Miniature painting is the process of painting small figurines or models. These models can be made from a variety of materials, including metal, plastic, and resin. Many people enjoy miniature painting as a hobby, because it allows them to create beautiful works of art without having to paint on a large scale. Models are like blank 3D canvases, and the possibilities for creativity are endless.
In this article, I share my personal story about how I got into painting miniatures. I'll also provide some quick tips for anyone who is interested in giving miniature painting a try.
Miniature Painting: Look, Don't Touch!
"All you need is a dollar and dream," is the old jingle for the New York State Lotto. As optimistic as it seems on the surface, I can tell you that any dream can become a nightmare. This is especially true if that dream is something you love to do and it becomes an addiction.
And, this is how I came to discover the art, the glory of miniatures, as a hobby and an escape. I was working a very hard day job, stressed out almost every weekend because I knew Mondays were inevitable.
One day, a friend came to pick me up for the a carpool to a meeting I had to attend. Turning around to reverse the car, I noticed a cardboard box in the backseat full of miniature historical tanks--that I came to learn later were a part of the Bolt Action line of historical wargaming minis. They were beautifully painted World War 2 German armored vehicles with a slew of haphazardly organized troops.
Despite their unorganized arrangement in the cardboard box, I was enthralled. I had never seen something so "cute" (best word I can find regarding my first impression). I wanted to pick them up and examine them closer. Of course, I didn't get my chance to do that... my adult life, my job called. I buckled up and off we drove.
The story continued, though, as I started dreaming of all the ways a gamer would use those models. "What do you use those for?" I asked my friend, driving the car. "Where did you get them--how do you play?"
And, yes, I even asked: "Did you paint them!!?"
Given Over to Painting Miniatures
It would be a year before I was given the opportunity to start painting miniatures (my budget and time didn't allow it). But that day in the car with my friend, the image of those painted miniatures planted the seed. It would take some time and a lot of hard work, but eventually I was able to start painting my own models.
The first ones I ever painted were from the Privateer Press line of Warmachine/Hordes line of models. I was really into the steam punk aesthetic at the time, so I chose to paint a Cygnar army for the game. It didn't go well. The models were all over the place and my inexperience with painting metal showed. But, I learned a lot from those first attempts and it set me on the path to where I am today.
I've painted models from a HUGE list of brands, including:
- Games Workshop
- Warlord Games
- Privateer Press
- Reaper Miniatures
- Corvus Belli
- Scibor Miniatures
- Mantic Games
- Jackson Games
- Boardgame Companies
- And, many more!
With more than 15 years of experience with miniature painting, I've come to learn a few things about the art. You can see some of this work here.
Best Way to Get Started: Essential Miniature Painting Supplies
All you need to get started with miniature painting is a paintbrush, good paints, and the model you want to paint. That's it! Well...there's a lot more you can get that will help you paint better and make the process more enjoyable, but these are the essentials.
The paints are the most important part. A good paint will cover the model well with a few coats, whereas a bad paint might take 10-12 coats to get the same coverage. Things like masstone and undertone aren't terms you need to know right away, but there's certainly a difference between craft paint (the cheap stuff you find in art store) and quality modeling paint.
When starting out, I recommend getting the best paint you can afford.
Wargames Delivered has an excellent selection (the Mega Set) that gathers the essential miniature painting supplies you'll want to get started. And, for those who are veterans already with miniature and modeling painting, this set will expand upon your paint and supply toolbox.
Personally, I think more paints and unique colors are always welcome in my hobby space. I like to be able to mix colors on the fly and not be restricted to a certain palette. This is just my preference, though. Your mileage may vary.
Paintbrushes are another important factor when it comes to miniature painting. A good brush will hold its shape, have soft bristles that don't shed, and won't fray. Not all brushes are created equally, so it's important to do your research and find the right brush for you.
I've been using my Windsor & Newton Series 7 brushes for years and I absolutely love them. They expensive, however, and you may find alternative, budget paintbrush brands that work just as well.
As for the model you want to paint, that's entirely up to you. I've painted historical models, sci-fi models, and fantasy models. It all comes down to your preference and what you're into.
The important part is that you have a model in front of you and you're ready to start painting!
And, If You Haven't Guess Already...
Miniature painting is a never-ending story. There's always something new to learn, a new technique to try, or a better way to do things.
This is what I love about it. The hobby is constantly evolving and there's always something new to experience.
If you're just starting out, don't be discouraged if your models don't look perfect. Everyone starts somewhere and with a little practice, you'll get better and better.
Keep an open mind and have fun with it! There's no wrong way to paint miniatures as long as you're enjoying the process.
As someone who paints miniatures for wargames, collection, and for clients (as a commissioned artist), I always find the sense of discovery of the hobby the most rewarding. After all these years, I still find myself learning new techniques and experimenting with new styles.
Miniature painting is a great way to express yourself and show your love for the modeling and gaming hobby. If you're like me, an introspective who likes to take time aside to think, to relax and create things with your hands, then I highly recommend you try miniature painting. It's a great way to de-stress and have some fun.
I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any questions or want to share your own experiences with miniature painting, please feel free to leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!
Happy Painting! 🙂