Speed Painting -- Gen Con So Cal 2004 -- Skeleton

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After demonstrating speed-painting for the Talbot the Thief miniature, I presented a series of photos of speed-painting a skeleton miniature.

Materials Needed:

   After prepping and cleaning the mini (Reaper #2015, Skeleton), I inspected it to get a sense of its details what sort of colors it might need. Fortunately this is a simple mini, even more simple than Talbot. It's a skeleton with no armor, carrying a sword and a round shield. All I'm going to have to deal with are bones and metal. In the interest of speed-painting, that means I'm dealing with shades of light brown and metal.
   I don't want to have to paint in all the gaps between the bones, so I should prime this mini with a dark color so I can drybrush over it with the bone colors. I've found that black is a bit too stark on skeleton minis -- when looking at a skeleton, you don't see any absolute black areas between the bones, it's all shadows on bone color, which are mid- to dark-brown -- so I'm going to use brown primer on the skeleton. A couple of quick coats to get even coverage and we're set.
   The next step is to drybrush the mini with a tan color to highlight all the bones. I can be sloppy here, as I'm going to paint the sword and shield last. I want to be thorough and make sure I hit all of the bones because otherwise the skeleton is mostly brown and doesn't look much like a skeleton. Fortunately, skeletons are really easy to drybrush ... just a few seconds and you're done. The tan color gives the skeletons a nice medium tone ... not the dark brown of the primer and not a glaring white of bleached bone, but perfectly suitable for a skeleton that was buried in the earth and later animated.
   Next is another drybrush, this time using a much lighter color (an off-white) and a lighter touch. If I were painting a very detailed skeleton I might follow up with an actual white drybrush in some parts, but we're going for speed here, and too much white makes the skeleton look like a cartoon, so the off-white is the best choice for this purpose. If you don't have a suitable off-white, add some white paint to your tan to lighten it up. You want to be more careful with this drybrush, as adding too much of this lighter color will cover up your first drybrush ... just make sure that almost all of the paint is off the brush before you even bring it near the mini. If it looks like there's no paint on the brush at all, and brushing it on your paper towel doesn't show any paint, that's fine ... that means there should be just enough paint on the brush to hit the places we want to highlight, and you can always go over it a second time if there really wasn't enough paint. As with the first drybrush, we don't care if the sword and shield get painted at this point, we're just going to paint over them.
   The last painting step is the metal bits. Use the medium brush (you don't need a small brush because there aren't any small details, and as long as you're not sloppy with the medium brush you don't have anything to worry about). A quick coat of silver metallic paint on the sword and shield covers up the excess drybrushing and finishes the paint job. If you were feeling ambitious you could drybrush a lighter metallic on the shield and the edge of the blade, or add some brown spots and a brown ink wash to simulate rust, but for cranking out a bunch of skeleton minis you don't have to deal with that if you don't want to. Note in this photo I missed painting along the rim of the shield; oh, well! Give it a couple minutes to dry, then spray or dip the mini with sealant. Let the sealant dry and you're finished.
   Here's the final mini, scaled down to about the size it would look on the tabletop. You can't tell it was painted in a hurry, and even if you move in a little closer (see the previous photo) you're likely to miss that it's a quick paint job.

As I mentioned in the Talbot article, I painted this guy along with four Talbot minis in an hour, and most of that time was on the twice-as-many-steps Talbot figure. You could easily do 8 or more skeleton minis like this in an hour while watching TV ... just do each stage for each mini (first drybrush on all, then second drybrush on all, etc.) and by the time you finish the 8th the 1st is ready for the next step. They won't win any awards, but they're perfectly suitable for play and look better than raw metal on the table.