You’ve been thinking of getting into a hobby, and you’ve finally settled on miniature painting. Now comes the hard part. Where do you start? It can be difficult to get started on miniature painting when you have no clue what you need to start making your own masterpieces.
What do I need for miniature painting? To get started on miniature painting, the main tools you need include a paintbrush, paints, and a miniature. As you advance in your craft, you may need additional tools depending on your painting style. The other tools that may come in handy include:
- Utility knife.
- Painting handle.
When you’re starting miniature painting, it’s always best to start with the basic tools until you get the hang of the craft before buying everything experienced painters recommend. This way, you’ll know what you need, depending on your style, as you go. In this article, we’re going to discuss some of the essential tools in miniature paintings, and why I think they’re indispensable.
- What Do I Need for Miniature Painting?
- The Best Miniature Painting Kits for Beginners
- Other Essential Tools for Miniature Painting
- Don’t Forget to Set Up a Work Station
- Get Painting
What Do I Need for Miniature Painting?
Getting into a miniature painting is easier said than done. For most people, deciding is the easy part. The challenge comes when it’s time to get the ball rolling. Most people get stuck because they don’t know which tools they need to start practicing and creating amazing pieces.
If you’re sailing in the same boat, we’re here to help you stop procrastinating by providing you with a useful beginner’s guide to miniature tools. Let’s dive right in.
One of the things you can’t do without in miniature painting is a paintbrush. You need a set of high-quality brushes to create incredible designs. I recommend getting a set of four sizes including 2, 1, 000, and 5/0. These brush sizes should be enough for the different types of painting you’ll be doing.
Apart from the size of the brush, you also need to consider the quality. Do not go for a set of brushes that have hairs poking out in all directions because this will affect the quality of your work. You need brushes that are made of high-quality, natural bristles. Natural bristles are soft and do an excellent job of blending compared to their synthetic counterparts.
It’s not painting without a set of high-quality paints. For miniature painting, you should invest in a set of premium acrylic paints. Acrylic paints are the best option because they thin easily with warm water, and they’re hassle-free to clean.
What’s more, acrylic paints are smoother and less opaque compared to enamels which give you more control especially when you’re using multiple colors in your work.
Another essential item to get is a miniature. Here, it all depends on your tastes, preferences, and what you’d like to paint. However, miniatures come in different materials, and they all have different qualities. These include:
- Metal – This is perhaps the most durable. It can be white metal, pewter, or an alloy depending on its age and/or the manufacturer.
- Resin – This is the preferred material for top-notch, modern miniatures.
- Plastic – The most popular material, plastic, varies in rigidity from brittle to almost bendable.
- Fine cast – It’s not as popular as the rest of the materials on this list.
- Bones – One of the most affordable options, this material has one limitation; you need to be careful about the primer or base coat you use in order for your paint to stick and look incredible.
- Restic – This is a plastic-and-resin hybrid and is a better alternative to plastic only because it offers better rigidity. However, it’s made by specific manufacturers, and it’s not very popular.
The Best Miniature Painting Kits for Beginners
As we’ve mentioned, the primary things you need to get started with miniature painting are brushes, paints, and miniatures. If you’re not sure where to get these or which quality to look for, we have two product recommendations we are certain you’ll love. These include:
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The Reaper Learn to Paint Kit is a beginners’ miniature painting kit that includes everything you need to begin. The kit comes with three bone miniatures, two master series brushes, and 11 master series paints. That’s not all though.
You also get a detailed set of instructions from the award-winning painter, Rhonda Bender. Some of the skills you’ll learn include applying base coats, washing, and dry brushing. That’s not even the best part. You get all these things for $30. How cool is that?
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Games Workshop Warhammer 40,000 is also an excellent choice for beginners. The kit includes miniatures, paints, and brushes, and like the Reaper kit, it’s also very affordable. If you’re just looking to try out the hobby without investing too much in terms of tools and other accessories, this kit should suffice.
Other Essential Tools for Miniature Painting
As you advance in your painting and get the hang of this type of art, you’ll find that you need additional tools to make even better pieces. Some of the things you may need include:
Clippers are a must-have in miniature painting. This tool is used to clip miniature components off of the sprue, and in some cases, for removing flash. Flash refers to bits of plastic or metal on the miniature’s surface that aren’t meant to be there but formed during the casting process. Trim away the excess with clippers, and then use a knife and a file to smooth the miniature.
A utility knife is also an essential miniature tool. With this tool in hand, you’re in a better position to get rid of all the flash left behind after clipping away the excess.
If you’re serious about miniature painting, you need to invest in a file. This tool allows you to remove mold lines in small areas without ruining the surrounding details. Files come in a plethora of shapes including square, round, and rasp (one rounded edge and one flat edge).
Round and rasp files do an excellent job of removing leftover flash and smoothing the surface because they are easy to get into the small areas. However, your choice of the file will depend on where the mold lines are in the miniature. For instance, if the lines are in the arms or legs, a flat-file would be better in this scenario.
Therefore, it helps to have different shaped files at your disposal because you can never be certain where the mold lines will be, especially when you’ve purchased a new set of miniatures.
Tweezers should also be on your priority list when you’re getting started on miniature painting. This tool comes in handy when you’re assembling your miniatures. With tweezers, you’ll be better equipped to handle small components, especially when gluing, handling decals, or converting.
Getting Started Tool Kit
As you can see, when you’re starting miniature painting, you need a lot of tools. We recommend buying things in sets to cut down on expenses. One of our favorite repair tool kits is the Keadic 9 Piece Gundam Model Tools Kit.
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The set includes:
- One side pliers.
- One manual model tools file.
- One polishing cloth.
- One pen knife and blade.
- Two tweezers.
- Two double-sided polish bars.
The tools are light and are made of high-quality materials, and the best part is that you can use them for other projects as well. The set is also very affordable compared to buying each tool individually.
A lot of beginners hold their miniatures in their hand when they’re painting. The common practice is to hold the minute between the thumb and index finger with the top part against the index finger and the base resting on the thumb. Don’t make this rookie mistake.
Holding your miniature in your hand is not a good idea for several reasons. For starters, it will be challenging to get the paint on all areas if the miniature is not well-aligned.
In addition to this, you risk rubbing off the paint because your fingers may contain grease or oils. This can damage your work, especially if you’re planning to have multiple coats of paint.
Not to mention, you may experience cramping in your hands if you hold on to the miniature for a long time.
So what’s the alternative? We suggest getting a painting handle. It not only makes handling your miniature easier, but it’s also ergonomically friendly for your hands. One of the best options on the market is Games Workshop’s Citadel Painting Handle. It stands out for two reasons:
Excellent construction – The painting handle is made of high-quality sturdy plastic material that ensures your miniature stays put when you’re painting. What’s more, it has a bit of weight in it to prevent it from falling over when you’re painting.
However, some customers have said that the handle is not as weighted as they hoped, and it may fall over if there’s a lot of shaking in the work station. This may be something to keep in mind when you start using it.
Unique mounting technique – The Citadel Painting Handle is also an excellent option because it has a unique mounting mechanism. When you mount the miniature, it sticks to the handle without moving until you’re done. This is perfect because you don’t have to worry about the model falling off before you’ve finished.
The handle can also hold bigger miniatures which is also beneficial. However, some people say they have a hard time mounting and removing bigger miniatures. Nonetheless, they report that once the miniature is in place, the handle does an excellent job of keeping it in position.
If you’re working with multi-part figures or models that require gluing of their bases, glue is another item you can’t afford not to have. Your choice of adhesive will depend on the material of your miniature and how secure you’d like the finished product to be.
Some of the best adhesives you can use for miniature painting include:
Liquid Super Glue
Liquid super glue has a watery consistency which means it will get into the crevices easily and provide superior hold wherever you need it to. However, because it’s so fluid, you need to be very careful when handling it, because if too much is used, it will show in the seams.
Gel Super Glue
Gel superglue is a better alternative if you need more control of the amount of glue you’re using but it may not get into the crevices as easily as liquid super glue.
We recommend the Gorilla Super Glue Gel. Its gel formula ensures better run control, and it features an anti-clog cap that prevents the glue from drying. Not to mention, it dries fast and can be used to bond different types of material including plastic, paper, rubber, metal, ceramic, and more.
You also need adequate lighting, especially if you plan to paint in the evenings or in a room that’s not well lit. Diffused lighting is recommended as it prevents eye fatigue, which is crucial if you’re planning to paint for many hours a day.
You should also look for lights that offer proper white balance and sufficient brightness. Such lights improve your results as they not only make it easy for you to see what you’re doing but also allow you to see contrast and color issues.
Recommended lights for miniature paintings have a color temperature that falls within the daylight range of 5000 to 6500 Kelvin.
Have you ever tried to check the integrity of an airbrush nozzle without a magnification lens? Not easy, is it?
In miniature painting, there will be times where you’ll need optical assistance to create incredible designs. For instance, if you’re painting the eyes or face, you need a better view to avoid painting out of the area or making a mess.
A magnification lens saves the day in such situations. You have several options here. You can get a handheld magnification lens or opt for wearable ones. I suggest getting wearable magnification lenses because they’re easier to use, and you don’t need to keep holding on to them while painting.
So what’s the best magnification power for painting miniatures? I recommend a 2.75x magnification power. With this magnification, you’ll have sufficient improvement in seeing the details while balancing out the limitations of having too much or little power.
You need to stay within a range of 1.5x to 3.75x. Too much power will make painting more challenging as you’ll end up losing the depth of field, and too little power won’t be enough to enhance the details.
When choosing a magnification visor, you shouldn’t forget to factor in the focal length. This is the distance between the lens and the object. The focal length allows you to know how much distance there is between the miniature and your face. If the focal length is too short, chances are the brush will bump into the visor.
A 2.75x magnification lens has a focal length of 6 inches which is the perfect distance if you’re painting the miniature for detail. Nonetheless, when it comes to magnification, everyone has different preferences.
You may want to try out different magnifications within the range I’ve provided to find out what works best for you.
Don’t Forget to Set Up a Work Station
Once you have everything you need to start miniature painting, the next thing you need to do is to designate an area in your house to be your work station. Miniature painting involves the use of paints, glues, clippers, and other tools that can create a mess.
Cleaning up isn’t fun, and you definitely don’t want to ruin your furniture or surfaces with paint.
If you don’t have a room you can use for your painting sessions, consider getting a hobby mat or cover the surface you intend to use with newspapers for protection. Newspapers are the better alternative not only because they’re cheap and readily available but also because you can throw them out to cut down on your cleaning time.
There you have it, a comprehensive guide on beginner tools for miniature painting. If you just want to test your curiosity and haven’t made up your mind, we’d suggest getting the beginner miniature painting kits.
They’re affordable and include everything you need to get started, but if you’re serious about miniature painting, it’s advisable to get all the tools mentioned here for the best experience. Don’t forget to have fun!