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The Tiger Roars 
Guest Commentary

“Dipping” for Space Marines by Brian Galley
“Dipping” miniatures is a technique that has been around awhile in the historical gaming community. While there are several webpages devoted to this painting method, I haven’t seen one concerning my favorite minis: Space Marines. For those of you who have never heard of this technique, it involves using MinWax Polyshades. These products are polyurethane shades intended for use as a wood finish, but they work wonders on miniatures. However, before you run out to get some, make sure you get the right stuff. 

Polyshades come in two types of finishes: gloss and satin. Most people don’t like glossy minis, so you’ll probably want to get a satin shade. Be advised though, that satin finishes are not dull. You’ll have to apply a matte finish if the results are too shiny for your tastes. 

Choosing the right shade is the next step. Many of the proponents of this technique like the Tudor shade, which is nearly black. However, few U.S. hardware stores have Tudor in stock, so you’ll have to special-order it. I purchased small cans of Antique Walnut (medium brown) and Bombay Mahogany (dark red) at Wal-Mart; those who live where there isn’t a Walnut will probably have to find alternate products and retailers.

For the purpose of this article, I painted up a Space Marine Scout in my chapter’s livery. As is my preference, minimal highlights were applied only to the darker colors. Here are some pictures of the mini, prior to application of the Polyshades:

Space Marine Scout before...

The original method of applying Polyshades was by dipping (hence the name of the process) an entire miniature in a can of this stuff and shaking off the excess. I haven’t tried this method because it seems like it the results would be sloppy and leave quite a mess. Instead I use an alternate method, and “paint” the finish on with a nylon brush.

Carefully apply enough to leave a discernable stain, yet not so much as to conceal the paint underneath. Probably the biggest reason I prefer the brush method is better control. You can apply exactly as much of the shade exactly where you want it. 

For my scout, I used Bombay Mahogany on the red portions of the armor, and Antique Walnut on the rest of the figure. Below are pictures of the finished mini, without flocking. Under normal lighting, the satin finish doesn’t look as shiny as it looks in the pictures, but without the bright lights, I can’t show any detail.

...and after


“Dipping” certainly isn’t for everyone, and probably won’t help you win a painting contest. But if you’re looking for an expedient method for adding plenty of depth and protection to your minis, Polyshades are hard to beat, and clean up is easy with a little jar of mineral spirits too. As with any chemical agent, children should not be allowed to use this stuff unsupervised. 

Hopefully, this article will help other players to get decent-looking armies onto the tabletop, and I hope to see you out there.
 

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© copyright Brian Galley, July 2004. Used with permission.

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Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle