Painting Concepts

A few basic painting concepts, or more accurately “things I wish I could tell myself in 1990’s”. I’ve spent a long time hating the painting aspect of the hobby. I found it frustrating in terms of the results I could achieve and time I’d rather spent building something. But once I got my hobby organisers and sorted my desk, I started putting in more effort. And recently I’ve found I’ve really started enjoying picking up minis and painting them.

The things below are accrued from a wide variety of sources, YouTube being an obvious one (Midwinter Minis most notably for me), but there’s also a hodgepodge of 30years experience thrown in. On with the painting concepts…

Don’t Try to Colour inside the Lines

Or more accurately, don’t try to colour inside the lines from the start. I have hundreds of badly painted minis from my youth and a bit part of is down to patchy coverage. There’s undoubtedly primer or base coat showing at the joins between colours, and when I used to use white primer it looks truly horrid.

These days I prime in grey usually, then basecoat with a massive brush with a decent point (I think it’s a size 6 or 7, just a cheap one from Amazon). I tend to paint colours with the worst coverage first, then slap paint pretty much everywhere. Then if possible I’ll move onto a colour which doesn’t share any boundaries with the first. This means you only need to be neat and tidy on a small number of colours. Man I wish I knew this years ago, I find it very liberating. And on that note..

Learn to Tidy Mistakes

You’re going to make mistakes, everyone does. So? It’s rare you’ll ruin it. You have to do something so serious that a quick bath in stripper and re-prime won’t remedy the worst of errors. So accept that and learn how to tidy them.

Usually a clean, damp brush applied straight to the mistake will wick the paint right off. And it it doesn’t, you can usually overpaint. Sure a mistaken black line onto that yellow you’ve just put the fifth glaze coat on is frustrating, but even that could be mitigated by painting the black first.

I used to be so scared of cocking up that I’d get analysis paralysis and just put the brushes down. Don’t do that.

Different Techniques

I spent a long time with just prime, base coat, wash, done. And whilst it gets minis finished they all tend to look drab. Don’t rely on that one technique that you know helps (I’m very guilty of an over-reliance on washes).

I recently learned to glaze properly, and whilst I won’t be using it on everything I’ve found I can actually paint yellows and whites in a way I really like. YouTube channels are amazing for exposure and education on new techniques.

Painting Handles

I wish I’d had one of these twenty years ago. My hands have always shook quite a lot, so fine detail painting involved gripping the model so tightly I’d get cramps. Now I can hold the model loosely, balance my left (painting) hand on this and be able to hold the brush without too much pressure.

It also lets you spin the model around quickly. And keeps my clumsy fingers off the fresh paintwork!


I’ve used a normal desk lamp with a normal bulb. Yes I know, a daylight bulb has been on my amazon wishlist for a decade or so. But I manage, my eye for colour isn’t that finely tuned so I don’t sweat it.

But I have just recently got better at moving the lamp rather than my hands. Pulling the lamp and twisting the model to be able to see where the paint brush is actually going has made such an improvement in my control. Stupidly simple obvious thing that I overlooked for so long.


I’m 41, I’m a software dev so I’m a professional sitter. But even so, my body does not like me if I do extended painting sessions without thinking of posture. Sit upright, don’t hunch, lean back in your chair if your lamp will stretch far enough. 18 year olds may mock, but trust me your joints are not your friends. They’re angry bastards just waiting to spend the second half of your life stabbing you.

So there you go, super simple painting concepts a lot of people know, but if you didn’t then great, and if not I hope you nodded sagely in agreement!

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