Painting handles! What sorcery is this? As the name implies it’s just something to put your mini on while you’re painting it. This way you don’t get your grubby paws all over them.
Fingerprints, oils, smudges… no good. There’s more to it than that though, stability when painting is one of my big three must-haves. A painting handle to brace your wrists, palms or fingers on is a huge benefit.
Having something you’re comfortable holding and can easily manipulate will do wonders for your overall ability to get a good result.
There are tons of DIY options here so don’t feel compelled to buy something. That said, uh, I bought some =p I use them CONSTANTLY.
The rules for miniature painting have changed since the nineties. Back then, it was okay to hold the miniatures by hand, take the paint straight from the pot, and stroke the brush on the model. It’s barbaric. Gross.
Today we have sophisticated plastic technology to hold our minis. Get with the times man!
Let’s talk about two of the most popular miniature painting holders available in the market today, along with do it yourself stuff…shall we?
The Citadel Painting Handle is a plastic knob-like holder that is specially designed to hold Warhammer miniatures while you’re busy making brush strokes. Obviously, other miniatures fit this thing too. At least minis of about the same size. There’s also an XL version of the holder.
What does it do though? It allows you to paint hassle-freely without worrying about the model moving too much. It also makes sure that you don’t keep touching the painted parts accidentally, as it may rub the paint off and ruin the look.
Here is a picture of mine. Again I use them every time I paint, and even sometimes for priming.
Why You Should Get It?
The Citadel Painting Handle is one of the best options out there for beginners. It uses a spring method of clamping the miniature’s base to make sure it stays in place.
If you imagine or perhaps try holding a miniature figure by just its base and painting it, you’ll likely find the method pretty challenging. Your index finger may likely reach out to touch some part of the miniature top, which most often is some weapon or the head of the model.
The thing is that your fingers may contain oil and grease and so, when you touch any painted part of your model, the paint will come off. Now unless you plan on applying multiple coats of paint or sticking to the base region only, this is going to be a problem.
If you know how to prime your models well or if you only paint plastic miniatures, you may not have to worry about the paint rubbing off. That’s because the paint will likely stick quite well to the new plastic surface.
On the contrary, if you’re painting an old model or one that’s made of resin, you might have to face the issue of paint chipping.
Apart from this, some people who hold the miniatures by the base for long periods start to experience muscle cramps. A painting holder is an ergonomic solution that can help make the task easier while preventing cramps.
How it is Constructed and How it Works
The bottom part is the handle and the top is the mount for miniatures. The handle is designed while keeping the users’ convenience and comfort in mind. People with big hands may find it a bit small though.
All you have to do is pull the mount on either side and then pull the springs back in slowly. You can then put any of your miniature figures in place. The pressure of the springs into the side of the base will keep them stable.
The plastic used in the construction of the Citadel Painting Handle is sturdy enough to resist a beating.
The mount has some weight in it due to which the balance point of the handle is high up. This means that it may not be ideal for clumsy people, as it tends to fall over very easily. Maybe if there was a bit more weight at the bottom, it would have worked better for everyone.
Mounting and Dismounting Miniatures on the Holder
When it comes to mounting and dismounting miniatures on the painting handle, small bases are usually very easy to get in and out. However, you may find it a bit challenging to work with miniatures that have a larger base.
On the bright side, the clamping method makes the miniatures stick in place. It works impressively well even with heavy metal figures.
You’ll probably need to work with both your hands while mounting and dismounting big models – and there’s a chance you’ll feel that an extra helping hand will make the task easier and quicker.
Generally, the better your hand-eye coordination, the easier the task will be for you.
The Ideal Size of Miniatures
What’s the ideal size of miniatures that a Citadel Painting Handle can accommodate?
Thanks to the way its handle is constructed, it can accommodate a wide range of miniature sizes.
Typically, it works best for the following bases:
- Small infantry – around 25 mm round bases
- Medium infantry – around 32 mm round bases
- Normal cavalry – 60 x 35 mm oval bases
- Monstrous infantry – around 40 mm bases
The important thing to note here is that this painting handle can’t accommodate 50 mm round bases.
If you have miniatures with square bases, the following models can fit in the Citadel Painting Handle.
- 20 mm square base
- 25 mm square base
- Old cavalry base – 25 x 50 mm square base
Again, 40 or 50 mm square bases and anything bigger than that may not fit in properly. In that case, go for the XL version.
- Doesn’t require any special preparation on the miniature or the painting holder
- Once the miniature is fitted in place, it doesn’t come off or move on its own
- The handle is super affordable
- The handle offers a convenient grip, at least much better than when you hold the miniature by its base
- Prevents hand cramps while painting miniatures
- It’s the perfect product to gauge whether you’d like working with other painting handles
- The screw on the handle is almost the same size as most different mounting accessories for cameras
- While most miniature painting holders allow you to rest your painting hand on the holder itself, the Citadel holder is too small to offer support for it
- The spring may lose its strength over time
- Only accommodates a limited number of bases; non-standard miniatures probably won’t fit perfectly
- You may find yourself fiddling around trying to mount the model on the handle, potentially ruining its look if you’ve already painted a part or two
- The mounting process doesn’t make it the perfect choice for batch painting
- You need to be careful while mounting your miniatures and make sure that you’re doing it right otherwise, the pressure of the spring will send them flying high in the air
- The holder’s tendency to tip may result in causing damage to your miniatures
- The handle may put extra pressure on the bases’ rims than what’s necessary, potentially ruining the painted parts
- If the grip of the handle is not comfortable for you, there’s no way of changing it
The Hobby Holder
The Hobby Holder took the market into a storm with its smart and convenient design. This versatile and customizable product aims to make your miniature painting sessions comfortable, quick, and enjoyable.
Here’s the deal with this one… it’s a personal preference. The one big feature I like on it is you can kinda twist your mini around. That’s pretty cool.
It’s also much more versatile than the Citadel version. You can do the “pinch” hold with the little arm that comes upon it. There’s a bunch of different ways to use it that I’ll show you below with some pictures.
How it Works
Quite interestingly, Hobby Holder uses a bottle cap to connect the miniature and its base.
Isn’t that amazing?
All you need to do is to screw a regular bottle cap at the base of your miniature figure and click on the handle. That’s it!
I don’t think anybody will feel bad about drilling a hole in bottle caps for pinning the models or even if you have to add different kinds of tacks for sticking the base to the cap.
Bonus tip 1: You can attach a bunch of magnets under the bottle cap and have a magnetic surface for painting miniatures.
Bonus tip 2: You can use a cork or anything similar for that matter instead of bottle caps.
How does the handle work?
Ok so you see him pinching it there on the left, and I like that handle while using the arm as support on the right. And you can see they just put it on a normal bottle cap with some sticky tack or whatever.
When positioned upwards, the handle offers the much-needed support for your painting hand, making it easier for you to paint small, intricate details. It provides great stability, which relieves frustration and stress for people with shakier hands or who tend to experience hand cramps while painting.
In addition to this, the handle allows you to hold the miniature figure at specific angles. The base also rotates to grant easier access to different angles of your models.
The Hobby Holder is made of high-quality plastic, which means the structure is easy to clean if it ends up with paint all over it. Not only this, but it also makes this painting holder quite affordable. You can even have the base in the color of your choice, so a customized look is no problem!
Perhaps the best thing about this product is that it offers different configuration options for you to choose from. You may choose from five different grips and get a tripod mount with it.
Just so you know, the first grip is apparently their best selling option. It’s not only smooth to touch and easy to hold but also is 3D printed! How cool!
You can turn the handle of the Hobby Holder upside down to have it next to a handle mod or all by itself. Otherwise, you can simply use it to rest your painting hand for support.
Another thing I like the most about the Hobby Holder is that it can easily accommodate miniature figures of different sizes. You can simply turn the handle upside down when you’re painting a big (around 50 mm) miniature figure and even then, it’ll offer a comfortable experience!
DIY Painting Handle Options:
Oh, em, gee. Just so many options for this. This is one of those questions you ask on a forum and you get 100,000 answers. People love to one-up each other on what they use for a painting handle.
I use a fossilized thigh bone of a 2 million year old Australopithecus as my paint holder. And then some juicy fruit gum to hold it in place. Works great.
Here are some of the best options I’ve heard, in no particular order:
- Plastic bottles. Just any old plastic bottle. Smaller/thinner is usually better. Put some sticky tack on the bottle cap and the mini on top of that. You’re good.
- Corks from wine bottles. Perfect for alcoholic painters. Once you’re finished with your White Zinfandel you can paint up an orc.
- Jenga Pieces. You know that game with the little square log things you pile up then swear at when it tips over? Those. Again just put something sticky on top.
- Magnets. I just wanted to mention them as an option for “sticky”. Put a magnet on your miniatures base, and one on any handle above, and you got a magnetic handle. Aren’t you so fancy.
The Bottom Line
Bottom line I own 2 Citadel Handles. I love the simple design and you can just clip mini’s in and out. I use them to paint and prime minis. I also know the guy I’m working on because he’s in the handle.
I don’t have to mess with sticky tack or cork or bottle caps. My guys are already on bases and this holds them. Perfecto.
So I think the Citadel Painting Handle is a good option to consider if you want something simple that gets the job done and is a step above DIY.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more customized option that accommodates both small and big miniatures while not compromising on user convenience, the Hobby Holder for sure a good option! You might LOVE the support arm, or the twisty feature, or some “feel” to it that’s hard to put into words.