How to Paint Details Using Acrylic Painting Techniques

Written by alexis rohlin
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How to Paint Details Using Acrylic Painting Techniques
Painting details on models takes patience and time. (miniature model army image by Jon Barnes from

Painting details on miniature models requires patience and an artistic eye. Acrylic paints are easy to use. They clean up more easily than oil paints and dry faster as well. Painting details incorporates several different techniques that include dry brushing, shading, glossing, and ink washing. Another technique for adding character to a model is applying steel wool or knives to create a distressed, worn look on the paint. A final layer of gloss is added to create shining metal weapons and new-looking armour.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Acrylic primer spray
  • Gold or metallic acrylic paint
  • Old toothbrush
  • Steel wool
  • Acrylic paint set
  • Fine detail brushes
  • Ink wash
  • Clear coat finishing varnish or gloss
  • Paint colour wheel or chart
  • Small pen knife

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  1. 1

    Prime the model by spraying an even coat of primer onto it, taking care to cover all of its surfaces. Let the primer dry.

  2. 2

    Paint all of the solid areas of the model. This is called the colour blocking technique.

  3. 3

    Paint each solid section with different tones and colours to create depth and dimension. By changing the shades as you paint, you can create shadows in nooks and crannies of the model to give them striking detail. Use a colour wheel to help you made a slowly changing colour gradient to help accentuate the curves on the model.

  4. 4

    Highlight the details by adding colour contrast.This is done by darkening shadowed areas of the model and highlighting reflective surfaces. Choose lighter versions of the colours you have used to block paint as well as brighter colour tones; paint the top surfaces of the model with a small detailing paint brush. Paint all edges with a darker shade of the colour you used to paint the block areas. Take a dry brush and rub a gold or metallic pigment over elevated areas to make reflections.

  5. 5

    To make details on the model look weathered or worn in areas take a small piece of steel wool and randomly scratch it over the surface that you wish to look worn. Gouge areas with a small pen knife for added affect.

  6. 6

    Take a dry brush and dip it in ink wash. Blot it on the model to create areas that look dirty. If you wish dip an old toothbrush into paint and drag your thumb over it to get the bristles to splatter paint onto it to make "fly specks".

  7. 7

    Finish the model by painting a layer of clear coat varnish, or brush it with a gloss to make it look wet and give its detail a brilliant shine.

Tips and warnings

  • Thin out your paints before you use them to make adding layers of different shades when you are making a colour gradient on your model easy.
  • Wash all spilt paint right away; acrylic paints will stain clothing and carpets if left to dry.

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