Edge Highlighting Using Watercolor Pencils - Tutorial

Using watercolor pencils to edge miniatures has been around for a while, but I hadn't run across it until recently. I guess I've been living under a rock. Now, I can use a brush to highlight edges and they look very good, but it takes a while to accomplish. When I recently painted up a group of 6mm Squat Bikers, I wanted a quick way to add sharp highlights. These miniatures needed to get on the board, not win an award.
Games Workshop Epic Squats Bikers Edge Highlight with Watercolor Pencils
As you can see from the picture above, the miniatures are very small. Epic 40K are roughly 6mm scale. They were primed in black and bright colors were dotted in leaving a small black outline to maximize contrast and make them easy to see what they represent. This style is championed by Baccus 6mm for their historical line of miniatures.
Games Workshop Epic Squats Bikers Edge Highlight with Watercolor Pencils GW Before After
Here you can see the models before and after the edging highlight

When I was finished with the colors, I decided that I wanted to highlight a few spots. Specifically, I wanted to highlight the blue and the tire tread. Using a brush seemed like a lot of effort for a small reward, so I decided to investigate other options. I decided on watercolor pencils because they are easy to use and quick to apply.
GW Epic Squat Bikers Edge Highlight with Watercolor Pencils Aquarel Blue
I've used #2 pencils in the past for gun metal on WW2 troops to good effect, but this would be different. I purchased some Aquarel watercolor pencils in a few different light colors. For this job I used colors #14 and #88.  Taking the edge of the pencil I ran it lightly over the raised bumps and edges, taking care not to let the pencil touch anything else. The fine pigments in the pencils made smooth highlights on the edges.
Games Workshop Epic Squat Biker Squad Edge Highlight Watercolor Pencils
The results speak for themselves. The tires and the blue edges jump right out and the overall model looks much better and surprisingly professional. If you look at the second photo you can see the before and after. I think that the whole squad took around 5 minutes to edge with he blue and the gray. That's amazing! There's one caveat: you must varnish shortly after applying the pencil because the lines will wear off over time. The varnish fixes the pencil to the model and makes the effect permanent. But, in a way, this lack of permanence is good because if you apply a highlight and it is too strong, you may use a finger or a dry Q-tip and rub on the edge to remove some of the watercolor pencil and tone down the highlight.

Try out this technique on a future miniature. If you don't like it, use a cotton bud moistened with water to remove the highlight. This would work well for World War 2 vehicles, as well as Space Marine armor, ruined buildings, and anything that has a sharp edge. Have fun!


  1. What a great idea. I'm off down the art shop.

  2. Hi Phil! Let me know how it works out for you. Remember to varnish quickly!

    Thanks for the comment!


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