Friday Quick Tip: Simple, Dirty Free Handing

So today's quick tip is about free handing. Most inexperienced painters are intimidated by the prospect of drawing outside the lines and making their model truly unique. But it is really easy. First I'll go over the basic steps, and then show some examples of really simple free hands.

1. Concept. You want to have a pretty good idea of what you want the subject to look like when completed. If this is your first time then start simple.

2. Pencil it out. This step is really the most important and the least often thought of. You'll need a sharp pencil (preferably a mechanical pencil with .5 mm lead). Again, make sure to start with something simple, just straight lines, like some checkers. Don't press too hard or your pencil will tear through the paint instead of marking on top of it.

3. Paint consistency. This is very important, the paint should really be about the consistency of melted butter (sorry, couldn't think of a better comparison). If it is too thin then you'll have no control and you'll end up with a mess. Too thick and it won't flow the way you need it to. Below you can see a free handed icon that was done with slightly too thick paint. You can see how it's a little chunky in places.

4. Build on your success. Once you've done a few simple things to build your confidence, try something a bit more complicated. Look through Codex's and Army Books, there are tons of little images scattered throughout. Just like anything else, practice makes perfect.


  1. I like that! I also became addicted to painting freehands on my models- even on commission jobs which don't pay for it I can't stop myself from doing it. I rarely ever use pencils though. I might try that next time. An idea concerning the pressure and the paint would be to do a wash with a glaze before painting. This way you also could start over again after rubbing it off gently.

  2. Like butter?
    That's probably the best comparison I've heard in a long time.

    Nice tip.

  3. as always I've jumped to your blog as soon as I've had the chance on a friday. Yet again a great tip. I like to paint freehand as well i haven't tried using a pencil before but i find it easier to just paint lines with a fine highlighter brush (well a small one)

    Melted butter. i would have said... yeah you're right it is hard to think of a comparison...

  4. Another great Friday Quick Tip, I might have to give freehanding a go after this actually.