Clan Wolf Grey (an all-around utilitarian scheme used by all Wolf Galaxies)
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 regardless of color, you stick with hobby paint; it has a finer grain and dries much smoother than, say, Rustoleum AutoPrimer Grey does. For this mini, since it’s grey anyway, I used Model Master Light Sea Grey…a good choice not only because it’s a nice light color, but it also comes in a matching acrylic bottle, which is great for later touch-ups. Let the primer dry for a few hours, and you’ve knocked out two steps in one: it’s primed, and the base color is applied. Note that in cold or humid climates, drying time for spray paint may vary. Here’s what it should look like when it’s primed and ready to add details:
Step 2: Wash
Since the Wolves use plain, unadorned grey as a sort of catch-all scheme, this mini doesn’t have any secondary colors. To make the grey pop, though, you’ll need to add a wash. A wash is generally a darker tone of the base color, so for this mini, a black wash works just fine. I prefer GW’s Badab Black, but feel free to use whatever you like.
Step 3: Highlights
You’ll notice how the wash brings out the depth and details in this mini. That’s half the process of getting the mini to look less like a tiny miniature, and more like a giant war machine. The second step is highlighting. Where washing adds depth by filling in low-lying areas, crevices and pits with a darker color, highlighting adds a lighter color to raised surfaces. For this mini, I just dry-brushed a bit of the base color mixed with white all over the mini with a medium-sized (the brush head is about the size of your pinky fingernail), stiff bristle brush. Be sure to drag the perpendicular to the edges, ridges, and raised areas. For example, on the gun-pods on the arms, don’t brush from the tip to the elbow; brush the other way, across the arm on all sides. Just keep adding more paint as you need it, but remember to wipe almost all of it off on a paper towel or other cloth; it’s dry brushing, after all, not wet brushing! Notice how it brings out the details, even the small scallops around the cockpit.
Step 4: 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 wanted to keep it simple, so I just used plain black to fill in the cockpit, and to fill in the weapon muzzles. The joints are metallicized, as are the gun-barrel tips.
Step 5: Missiles.
Everyone hates painting missiles, and I’m no different. But, here’s a way to do them that might ease the pain. Rather than paint each one singularly, you can do what I call the “square” method. Using a small brush that’s about as wide as the missiles are long, just drag it across a row of missiles at a time, one side at a time. For example, on the top row of missiles, drag the brush across the top. Then do the same on the left most set, then the bottom, then the right. Then do the same thing, only on the inside of each row. Keep doing that with each row, and in no time they’ll be painted. The key to success with this is to have the right sized brush (no wider than the missiles are long), and to have your paint thick enough not to run, but not so thick that it won’t lay smoothly. Takes a bit of practice, but you can master it fairly quickly. For this mini (and frankly, for darn near all of mine) I use plain white missiles.
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, I used a standard flat topped hex base. I painted it with glue, dipped it in mixed ballast for the “dirt”, and then after it dried I spot-painted in more glue and added some static grass.
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. For example, here’s what a few decals and some jewelling can add to an otherwise simple mini.