Beginners Miniature Paintings – Top Tips From Miniature Hobby Experts
Whether you’re new to the hobby or a seasoned veteran, there’s always something new to learn when it comes to miniature painting and terrain building.
That’s why we’ve put together this roundup of expert tips from some of the best in the business!
In this post you’ll find everything you need to know.
From advice on choosing colors, textures and best spray paint for plastic models for your tiny model and small soldiers toys. All the way to tips on creating realistic landscapes.
So whether you’re just starting out with model paint, looking for ways to take your war hammer project or miniature hobby skills to the next level, be sure to check out these helpful tutorials!
Tip #1 Thor – Founder of Creative Twilight
Do not compare yourself to others when painting.
It’s very easy to see the amazing work of others and get discouraged with your own painting.
You have to remember some people have been in this hobby for decades. The work they produce is a culmination of that time.
So when you start out painting, aim to learn the basics.
Get a foundation to build from and push yourself to grow. But never let the work of others prevent you from painting and enjoying your own progress.
Tip #2 Jodi Hippler – My Miniature Madness
Never, ever, ever be afraid to try anything.
My best techniques, methods and results have come from trying out ideas. Then by trying again and again until I got the result I was looking for.
Tenaciously passionate is one of my best mini qualities!
Tip #3 Monique de Koning – Fabulously Small
My first and most important tip would be to take it one step at a time. This may sound obvious but can make all the difference.
Start with what you can to not get overwhelmed by what needs to be done and/or the steps you may not know yet.
For example, if you dream of an elaborate miniature project, completely built with all the finishing touches, it can seem – and let’s be honest, it is – quite daunting.
Start small and with what you can oversee.
By the time you get to most of it, you will have learned a ton anyway you couldn’t have even known at the start. This may have changed your ideas about some or even most of it.
It can be a single thing to get you started, but you can also begin with a simple scene without too many objects and/details. It helps get a better idea of what you like to do and are good at when it comes to miniatures.
And don’t expect it to be perfect, it won’t be and that’s fine! 😉
If you don’t know where to begin: look at others for inspiration – do what seems like fun and doable for your level of skill.
For many, copying is a great way to get creative juices flowing. It’s even how the great masters used to learn and how art is still taught today.
It’s also perfectly fine to keep doing that if that’s what suits you best.
I think having fun is the most important thing, always!
Tip #4 Maartje – Magie Miniatures
The first thing that comes to mind is “thin your paints!“.
While I do think that many new painters will benefit from this tip, it is perhaps a bit cliché.
I would like to advise new miniature painters who are looking to improve the following. Don’t treasure that beautiful miniature you bought only to paint it “when you get better”.
Paint it now!
It is often those miniatures that help you push yourself to new boundaries. Ultimately that is what improves your skills the most.
These minis are also often the most fun to paint. They are also the least likely to end up half-painted because you lost interest along the way.
Have fun painting!
Tip #5 Maciej – ScarHandPainting
I would say “take it easy“.
This is true for all aspects of the hobby, but especially gaming and painting.
It is common for beginners to try too hard. In the long run, and I speak from experience, winning at all cost is just not worth it.
Same goes for painting – sometimes less means more.
In this case a more contained color scheme, mastering simple techniques and skipping on detail that brings pain. This will result in a far more comfortable painting process and more energy to finish an entire unit, or even an army!
There’s nothing preventing you from revisiting a project to add more detail later on. Often after when you’ve gained new skills.
Tip #6 Lee Hadley – BLAMABlog – Miniature Adventures TV
I’ve been painting minis for nearly 40 years. My one piece of advice for newbies to the hobby would be, ‘find your own style‘.
There is a ton of advice out there on forums, blogs and youtube videos. Everyone naturally thinks their way of painting is the best.
At the same time, new products and techniques are constantly pressuring painters to follow someone else’s style or the latest trend.
So my advice would be: Learn all you can from other painters but don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own style.
Video: 10 Worst Mistakes Beginners Do In Mini Painting
Tip #7 Ella – Life in a Doll House
My advice would be to start small. There really isn’t a need for you to go out and buy everything you could imagine for your new mini hobby. It’s tempting, I know.
Rather search for what you have on hand to start out.
That’s how I started, using clay to model mini kitchen utensils, or an old bed sheet to create fun patterned pillows.
There is just so much possibility!
If I were to suggest a few items that I think are crucial in my mini making:
- the E6000 (a wonderful all purpose glue)
- a pair of tweezers
- some tiny paint brushes
- and most importantly, some patience!
Tip #8 Rachid at 40Emperor.com
Make sure to have fun.
Find the Zen in the hobby. Enjoy every second of it. Life is short.
You can never have enough 3D printers. You can never have enough STLs to print.
You need options. The knowledge that there is always something to work on when inspiration strikes.
Tip #9 Derek King – Aries Games and Minis
When starting in any Miniature Hobby, you have many options. Be it Fantasy, SciFi, Modern Wargaming, Historical or any of the various miniature games.
But I always recommend that you start where you have a passion.
There’s no sense trying to push yourself, and concentrate on, something that you’re just “meh” on. You’ll never put yourself, or your passion into it.
Same thing comes to playing a game. If you’re not into the subject matter, it won’t hold your interest.
When you are passionate about something, it holds your interest completely. You will find that you paint better, push yourself harder to improve, and you will typically love the end product!
Tip #10 War Zone Studio – WarZone Studio
Hold your horses! Start from a small army, paint it.
Don’t be in a hurry, don’t try to buy and paint everything.
Pleasure is not in quantity.
Tip #11 Darren T. Scala – D. Thomas Miniatures
I would advise anyone who wants to get involved in the miniatures hobby: Focus on one or just a few categories of interest.
For example: miniature flowers, foods and furniture. Then try and learn as much as possible about how to make these items before trying to actually make something.
YouTube is a great place to start. There are tons of tutorials to tap into which can inspire, educate and even entertain!
Tip #12 The Daily Dungeon Master
The first and most important tip I would give, is to just keep painting.
Miniature painting is a skill and skills need to be developed, which takes time.
Continuing to keep painting as opposed to critiquing your own early efforts. And definitely don’t decide that you aren’t “good enough”. This won’t help you get better.
Tip #13 Michael Hanns
The single biggest tip I could offer for anyone getting started in mini painting is: Make time for your new hobby.
Paint as often as you can, and do your best to finish what you start.
You’re only going to improve with practice. So just keep putting brush to mini and before long, you’ll have physical proof of your own improvement!
If you’re painting for the tabletop, don’t let yourself get distracted by the latest hype train. The grass is always greener over the hill. So forge on until you’ve got something to show for your efforts.
Whether you’re a display painter, a gamer or a collector, I guarantee you’ll get much more satisfaction from a single completed project than several unfinished pieces.
Do this once, and you’ll always have a painted army/warband/whatever to play with while you work on your next. It’s also much easier to sell off a fully painted army than an abandoned project in various stages of completion.
Paint often and finish what you start.
You’ll be producing armies you can be proud of faster than your significant other can say “just where do you plan to put all of this?!“
Tip #14 Zumikito Miniatures – YouTube Channel
My advice would be: Learn from others, but just enough to actually start practicing what you learned!
Not learning is a problem.
But learning too much and not starting is a bigger one.
Tip #15 Tom – DEN OF IMAGINATION S.C.
If you can, prepare a proper place for your hobby activities.
Some space for models, tools, paints, ect. Somewhat decent lamp and comfortable chair. Nothing fancy required, just functional.
Take care of your back, eyes and nerves and enjoy your hobbies!
A second element is worth mentioning. Understand that it might take hundreds of hours before you get to the point of high quality.
Like with anything else in life – patience, repetition to get to the next skill level.
Tip #16 Jonathan Jones – JJ War Games
For anyone thinking of getting into the hobby, understand what exactly interests you about wargaming.
Why you might want to get involved?
This will influence your decision about the kind of games you’ll want to play. Maybe even the club you’ll want to play regularly at.
Wargamers, in my experience come in lots of different types. Leaning certain eras, themes, historical game playing and competitive playing.
Perhaps you are keen on modeling, the history or building terrain, or none of those factors. Most importantly, enjoy the social interaction of the hobby.
Find other like minded people
Once you are clear about how you want to wargame, then my advice would be to find other like minded people. Get a clear idea of the era, scale and type of game you want to play and then build a collection that has the forces for both red and blue.
Ideally one constructed around a set of rules you want to play.
Include a plan
You might also want to include a plan to put together some terrain to go with your theme. Your little actors will need an appropriate stage to perform on and then your game is good to go.
I have known folks who have got an army or force together for one particular faction, relying on a friend to build the other faction. Only to see that friend lose interest or move away. Leaving the other chap with only half a collection, and if the other chap was doing the terrain, nothing to play on.
If you have everything, you can put on a game practically anytime, anywhere and can invite others who might only have a passing interest in playing that theme to join you for a game.
Before you know it there is a new friend just as mad about that era as you and probably now using the same rules.
My final advice would be, if you are not into competitive games, forget about the result, but focus more on the way the game plays.
Does it capture how you imagine an action from that era would have happened, based on your wider reading?
Are the rules fun for you and others to play? With plenty of decision points for players that will influence the final outcome?
I play a lot of scenario type games where the simple win/lose objective is not a factor. Because in some scenarios one side will most likely lose just as they did historically.
The challenge is, can you, as that commander do a better job than the historical result?
Perhaps making better decision choices and thus have the satisfaction of outperforming your historical counterpart. (even if your force is effectively beaten.)
Gauge the game and simulation
My personal way of assessing rules: I play is to gauge them on a game/simulation, fun/not fun spectrum. With my preference being more towards simulation/fun to play.
That’s my preference, and I know folks who just want a fun game and that’s fine too.
What most of us are definitely trying to avoid is a game that just isn’t fun.
Again, that choice will influence your preferences. So it’s good to know beforehand what it is about wargaming that interests you and how you want to play.
Tip #17 Monkeys with Fire – YouTube
There is a wealth of excellent advice to take onboard when starting your mini painting journey. Actually, considerably more than what was available when I started.
I could mention the following 5 painting miniature tips:
- don’t use paint straight from the bottle
- use a wet palette
- apply “two thin coats“
- don’t use overly cheap brushes (nor use overly expensive ones)
- do not overlook the importance of good lighting.
Best advice: Learn to zenithal prime your minis (black and white rattle cans will suffice). Plenty of reference online if you are not familiar with the term.
This will help you visualize a more realistic looking mini right from the start. Understanding light / values is the key.
Tip #18 Spencer – Broken Anvil Miniatures
To me, it’s important to enjoy the process.
Sure, there could be times when you need to push through a challenge.
Ultimately it should be a fun way to spend your time! I know when it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate things if I ever find myself feeling frustrated.
For example, if a color combination doesn’t look right, or if the print itself fails, it helps to find ways to keep engaged with the process. This way will be better than getting discouraged by it.
Staying curious helps a lot!
Tip #19 BedroomBattleField
I think taking a slow and deep approach to the hobby can make it the most rewarding.
It’s not about how much you “need to” buy, or how many unpainted minis you can half-jokingly complain about owning.
It isn’t about how many games or rulesets you own either. Instead, to paraphrase Cal Newport: do less, do it better, and know why.
Get a handful of rulesets and really learn and immerse yourself in them.
Mini-agnostic skirmish games like Rangers of Shadow Deep, Rogue Planet, and Song of Blades & Heroes are great because they don’t require huge amounts of stuff. And bonus, you can use whatever minis you own.
You can also buy whatever you like, rather than being bound to overpriced official rangers. Those will cover most bases and settings.
You might consider 6mm wargaming to scratch the mass battle itch as it’s so much more sustainable, practical, and affordable.
Tip #20 “Scroll” – Scroll For Initiative
First and most important tip? Thin your paints! Aim for the consistency of melted ice cream.
Tip #21 Everything Very Small
Try and start out with a miniature kit, preferably from Robotime. These kits teach you how to proceed in making small things, and show you if you really have the patience to craft miniatures 😉
After all, if you are able to make these on a scale of 1:24, and you can even “hack” them. So making them your own, I would think that you can do anything in the miniature world 😉
Tip #22 Bryan – GameCows
Whatever game you choose to start collecting, make sure you read into the lore and story of the game first. Find something you’re really interested in.
I started collecting Tau from WH40K as my first set of minis. I thought they looked cool but knew nothing about the lore.
30+ books and novels later I can’t stand the faction I started with and still have a full army of them that I’ve lost all motivation to paint.
I’m super into the Chaos forces now. Much cooler models and I love the lore.
Tip #23 Scott Walter – YouTube Channel
If you’ve never painted a miniature before you’re going to suck and that’s normal for literally everyone.
The internet is full of amazing painters but they all started in the suck phase.
Try your hardest to not compare your beginner paint jobs to the works of people who have been in this hobby for years. It makes no sense to do that and will only blind you to the progress and accomplishments you’re making.
Take pride in your work. Keep it around so you can always look back to see how you’ve improved.
Remember that the journey (the painting process) is supposed to be fun. Just like arriving at the end with your finished paint job.
Tip #24 Sarah @ Redgrass Games
Our top tip is to paint with a wet palette! Not just because that is our business, of course, but because using acrylics on a wet palette is a game changer.
It allows you so much more freedom to paint. And trying advanced techniques (or even simple things like thinning) are much easier to do.
We think a lot of new painters and hobbyists would be a lot less discouraged if they used a wet palette straight off the bat.
Tip #25 F. Zahra Hassan – Somp
One should be ready to show ‘patience‘. It needs a lot of patience, an eye for detail, focus, and hard work.
It seems as if all hobbies or art and craft need this, but miniature painting requires a different type of commitment.
Had I known that the miniature needs extreme hard work, patience, diligence and an eye for extreme detail, I would have approached it differently.
I guess no complaints as I have done it for so long now that I have all forgotten about it : )
Tip #26 Jon Overton – Reaper Miniatures
I think the overwhelming response is “Just start doing things”.
A lot of people want to have the best brushes or amazing high-quality paints before they start.
The best way to learn is just by doing. So grab any model, brush, and paint and get going!
EVERY Miniature Painting Technique you must know & WHEN to use them
Tip #27 Ross Graham – FauxHammer
My best tip would be to tell people: Get the right tools!
Don’t waste money on things like the wrong Brushes, Clippers, Glue etc.
As a beginner, only buy Citadel paints and brushes or Army painter brushes. Don’t go buying Artis Opis or Windsor and Newton Brushes. You’ll either kill them or as my friends recently did, buy the wrong Windsor and newton brushes.
Equally, don’t waste money on Citadel or My Painter Clippers. You can get a higher quality set from your local hardware store.
Don’t by Spray cans. You can get a cheap portable airbrush and enough primer for 10x the amount of models for the cost of 4 best spray paint for plastic models.
And never, ever, buy Citadel plastic glue with the stupid metal tube applicator. Tamia extra thin is the same price (often cheaper) and comes with a brush-on applicator.
For help picking the next tools I’ve spent years testing all the different options.
Tip #28 Mike – Warhorse Miniatures
The first thing and most important thing to look into if you are going to be producing your own line of miniatures, is safety.
If you are working with any type of chemicals, you want some ventilation and to wear protective gear, like a mask and gloves.
My production is hobby based. I was lucky to have the space to do this.
I will not be expanding for the time being. But that is ok for the type of miniatures I am making.
So basically, plan your work area first before you start.
Tip #29 Elisabeth – Studio E miniatures
Miniature as a hobby usually begins as a childhood wish fulfillment. To live out a dream or an imaginary lifestyle.
Turning your dreams into a reality in miniature is fun.
Personally it has also been very rewarding as I get to learn a multitude of new skills. Skills one perhaps wouldn’t experience in such concentration, in any other format.
That’s the upside!
The downside is that it can very quickly escalate into a full blown obsession. And all obsessions are expensive in both space, time and money and sacrifice.
So my “tip” would be this- Be Prepared To Pay The Price.
Tip By Kujo Painting – YouTube Channel
Resist the urge to buy everything you see.
Getting into miniature painting for the first time can be both overwhelming and really exciting. It’s very easy to get caught up in a spending whirlwind. I know I did.
Before you know it, you have enough fancy gear to open your own shop.
You don’t need that really expensive paint brush set, or that highly specific and difficult to use paint collection.
I have literally hundreds of brushes, I only use two.
Beware of marketing hype.
If someone tells you they have the next must have piece of kit, specially developed just for miniature painters. They’re usually just selling something already available but with a fancy rebrand and a much higher price tag.
These things can be nice to have, but they aren’t going to make you a better painter.
The skills and knowledge you acquire are going to be far more important and valuable to you.
Tip By K.C. Holt – Holt Miniature Painting
Miniature painting can be a rewarding hobby and it does not take much to get started.
You just need some paint, brushes, models, and a well-lit comfortable place to work. It does take Patience, Practice, and Perseverance.
Patience: It takes time to learn anything, be patient with the process.
Practice: Paint as often as you can, whether it is 10 minutes, 30 minutes or more. Make time to paint.
Perseverance: Just keep painting!
Do not compare your work to other painters, use it as inspiration! Compare yourself to your previous models and you will see improvement.
The more you paint, the better you will become. Before you know it you will have beautifully painted models that you are proud to show off and above all have fun!
Good Luck and Happy Painting!
Tip By Jacob – Must Contain Minis
My top tip for beginners is to start small to make sure you like the hobby.
Wizkids is nice because they have a line of pre-primed minis. You just have to paint them.
The first two are nicer to work with, but the third looks just as good as the others if you shake it properly and costs much less.
My next tip is that miniatures games don’t have to be expensive.
If you buy the name brands from the top companies, it is, but look around. There are many alternatives out there.
One of my favorites is Wargames Atlantic. Generally, $35 can get you 20 to 30 figures from them.
You could build a proxy army for games against your friends. Look at miniature agnostic rule sets like those by Osprey Games, for a fraction of the cost.
There are so many different games out there that you could be playing other than just Warhammer.
Tip By Aaroen Nagel – Worlds Forged
“No one is an island, entire of itself; everyone is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”
– John Donne
The hobby of miniature painting is solitary by nature, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.
Look at the calendar of events in your FLGS and see if there are any hobby events.
Check Facebook groups. Attend conventions that are gaming or hobby-focused.
If you can’t find any of the above near you (or you’re a shut-in like me), try getting your friends and/or family involved. Host paint nights and try out tutorials.
The point is to find something where you can be around other people and get that immediate feedback. Watching YouTube tutorials can only take you so far.
Thanks for checking out our roundup of miniature hobby experts!
You now know a lot more about the best spray paint for plastic models, war hammer best minecraft mini figures for model paint and what citadel paints to chose from for you tiny model.
We hope you found these tips helpful, and that they’ll help you take your small soldiers toys, tiny model or war hammer projects to the next level.
Be sure to check back soon for more great content from the minifigures and Warhammer 40k community!