HERE). I figured that if things went horribly wrong, I wouldn't risk using a mini I would be ashamed to pull out at the gaming table.
So given the way the material reacts to anything water, gesso is really the way to go if you want to do some sort of primer before application of any paints. I know that some people have been painting straight on their miniature with base coat paints but, for those of you who haven't yet, I strongly suggest to try applying some paint underneath the bottom of the model. I have learned a couple of things with using the gesso which is worth keeping in mind if any of you opt to go this route for your bones miniatures.
1) While my experiences with priming my miniatures with gesso is relatively new, I was looking to 'switch' to using more and more gesso when my current spray can primer supplies were emptied. I used one part water to 5 parts gesso just to thin out the gesso a tad since the consistency is a bit like glue. Despite the lower ratio of water to gesso, the plastic from the model still will repel the liquid though it's easy enough to brush it back into place during the initial coat in order to get a uniformed finish. I have prepped two more miniature since then with undiluted gesso -- thinly applied and with great success. Undiluted gesso is applied without ant repelling effect.
2) Gesso is inherently thicker but 'shrinks' during the drying process. That said, applying a thin coat is better than a thick coat. Otherwise, you could risk obscuring details -- especially if you choose to use it undiluted. I have also remarked on the two newer models that it is possible to leave brush strokes if you are careless with the application -- at least with the undiluted gesso. This are so miniscule that a base coat over top will completely mask them but it is worth remembering. A good brush (but a dedicated 'gesso' brush) and a better quality liquid gesso should alleviate these as well.
So, once the gesso is dry (I will paint the following day since gesso takes longer to dry than a regular primer or acrylic), I began to do my base coat. Since the start, I had a very clear idea of the paint schemes and look I wanted -- planning your paint is something I recommend.
The cloak got a coat of 'Mechanicus Standard Grey', the tunic/robes under the cloak got some 'Khorne Red', and the lacings got 'Zandri Dust'. I also used the same grey for the shovel head and used 'Mournfang Brown' for the shaft. The rope which Mr. Bones uses as a well was done in 'Averland Sunset'. The face, hands, and feet (foot actually) were done in a base coat of 'Ceramite White'. Unfortunately, the was something wrong with the consistency of this particular paint. Checking in with a rep at my local Games Workshop store (these are all Citadel paints), he did mention that it was possible and to bring the pot in for exchange. The face required more attention in order to correct the problems I had.
As far as layers were concerned, I used 'Dark Reaper' for the recesses of the folds of the cloak and 'Russ Grey' for some of the cloaks edges and highlights. The shovel head got a layer of Ironbreaker and the tunic/robes got a bit of 'Wazdakka Red' and 'Doombull Brown' together. I used a bit of black in there too as I did a bit of blending which is more visible when examining the sleeves beneath the cloak.
I used for different washes for my shading starting with a generous coat of 'Drakenhof Nightshade' for the cloak. I used 'Nuln Oil' for the shaft of the shovel. 'Agrax Earthshade' was used for the rope as well as the surface of the shovel head. Finally, 'Seraphim Sepia' was applied to any of the bone on the miniature.
The Seraphim Sepia was crucial to help with some of the aging effect I wanted to see on the bones but was very important to help pull out some of the details in the face I had partially obscured with the poor white paint quality. With this shade applied, I was able to put on a layer of Ushabti Bone to highlight certain features of the hands, foot, and face.
A bit of 'Abaddon Black' was used for the eyes, nose, and 'gaps' between teeth as well as to touch-up and darken spaces between fingers and toes. Once completely dried, I applied a layer of matte varnish from Liquitex.
Overall, I am happy given that this was mostly a 'test figure' from my Bones lot. I will have to change up the white but given that I have a one particular HUGE model that will require lots of white, I may just get a different white acrylic (likely from Liquitex) to do that with. It is unfortunate that, due to the problems I had with the white that it kind of obscured a bunch of the details in the face -- just looking at the figure in gesso (though the lighting wasn't the best), you can tell that the detail was not affected by the gesso itself.
Then again, practice will make perfect and with over 500 miniatures to paint, I have plenty of practice coming. ;)