Sunday, 11 March 2012

Tutorial: Making FoW painting much, much easier

Greetings all, as some of you may know I have been recently corrupted to the painting of teeny tiny world war 2 soldiers in the form of Flames of War:

This has been largely the result of too many war films in my youth (and particularly The Longest Day a film so cool that Sean Connery is relegated to a walk-on part!) and some gentle prodding from Dice Jesus (Gareth from It's Game Over Man). I've settled on British paratroopers for my first army, with a Canadian armoured regiment to have some easy-to-paint Sherman's amongst all those flaming Denison Smocks. I've talked about painting these guys here, but am today going to talk about a device I've developed to make painting these tiny, tiny critters easier.

Alright, I'm sure that many of you are now thinking "Yes Jeff, that's a dowel pin, perhaps you are a little behind on your meds?" but stick with me! The problem when painting these 15mm figures is that if they are stuck to the base you can't get your brush into all the details. If they aren't stuck to the base then you can't hold on to them. I tried painting them double-sided sticky taped onto a card base but that got unwieldy. So after some thought the following idea dawned.

A short, fat peg (an 8mm dowel pin, perfect for my chunky fingers to hold) with a magnet glued to the base. Dowels are as cheap as chips. I got 50 of them for a couple of quid. The magnets are a bit more expensive but are invaluable as you will see later.

And voila! We have an FoW painting stick. The magnet keeps the top-heavy affair from falling over when you aren't painting it. Now, attaching the miniature is the tricksy bit. You can use blue-tac but it tends to flex away when drybrushing or release when it gets dry. Like for instance when you have stuck it to an absorbant wooden dowel... Double-sided sticky will work but is fiddly to get a piece to stick to the top of the dowel. Superglue will work but is the devil itself to remove and you risk damaging your model and/or your paint job removing it. The solution?

Used to be called "be still my Art". Why oh why did they change it?

This stuff is used in museums to hold their priceless artifacts to their pedestals and by people in earthquake-prone areas to stop their posessions imitating lemmings every time the ground shivers. Essentially it is a very low temperature melt wax - body temperature in fact. This means you can get a little piece. Roll it in your fingers until it is soft and squishy. Place it on the shelf, stick, pedestal, whatever and then quickly press the model into the wax. As it cools it grips.

You only need a tiny, tiny piece of wax for each model so the smallest 13oz tub is enough for years of painting! The larger tubs are big enough to bath a baby in so caveat emptor folks! Shop around as the cost of this varies considerably. I got it from a preservation supplies shop online so that's a good starting point. Americans should have much, much less trouble getting it as it is sold as QuakeHold over there. The best part is that at the end of painting a light twist-and-pull motion releases the wax's hold and frees your model. It is reusable too although you may need to add more from time to time.

use a steel ruler to arrange your painting project on

So for not a lot of dosh and in no time at all I made my painting life considerably easier. I'll be using these waxy-magnety-sticks for all sorts - cavalry riders, shields, heads, you name it. That's all for today folks. Happy painting.



  1. Amazing! If i ever start playing FoW i will use this trick!

  2. My group of FOW painters (as well as other periods) use a trick very similar to this except they use nails and poster tack (aka blue tac). Same general principle except that a block of wood is drilled with holes a bit larger in diameter to the nails to hold the nails upright during the process.
    This is not a trick that I use. Instead I will use PVA and mount 6 - 8 minis on a jumbo popsicle stick. I find that this cuts down on the amount of time spent picking up individual figures whether they are mounted on your dowels or on our nails.

  3. Nice idea jeff, really good use of materials, will be great to try this out. May look into it more.