Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cost-Effective Free-Hand Painting Made Easy

After posting the last photos of my Death Wing Army, I realized how ... well they lacked chapter markings. I hate transfers because it is often quite easy to spot a transfer and my brush skill are not tight enought to draw those kind of details.
I had searched far and wide for a brush pen set that wouldn't break my wallet, but it seemed impossible and the fancy $5.00 colored markers I bought in the past scratched more paint off the model than they put on it.
Well, all that ended when I took a trip to Michael's craft store today and found Faber-Castell artist pens. I was sceptical at first, but decided to buy the Sepia pen set, which includes a wide variety of pens for drawing to various degrees of detail. I chose Sepia because it looks more realistic than black when it comes to writing on purity seals and banners and such.
For color, I picked up a pack of Faber-Castell PITT Basic artist pens. They came in a color range including yellow, red, orange, purple, blue and green. I figured I could make a go of this and brought them immediatley back to the modelling bench.
The best part is that you can pick these same pens up for about $12.29 at Michaels or on the Web.
Now, here is where it can get dicey for some; I freehand draw on my models and did so to acheive the chapter symbols in the photos. As you can see, it is not perfect and some follow up work is sometimes necessary, but on the table-top it already looks more impressive than it did. Freehand is always an option, but a mistake can involve some serious re-painting.
The way to overcome this is to take an ordinary lead pencil and carefully draw the symbol wherever it needs to be. Once you are satisfied, take the pens and carefully color the symbol, paying special attention to stay inside the lines.
As always, feel free to comment and share ways that you have overcome the hatred of transfers, products you have found or links to tutorials for freehand painting or budget painting solutions!


  1. Up close, they might need some touch-up, but all in all I have to say I like the effect for table-top models. I've briefly pondered the idea of drawing it on, but got out of marines before I made any kind of decision on the iconography.

    Good to see there's a cost-effective solution.

  2. Don't be afraid of transfers! There are two "tricks" that make transfers invisible to the naked eye:

    1. Transfers require a glossy surface. You can paint this on one particular area (like a shoulder pad) or spray the entire model.
    2. Use a decal solvent. Both Testors and Microsol make products that soften the decal and make it conform to curved or textured surfaces.

  3. It is not so much the matter of making the transfer conform, it is the fact that you can see that glossy material around the logo after it has been put on.

  4. Just put a coat of matt varnish over the decal once it is completely dry and the glossy material disappears.