Balasar Biri is waiting for you.
In our latest RPG adventure, Wilorin’s Tower, the evil wizard is the final foe you’ll face, and we included a miniature of him in the latest DungeonCrate.
We went through Reaper’s extensive catalog of miniatures to pick Satheras, a wizard miniature that’s just what we had in mind when we created the adventure.
Satheras is a human wizard clutching a scroll in one hand and a magic staff in another. The miniature is cast in Reaper’s white plastic Bones line, and though it’ll look just fine on your game table as-is, we painted him up (and took lots of pictures).
We wrote this blog with novice painters in mind, and did a very simple process of a base coat, highlights and wash to make him ready for the tabletop. He’ll look great when we play Wilorin’s Tower again, or whenever we might need a bad-looking wizard for any other D&D or Pathfinder session.
Follow along with our step-by-step instructions.
First, I scrubbed him with a toothbrush and dish soap to clean off any mold release, which can stick to the miniature and make it hard to paint. Then I rinsed the miniature and let him air dry completely.
Then I picked out our paints. The character of Balasar is wearing dark blue robes, so I picked a color scheme based off that. I chose Cygnar Blue Base for the largest part of his cloak and Trollblood base, a lighter blue/green for the next largest area.
I use a variety of paint brands, but prefer P3 from Privateer Press. Painting newbies: Use whatever kind of acrylic paint you want, but we highly recommend using miniature paints. They’re already thinned down to the right consistency. Your friendly local game shop should sell a wide variety.
I blocked out all the basic colors starting with the “lowest” layer and working up. What do I mean by that? I did the skin first then moved up to the next layer, which was his shirt and pants. Then what I’m calling the “under cloak” then the top cloak layer. I did the staff last.
Have a look at the base coat:
Here are the paint colors I used for each section:
● Pants and shirt: Hammerfall Khaki
● Scrolls: Bone White
● Cloak: Cygnar Blue Base
● Under cloak: Trollblood Base
● Staff: Skorne Red for the stones, Gunmetal for the ironwork and a light brown (the label wore off and I don’t know what it’s called) for the wood
● Boots, belt, satchel: Bootstrap Leather
● Face, hands: Midlund Flesh
Next up, I did the highlights.
On this step, you’re going to shade the miniature by making the dark recesses of the miniature (folds in clothing, etc.) even darker.
I like to shade using washes. A wash is basically a very, very thin paint or ink that will flow into those dark recesses and make them more noticeable. I usually buy washes (Citadel’s Nuln Oil is the best black wash around, but P3’s is pretty decent), but you can make them yourself by taking a paint color and thinning it way down with water. Standard way to make a wash is with 1-part paint and 6 to 8 parts water or matte medium (or a mixture of both). It should be really thin.
In this step, you’re going to use your paintbrush more like a sponge. Hold your miniature horizontal, then load up your paint with the wash and dab it into those cracks and crevices.
This is what the mini looked like after the base coat:
Compare to the previous photo, and you can see he looks a little darker. You can pick out the buttons on his undercloak, more detail in the staff and the folds of his pants and shirt and the dark spaces between his fingers.
You can use a black wash all over the miniature for a general dark and gritty shading OR you can do colored washes specific to each area of your base coat.
I did colored washes. This is what I used:
● Face and hands: Flesh Wash from P3
● Cloak and Undercloak: Blue Ink from P3
● Boots, pants, shirt and staff: Flesh Wash from P3
In this step, you’re coloring the raised edges of the miniature to give them highlights.
This is the step that really makes the miniature pop.
Same as before, you’ll paint the miniature section-by-section. I always start with the lowest layer and work my way up, just like in the base coat step.
In short, you’re going to paint the highest peaks of the miniature with a color that’s a step or two lighter than the base coat.
On this miniature, I did the highlights by dry brushing. It’s really easy!
How do you drybrush? I get a little of the highlight paint on my brush and make several strokes on a paper towel until you can’t really see much paint coming off. (Don’t worry, there’s still paint on there. Just a little bit, which is exactly what you need.) Last, you brush the paint across the raised parts of the section you’re working on.
This is what he looked like after highlights:
You can especially see the highlighting on the cloak folds and on the undercloak on the back.
I used mostly P3 paints on the miniature for one big reason: They make paint colors that have matching base coats and highlights. That means no mixing paints for the perfect highlight color. For the cloak areas painted with Cygnar Blue Base, I dry brushed them with Cygnar Blue Highlight.
But you can mix your own highlights. The easiest way is to mix a tiny bit of white into your base coat color.
Nicely done on the paint job!
Now there’s only a few things left to do: Detailing, basing and coating.
This mini doesn’t have a ton of details, but I did add some “magic” writing in a bright blue to the scroll he’s clutching. I also put some extra washing on his belt and pouches to make them pop a bit more.
I also painted the base of the miniature with matte black. And though he’ll stand up on his own just fine, I wanted him to match my other miniatures and used some superglue to attach him to a black plastic base.
Last of all is sealing the paint job.
You want it to stay pretty, right? Yeah, you do. I use a matte varnish from Vallejo sprayed through my airbrush, but I also recommend Testor’s Dullcote from a spray can. Whatever you use, you want a matte, not glossy, finish. Otherwise, he’ll look all shiny, which would be weird.
Anyway, this last step will protect your paint job for years to come. It’s also easy: Spray your mini. Let him dry.
There he is. Balasar Biri, the evil blue wizard.
Nice work! And happy gaming!