Step 1: Prep 'n Prime
All minis have to be prepped for painting. The most basic approach is to take it out of the pack, wash it in warm soapy water to get any oil or mold release agent off of it, and then let it dry. Then, just use a hobby knife to trim off any flash or mold-lines, and then glue it together with your favorite cyanoacrylate glue (e.g., "Super" Glue.) Once it's dry, prime it with your favorite primer coat of spray paint. Most people use grey, white or black, depending on style and preference. I would recommend, though, that you stick with hobby paint; it has a finer grain and dries much smoother than, say, Rustoleum AutoPrimer Grey does. Let the primer dry for a few hours, and you're ready to start. Note that in cold or humid climates, drying time may vary. Here’s what it should look like when it’s primed and ready to paint:
Clan Ghost Bear Alpha Galaxy
Step 2: Base Colors
The GB alpha galaxy colors are mottled grey and blue in a camouflage pattern. The shades are up to the individual, but I prefer to start with a medium grey base. Use a color like Testor’s Light Sea Grey in a spray can, and give your mini a good base coat. Don't try to coat it all at once; you're much better off with two or three coats, sprayed at different angles. Let this dry for 12 hours. Then, pick your color of blue. I prefer a lighter, brighter sort of blue; for this example, it’s Delta Caribbean Blue. Take a mid-sized flat brush, and dip it in your blue. Wipe off about half of it, and start dappling it on the ‘Mech in whatever camouflage pattern you choose. If you dapple it on (i.e., jab the brush bristles first into the mini, rather than using strokes) you'll get nice, fuzzy borders that look similar to an airbrushed effect. Let this dry, and your base coat is done.
Step 3: Wash
To add a bit of depth to the mini, give it a uniform black wash over the entire piece. This will fill in the low-lying areas and add a shadow effect, and will also help blend your blue and grey together more effectively
Step 4: Additional scheme details
This scheme doesn't really have traditional highlight colors, but it does have little "chocolate chip" dots on it. These are white with a black edge. The best way to do these is in two steps. First, use a toothpick or small tip brush, and paint little black dots around the mini. Not too many; it's not like the mini has the measels here! Let the black dry, then using another toothpick or even smaller brush, add a white dot on the black ones, obscuring one edge and leaving the other clear; sort of like how a crescent moon would look, only in reverse.
Step 5: Details
To add some detail, try painting joints and weapons in a metallic color; usually a gun-metal shade, or if you don't have that some silver mixed with a touch of black. Let these dry, and if you used a wash in the first step, give each area you painted metallic a touch of the same. This will help bring out some depth and blend it all together. You can also paint the cockpit in some other color to make it stand out; red is a popular color, but plain black or light blue also work just fine. If you like, you can paint energy weapon ports in some identifying color, as well. While there are no hard and fast rules on this, one popular method is to paint PPC's blue, pulse lasers green, and regular or ER lasers in red. It's up to you, of course! For this piece, I just used plain black to fill in the missile ports, do the cockpit, and fill in the weapon muzzles.
Step 6: Basing
If your mini is on a hex-base, you can make it pop a bit with some terrain. It's easy to do, and quite cheap. All you need is some terrain glue, available at most hobby stores, and some kind of material to act as the ground; either dirt, grass, or a mix of both. Model railroad turf and grass works fine for this. Just paint some of your glue on the base, being careful not to get it on the mini itself. Then dip or sprinkle your terrain of choice on. If you want grass and dirt both, do the dirt first, then the grass. For this mini, the base is made of plumber’s epoxy and shaped with a small rock. It’s painted uniform grey first, to clean up where paint from the mini spilled on it, and then given a black wash to give it some depth. Then, some turf glue was added, and it was dipped in medium grass turf.
Step 7: Sealing
When your mini is completely dry - say, 12 hours after the last time you touched it - spray it down with some Testor's dullcoat. This will help protect it, and also remove any shine your paints might have had and will give it a good, uniform finish.
Extra Details: The above is just the basics and will let you turn out a nice, consistent table-top quality force for your game, but if you want to dress things up a bit, there are lots of things you can try. You can try jewelling the cockpit and weapons ports, for example, and there is an excellent tutorial right here on CSO from our own Ross “Savage Coyote” Hines on this very topic that will show you how to do it effectively and with surprising ease. Also, some decals don't hurt to give your mini some extra zip, as well as help identify who's who on the gaming table. FPG has a full line of high-quality, inexpensive decals ranging from the most basic faction insignia to individual numbers, warning stripes/signs, and unit crests…they even do custom designs for a reasonable fee. Finally, some 'Mechs have visible external antenna. Again, CSO has some good tutorials about how to add those to a mini. If you know your mini should have them, try it out; it's a cheap investment (a pinvice and some material to make the antenna with), and can add some great detail to your mini.