Painting Miniatures - Moving from "The Dip" to "The Dallimore"

Since restarting my miniature painting over a year ago, I've been using a technique to quickly paint and finish the majority of the few hundred that I've painted - called "The Dip". For details, I point you to the Chicago Skirmish group page on the subject, but in a nutshell:
  1. Basecoat (and possibly highlight) in the colors you want.
  2. Get a can of Minwax "Tudor" Polyshades stain. (Available at Ace Hardware in Midwest US)
  3. Using a throwaway brush, brush on the stain to the mini. 
  4. Using paper towels or another brush, sop up the pools of stain.
  5. Wait for it to dry for 48 hours, then hit it with a matt varnish (like Testors Dulcote or Liquidtex Acrylic Matt Varnish.
  6. Base and Play!
Easy peasy and I have done quite a few different types of miniatures - Battlemechs, fantasy figures, 1/72nd plastic Sumerian wargaming figures. 

I've come to have two gripes about the Dip:
  1. Once I open that can of Minwax, I've got about a 4 to 6 month deadline to finish the can. Well, with my painting rate of about 20 to 30 figures a month, I can't do that. I end up getting to about halfway through the can and then the gloops happen. It becomes a waste of a can.

    The "gloops" is when exposure to air (either from the process of doing the dip or just the fact that when I close the can, air is trapped inside) starts the polyurethane/stain to harden/thicken. It's a terminal condition. And I end up wasting about half the can, which I don't like!
  2. It's rough on bright colors. I don't like dipping on white or bright colors because it darkens them and dirties them. I can brush-dip around those areas, but then I have two very distinct looks on the mini. I don't like that so much
I'm also looking to expand my abilities and knowledge to different methods, and I've started experimenting with the "Dallimore" method. Basically:
  1. Undercoat with black (or white)
  2. For each color you're going to put on the mini, have two or three shades - dark, midtone (the color you want) and a highlight. If you're in a hurry like me with some of the grunt figures, skip the highlight except for the color most visible.
  3. Paint the darkest shade, then the midtone, then the highlight. (If undercoated in white, make sure that dark shade gets all the corners.
  4. Matt varnish, base and play!

 That's the basics and there are a few tutorials and pages that demonstrate this (this tutorial is basically the Dallimore method), although the best resource seems to be two very hard-to-find books written by Kevin Dallimore himself:

Both books are out of print and the prices on the Intertubes is just crazy! (Although I'm not going to lie, my Google-fu and shopping-fu did snag me a copy of the left (first) book "Foundry Guide" for $30. W00t!)

With over 140 Ral Partha figures to complete this summer, and my increasing number of both 15mm and 25mm armies for full-on campaign wars, I've been looking for other ways to make my painting more efficient and look better. I'm going to explore this method, much as I did the "Dip" method for the past year. I may come back to the dip someday, it had its uses and I might find a way around the drying/gloop issue.

Pictures are coming, I promise!


  1. Sorry if I sound like a noob, but I'm a noob. What is the exact effect of the dip?

    I paint just for fun. I clean the figure and base coat it, than paint with arts and crafts paint I buy by the tube, adding 1 color at a time as it dries. When the figure is all painted, then I put a clear coat on it and it is done. The devil for me is in the details, and my wife is just full of tricks and hints about achieving details.

  2. @Ripper X - in a nutshell, it's a very thorough and quick shading technique that adds depth to a simple basecoat and looks good for tabletop. The link at the first paragraph has a really good overview and pictures of the effect. The "Minwax Dip" vs. the "Army Painter Dip" debate is similar to "OSRIC" vs. "S&W" vs. "LL" debate of ye-olde-clonies. Different approaches to doing something.

    I paint for fun too, and to learn new things and try to paint a lot of minis so they can go on the table and have big battles. I paint with the *gasp* craft paints you get for $1.50 at Hobby Lobby or Walmart.

  3. That buck fifty stuff is exactly what I use! They even make some nice metallics for a little bit more money which is still a lot cheaper then oil based paints.

    For shading, or getting that "Lived in look" I just give it a once over with my dirty water, it is subtle but you can tell when I don't do it. Back in the day I'd spend way to much money, and not even come close to achieving the looks that I do now.


Post a Comment