3 Household Hacks Miniature Painters Should Know

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On  The Painter’s Guild, host Will Friedle (who is new to the hobby) is joined by veteran hobbyists who show him the ins and outs of painting minis. Join him on his journey this Monday for the premiere episode airing on  Alpha where Matt Mercer will be giving sage advice to Will as he starts applying the first coats of paint onto his first miniature.

The hobby of miniature painting is an ever-evolving one. New products to help painters are continually coming out. There are, however, certain household products that have made the lives of miniature painters much easier as well, one way or another. Here are 3 household items that make hobbying significantly easier.

Poster/Sticky Tack Is A Hobbyist’s Multi-Purpose Tool

I cannot sing the praises of poster tack as a hobby tool enough, and it’s available at stationery or even dollar stores.

There is nothing more frustrating than clipping parts of a miniature off a sprue and then losing it as it flies off to land who-knows-where and you spend the evening you were planning on building and painting miniatures, on your hands and knees looking for that one bit.  When clipping particularly small bits off of a sprue (ones that are hard to keep my hands on) I’ll throw a sizable ball of poster tack onto the bit before clipping it, either giving me a grip on it or adhering it to another part of the sprue. Similarly, when chopping up bits for conversions, cutting the bit into a spread out a layer of poster tack keeps the small bits from flying off while still keeping fingers safe.

You can also use it dry fit miniatures, which is useful to confirm that a model will go together a certain way, or to figure out which mold lines will be visible and which ones you don’t need to clean off because they will be obscured after the miniature is built. That latter tip is especially useful when your goal is to get your miniatures done so you can play with them, rather than spending time on something that won’t be seen.

Finally, let’s say you want to paint certain parts of a miniature one colour, and other parts another colour, but you’d like to do it fast. Poster tack is a fantastic medium for masking off areas (like contrasting shoulder pads for Space Marines.) Paint the first colour, mask it off, and then paint on the second colour. Peel off the poster tack when the second colour is dry.

Use Wine Bottles As Miniature Stands

The hand/eye coordination required to build and paint miniatures means I don’t recommend mixing hobbying with alcohol, but when I’m at my table, I can often be found with a bottle in my hand. That’s simply because liquor bottles make fantastic stands for minis. Heck: in the above gif, I’ve adhered (using poster tack, of course) my miniature to the top of an empty gin bottle.

I like glass bottles with long necks, like wine bottles,  because you can hold the neck in your hand comfortably, rest your elbows on the table and still hold the bottle, and the bottle elevates the miniature to eye level, meaning you’re not hunching over your miniature when painting (and trust me, if you spend your evening hunched over your hobby desk, your back, neck, and shoulders will remind you in the morning in an unpleasant way.) You can also use empty spray cans of primer, which offer wider bases, which are perfect for bigger models. Just throw on some poster tack to adhere the mini to the stand and you’re good to go.

Bonus wine tip: the corks make for great hobby supplies too and can be used as model stands and basing materials.

Wash Your Minis With Dish Soap

Yes, I’ve said it before, washing your miniatures before you prime is a good idea because it removes any greasy release agents on the miniature (from the molding process) that would keep the primer and paint from adhering to the mini. Obviously, the duck-saving, grease-cutting properties of dish soap is perfectly suitable for this purpose. Warm water, an old toothbrush, a dash of soap and a quick scrub is exactly what you need.

But what you may not know is one of the ingredients for shade/wash products is something that helps release the surface tension, allowing the pigment in the wash to flow more easily into the cracks and crevices of the model. By mixing a tiny amount of dish soap into some watered down paint (to the point where the paint looks somewhat transparent on the palette) you break the surface tension and have made your own wash. Yes: you can make your own shade/wash in whatever colours you want with dish soap and water. 

Just mix a little paint with enough water to bring it to near-water consistency (the pigment should look transparent when pulled on the palette into a straight line) and add a tiny drop of soap to the mix. You’ll notice the consistency change immediately – the puddle of paint water will break loose rather than adhering to itself.

Looking to join the hobby journey? Be sure to join Will Friedle on The Painter’s Guild this Monday starting Monday on  Alpha and jump on the miniature painting bandwagon! Share in the comments what household product you use for painting your miniatures (hands up if you’ve put floor wax on your soliders!)

Image Credits: Teri Litorco

Teri Litorco is a  miniature wargaming and tabletop YouTuber (who makes painting tutorial videos on her channel, among other things), as well as the author of  The Civilized Guide to Tabletop Gaming. Follow her on  FacebookInstagram, and  Twitter.

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