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 another episode airing on Alpha where he’ll be joined by an experienced hobbyist with more awesome advice on painting minis.
There are tons of miniature painting tricks, tips, and tools you can find all over the internet, but there are some basic lessons that I wish I had known when I started. At this stage, a lot of experienced painters (myself included) take these lessons for granted, but looking back, having these bits of collective wisdom may have saved me some grief along my hobby journey.
Paint Miniatures That You’re Excited to Paint
It seems obvious, but often times new painters won’t feel empowered to get the minis they want to paint, feeling that because their skills are still developing, they shouldn’t put paint on “good” miniatures. That is a fallacy.
Sure, you can hone your skills on miniatures inherited from a friend or family member if you’re excited, but any miniature you’re ambivalent to won’t bring you enthusiastically to the table. Miniatures that inspire you to paint them will motivate you to pick up your brush. If the minis you have don’t make you want to paint them, you’ll never get to painting in the first place.
If you have the opportunity and choice, always pick miniatures that excite you. You only have so many hours to give yourself for hobby time, so you might as well spend it enjoying it as fully as possible. You deserve the miniatures you want to paint, no matter where your skills may be along your hobby journey.
The More Detailed The Sculpt, The Easier It Is To Paint
Some people get very intimidated by highly detailed sculpts. For a lot of people, more detail means that it takes more control to paint. In fact, the opposite is true. The more detailed the sculpt, the more work the model does for you and the further simple, beginner-friendly techniques like drybrushing and washing will go.
Take for example this Skin & Moans miniature. The sculpt has a lot going on, but it was painted with primarily basecoats and washes. The detailed sculpt of the flayed skin on the model was very easy to paint (various flesh tones were basecoated and washes were layered on). After that, the details like eyes and stitches were picked out, the blades were drybrushed with metallics and rust-stippled (with cosmetic sponges). The model can do a lot of work for you, so don’t be intimidated by a dynamic and detailed sculpt.
Done is Better Than Perfect (Or: Just Put Blood On Your Mistakes)
I make mistakes all the time when I paint miniatures. One of the things I often tell hobbyists starting out is that instead of concerning themselves with fixing them, just paint some blood on the mistake and move forward. Finish your models. You’ll get closer to perfect if you finish 10 models than if you continually keep trying to fix a single one and never complete it. Why? Because on those ten models, you’ll have a chance to reinforce the skills you executed well on the first mini, as well as practice the things you need to improve. Overall, you’ll be a better painter for it.
You’ll see more growth as a painter by focusing on making the next miniature you paint better instead of trying to make your first miniature perfect. You’ll never get to taste the sense of accomplishment you get when you complete a project, and it’ll keep you from getting to the table.
Miniatures Rarely Look Good Before They’re Finished
I love work in progress photos because they’re often an honest glimpse into how messy or incomplete miniatures look before they get closer to the finish line. The truth is, most minis around the 60% mark can look like lost causes. Paint can get everywhere, nothing is particularly clean, colours look flat and it’s hard to see just how good the miniatures will look. Things can look crazy.
One of the reasons why a lot of people think they paint badly isn’t because their miniatures are badly painted, it’s that they’re not fully painted. Finishing details can elevate miniatures from painted to pretty, so take the time to focus on those lovely sculpted details and you’ll find your miniature will pop.
The Only Outcome That Matters Is Your Enjoyment
If you put time and love into a miniature and you enjoy the process of it, it’s not a waste. There is no such thing as ruining a miniature with paint if you’re hobbying as a way to give yourself time to learn a new skill. Hobby is an investment in oneself. It’s a way to give yourself permission to be creative, be enthusiastic, and passionate about something. So be forgiving of yourself in terms of the outcome, which will improve over time if you continue to paint minis. Don’t let the outcome of your paint job undermine the experience.
A miniature that is painted, with love, passion and pride will always be better than one that is bare plastic and naked. It is known. The displacer beast was painted using only the most basic techniques in less than 20 minutes. You can do it.
Be sure to join Will Friedle on The Painter’s Guild this Monday starting Monday on Alpha and jump on the miniature painting bandwagon! Tell us in the comments what the best painting advice you’ve gotten!
Image Credits: Teri Litorco
Teri Litorco is a tabletop game fangirl who makes YouTube videos about miniature games that include various painting tutorials and helpful tips. She’s also the author of The Civilized Guide to Tabletop Gaming and the Geek & Sundry Vlogs miniature wargaming vlogger. To keep up with her personal projects, her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and help her continue to make accessible painting tutorials by supporting her on Patreon.