Beginner’s Guide to Painting Miniatures

Beginner’s Guide to Painting Miniatures

One of the things that I’ve really loved about the board game industry is the welcoming nature of most publishers, designers and fanatics. While some businesses focus only or primarily on their adult customers, this industry relishes the opportunity to introduce younger people to the variety of offline forms of entertainment. At all sizes of game conventions (national, regional, local), you’ll see people teaching adults and children how to play games, build terrain and paint miniatures. Every year at Origins Game Fair, in addition to playing games and looking to add to their dice collection, the girls look forward to taking a more advanced terrain building class and checking out the latest tips, tricks and products for painting miniatures.

Last year as we were talking to Julie from Greenbrier Games, we were talking about how much fun it has been for the girls. She had some miniatures from Folklore: The Affliction that were damaged so she generously offered them to Madison and Kennedy to hone their painting skills! The first thing the girls had to do was straighten out bent miniatures and that was as easy as giving them a warm bath. 

If you're ready to give your games some personality, this beginner's guide to painting miniatures has some tips to get you started! -

If you’ve ever heard people say that painting miniatures requires an investment, they’re referring to time. You need the patience to take notice of the details on each individual piece and bring out those features. We’re still beginners to this part of the hobby, but we’ve put together some basic tips that we’ve picked up. To get started at painting miniatures, here are some things you’ll want to have on hand. 

Beginner Supplies to Paint Miniatures

  • Miniatures
  • Paint set 
  • 2x Primer
  • Fine brush set
  • Miscellaneous household items (Cup for rinsing brushes, newspapers to protect the table, etc.)


There are several miniatures you can purchase individually and that might be good for starters. But the best source for finding things to paint are in the games you already own. 

If you're ready to give your games some personality, this beginner's guide to painting miniatures has some tips to get you started! -

Paint Sets

While there are a number of paint sets on the market, the Reaper Miniatures Paint Kit is one of the best values. We purchased a Reaper Miniatures Learn to Paint Kit Core Skills, Master Series Paint Box Set at the local game store, but you can find them on Amazon as well. It not only contains paints and brushes, but it also includes an instruction book and three miniatures to practice on!

2X Primer

You can purchase special primer for miniatures at your local hobby store, but experience has shown that the 2X primer available at Walmart or Amazon are just as effective and will likely save you a few bucks. The first thing you’ll do before painting your miniatures is add a coat of primer to them. Much like adding primer to the wall of your home, what color you use will vary based on the color of the item you’ll be painting. 

If you're ready to give your games some personality, this beginner's guide to painting miniatures has some tips to get you started! -


As with the primer, you can find brush sets online, at mass merchandisers like Walmart or Target or local art or game stores. Shop around and pick up a couple of sets that include a variety of brush sizes. The important thing to remember about brushes is that you need to rinse them after each use. Dried paint is a bristle’s worst enemy.

If you're ready to give your games some personality, this beginner's guide to painting miniatures has some tips to get you started! -

Household items

Use a disposable cup to rinse your brushes when switching between colors, but rinse brushes thoroughly under running water when you’re done with your painting session. Old medicine bottles or paint stir sticks find new life as a way to hold your miniature without touching the areas you’re trying to paint. All you need to do is use duct tape to temporarily adhere the miniature to the base. Of course, you’ll want an old cardboard box and newspapers to put under your miniatures when spraying the base or painting on the table.

If you're ready to give your games some personality, this beginner's guide to painting miniatures has some tips to get you started! -

Wet Palette

If you remember back to using watercolor sets in elementary school, you probably also recall that you could get one good use out of it before everything started looking dingy. You don’t want that to happen when you’re painting miniatures! One inexpensive trick of the trade is to use more household items to create a wet palette. Find a disposable food storage container (you know, like lunch meat comes in). Fold and wet a couple paper towels and line the bottom of the container. Add a layer of parchment paper to the top to form your wet palette. As you’re ready to use a color, add a small amount to the parchment paper. When you’re done with your session, adhere the lid tightly and you’ll find that your paints don’t dry out. Not only does this extend the life of your paint set, but it also allows you to test different color mixes without wasting much. 

If you're ready to give your games some personality, this beginner's guide to painting miniatures has some tips to get you started! -

As I said, we’re still new to this, but these are a few of the things we’ve already learned. We encourage you to start with something like creating blood-spatter dice then move on to giving your RPG and miniature games a little bit of personalized character!

What’s your best tip for someone who is just starting to paint miniatures?


About Nicole

Founder and owner of, Nicole has been involved in social media marketing since 2007. She has partnered with a number of major corporations who utilized her skills to improve their social media outreach and online presence. Nicole has worked closely with brands such as Netflix, Nintendo, Domino's and Disney, has been featured in McDonald's videos as well as Maria Bailey's book "Power Moms". Always a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) and mother of two amazing daughters, if you can't find Nicole, she is probably somewhere being an advocate for playing board games.

36 comments on «Beginner’s Guide to Painting Miniatures»

  1. GarishMan says:

    fair! the wet pallet thing is something i need to try

  2. Mya Murphy says:

    Because of my having epilepsy and shaking a lot, I couldn’t do this, but I love them. So cute!!

  3. Sue E says:

    I don’t remember painting any miniature figurines. I know I would not have the patience for doing something like that. I have seen these kind of kits at Hobby Lobby and at Michael’s. Here’s another gift idea for sure

  4. Jennifer P says:

    Yes we use to paint miniatures with my great grandma so many years ago for chess sets and doll houses, I should try it again.

  5. KIM m Blevins says:

    intrusting painting stly i’m a painter myself

  6. Michael DeFren says:

    i always wanted to try this. My hands arent that steady though

  7. Richard Hicks says:

    I would like to give this a try. I might need a magnifier. LOL!

  8. Sarah Mayer says:

    This would take steady hands a boatloads of patience.. not sure if it’s for me!

  9. Lily Kwan says:

    I’ve never tried a project like this. It looks very fun!

  10. Judy Rittenhouse says:

    I have never tried painting miniatures, but I love to paint and since we are still at a stay-at-home order and this would be a nice new hobby.

  11. Jordan Binkerd says:

    My tip: learn to use washes and to drybrush. Those two techniques alone will add exponential improvement to your end result….

  12. Mia E. says:

    Using Duct Tape to adhere the miniature to the base is a very helpful tip.

  13. Caroline Lennek says:

    Patience is key as well as good brushes. There are some great tips in this article as well especially about the time investment. I used to paint collectibles for a company and learned that lesson well.

  14. Ton Platz says:

    Use very good brushes . Brush selection really does make a world of difference .

  15. Michael Shea says:

    It can only help, I’m a really bad painter.

  16. Asia Walker says:

    Good paintbrushes are important when painting especially miniatures

  17. Jessica says:

    Take your time and have fun

  18. Giggles Giggles says:

    My tip: fully clean the brush before/after use – so colors won’t mix when applying, and so the brush won’t get hard from left on paint!

  19. Clint Cabrera says:

    Thanks for all the advice! I haven’t painted any yet!

  20. Thanay Binford says:

    This would be awesome, I just don’t have a steady hand for small pieces

  21. Monica McConnell says:

    I dont think my hands are steady enough to do this

  22. Josh Christian says:

    Might be a bit of a cop out, but my best advice is to have someone else paint them lol

  23. Pete Donegan says:

    I haven’t had a lot of experience painting figurines, so my only tip is to start with cheaper figurines that you don’t care about messing up

  24. Kelly VanAuken says:

    My tip would be to use good quality brushes.

  25. GB Pignatti says:

    Just enjoy it.

  26. James says:

    Don’t take yourself too seriously and enjoy!

  27. Anthony P Moss says:

    Great guide. I might start painting my pieces.

  28. McKnight says:

    My tip is don’t dip your brushes more than half way into paint or use a wet pallet.

  29. Francine Anchondo says:

    Dont really have any tips since I am not great at painting things haha

  30. Brian B says:

    Best tip: Get someone else to do it, haha

  31. gala says:

    enjoy and don’t worry too much

  32. Jessica W. says:

    This would be an interesting hobby to try.

  33. a says:

    get good brushes!

  34. Sue E says:

    Since then, I have trie a craft that involved little people. I have to say a steady hand, good eyesight, and lots of patience.

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