Painting miniatures is a popular art form, and there is little wonder why. Miniatures are made better than ever before, and the companies that make them pay attention to every detail of the item so that it looks just like the real thing. Everything from furniture to cups and even toys are now made in miniature form, and painting them yourself allows you to get a more personalized look in the end.
Today’s miniatures look great and are made not just for collectors and doll house enthusiasts, but also for people who just love miniatures and wish to own as many of them as possible. You can buy a shadowbox to put them in or just place them on a bookshelf, and they are guaranteed to get noticed every time.
If you’re a painter but you’ve never painted miniatures before, not to worry because once you learn a few suggestions and tips, it is a lot easier than you might think. Painting tiny items can be a challenge, but it can also be a lot of fun, so once you learn these tips for painting miniatures, you’ll actually look forward to the next time you do this.
1. Make Sure the Brush You Use Is the Right Size
This may sound very basic, but it’s surprising how many people pay little attention to their brush size. Although you might be tempted to use a detail brush for miniatures, this might not always be the best option for you, depending on the item you’re trying to paint. For instance, if you’re trying to paint a tiny figure of a human being, that detail brush may make the task much more time-consuming for you.
Instead of a detail brush, consider using one that’s a bit bigger, especially when you go to apply your base coat. Experiment with your sizes so you get the right one, which can save you a lot of time in the end!
2. And Speaking of Brushes
Here’s another “duh” moment for you – when it comes to your paintbrushes, make sure you take good care of them at all times! When you’re working on a project, don’t just put your brush to the side thinking that you’ll clean it later. If you don’t keep your brushes cleaned properly, they will become too stiff to paint with or may even split as you try to paint with them next time.
The good thing is, if you take care of your brushes regularly – which means cleaning them after each time you use them – it is a very simple task indeed. Not only will regular cleaning make them work much better, but you’ll be able to keep them a lot longer as well.
3. Not All Designs Have to Be Unique
When it comes to painting miniatures, you’ll likely be tempted to paint some very unique designs such as flowers or butterflies, but don’t be afraid to paint what HAS been done before, that is, something that’s already been done by others. As artists, it is easy to want to be unique and create our own masterpieces, but the truth is that if it works for someone else, it’ll work for you too.
In addition, there are tons of online videos that can help you create something that many other people have done but which still looks spectacular on your own miniature item. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be creative; it just means you shouldn’t be afraid of painting designs that are already proven to look fantastic.
4. Try a Different Type of Priming
With projects such as miniatures, you already know how important your primer coat is, but rather than using black because this color is often recommended for beginners, don’t be afraid to venture out and use other colors instead. If you instead switch to primer colors such as white, gray, or even brown, painting your details is usually much easier in the long run. Indeed, your miniatures can look even more detailed in the end.
In fact, you can even experiment with various primer colors to see which one works best for you. Try using a color that is also going to be your primary base coat color. You have a lot of choices at your disposal, so why not try them all?
5. Make Sure You Spend Enough Time on Your Bases
When it comes to your bases, don’t be afraid to spend a lot of time on it. Think of it like this: in many ways, working on your bases is more important than the painting itself. It’s just like any other job you do – without the proper “foundation,” the project simply won’t look as good in the end as you want it to.
When you compare final projects where the painters have spent enough time on the bases to those where they haven’t, you can tell the difference immediately and it will become obvious why this step is such an important one. Don’t feel bad if you discover at the end that you’ve actually spent more time on your base than you have on the painting itself. It will be worth it once you see the final results.
6. Use Sticky Tack During the Priming Job
Before you prime your miniatures, use a little sticky tack at the bottom so that the item stands up better and allows you to do a better job at painting those details that are an important part of every project involving miniatures. You’ll want to take your time when it comes to priming and painting, especially if you use a spray for the primer.
When dealing with miniatures, the primer spray can knock the item over and cause problems that are almost certain to affect the way the final product looks when you’re done. To counteract this, simply use sticky tack to make sure the item stays secure and still as you’re completing the painting job.
7. Make Sure You Have Good Brushes
Another basic tip, but if you find you need to go out and buy new brushes at some point, go ahead and do so. You don’t have to buy the most expensive brushes out there, but once they get to the point when your painting is suffering, it’s time to buy new ones. You’ll be surprised by how much your technique improves once you have good quality brushes to use.
On the same point, you should also have a good set of brushes when you first start painting. Think of them as carpenters do their tools – you need the right ones to end up with great results.
8. Use a Wet Palette, Not a Dry One
When you need to thin your paints, you need a wet palette because this is the only way to thin paints in the right way. You can even make one if you like because there are numerous YouTube videos that show you just how this is done. Wet palettes work wonders in getting your paints the right consistency, so they are always worth having.
Indeed, for both thinning out the paints and for making sure the consistency is just right, go ahead and get yourself a wet palette. You will never regret it.
9. Learn About Color Theory
Learning what color theory is all about can help you make sure you don’t use the wrong color schemes later on, and it’s a lot easier to learn than you think. Color theory is learning how to mix and combine colors to get the results you want, and it starts with learning what primary colors are and what secondary colors are.
Color theory is easy to learn, and if you do some research on it before you start painting, it can prevent you from throwing out a lot of your projects later on.
10. Consider Different Ways to Dilute Your Paint
Diluting paint with water seems like a necessity, but water can evaporate and, therefore, cause the consistency of your paint to change throughout the course of your project. Instead, try using thinners or mediums to dilute the paints, which can both allow for better consistency and allow your wet paints to remain wet for much longer periods of time. Try different products to test them out, because using something other than water can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Good tips for painting miniatures include more than just these tips, however, and the important thing to remember is to do your due diligence every time you start on a different project. Miniature painting is a specialty area, but there are many others as well, and when you’re a beginner it’s important to make sure you learn as much as possible before getting started.