Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Painting the Dead - Dave's tips for bringing some colour to Mantic's "All Out War" miniatures

So you have a beautifully laid out table with vibrant, mood enhancing scenery on your gorgeously detailed play mat.... And a bunch of grey plastic minis bringing the whole ensemble down! Well fear not, as with just a few helpful hints you can bring the cast of the Walking Dead to life on your tabletop! In this article I will take you through a few processes and techniques I use when slapping the paint on these excellent miniatures.

Truth be told, I was not a fan of Mantic's miniatures output until this game arrived. AOW figures are some of the best plastics on the market, certainly giving the top games (i.e. Imperial Assault, Mansions of Madness) a run for their money. In many ways they are the perfect miniatures for beginners: they are unfussy, without any fiddly details, and slightly over-proportioned to give an exaggerated size effect.

According to the Mantic boys at Salute a couple of years ago, this was a deliberate choice; to make sturdy, functional models that also look great. "Regular" proportioned 28mm models would be flimsy and less defined in this plastic. The result is playing pieces that look great as part of a board-style tabletop game, but also lend themselves extremely well to painting.

The first part of the painting process is the undercoat. Several bad experiences with resin and plastic minis (and that damned difficult-to-shift release agent) have led me to a greater use of spray can undercoating over the past few years. As with many of my paints, I don't believe that cost is necessarily an indicator of quality or value when it comes to spray cans. Be aware of high priced hobby companies chucking out 15 quid sprays to their captive gamer audience!

D.I.Y. stores will have ranges of household touch-up paints, or even car sprays that will do the job! My current choice is Wilko's own brand hobby spray, available for about a fiver each, and in a decent range of colours and finishes. For these minis I use a white primer paint. I find white is easier to cover than black, and it's easier to darken a base coat than lighten it. Make light, even passes with the spray to avoid overdoing it. Too thick a layer can obscure the details. With a little practise you will get to know the right level.

After the undercoat I give the models a wash of thin black paint or a black tone/ink. "Tones" are quite widely available these days from various companies. They do what we were promised inks would do when we first started out many moons ago: Run into the recesses on the model to give you instant shading and bring out the details (instead inks just seemed to darken the whole colour and mean more work!) Once this is dry the main body of the work begins. As far as paints go, I don't stick to one manufacturer.

I have a mixture of Army Painter, Coat d'Arms, Vallejo, Revell,and some very old and very new GWs, as well as other odd bits and bobs from over the years. I like to get value for money, and as long as I can get the colour I want why pay more? I would suggest shopping around, find the colours you need, or a starter set for a bargain variety, and compare prices and pot volumes! (This can be very deceptive at times, look closely!)

Deciding on the colour scheme for your models can be as difficult as actually painting them at times. There are plenty of reference points for the main characters, starting with the game rulebooks (if in doubt, copy it out!) and of course the TV version of The Walking Dead. An internet search comes up with handy pictures of most characters. Sadly the comics themselves aren't the best source, being black and white (although I will give that a go soon...) and even the cover art tends towards a muted colour palette.

Certain models will be obvious, the waitress walker for instance, but others may take a little inspiration to get looking good. I tend to have a bunch of standard colours: a handy blue for denim, and mid grey and brown for trousers. Not being the best of artists I tend to avoid adding any but the simplest designs to t-shirts or patterns to dresses, shirts etc. If you can pull it off, these can be some of your best looking models so don't be afraid to experiment. You can always go back over it! I find military greens and olives work well for civilian clothes to give your characters and walkers a gritty feel.

Flesh is probably the most important feature of your minis. "Bases and faces" is an old motto, if you get these parts right it can draw the eye from other less interesting features. I tend to use the same colours for most of my figures, but skin tones can vary greatly. I have a "Flesh" or "Bronzed Flesh" for caucasian characters, but a "Linen" paint will give a paler complexion. To give the Governor a more Mexican feel I used "Snakebite Leather" ("Barbarian Leather") as a base coat and highlighted up. All of these can be inked with a "Flesh" wash.

I have two pots of old school GW ink, as I find it to be superior to any other I've tried. For darker flesh tones I use the leather with a dark brown wash for Indian/South Asian skin, and a really nice dark brown from Coat d'Arms called "Negro" for African/ Carribbean/ African American tones. Varying the inks and highlight colours can give you a wide range of flesh colours and keeps your paint jobs interesting! Walker skin tones are a different matter.

My preferred approach is the Romero style blue/green/yellow and occasionally grey shades, but as this is TWD, I tried some different types to look more like the TV walkers. Another old-school GW paint came into play; "Ghoul Grey", a greenish grey colour was perfect (Revell's "Olive Grey" is a very close match). Add deep lines with a wash of Army Painter Dark or Strong Tone (Strong gives really deep lines and definition, Dark gives you a dirtier feel). Pick out the highlights with the base colour, with a slightly lighter highlight if you want extra detail, and you're done!

At the other end, bases are a bit of a quandry. With many miniatures games you have a single terrain type to play on, but the AOW maps include grass, tarmac and indoor flooring. I went for an outdoors combo, some on the blackstuff and others with grass bases or a mixture of both! Grass is a basic grass green paint with a solid coating of flock applied over a good covering of PVA glue. I used quite a bright shade of flock to keep up the comic-style theme.

The tarmac look is just a dark grey base coat (Coat d'Arms "Panzer Grey") stippled with a couple of lighter grey shades. Leave darker areas around the feet of the models for a bit of a shadow effect. White lines are added freehand, I go for a width about the same as the models shoes, lines can be as long as you like, entering or leaving the stand or right across. Keep it interesting! I finish all my bases with a ring of Panzer Grey round the side to keep a consistent look.

Lastly a word about blood... It's a matter of personal choice, but I find the "less-is-more" approach works best. Plastering gore all over the place can spoil a decent paint job (but could disguise a rubbish one...) And apart from fresh spurting blood or low budget horror movies, bright scarlet red is not the right colour! Darkening down always looks better, I add black to a darker red paint, plus some red ink for flow. The older or dirtier the blood, the darker you can get.

Hope this article is helpful, painting should always be something you enjoy and not a chore! With a little practice your tabletop should soon be springing to life! Or preferably to un-death.


By day, David Mustill is a Human Workhorse for a chemical company. Naturally, every possible moment away from this existence is spent gaming and painting miniatures.

A steady diet of rock, metal, punk, comics, gaming, miniatures and genre movies has moulded David into a renaissance geek, for whom no gaming company or genre is too obscure, and no graphic novel is unreadable.

He is currently the Chairman of Milton Hundred Wargames Club, which affords him the privilege of running the Broadside Games Show. He will not let you down. Unless you're after selfies. He is rubbish at selfies...



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