miniature paint on a palette
Hobby Tips

5 common miniature painting questions answered

Learning how to paint miniatures can be an incredibly fun, rewarding experience. To assist you on your painting journey, here are 5 commonly asked miniature painting questions answered.

1. Why should I prime my miniatures?

Primer is a special type of paint that provides a solid foundation for subsequent layers of miniature paint to cling to. If you paint normal acrylic paint onto your miniature without first priming it, you run the risk of your beautiful paint job chipping off.

Primers come in a variety of colours but most commonly black, white and grey. They are available in dropper bottles for painting on with a brush or through an airbrush as well as spray cans.

It pays to think about what colour scheme you’ll be painting your miniature as certain shades of primer will be better suited to certain schemes. For example if you plan to paint your miniature in predominantly light colours, you might consider priming with white or grey.

2. What is a wet palette?

Painting with a palette of any kind gives you much more control over the paint before it goes on the miniature. You can thin your paint (more on that in a bit), make glazes, washes, mix completely new colours and much more.

A wet palette takes it this to the next level by hydrating the paint on the palette, which prevents it from drying out so quickly. Acrylic paint dries notoriously fast so being able to mix up a colour and be able to work with it for hours, sometimes even days is game changing.

3. Can I paint my miniatures with cheap craft paint?

You can indeed, however they will behave differently to traditional miniature paints. Among other things, craft paint pigments tend not to be ground as finely and the medium can contain more water. This makes working with small quantities of paint more difficult. One area of the hobby that craft paint comes in very handy is painting terrain.

4. How do I thin my paint?

Thinning your paint helps you achieve a smoother finish on your miniature. It’s easy to add multiple layers of thinned paint but removing a single thick layer could mean stripping the whole thing and starting again… not ideal.

Water is great for thinning acrylic paint. Simply dip your brush a clean pot of water, dab most of it off on a paper towel and work it into the paint on your palette. You’re not looking to make your paint so thin that it’s watery, as that will be too hard to work with on the miniature.

You can also use acrylic medium to thin your paints. Acrylic paint is made up of coloured pigment floating in a clear medium, so adding more of that clear medium will create a thinner paint.

5. How to mix paint that has separated

Over time, acrylic paint can separate with a thin watery layer of medium floating on top of a thicker layer of pigment and medium at the bottom of the pot. You might notice this happening to brand new paints you’ve bought as well as paints you’ve owned for a long time… they’ve both just been sat around not being shaken for a while.

If you find your paints don’t mix together properly with a good shake, adding a mixing ball or two to each pot will help. Simply wiggle the dropper top off of your bottle with your fingers or some pliers and drop one or two mixing balls in with the paint. These will help to mix the medium and the pigment together when you give it a shake.