How To: Painting Minis

Before I begin, I want to say that I know, for some of you, the idea of taking the blank canvas of a miniature, and turning it into some sort of amazing piece of gamecraft that you are proud of is a truly daunting task.

I get that. I really do.

If you are not one of those people, I envy you. I am on the former.

Looking at a blank miniature, even worse, one that doesn’t even have primer on it, can be daunting as all can be. There are days I don’t even know how to begin! But don’t worry, today I’m going to talk to you about how to prep for painting minis.

Like most things relating to D&D, and dungeon mastering for that matter, It all boils down to your state of mind.

“But Daily DM,” you might say. “I get all anxious when even looking at blank miniatures.” So did I random reader. But you want to know how I got over that? I had, what you could call, a miniature hoarding problem. I have, literally, hundreds of miniatures. Easily half those have never had paint touch them. The worst part is that 2/3 of those actually have primer on them, as they either came pre-primed, or I’ve actually taken the time to prime it.

For me, especially since I have nothing better to do between blog posts, I have decided to paint. And paint I will do. I was discussing this very concept with a good friend of mine, whom I will call “A.”

“A” said something particularly profound. He said, “A blank miniature is like a placeholder. It’s not until you put paint that it develops a story.” Like I said, profound.

Do you know what I did, when I made the decision that my miniatures needed painting? I sat down, I prepared my tablespace, and I began to paint. Now, I won’t say my first attempt was great. I won’t say it was perfect. In fact, the shading job I did on it was pretty shoddy. Am I happy with the job I did overall? Absolutely. I painted a miniature. Granted, I still have to paint the base, but that’s fine. I’ll get to that eventually. What’s important is that the miniature itself has been given life, so to speak.

You may remember me having posted this before. As you can see, I could have done a better job with the shading. Oh well. But this is what I want you to turn your attention to: I put a lot of heart and soul into that miniature. The level of detail on the shield, the detail on the armor, the detail on the gloves and the sword. Here’s the back of it:

See the detail of the back of the shield, the detail of the dagger on the hip. The part where I’m apparently do not touch up the boot and dripped a little paint onto the boot. The detail of the hair.

Now, I’m not trying to brag by any means. I know that there are many people who could have done a better job than I did. But, it was the first miniature I had painted in over 25 years. And even then, I was too intimidated to consider the idea of painting a miniature in full. I had a half a dozen primed miniatures lying around. Most of them painted with gloss paint. I don’t prefer that any longer.

So what did I do? I stripped every single miniature that I had previously done that wasn’t completed, and I began planning on repainting it. I’ll show you some as I get them done. This particular one was just an old pewter mini that I had inherited from my dad’s collection. He looked like he needed to be painted. And so, I took the better part of an hour or two and painted him.

So when I talk about how to paint a mini, you have to get in the right headspace. The headspace that says: it is okay not to get it perfect the first time. It’s okay to do it badly the first time. I mean, seriously, have you ever been picked up anything and been perfect at it the first time? You’re likely answer is no. So give yourself enough grace to be able to paint without judging yourself before you’ve even begun.

If you are really and truly worried, pick up something easy, or relatively easy, to paint. Like a pack of spiders or a gelatinous cube or something of that nature which doesn’t require a whole lot of paints but can still be very fun to throw down on. The idea is that you just start painting.

Now, if I get some requests to do more, I’ll do a couple of posts on my process for painting miniatures as I post pictures of the miniatures I’ve painted.

So you all around!

Published by The Daily DM

I'm just a DM telling the stories of my tables.

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