Using my external mixing, syphon fed airbrush, I spray black polyurethane primer in thin layers using a sweeping motion from around 8-12” with about 40 psi (3 bars) of pressure (this may depend on your airbrush). As with an aerosol spray, it’s best to start the spray pointing past the miniature and then sweep across it and finish the movement beyond the miniature again. This action will give a more even coat. After a couple of thin coats all over, I shorten the distance and direct the spray more specifically at the places I’ve missed but still try to use a sweeping motion to keep the layers even.
If after this I still have some gaps but I’m in danger of making the undercoat too thick, then I use a brush and some slightly thinned primer. This may not be necessary, however, because I can cover small gaps with my pre-highlighting.
This is also known as pre-shading, zenithal highlighting and colour modulation, however, I prefer the term pre-highlighting as this best describes the process I use. Zenithal highlighting and colour modulation could be done without an airbrush. Though most people aiming for this effect tend to use a spray of some kind as a guide, some just shine a light on the miniature as they paint. I like this style of painting as it creates a more natural and realistic look and opens up the possibility of more dramatic effects and atmosphere whilst still picking out the volumes and detail on the miniature. I’m not a fan of Tron miniatures; painted in flat colour with everything outlined with a thin ‘highlight’ no matter whether it’s facing up or down.
Using my internal mixing, gravity fed airbrush and about 30 psi (2 bars) of pressure (again, check your airbrush’s operating pressure), I spray a dark blue-grey over most of the figure by spraying from every direction apart from underneath. I then empty out most of the leftover grey and mix yellow and a little white with the residue. I spray this from around a circle encircling the top of the miniature. I then empty and clean the colour cup and add a mix of hust yellow and white. I then spray this from a smaller circle around the top of the miniature. Finally, I clean the cup again and spray pure white from one point using a pressure of about 20 psi (1 bar) and reducing the distance considerably, at what will be the focal point of the miniature, in this case, the head and shoulders.
If the miniature were to have one predominant colour, then I would replace the neutral green with that colour.
As the base is going to be painted like lava, I want to produce a source lighting effect. To do this, I now spray red liberally from underneath and then orange a little less liberally. This is one time when not having the model attached to the base is advantageous but as a rule I assemble everything before applying any paint.
As this miniature is on its own, I seal it using a brush, however, if batch painting or if I had applied any dry pigments to the miniature, then my external mixing airbrush is more appropriate. This would be done in the same way as priming.