Miniature Figure Painting - A Creative Hobby

The Hobby of Miniature Painting

Painting miniatures is a creative hobby that demands the delicate craft of painting miniature figures, often known as model figures or miniatures.

You have the flexibility to paint an array of miniatures, spanning from historical soldiers and fantasy characters to science fiction models and more.

Miniature painting enthusiasts usually employ kits filled with unpainted plastic or metal miniatures, expertly transforming them into intricate, lifelike masterpieces through a variety of painting techniques.

Miniature figure painting is one of the more intricate, creative hobbies.

Miniature Painting Key Aspects:

Selecting and Preparing:

Model figure enthusiasts typically kickstart their journey by picking a figure they want to paint. With a wide variety of manufacturers and genres available, hobbyists enjoy an extensive range of choices. After you’ve made your selection, some preparatory steps may be necessary, like removing mold lines, assembling parts, and applying primer to ensure the paint adheres well.

Tools and Materials:

To breathe life into their creations, model figure painters employ an array of tools and materials. These may encompass brushes of different sizes, acrylic or enamel paints, thinners, varnishes, and primers. Additionally, they might utilize magnifying lenses, palette knives, and specialized tools to achieve intricate details.

Painting Techniques:

The techniques employed in miniature painting vary depending on the desired effect and the painter’s experience. Commonly used methods include basecoating (applying the initial paint layer), layering (gradually building colors in thin layers for depth and shading), dry brushing (highlighting raised areas with a dry brush and a small amount of paint), washes (thinned paint for emphasizing details and creating shadows), and blending (seamlessly transitioning between colors).

Color Theory and Realism:

Miniature painters often dive into color theory to understand how different colors interact and create harmonious or contrasting effects. They aim for realism by thoughtfully considering factors like light sources, shadows, and highlights. This involves understanding concepts such as zenithal lighting (simulating overhead light) and using techniques to highlight raised areas and shade recesses.

Weathering and Effects:

Many model figure painters take pleasure in incorporating weathering effects to lend a lifelike appearance to their creations. These effects may involve techniques like applying dirt, rust, or chipped paint to simulate the effects of aging, wear, and battle damage. This adds character and depth, making the figures appear more authentic.

Display and Dioramas:

Once the figure is painted, you have the option to showcase it on its own or incorporate it into dioramas – miniature scenes that depict specific settings or scenarios. Dioramas provide a platform for model miniature painters to create narrative environments for their figures, enhancing their visual impact.

Community and Competitions:

The model figure painting hobby boasts a vibrant community of enthusiasts who share their work, techniques, and knowledge through online forums, social media groups, and local clubs. Many enthusiasts participate in competitions and exhibitions to display their skills and learn from fellow painters.

Model figure painting seamlessly combines creativity, precision, and patience into a distinctive hobby. It offers an exceptional way to explore artistic expression, historical accuracy, and storytelling within a small-scale canvas.

Whether your interests lean towards historical accuracy, fantastical realms, or science fiction worlds, model figure painting offers an engaging and immersive experience for hobbyists.

Types of Miniatures You Can Paint

You can paint a wide variety of miniatures based on your personal interests and preferences. Here are some common types of model figures that you can paint:

Historical Miniatures:

Historical figures include soldiers, warriors, knights, and civilians from different time periods such as ancient civilizations, medieval eras, Renaissance, World War I and II, and more. These figures often depict specific uniforms, armor, weapons, and attire from their respective time periods.

Fantasy Miniatures:

Fantasy figures encompass mythical creatures, legendary beings, and characters from fantasy literature, movies, and games. This includes elves, dwarves, orcs, dragons, wizards, and other magical creatures. Fantasy figures offer a lot of creative freedom and imaginative painting opportunities.

Science Fiction Miniatures:

Science fiction figures represent characters from futuristic and space-themed settings. These can include soldiers, aliens, robots, and characters from popular science fiction franchises like Star Wars, Star Trek, Warhammer 40,000, and more.

Gaming Miniatures:

Many tabletop games, such as Warhammer, Dungeons & Dragons, and Warhammer 40,000, have their own dedicated lines of miniatures. These miniatures often come unpainted, allowing players to personalize their gaming experience by painting their characters and units.


Busts are larger-scale figures that typically depict the head and shoulders of a character or person. They offer more room for intricate detail work and allow painters to focus on capturing facial expressions, skin tones, and other features with greater precision.

Animals and Creatures:

Model figures aren’t limited to human or humanoid characters. You can also paint animals, beasts, monsters, and other creatures. These figures can range from realistic wildlife to mythical beasts like unicorns, griffins, and werewolves.

Vehicle Crews:

Many vehicle model kits come with accompanying crew figures. These figures represent the personnel operating the vehicles, such as tank crews, airplane pilots, and ship sailors. Painting these figures adds a human touch and enhances the overall realism of the model.

Remember, the range of model figures available is vast and constantly expanding. You can explore various genres, scales, and manufacturers to find figures that align with your interests and artistic preferences. Whether you’re passionate about history, fantasy, science fiction, or gaming, there are model figures to suit your taste.

Miniature Painting – Getting Started

Getting started with the hobby of figure painting can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor. Here are some steps to help you begin:

Research and Inspiration:

Start by researching different types of miniaturess and finding inspiration for the kind of figures you’d like to paint. Explore online forums, social media groups, hobby websites, and books related to figure painting. Look for tutorials, painting guides, and examples of painted figures to learn from and gather ideas.

Acquire Basic Supplies: To get started, you’ll need some basic supplies. Here are the essentials:

  • Model Figures: Choose a figure or kit that interests you. Look for beginner-friendly figures with clear details and simpler designs to begin with.
  • Paints: Acrylic paints are commonly used in miniature painting due to their versatility, ease of use, and quick drying time. Select a range of colors that you’ll need for your miniature.
  • Brushes: Invest in a set of quality brushes with different sizes and shapes, including a fine detail brush for intricate work.
  • Palette: Get a palette or a mixing surface to blend and thin your paints.
  • Primers and Varnishes: Purchase a primer to prepare the figure’s surface before painting, and a varnish to protect the finished paintwork.
  • Tools and Accessories: Other useful tools include a palette knife, water containers, a magnifying lamp or lenses for better visibility, and a comfortable workspace with good lighting.

Practice and Skill Development:

Start by practicing basic painting techniques on spare figures or test pieces to improve your skills. Experiment with different brush strokes, color mixing, shading, and highlighting techniques. Gradually work on more complex figures as you gain confidence and proficiency.

Learn from Tutorials and Resources:

Take advantage of the vast amount of tutorials and resources available online and in hobby books. Study painting techniques, color theory, and step-by-step guides from experienced painters. Many hobby communities have dedicated forums and groups where you can ask questions, seek feedback, and learn from others.

Join a Hobby Community:

Engage with fellow hobbyists by joining local clubs, attending workshops, or participating in online forums and social media groups. Interacting with others who share your passion can provide valuable insights, inspiration, and support.

Set Realistic Goals:

It’s important to set realistic goals and expectations for yourself as you start the hobby. Miniature painting is a skill that takes time to develop, so be patient and enjoy the learning process. Start with smaller projects and gradually work your way up to more complex figures and techniques.

Display and Share Your Work:

Once you’ve completed a painted figure, display it proudly. Consider creating a small display shelf or diorama to showcase your work. Share your progress and finished pieces with the hobby community to receive feedback and encouragement.

Remember, the journey of figure painting is a continuous learning experience. As you gain more experience, you can explore advanced techniques, try different genres and styles, and challenge yourself with increasingly complex projects. Enjoy the process, be open to experimentation, and let your creativity shine through your painted figures.

What To Do with Your Painted Miniatures

Once you have painted your model figures, there are several things you can do with them. Here are some options:


Displaying your painted model figures is a popular choice. You can showcase them on a dedicated shelf, in a glass display case, or on a diorama base that complements the theme or setting of the figure. Displaying your work allows you to appreciate and share your artistic achievements with others.


Take photographs of your painted figures to capture their details and showcase your skills. Experiment with different lighting setups, backgrounds, and poses to create visually appealing images. You can share your photographs on social media, in hobby forums, or even create a personal portfolio.


If you have painted gaming miniatures, you can use them in tabletop games. Many tabletop wargames, role-playing games, and board games involve using miniatures to represent characters, units, or creatures. Your painted figures can enhance the gaming experience, adding visual appeal and personalization to your gaming sessions.


Painted model miniatures can make unique and thoughtful gifts for friends, family members, or fellow hobbyists. Consider giving your creations to someone who appreciates art, shares your interest in the hobby, or has a particular affinity for the figure’s theme.

Competitions and Exhibitions:

Participate in model figure painting competitions and exhibitions to showcase your skills and compete with other hobbyists. These events provide opportunities to receive feedback, learn from others, and gain recognition for your work. Check local hobby stores, conventions, and online communities for information about upcoming events.


As you gain proficiency and confidence in your painting abilities, you may consider taking commissions. Some people are willing to pay for custom-painted figures, dioramas, or gaming miniatures. This can be a way to earn some income from your hobby while further honing your skills.

Teaching and Sharing:

If you become an experienced figure painter, you might consider sharing your knowledge and skills with others. You can offer painting tutorials, workshops, or even start a YouTube channel or blog to share your techniques, tips, and insights with fellow enthusiasts.

Remember, the possibilities are not limited to these suggestions. The joy of painted model figures lies in the creativity and personal expression they allow. Explore different avenues and find what brings you the most satisfaction, whether it’s displaying, gaming, sharing, or further engaging with the hobby community.

Miniature Painting May Not Be a Cheap Hobby

The cost of figure painting as a hobby can vary depending on several factors, including the scale and complexity of the figures, the quality of paints and materials you choose, and your personal preferences.

While it is possible to enjoy figure painting on a budget, it’s important to be aware that expenses can add up over time. Here are some aspects to consider regarding the cost:

Figure Kits:

The cost of figure kits can vary greatly depending on the manufacturer, scale, level of detail, and licensing. Basic plastic figure kits are generally more affordable, while larger scale or highly detailed resin or metal kits tend to be more expensive. Limited edition or collector’s edition figures can also have higher price tags.

Paints and Brushes:

Acrylic paints are commonly used in figure painting and are generally more affordable compared to other paint types. However, high-quality artist-grade paints can be more expensive than student-grade paints. Brushes also come in a range of quality and prices, with more expensive brushes often offering better durability and performance.

Tools and Accessories:

Tools and accessories such as primers, varnishes, palette knives, water containers, and magnifying lamps can contribute to the overall cost. While some of these items are one-time purchases, others may need to be replaced or replenished over time.

Supplementary Materials:

Depending on your desired level of detail and effects, you may choose to invest in additional materials like weathering pigments, texture pastes, glazes, and specialized washes. These supplementary materials can enhance the realism and visual impact of your painted figures, but they also add to the overall cost.

Storage and Display:

If you plan to display your painted figures, you may want to invest in display cases, shelves, or diorama materials. The cost of these items will depend on the size and quality you choose.

Optional Equipment:

Optional equipment such as airbrushes, compressors, spray booths, and lighting setups can significantly increase costs. While these tools can offer additional techniques and convenience, they are not necessary for beginners and can be added to your collection as you progress in the hobby.

It’s worth noting that the hobby of figure painting can be pursued at various budget levels. You can start with basic kits, affordable paints, and a limited range of brushes and gradually expand your collection of tools and materials as your skills and interest grow. Additionally, finding sales, discounts, and second-hand items can help reduce costs.

Ultimately, the cost of figure painting is subjective and depends on your personal preferences and the level of investment you choose to make. It’s essential to establish a budget that aligns with your financial situation and prioritize your spending based on your interests and goals in the hobby.

Miniature Painting – A Rewarding Hobby for Children

Figure painting can be a rewarding hobby for children, but it’s important to consider a few factors before encouraging them to pursue it:

Age and Skill Level:

The suitability of figure painting as a hobby for children depends on their age and skill level. Younger children may have difficulty with the fine motor skills required for intricate painting, while older children may have the patience and dexterity to engage in more detailed work. It’s generally recommended for children above a certain age, typically around 10 years old or older, who have developed the necessary coordination and attention span.

Supervision and Safety:

Adult supervision is crucial when children are engaged in miniature painting. Many painting materials, such as paints, thinners, and varnishes, contain chemicals that may be harmful if ingested or if the fumes are inhaled. Ensure a well-ventilated workspace and provide appropriate safety measures, such as wearing protective gloves and using non-toxic paints and materials specifically designed for children.

Simplified Projects:

Children may benefit from starting with simpler figure painting projects that have larger details and fewer intricate parts. Basic plastic figure kits or pre-primed figures designed for children can be a good starting point. The focus should be on enjoyment, creativity, and learning rather than achieving professional-level results.

Educational Benefits:

Figure painting can offer several educational benefits for children. It can enhance their creativity, hand-eye coordination, attention to detail, and patience. It also provides an opportunity to learn about color theory, history, storytelling, and different cultures, depending on the type of miniatures they paint.

Time and Commitment:

Figure painting requires time and dedication to achieve satisfying results. Children should understand that figure painting is a process that requires patience and practice. Encourage them to enjoy the journey and not solely focus on the end result.

Positive Reinforcement:

Providing positive reinforcement, encouragement, and constructive feedback can help children develop their skills and boost their confidence. Celebrate their achievements and progress, even if they are still developing their techniques.

It’s important to tailor the hobby to each child’s abilities and interests. Some children may naturally gravitate toward figure painting, while others may prefer other artistic pursuits. The key is to create a supportive and enjoyable environment where they can explore their creativity and develop their skills at their own pace.

Where To Buy Miniature Painting Starter Kits

To buy a starter kit for figure painting, there are several options available to you. Here are some places where you can find starter kits and supplies:

Hobby Stores:

Local hobby stores often carry a variety of figure painting supplies and kits. These stores cater to various hobbies, including model building, tabletop gaming, and figure painting. Visit your nearest hobby store and inquire about beginner-friendly figure painting kits, paints, brushes, and other necessary supplies. The staff may be able to provide guidance and recommendations based on your preferences and budget.

Online Retailers:

Online retailers such as Amazon, eBay, and specialized hobby websites offer a wide range of figure painting starter kits and supplies. They provide the convenience of shopping from home and often have a broad selection of products to choose from. Read product descriptions, reviews, and ratings to ensure you’re purchasing a suitable kit for beginners.

Manufacturer Websites:

Many manufacturers of model figures and paints have their own websites where they sell their products directly. Visiting the websites of well-known figure manufacturers like Games Workshop, Tamiya, Citadel, Reaper Miniatures, or Vallejo will allow you to browse their collections and find starter kits or beginner-friendly sets specifically tailored for miniature painting.

Local Craft Stores:

Craft stores that specialize in art supplies might carry a limited selection of figure painting kits and materials. While their focus may be more on traditional art supplies, you can still find basic paints, brushes, and some beginner-level figure kits.

Online Hobby Communities and Forums:

Participating in online hobby communities and forums can be a great way to connect with experienced miniature painters. Members of these communities often share information about trusted online retailers, recommended starter kits, and where to find the best deals. They can provide valuable insights and guidance for beginners.

When purchasing a starter kit, consider the contents of the kit, including the quality and variety of paints, the number and complexity of figures included, and any additional tools or instructions provided. Start with a kit that aligns with your interests and skill level, and be mindful of your budget.

Remember, it’s a good idea to do some research and read reviews before making a purchase. This will help ensure you’re getting a kit that suits your needs and offers a good starting point for your figure painting journey.

Figure Painting Websites to Help You Get Started

There are several websites that can provide valuable resources and information to help you get started with figure painting as a hobby. Here are some of the best websites to explore:

The Miniatures Page (TMP)

The Miniatures Page is a popular online community and resource for miniature wargaming and figure painting. It hosts forums where hobbyists discuss various topics related to figure painting, share techniques, and provide advice. You can find painting guides, tutorials, and inspiration from experienced painters.

Massive Voodoo

Massive Voodoo is a well-known website and blog dedicated to figure painting. It features tutorials, step-by-step painting guides, articles on various painting techniques, and showcases of painted figures. The website also offers workshops and classes for those interested in improving their skills.

CoolMiniOrNot (CMON)

CoolMiniOrNot is a community-driven website focused on miniature gaming and painting. It features galleries of painted miniatures from hobbyists around the world, providing inspiration and showcasing a wide range of styles and techniques. You can also find painting tips, tutorials, and reviews of painting products.


Figurementors is an online platform dedicated to miniature painting and sculpting. It offers tutorials, articles, and interviews with renowned artists, covering various aspects of figure painting. The website also provides access to premium content, including video tutorials and masterclasses, for those seeking in-depth guidance and learning opportunities.

YouTube Channels

YouTube is a treasure trove of figure painting tutorials and demonstrations. Channels like “Sorastro’s Painting” and “Next Level Painting” offer detailed video guides for painting miniatures from popular games, while channels like “Miniac” and “Kujo Painting” cover a wide range of figure painting topics, techniques, and product reviews.

Manufacturer Websites

Many manufacturers of model figures and paints have their own websites with resources for figure painting. Websites like Games Workshop, Reaper Miniatures, and Vallejo offer painting guides, tutorials, and step-by-step instructions tailored to their specific products.

Additionally, exploring online forums and social media groups focused on figure painting, such as those on Reddit or Facebook, can provide opportunities to connect with other enthusiasts, seek advice, and share your progress.

Remember to always cross-reference information, compare techniques, and adapt them to your own style and preferences. Figure painting is a creative journey, and these websites can serve as valuable references and sources of inspiration as you develop your skills and explore the hobby further.

Your Miniature Painting Hobby – People Who Inspire

There are many talented figure painters and artists who can inspire and motivate you in the hobby of figure painting. Here are a few notable individuals whose work and expertise you might find inspiring:

Ángel Giráldez:

Ángel Giráldez is a renowned figure painter known for his exceptional brushwork and attention to detail. He has worked extensively with Games Workshop’s Warhammer and Infinity miniatures. His work showcases a range of styles and techniques, and he often shares tips and tutorials through his social media channels and books.

Roman Lappat (aka Massive Voodoo):

Roman Lappat is a highly respected miniature painter and the founder of Massive Voodoo. He is known for his creative and imaginative approach to figure painting, incorporating storytelling and atmospheric effects. Roman provides tutorials, workshops, and shares his insights on his website and social media platforms.

Ben Komets:

Ben Komets is a professional miniature painter known for his expertise in achieving realistic and weathered finishes. His work includes historical figures, gaming miniatures, and busts. Ben shares his knowledge through tutorials and online classes, and his weathering techniques are particularly popular among hobbyists.

Alfonso Giraldes (aka Banshee):

Alfonso Giraldes is a Spanish artist and painter who has gained a strong reputation in the figure painting community. He emphasizes artistic expression and creative storytelling in his work, pushing the boundaries of the hobby. Alfonso shares his insights and techniques through workshops and his online platform, Figurementors.

Kujo Painting (AJ Abell):

AJ Abell, known as Kujo Painting, is a prolific figure painter who creates highly detailed and vibrant works of art. His YouTube channel offers a wide range of tutorials, reviews, and painting tips, covering various techniques and aspects of figure painting.

Sorastro’s Painting (Sorastro):

Sorastro’s Painting is a YouTube channel dedicated to painting miniatures for board games, particularly focusing on the Star Wars: Imperial Assault series. Sorastro provides detailed, step-by-step video tutorials that are highly regarded for their clarity and effectiveness, making them accessible to beginners and experienced painters alike.

These are just a few examples of the many talented figure painters out there. Exploring their work, tutorials, and social media channels can provide you with inspiration, techniques, and insights to enhance your own figure painting journey.

Additionally, don’t forget to explore the broader community by participating in online forums, attending workshops, and engaging with fellow hobbyists who can offer their own unique perspectives and expertise.

Miniature Painting Can Be a Good Hobby for Your Mental Health

Engaging in figure painting as a hobby can have positive impacts on your mental and emotional well-being, making it beneficial for your overall health. Here are some ways in which miniature painting can contribute to your well-being:

Relaxation and Stress Relief:

Figure painting can be a calming and meditative activity. Focusing on the details, colors, and brushstrokes can help shift your attention away from daily stresses and promote relaxation. It allows you to enter a state of flow, where you’re fully absorbed in the creative process, which can reduce stress and improve mental well-being.

Mindfulness and Mind-Body Connection:

Engaging in figure painting can enhance mindfulness and the mind-body connection. When you paint, you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. It encourages you to be present in the moment, cultivating mindfulness and helping to create a sense of balance and harmony.

Creativity and Self-Expression:

Figure painting provides a creative outlet for self-expression. It allows you to explore your artistic vision, experiment with techniques, and bring your ideas to life. Engaging in creative activities has been shown to boost mood, increase self-confidence, and promote a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.

Cognitive Stimulation:

Figure painting involves problem-solving, decision-making, and attention to detail, which stimulate cognitive functions. It can improve hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and spatial awareness. Engaging in mentally stimulating activities like figure painting has been associated with maintaining cognitive health and potentially reducing the risk of cognitive decline.

Community and Social Connection:

Participating in the figure painting hobby can connect you with a community of like-minded individuals who share your passion. Engaging with fellow hobbyists through online forums, social media groups, or local clubs can foster a sense of belonging, provide opportunities for learning and collaboration, and contribute to your social well-being.

Personal Growth and Learning:

Figure painting is a hobby that encourages continuous learning and growth. As you explore new techniques, experiment with different styles, and challenge yourself with more complex projects, you can expand your artistic skills and knowledge. This ongoing learning process can boost self-esteem and personal development.

It’s important to note that figure painting, like any hobby, should be balanced with other aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Practice good ergonomics, take breaks when needed, and ensure proper posture to avoid strain or discomfort. It’s also advisable to maintain good ventilation when working with painting materials and follow safety guidelines.

Overall, figure painting can provide a fulfilling and enjoyable hobby that positively impacts your mental, emotional, and even cognitive well-being. The key is to find joy in the process, embrace the creative journey, and allow yourself to explore and express your artistic abilities.

The Origins of Miniature Painting

The origins of miniature painting can be traced back to ancient times, as humans have long been fascinated with representing the human form and telling visual stories through art. Here are some key points about the origins of figure painting:

Ancient Civilizations:

Figure painting has a rich history in ancient civilizations around the world. In ancient Egypt, for example, figure painting adorned the walls of tombs and temples, depicting deities, pharaohs, and scenes from daily life. Ancient Greek and Roman art also showcased figure painting, with an emphasis on realistic depictions of human anatomy and mythological narratives.

Medieval and Renaissance Periods:

During the medieval and Renaissance periods in Europe, religious themes dominated figure painting. Christian art depicted biblical figures, saints, and religious scenes. Notable artists such as Giotto, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci made significant contributions to figure painting during this time, with their works showcasing technical mastery and humanistic ideals.

Asian Traditions:

Figure painting has a long and rich tradition in Asia as well. In China, figure painting can be traced back to ancient times, with subjects ranging from imperial portraits to Buddhist figures and narrative scenes. In Japan, traditional figure painting styles like ukiyo-e emerged, depicting scenes from everyday life, landscapes, and historical figures.

Development of Oil Painting:

The development of oil painting techniques during the Renaissance in Europe revolutionized figure painting. Artists like Jan van Eyck and Titian pioneered the use of oil paints, enabling greater realism, depth, and subtle color transitions in figure paintings.

Academic and Historical Painting:

In the 17th to 19th centuries, academic and historical painting became prominent, depicting historical events, mythological scenes, and allegorical figures. Artists such as Jacques-Louis David and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres exemplified the precision and idealized aesthetics often associated with this period.

Modern and Contemporary Figure Painting:

With the advent of modernism, figure painting underwent significant transformations. Artists like Édouard Manet, Pablo Picasso, and Gustav Klimt explored new styles and techniques, challenging traditional conventions and pushing the boundaries of representation. Contemporary figure painting continues to evolve, encompassing diverse styles, subject matters, and interpretations.

Throughout history, figure painting has served various purposes, including religious devotion, commemoration, social commentary, personal expression, and storytelling.

It has evolved alongside the changing artistic and cultural landscapes, reflecting the values, aesthetics, and innovations of different time periods and societies.

Today, miniature painting continues to be a vibrant and evolving form of artistic expression.