To clean the figure, use a sharp x-acto to carefully cut away any large mold lines and flash; cut away from yourself to avoid injury! You can also use the blade to scrape away the lines by running it gently down the line; this works fine for simple mold lines, like those on folds of clothing.
But for more tricky lines (such as on hair or chainmail) or to smooth out the ones youve almost gotten with the x-acto, use needle files. These are 3-4" long miniature metal files, usually sold in plastic sleeves and in assorted shapes. Gently run your file across the mold line to feather it into the surrounding metal. I find its best to use a half-round or round-shaped file when smoothing lines, as only a small area of the file will touch the figure, unlike a flat file, which files the entire area it touches. If necessary, use the files tip to get mold lines and flash in intricately-detailed areas (like strands of hair). Work gently when using files, though, as a few overexuberant swipes can accidentally wipe out texture or detail.
I personally hate cleaning miniatures, but nothing looks worse than a well-painted figure with a heavy mold line running down the side! But if youre just painting to have some fun and get a PC for day-to-day gaming use, you dont have to be this fussy.
You may need to assemble figures with multiple parts, or ones which attach to a slotted plastic base, before primering them. Use your judgment here, as some miniatures are better painted as separate pieces and then assembled at the end. If you choose to do that, paint the figure as outlined in the Painting section below, then put it together using a clear 5-minute epoxy. Some people recommend crazy glue for this, but a good 5-min epoxy works much better, as well as providing a bullet-proof bond.
But for figures youll need to assemble first (say a dragon): take a minute to examine the pieces and see how they fit together. If need be, trim the parts with the x-acto and files to make them fit better. You can glue them in place right now, but for heavy parts that need extra support (such as the dragons wings), I recommend you pin them before gluing.
Pining is a simple technique: a piece of brass tubing is inserted between the two parts and glued in place (you can use snipped paper clip pieces if you cant find brass), providing a stronger bond as well as support for the heavy part.
Taking the example of a dragon miniature, if you need to assemble one wing to the body: after checking the fit of the parts, use a pin-vise (with drill bit) to drill a 1/4" deep hole in the tab on the wing that fits into the corresponding slot in the body. Snip off a 1/2" or so of brass tubing and test-fit it in the hole (you may need to use longer or thicker tubing, depending on how heavy the part you're supporting is). Buy brass tubing thats a little thinner than the drill bit you plan to use; thisll leave room for the epoxy to fill around the pin in the hole. Paint some bright paint on the end of the pin, then push the wing into the slot quickly (about where its supposed to fit). Drill the resulting paint spot in the slot and youll have the matching hole for the pin in the wing.
|When drilling hard pewter minis, you may have to use some cutting oil on the drill bit to ease the drilling: a little 3-in-1 Oil or WD-40 on the drill bit periodically helps a lot, especially if you're using a Dremel Mototool for your drilling. However, be sure to wash the mini with dish detergent afterwards to get rid of the oily film on the metal, or it'll make the primer adhere poorly.|
Next, use a toothpick to mix up some 5-min epoxy on a piece of scrap cardboard; clear epoxy is fine for smaller jobs, but for the best bond, I use a 5-min epoxy made for metal, like J&B Weld or Duro Master Mend. They form a gray semi-paste that has a high enough viscosity for you to apply them precisely and mold them a little as they dry. Apply a small amount in each hole with a toothpick and press the tubing bit into the wing tab; spread more on the tab itself and corresponding slot in the body. You can use the epoxy to fill in minor gaps this way, but dont use too much, or youll be cleaning up all the epoxy oozing out between the two parts.
Press the wing w/pin into the hole in the slot, smooth the epoxy with a toothpick a little and hold the parts together until they set. For larger parts, you can use rubbers bands or tape to hold them together while they set.