Speed Painting 15mm ACW

Since last Saturday, I have finished painting, basing and sealing 206 15mm Battle Honors ACW infantry. Here’s how:

  1. First, my wife and children went out of town. 😉 You may not be able to do this, but the other tips really do help!
  2. Miracle Dip: I estimate that this technique more than doubles my painting speed! I painted 9 figures at a time with the colors lined up and ready to go. I only painted basic colors, and let the Miracle Dip do a nice shading job (I have a theory that shading doesn’t need to be perfect. Absence of shading is so unnatural that it really stands out to our brain, but the presence of shading even if it’s not where it should be looks correct to our brain).
  3. Using paint as glue: I have usually textured my bases, painted several shades of paint, and then flocked it. This took almost as long as painting the figure in some cases! For these, I kept two small cups of two slightly different colors of flock. I painted the bases a dark green, then while the paint was still wet, dipped about half the base in each color flock. Viola! To add a little variety, I put a small drop of Elmer’s (PVA) glue in a spot or two, and dropped a small rock (Woodland Scenics’ ballast) onto the drop. By slightly pushing the rock down in the glue, it expanded naturally around it, and then I dipped the spot with the rock back in the flock, getting a nicely flocked contoured around the rock.
  4. Assembly Line Painting: I’m not the type of guy who can paint the shoes on 100 figures before moving on to the next body part! However, I do find it helpful to paint on several at a time. I Elmer’s glue 9 figures to a craft stick (tongue depressor). Once dry, I prime them and stick them on top of a paint bottle I’m not using. This makes a nifty handle, and keeps several where I can paint them easily. When painting the Union troops, which were very uniform in color, I painted two sticks together, alternating between the two.
  5. Painting Irregulars: I painted the CSA troops very irregularly, which always takes longer. I painted 9 at a time, and among that 9, tended to keep fairly regular. I would pick an odd color paint and paint several pants, shirts, and hats in that color. However, on the next 9, I wouldn’t use that color at all. Thus, each group being painted wasn’t that irregular, but the army overall was.
  6. Go slow: Believe it or not, I actually got more done by painting slowly. I iron manned my first four sticks of CSA in about four hours, and by the time I was done, I was burned out and actually shaking a bit, even the next day. After that, I took things more leisurely. I always stopped and rested a bit between sticks, a natural break point. This allowed me to maintain my interest, my physical shape and my sanity.

Take a look at my figures in the ACW Gallery. Not bad for a week’s worth of work! Now, just the cavalry and artillery…I figure another week or two on that. My family will be back on Wednesday, so I expect my productivity to drop precipitously!

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3 Responses to “Speed Painting 15mm ACW”

  1. Sgt. Slag Says:

    I’ve been preaching the DIP technique for a couple of years now. Thanks for joining the ranks of the DIP’ers!
    Your figures look very nice, up close! For these being 15mm scale, and used for gaming, at arm’s length, they are very nice. I appreciate your article: I just posted a suggestion to Bill Armintrout, Editor of The Miniatures Page, asking him to run a poll on painters, as to what quality everyone strives for, or paints at. Your posting on TMP was very timely. Cheers!

  2. Andy Cowell Says:

    I think they look better in the flesh than in my amateur photography, too. 😉 I’m definitely sold on the Miracle Dip technique…do a search for dip on the site and you’ll see a few other articles on it, including some step-by-step photographs.

  3. Mark White Says:

    Sounds simple,but what is ‘miracle dip’?Seen this term before but never seems to have an explanation.Can this be used on 25/28mm figs with same effect?

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