Miniature Painting: A Comprehensive Guide to a Tiny World

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Oct. 272023

Welcome to the vibrant world of miniature painting, where the smallest details can breathe new life into your favorite board game characters and tabletop gaming pieces. 

As an enthusiast, you’re probably familiar with the importance of this art form, but for newcomers, the skill of painting miniatures can seem intricate and overwhelming. Fret not, because we’re going to show you step-by-step how to paint miniatures like a pro. 

Why Paint Miniatures?

Painting miniatures has long been a cherished hobby, especially among board game and tabletop gaming enthusiasts. The ability to customize your game pieces takes the gameplay experience to a whole new level, making it far more immersive. Beyond that, miniature painting is a fun, creative outlet that allows you to bring your imagination to life.  

Add Your Personal Touch

Painting miniatures allows players to apply their very own personal touch to the standard game pieces. The more customized your miniatures become, the more they’ll stand out on the battlefield. Whether it’s a character from a fantasy board game or a historical figure, part of the joy of painting miniatures is that it forms a deeper bond between you and the game.

Immersive Storytelling

By painting miniatures, players can further expand the narratives of their favorite games. For instance, a uniquely painted army on a war game board can represent a specific faction or tribe, enhancing the storyline and making the entire gaming experience more immersive. With each brushstroke, players are no longer just passive players, but active storytellers.

The Therapeutic Aspect of Miniature Painting

Beyond the realm of gaming, miniature painting stands as a respected art form in its own right. The meticulous attention to detail and the repetitive motion of each brushstroke can be quite meditative. As players focus on the intricacies of their miniatures, they often find themselves in a state of flow, where the outside world melts away, replaced by peace and calm. 

Unleash Your Creativity

Miniature painting is a canvas for the imagination, filled with endless possibilities. Some painters prefer to follow a set of instructions, but feel free to invent something brand new. Miniature painters have the freedom to experiment. It’s not merely about replication but also innovation. This avenue for creative expression allows miniature painters to try bold new ideas, and reinterpret characters in an entirely new light.

A Community of Enthusiasts

Once a niche hobby, the world of miniature painting has become vast and welcoming. By venturing into this hobby, many find themselves joining a community of like-minded individuals. Whether it’s through forums, conventions, or a local game store like The Battle Standard, painters can share techniques, offer feedback, and celebrate the joy of bringing miniatures to life.

Types of Paint

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paints are the most popular choice for miniature painting for numerous reasons. Made from water-soluble acrylic resins, these paints are quick-drying and odor-free. Their water solubility makes it easy to clean-up and offers a lot of versatility, making them great for both brush and airbrush painting. Acrylic paints are available at most craft stores and are a preferred choice by beginners and experts alike.  

Acrylic paints are relatively safe, but it’s still a good idea to use an adequately ventilated space. These paints don’t require much protective gear, but you might want to wear old clothing or an apron to prevent unwanted stains. 

Oil Paint 

Oil paints are another popular option among seasoned miniature painters. Oil paint is durable, which makes it a solid choice for miniatures that are handled and played with regularly. They also dry slower than acrylic paint, giving you more time to create textures and smooth finishes. 

However, oil paint can be fairly difficult to use and is recommended for more experienced miniature painters. Oil paint can smudge more easily since it tends to dry slower, and it can run more expensive than acrylic paint. 

Enamel Paint

Enamel paints are the least popular choice when it comes to painting miniatures. While enamel paint has some advantages like its durability and versatility, it can be harder to fix mistakes than with other paints. 

They also tend to be more toxic and have a strong odor, so wearing a mask is strongly advised. Those with more experience may use enamel paints for hobby projects but these are typically not the first option when it comes to miniature painting.

Essential Supplies for Miniature Painting

Paint Sets and Brands

Reputable brands like Citadel Painting, Games Workshop, and Army Painter offer specialized paint sets to enhance the miniature painting experience. These sets provide a comprehensive range of over 300 colors that can fit a variety of miniature characters and terrains, no matter the color scheme. 

They can also be purchased directly from us 🙂 

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Paints that are tailor-made for miniature painting are far superior than other craft paints. They offer higher pigmentation, increasing the vibrancy of the color, and they require less coats of paint, saving you a lot of time.


Quality brushes play an integral part in getting the job done right. Choose from a range of sizes for different levels of detail. In most cases, you’ll want a brush size somewhere between “0” and “1” to paint miniatures. But brushes can range anywhere from a size “000” (extremely small and used for very fine details), all the way up to a size “12” (used for larger miniature models).

Airbrushes are also popular with professional modelers. Airbrushing offers precision and a smooth finish. Most acrylic paints work well with airbrushes, but be sure to clean out the paint shortly after use since acrylic paint can dry quickly. Enamel paints, due to their slower drying nature, are sometimes used with airbrushes since they won’t clog the airbrush nozzles as long as they’re properly diluted with an enamel paint thinner. 

Wet Palettes

Acrylic paint can be diluted in water with a wet palette or a medium solution to keep your acrylic paints from drying too fast, ensuring more time to blend colors, layer, and create smooth textures (this way, it also keeps more money in your pocket). The more paint that dries out, the more paint you’ll have to buy. Wet palettes are an effective way to get the most out of your paint supplies.

How to Paint Miniatures

Preparing Your Miniatures

Before you start painting miniatures, it’s crucial to prepare them properly. First, assemble them by clipping the sprue, then remove mold lines (this can be done with the back of a craft knife) to create a smooth surface to paint on. 

If you wish to remove paint from your miniatures, you can use simple solutions like chemical solvents or ultrasonic cleaners available at your local hardware store. 


The next step is to prime your miniature. Most prefer to use spray paint for priming.  Begin with a base coat of black paint. This will give the miniature a solid foundation for the colors to pop. 

However, if you’re planning to paint your miniature bright colors like pink or white, you may want to choose gray or white spray paint as your primer. Let the miniature dry for about 30 minutes before you start painting. 

Base Coating

Now, it’s time to paint. Apply a base coat of paint to your miniature with the basic colours you want to use. You’ll notice that base colours are typically a thicker type of paint that covers well. Thin out the paint with a few drops of water so that it’s a little runnier than regular paint. Thinly apply your additional layers of paint, allowing each layer to dry before adding the next. 

Keep it simple when you’re starting out. Try not to overdo it with ten different shades of every color until you’re more experienced. Be patient, base coating can take time, but the end result is worth it! 

Layering and Highlighting

After base coating, you’ll have made your miniature entirely your own with the crisp colors you picked out. But you don’t have to stop there. You can also add more advanced painting techniques including blending, shading, and texturing. 

Use washes, also known as “shade paints” to create the illusion of shadows in what should be darker areas such as spots underneath objects like armor and shields, and any other nooks and crannies where shade would be on a larger model. 

Edge highlighting is an advanced technique that can give your miniatures more depth and dimension. Edge highlighting is done by applying lighter shades on the edges and raised surfaces of the miniatures to create the illusion of depth. 

Caring for Your Miniatures

Maintaining your miniature pieces requires discipline and consistency. Here are some steps to keep them in pristine condition:

  • Dust them regularly: Use a soft brush to gently remove dust and dirt that accumulate over time.
  • Keep them out of direct sunlight: UV rays can cause the colors to fade. Store and display your miniatures away from direct sunlight.
  • Handle with care: Always handle your painted miniatures gently to avoid chipping or scratching the paint.
  • Storage them properly: If you’re planning to store your miniatures for an extended period of time, consider using individual compartments or soft padding to prevent damage.
  • Apply a sealant: Applying a sealant can offer an extra layer of protection and allow your paint to last much longer. 


At first, miniature painting might seem like a daunting endeavor. There’s a lot to know, and countless supplies to choose from. But that also means that the possibilities are endless. You get to create whatever characters and worlds you can fathom at your fingertips. 

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional, knowing the right tools and techniques can help you create the mini-universe of your dreams, and elevate your miniature painting experience. Remember, there’s no one way to paint miniatures. The most important thing is to have fun! 

Don’t forget to visit us at The Battle Standard, your go-to miniature games store, for all your miniature painting and tabletop gaming needs!