Low Stress and Approachable Methodology for Painting Miniature Models

Robert Fish, aka Minisoneasy, takes us through the fine art of painting and re-painting miniature models. Give it a read and share your thoughts below!

Painting miniature models has gained popularity in recent years with games like Dungeons and Dragons becoming more mainstream. It involves painting figurines, ranging from fantasy creatures and characters to historical soldiers and vehicles. It’s incredibly relaxing and the remainder of this blog will provide a low stress and approachable methodology for getting started painting miniatures.

Painting a model can be broken down into 7 steps: Preparing the model, priming the model, highlighting, coating major surfaces, painting details, applying washes, and sealing the model.

Preparing the model varies a little depending on if you are painting a store-bought model or a 3D printed model but the general goal is the same, to remove any imperfections in the model. With store bought models this typically means scraping away the mould lines that are left behind when the model is removed from the mould it is sold in. This can typically be done with either an exacto knife or a model knife though you need to be extremely careful as it is very easy to accidentally cut yourself quite severely.

In addition, if you are painting a larger model and there are gaps where you have glued the pieces together, I recommend using some “Army Painter Green Stuff” to fill in the gap. Simply knead a little of the yellow and blue pastes together until a consistent green color is achieved. Then use the resulting putty to fill in the gap. If you are struggling to get a smooth finish rub some water on the surface and even it out with your fingers. If gluing pieces together, I highly recommend “Glue Masters Thick Viscosity Glue” as it tends to adhere better than anything else I have used though I highly recommend wearing gloves and a respirator as this will stick to skin incredibly strongly and has a pungent odor.

Once your model is prepared it is time to prime the model. I have tried several different primers including miniature specific spray primers and have found generic matte primer like “Rust-Oleum Flat Black Primer” works best for me as it provides good coverage and isn’t very expensive. I highly recommend using a dark primer (generally black) though it is worth experimenting with different colors! Place your model on a surface you don’t mind getting some paint on (I generally use carboard), don your respirator, and apply a thin coat of spray primer to your model. Don’t worry if you don’t cover the entire model in one go. It’s very important to apply 1-2 thin layers as this will prevent your model from losing detail.

After your model has completely dried it’s time to apply some highlights to your model. To do this we will use a technique called “dry brushing”. This video by Artis Opus does a great job going over this but the general idea is to take a bit larger, circular brush, apply paint to the brush, and then brush most of the paint back off the brush by wiping it on a paper towel. Then when there is only a small amount of paint remaining, rub the brush over the model. This will apply a highlight to the more exposed areas of the model and leave the crevices darker which will save you a ton of time and create visual interest. I typically recommend applying a drybrush coat of a medium gray and then going over again lightly with a white color to really emphasize the exposed areas.

Wait for the paint to dry and then it’s time to apply the basecoat to the larger areas of the model. For this I highly recommend using contrast paint. This paint is specifically designed to run into cracks creating an effect where the more exposed portions of the model that would have more light are lighter in color while the recesses are darker. This adds a lot of depth and will make your model look significantly more interesting. Use a medium sized pointed brush to cover the major areas and allow the model to fully dry.

Now that most of your model has been covered with paint it’s time to add the details. Using a finely tipped brush apply paint to any details across the model. You can also use more advanced techniques like stippling at this point to add more texture to the model. You can also use this phase to touch up any areas where you may have accidentally splotched the wrong color of paint. If you’re working on a limited supply of colors simply mix them together to create whatever color you need to match your contrast color and hide the blemish.

Once your paint has dried it’s time to apply a wash to your model. Washes are designed to soak into the recesses of your model and darken them. For my model I only used “Citadel’s Nuln Oil” which is commonly seen as liquid magic. My goal here is to apply the wash to any areas where there is a large gradient between the exposed surfaces and the recesses to really take advantage of the properties of the wash.

Finally, we can take and apply a seal to our model. This step is optional, but it provides an extra layer of protection for your model. Make sure you use a matte finish like “Rust-Oleum Matte Clear.” This will help ensure your model isn’t overly shiny after it is sealed. ]

That concludes the steps needed to paint your first miniature. This should leave your model at what’s commonly referred to as “table-top ready”. It’s important to remember that you should take your time when painting models and not to let it stress you out too much. The goal is to have fun and build a product you’re proud of.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and learned something new! I also do commission work by emailing me at minisdoneeasy@gmail.com. Please note that throughout this tutorial I have hyperlinked several products I use frequently with Amazon associate links. This gives me a small kick-back on purchases at no cost to yourself.

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8 months ago

Great hints thanks! My nephew is really into painting and detailing, so I’ll pass it on to him!

Last edited 8 months ago by Karl
Robert Fish
Robert Fish
8 months ago
Reply to  Karl

No problem at all, thanks for reading! I hope these help them out.

Mike Thomella
Mike Thomella
8 months ago

Thanks for sharing, will try some of this on my next diecast project.

Robert Fish
Robert Fish
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Thomella

Let me know how it goes! If you find anything to improve I’d love to hear it.

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