BUYER’S GUIDE: THE BEST PAINT FOR MINIATURES AND MODELS
Choosing the best miniature and model paint shouldn’t be difficult, but with so many options available, it is. To assist you choose the correct option for your next project, we compiled a list of the top options available and prepared a guide to miniature and model paints.
Miniatures & Model Paint Guide – The Best Miniatures and Model Paint
The tedious task of painting scale models or a collection of miniatures is one of the most time-consuming and satisfying aspects of the hobby.
It’s always good when someone compliments a great paint job. Whether you’ve spent hours painting miniature figures for your next RPG adventure or a highly detailed scale starship model that you simply want to exhibit.
Given the amount of time and effort required to paint countless figurines or the myriad details present on a scale model, it is critical to select paint that is both durable and color saturated while drying. Even if miniatures are handled more, the finish may sometimes endure a lot of handling and still look virtually as nice as a scale model in a safe display box provided the appropriate paint is used.
With so many paint options available, we try to make the process a little easier by laying out exactly what you should be looking for when choosing a color. You’ll be able to choose the best miniature paint or model paint for your needs if you have a better understanding of paint and what factors affect performance.
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR PAINT FOR MINIATURES AND MODELS: A COMPLETE GUIDE
Those of us who have spent countless hours painting miniatures or scale models know how important it is to use high-quality paint. It will be much easier to choose the appropriate paint for a given project after you have a greater grasp of paints and how they operate on various surfaces, as well as the various types of paints available.
One of the first options you’ll have to make is what kind of paint you’d like to use. Next, you’ll need to pick whether you’ll use a brush, an airbrush, or a paint marker, which is a less common but highly useful option.
Aside from that, you’ll want to know what factors influence the paint’s performance on a certain material, whether it’s plastic or metal.
MANY TYPES OF PAINTS
For plastic models or miniatures, what kind of paint should I use?
For metal models, what kind of paint should I use?
These are popular queries, and the answer is basically a matter of personal preference. Paint is made up of color pigments that are emulsified with a binder and then applied to a paint medium, which is usually plastic or metal in this case.
The type of paint will usually be determined by these binders.
The two types of paint accessible to enthusiasts for use on models or miniatures are listed below. Aside from the binders, paint may contain additional ingredients that alter performance; however, we’ll get to that later.
PAINT WITH AN ACRYLIC BASE
Acrylic paint is the most frequent and popular type of paint for miniatures and plastic models. It produces the best results in the majority of circumstances.
Color pigment is added to an acrylic polymer, which is then emulsified with water to make the finished product. Acrylic paint may also contain fillers, which may or may not have an impact on performance.
Acrylic paint has dramatically improved over the years and can now perform as well as oil-based paint in most circumstances. Short drying times and the ability to modify the flow or viscosity of the paint without losing color saturation are two advantages.
On the other hand, you can alter the transparency without affecting the uniformity. Acrylic paints are also non-toxic and extremely easy to clean.
Acrylic paint is the finest choice for painting miniatures or scale models in most circumstances. Acrylic-based paints can be applied by brush, spray, or even as paint markers.
Acrylic paint comes in a variety of sheens and finishes, ranging from glossy to flat.
PAINT WITH AN OIL/ENAMEL BASE
Oil-based paint used to be the most popular type of paint until acrylic paints evolved to the point where they could match the performance of oil-based paint. Pigment is mixed with a drying oil, usually linseed oil, as a binder in oil-based paintings.
When you use oil-based paints, the oil reacts with the air and dries to an extremely hard finish.
These hard finishes are long-lasting and might have a glossy sheen depending on the formula. Oil-based paints can be diluted with turpentine or other thinners to adjust their viscosity and flow.
Oil-based paints are used by some painters for their brilliant characteristics as well as their ability to bind to almost any surface.
Oil-based paints have the disadvantage of taking a long time to dry and requiring the use of turpentine for cleanup, which is both inconvenient and harmful. The delayed dry time isn’t entirely negative because it gives the artist more time to gradually build the paint job, but it also means you’ll have to wait longer when layering colors.
As you can see, while either paint can be used on almost any type of project, you can prefer acrylic over oil or vice versa. Another thing to remember is that mixing oil and acrylic paints that will touch or layer over each other is not recommended because acrylic paint does not always bind to oil paints.
APPLICATION AND PAINT FORM
Paints can be used to create a range of effects on miniatures and scale models in a variety of ways. Some are more adaptable, while others can create truly unique designs and looks.
LIQUID MINIATURE PAINT
Liquid paint is a liquid miniature paint that can be used to create miniatures.
Liquid paint is by far the most popular type of paint, and it can be obtained at almost any craft store. It’s easy to find, and there are a variety of additives to adjust the transparency and consistency to suit your needs.
Liquid paint is the most adaptable type, as it may be brushed on, splattered on, and even sprayed on using airbrush systems. For most enthusiasts, liquid paint is the preferred method of application. Both acrylic and oil-based liquid paints are available.
MARKERS FOR PAINT MODELS MARKERS FOR PAINT MODELS
Acrylic paint markers are a nice item to have in your paint setup, but I don’t frequently hear others highlight their utility when painting miniatures.
They’re quite convenient, and they can handle a large volume of repetitive coloring that doesn’t necessitate a lot of precision. This is ideal for combat minions or accumulating a collection of custom-painted war soldiers for wargaming.
Paint markers won’t give you a lot of flexibility, but they’re wonderful for convenience and touching up figures without having to break out your complete paint setup, as mentioned above. I always have a few of these in my favorite colors on hand.
SPRAY PAINT is a model spray paint that comes in a variety of colors.
Spray cans provide a few alternatives for you to choose from. This is not to be confused with airbrush spraying paint, which separates the paint from the air and spraying source. For further information, look into airbrushes for miniatures and scale models.
Spray cans are useful for applying base coats to models and figures, as well as spraying single colors down. You won’t be able to attain the precision that is sometimes required, but you can accomplish some effects when used in conjunction with masking.
OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN CHOOSING A MODEL AND MINIATURE PAINT
In addition to the paint kind and application method, there are a few characteristics to be mindful of with paints. These are some of the other factors that will influence the paint’s ultimate appearance and application.
It will be easier to obtain better results if you understand this.
OPACITY OF PAINT MODEL PAINT OPACITY
When applied to a surface, a paint’s opacity relates to how opaque or translucent it is. This can have both intended effects and affect how well the color shows up on the surface.
Use more opaque paint on dark colored surfaces so the color is more visible and bright on top of the dark hue. Alternatively, several coats may be required to create a great opaque color.
When purchasing paint tubes, keep in mind the transparency grade. On lighter hues, transparent or opaque paints will work well.
The paint’s tint will be lightened by the lighter colored surface. There are other additives like Flowable Extender that will improve the flow of a paint or speed up the drying process.
BODY OF PAINT & VISCOSITY
The body and consistency of paint will have an impact on how it is applied. In an airbrush system or for someone who wants a more watercolor-like consistency when painting, a thin or body-less paint will work nicely.
The most vibrant and opaque paints are made largely of pigment and binder, with only a small amount of water.
Heavy body paint, on the other hand, is how paints are able to acquire textured or raised looks after drying. Various additives can be used to create practically any desired consistency; merely adding a little water can help the paint flow better.
Keep in mind that any additives may impact the paint’s opacity, especially when using acrylic with water.
Acrylic additives, such as these from Liquitex, can modify the flow of the paint or slow down the drying period. If you need to achieve a specific impact, consider using an addition.
A lightfast grade is normally given to high-quality paints. This rating indicates how prone the color is to fading or shifting as a result of light exposure.
To ensure a long-lasting paint job, look for paints that are labeled as lightfast.
MODEL/MINIATURE PAINT VS. ARTIST PAINT
Artist quality paints are often manufactured with the best materials and the highest pigment concentrations. Paints labeled “Model Paint” or “Miniature Paint” aren’t all that dissimilar.
Any differences are mainly due to auxiliary ingredients in “model paint” that are used to achieve effects such as slower drying times.
We’ll never fully know what’s in a manufacturer’s paint formulae because they’re usually trade secrets, but artist quality paints are usually superior. You may be asking which is superior, but the argument rages on, and I normally advise individuals to adopt whatever method works best for them.
There is a case for both, however if you are an artist with a store of paints to utilize, I would not recommend purchasing brand new paints. If you’re just getting started, model paint sets come in a wide range of pre-selected colors that are designed to produce excellent results even for beginners.
If you’re going to use artist-grade, go for light-bodied lines or thin them out.
SHIFT IN COLOR
The natural action of color fading as it dries is known as color shift. Acrylic resin comes in a variety of colors and dries darker than it appears.
This is why testing paint before painting a complete item is a good idea. Artist quality acrylics are made with transparent resin, so any color shift is undetectable, and any color shift is caused by the interaction of the surface color and the opacity of the paint.
Last but not least, the best paint should be accompanied with the best paintbrushes. Quality paintbrushes are equally crucial in laying smooth color once you’ve decided on your paint.
You can now go out to find the best paint for your needs now that you have a greater understanding of what makes great paint. We’ve also included some of the greatest tiny and scale model paint options.
QUICK REVIEWS OF THE BEST MINIATURE AND MODEL PAINTS
Below is a comprehensive list of the best miniature and scale model paints currently available. We’ve provided an option for each type of paint, so you should be able to paint on plastic, metal, and other surfaces with no limitations.
You’ll find everything on the list, from acrylic paints to oil-based enamels. Vallejo, Game Workshops, and Liquitex, among others, are some of the best paint brands to look for at your local craft store.
1/ The best miniature paint is VALLEJO BASICS.
Vallejo is one of the most well-known brands among miniature painters, with an astonishing 200+ hues to pick from. Vallejo is one of the best tiny paints available, and their highly pigmented, specialized recipe clings nicely to just about any surface.
They’re also wonderful for miniatures. The sets are pricy, but having the ability to select color palettes that are specific to the job is useful.
Another nice thing about Vallejo paints is that they perform well in airbrush systems, so you don’t need to buy extra paint for that; all you need is a little acrylic thinning medium. The Vallejo paint line is your best chance for both performance and color selection if you merely want to pick up a set of colors that are trusted among scale model builders.
- It’s made of acrylic.
- Excellent color choices with a high degree of opaqueness
- Suitable for all types of surfaces
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2/ TESTORS ENAMEL PAINT is the best model paint on the market.
If you’re looking for a high-quality oil-based enamel paint with a long-lasting finish, Testors Enamel is a superb choice that scale modelers have relied on for years.
While enamel paints aren’t for everyone, if you’re one of the few who is searching for an oil-based paint, there aren’t many choices other than Testors, which is fortunately a good paint.
Airbrushing is another area where these shine; Testors enamel paints are among the best model airbrush paints available.
This paint is popular with car and plane modelers because it adheres to almost any surface and produces a beautiful shine of rich color. This paint also leaves a lovely finish that is devoid of brush marks and dries smoothly.
This is owing to the paint’s delayed drying time. You can also make light washes by thinning the paint with an oil-based thinner. For decades, modelers have relied on this paint!
- Based on oil
- Color that is both vibrant and opaque.
- Excellent for Airbrushing
- Use on any smooth surface.
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3/ QUALITY MODEL AND MINIATURE PAINT FROM GAMES WORKSHOP CITADEL
The Citadel line from Games Workshop is another popular choice among miniature painters. You may discover many various sets adapted to specific paint jobs you may experience when painting miniatures, just like Vallejo paints.
In terms of opacity and coverage, these are excellent paints.
Some painters believe they are slightly behind Vallejo, while others have nothing negative to say; in the end, preference is the most important factor. If you’re still looking for the right paint for you, these are definitely worth a go.
- Opaque acrylic base with excellent coverage
- A large number of custom setups are available.
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4/ The best miniature paint set for beginners is THE ARMY PAINTER PAINT SET.
The Army Painter set is the greatest introductory miniature paint set available. This package includes a huge variety of colors, as well as washes, technical paints, and paintbrushes, so you’ll have everything you need to get started.
While the quality isn’t as high as Vallejo’s, it’s still decent enough for even the most discerning eyes.
With the variety of colors available, you’ll be able to simply produce a number of miniatures in a variety of color schemes, allowing you to assemble a diverse collection of warriors for your next wargame. Put little ball bearings in the bottles to assist blend the pigment if separation develops, which will increase your pleasure and convenience with The Army Painter paints.
- Large color collection based on acrylic Great for beginners
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5/ The best artist paint for miniatures is LIQUITEX PROFESSIONAL SOFT BODY PAINT.
Liquitex Professional Soft Body paint is an excellent option for miniatures and models if you do more than simply miniature painting. It strikes a good mix between price and quality for artist-grade paint.
Liquitex paints work well on a variety of surfaces and can be used as solid color foundation coats or to paint huge expanses of terrain in war scenes.
Another advantage of artist grade paints is that you have a considerably larger number to choose from. You can test and experiment with these paints without concern of squandering expensive paints.
Particular color availability and customised sets will be the one big advantage model and miniature specific paints will have. With the available possibilities, you can absolutely create bespoke hues.
If you enjoy experimenting with different materials and painting, give these a try.
- Transparent Bodiless Acrylic Base
- It’s possible to use it in an airbrush system.
- Other Jacquard Textile lines can be mixed and matched.
- Natural and synthetic materials, wood, paper, clay, canvas, suede, and leather are all options.
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6/ The best paint markers for models are MOLOTOW PAINT MARKERS.
A few paint markers in basic colors are another tool I carry in my paint kit. Molotow is a great choice for modelers and miniatures since it has high pigment concentration and is refillable, making it a long-term investment.
One thing you’ll notice about the Molotow is that, despite the thinner consistency of paint markers, they nevertheless provide excellent coverage and opaque performance. They’re convenient and useful for touch-ups and even small details.
These paint markers work well on a variety of surfaces, but they work best on surfaces that aren’t too smooth and have some tooth to help the paint attach. Finally, if you prefer enamel markers, Testors Enamel Markers are among the best model paint markers available.
Give paint markers a try; they’ll quickly become a staple in your painting arsenal.
- Opaque acrylic base with good coverage
We recognize that there are numerous solutions available, all of which can be extremely similar or quite distinct.
If you still have questions, please leave a remark and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
And feel free to share your best picks with us; we may add them to the list!
For More About The History Of Painting Minis