From 1d4chan
"Bet you'd never see us again..."

Wikipedia says that "Paint is any pigmented liquid that, after application to a substrate in a thin layer, converts to a solid film. It is most commonly used to protect, color, or provide texture to objects." However, most neckbeards know Paint as "that goopy color stuff that you put on models to make them look pretty."


In the beginning, model makers had to take paint made for other professions and use that on their minis. Model Railroad enthusiasts would paint their tiny houses with actual house-paint, and their tiny boxcars with actual box-car paint (stolen from rail yards, of course)! Eventually animators, mechanics, and special effects crew combined their powers to convince paint suppliers to break into the hobby business. Soon, craft stores began filling with model paints.

Some of the earlier paint suppliers were Tamiya and Ral Partha, both of which are better known for their models.


  • Liquid: Comes in pots or droppers. Brush onto models in two thin coats, only. There's actually more than one type of paint, here's the four most common and useful types, don't mix paints with different bases together.
    • Acrylic: This is the standard paint, water-based, dries fast, cheap, and versatile. Oh, and Lickable.
    • Enamel: Alcohol based, and used mostly by scale modellers. Enamel shades are brilliant to use for recess shading, seriously, watch this [1]. Don't lick.
    • Oil: Yep, everyone's favourite traditional paint is also used in mini painting, they take forever to dry, and can be used to create blends of different colours. Don't lick.
    • Metallics: Can be based of water or alcohol, they all have metallic flakes in them to make the paint shiny (Yep, Retributor Armour isn't made of real gold). you should probably use cheaper brushes for these as the flakes can actually cut/wear the bristles of the brush. Remember to keep a different pot of water for these, as the flakes can contaminate your other paints. Don't Lick.
  • Spray: This is also liquid, but it is not for brushing! These are canisters used to fuel spray guns (see below).
  • Aerosolized: This paint comes in handy spray cans! If you have one of these cans, you probably have a can of primer, which is not actually paint.
  • Technical: If you want to get technical these are a kind of Liquid paint. But, they have other things in them that make them dry funny, behave weirdly, change colors, or glow in the dark!
  • Basing Paste: Popularized by GW's texture paints, slap it on your bases, and they'll dry into something that resemble real life ground, some have cool effects.
  • Pen: A rare and much-maligned form of paint, used mostly by Gunpla nerds (and even then only begrudgingly.
  • Sealant/Varnish: This is invisible paint! You use it to protect your already-painted minis by painting them all over again with paint you can't see! Three levels of shiny: gloss, satin, and matte.
  • Transfers: These are just complicated stickers, not paint!


Paints are essential to many traditional games, as many use models as part of their games. Some games have models that come grey and so must be coated paint in whatever combination, however artful or bizarre, that you like before you can play them.

Most /tg/ makers make their own paints as well, 'official' paints to be used on their models which they recommend, although in practice a number of suppliers make paints of a better quality then others and wise people quickly find out the best ones for the jobs.

Some companies like Games Workshop and Vallejo create huge paint ranges, that frankly become insane; with minor variations only someone with an equally insane eye could bother to tell the difference between. GW really double-down on their insanity by totally rebooting the names and the colors they have on offer every seven years or so. Other companies create a small range of standard paints, which are expected to be hand-mixed on the fly to achieve the colors and shades you want.

Tools of Painting[edit]

  • Brush: The standard painting implement. They come in endless sizes, from endless manufacturers, and have endless uses. Important note, you don't need "better" or more expensive brushes to be good at painting, some Golden Demon winners basically use only cheap 20 for $10 synthetic brush packs and still create beautiful works, remember, experience is the most important factor in painting.
    • Kolinsky Sable: Considered the best material to make brushes out of, expensive as fuck, but lasts longer and generally "feels" better to use. GW's own artificer layer brushes are supposedly made of this. Other Golden Demon winners use only these, but they're a bit crazy.
  • Spray Gun: A flamethrower for paint! Good for quickly painting one-color base coats onto a bunch of minis, or one big mini. Use with a venting fume hood when indoors. GW's Flamer spray gun is sadly discontinued, presumably for being a bit crap.
    • Airbrush: A spray gun but actually useful, require more maintenance and care, and a good one is generally much much more expensive, requires an air compressor to use. Is far more precise and versatile, and can be used to create all sorts of blends and effects on models, like the blended power sword look commonly seen in White Dwarf and Golden Demon. Also, don't let anyone tell you otherwise, it isn't "cheating" to use one. Really thin your paints for these, use dropper bottles.
  • Tooth Brush: A clever way to get randomized textures. Sliding your thumb across its paint-filled bristles will throw specks of paint at your model, perfect for dirt spray or gore! Its also great for stripping your models, helps get that paint off them after a good soaking.
  • Putty: For camouflage patterns, look no further than tacky putty! Put it on wherever you want a base coat to show through an upper layer, then peel it off once the paint is dry.
  • Masking Tape: Used much like putty, it is used generally to create straight lines, recommended by GW themselves for things like Imperial Guard tank squad markings.

Advanced Techniques[edit]

There are many terms and techniques associated with paints and modelling painting, and many neckbeards will have long experience and equally long advice in telling you just how to get that shade of dwarf flesh just right. Many of the core techniques of mini painting are skills that require at least some level of practice. Anyone can learn them, however. A fantastic series of painting guides for anyone who wants to paint wargaming minis has been made available by Games Workshop, hosted on their YouTube channel and taught by the fantastic Duncan Rhodes. Even if you aren't a Warhammer player, these guides will help you learn to artfully paint any line of tabletop minis.

Many of the truly advanced techniques in miniature painting are known not by wargamers or RPG fans, but by the veterans of miniature collecting: Scale Vehicle Replica nerds, Gunpla geeks, and Model Railroading "enthusiasts". Seeking out their knowledge will help you make your models look more realistic: painting rust effects, half-exposed metal, and texturing a surface to make it not resemble plastic. These are only a few of the secrets you will unlock by talking to your fellow nerd, you nerd.

Remember that making a model look complete doesn't just require paints. Adding flare to your bases will really kick your models up a notch. The best showpiece models have things like fake grass, fake snow, fake mud, fake ice, fake rocks, real rocks, and other such "realistic" touches. Remember that your soldiers need something to stand on if they want to fight! Do remember to paint the base rims too.

See Also[edit]

Model Making
Modeling: Guide to Assembling Models - Green Stuff - Model Alternatives - Casting - Photo-Etched Brass
Painting: Guide to Painting Models - Paint - THIN YOUR PAINTS - Duncan Rhodes - 'Eavy Metal
Scenery and Technical: Forthcoming...
Related: WIP