careful, you might consider measuring and accurately defining where your magnets will end up, but I haven't done this as I was basing 15mm vietnam war infantry, who understandably didn't tend to fight in formation. 

Step 2. Clean the base
You've worked with plastics before if you're here, so I don't know why I'm telling you this. Maybe this process is just so simple and I wanted an extra step? Who knows. I'm clearly just a wanker. So, cut away any remaining plastic. IT's worth noting that you should absolutely avoid widening the hole at all when you do this, so be careful and avoid files unless you're using them flat against the surface of the base. 

Step 3.Fit your magnetsThis step is optional. I used my pliers to effectively jam the magnet into place so that when I put them in flush, it was less of a mission. Having a magnetized set of pliers helps here, as the magnet can be attached to the pliers then pressed into the hole. You will not believe how much easier this makes the whole process unless you've worked with magnets before. 

Step 4. Put magnets in flushThis step is the most important, but arguably the most fun. I tried two methods to complete this task. Both worked well enough. The first is to use the butt of your craft knife to gently press the magnet into place, as seen in the image to the left. You should do this until you can rub your thumb across the face of the base and not feel the magnet in place. 

The second method is to use your flat nose pliers to do pretty much the same thing. I found this method quicker as it meant that I didn't have to do the step prior to this one to complete it. It can be a little more difficult to aim with, though. Once again, the facing should be flush. IF you can't run your thumb across it you haven't done it well enough and should repeat the pressing. This is especially important with regimental bases where models that are sitting on top of a magnet will be very noticeable. 

Additional step

Apply superglue lightly over the top, or epoxy putty if you prefer and you're as safe as rain in england in terms of the magnets staying in place. just remember to make sure that they sit flushly! 

If you have any question, comments, critiques or humourous anecdotes, feel free to leave a comment or email me at