How to Paint Minis: Base Coating

Last time we focused on the supplies one needs to paint miniatures. This time, we are going to discuss base coating.

Why basecoating? For two reasons: to get paint to better stick to your mini, and to prevent future issues with chipping and flaking paint.

Base coating is a multi-step process, and your process really depends on what materials your miniatures are made of.

First, you need a few things: a small towel, an old toothbrush (preferably soft or medium bristle), a mild detergent or soap, and, of course, the miniature or miniatures you are painting, particularly all of the parts if it comes in multiple parts.

It is very important, especially if you are working on a miniature with multiple components, to close your drain if you are working on a mini in your sink! Personally, I use a small plastic bin, so there isn’t a chance of losing any pieces.

Next, gently scrub each miniature and/or part, until it is either shinier or more dull. Thoroughly rinse the miniature and/or parts and let dry completely. This takes a bit of time. Patience is a virtue.

There are basically two schools of thought with basecoating. One either spray paints the minis with a basecoat color, or paints a mini with a basecoat paint. I’ll explain each one’s benefits and drawbacks.

For spray painting miniatures, this is generally used for large numbers or larger miniatures. For those of you into wargaming, like Warhammer or even Battletech, this makes life SO much easier. Consider the following two photos:

Can you imagine trying to paint each of these by hand? Sure, some folks may like assembling and then basecoating each one, but…why?

This is what it can look like once sprayed with the basecoat:

Painted back and front and let dry. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Now, for individual miniatures consider trying to spray paint each one. It would be a waste of paint unless you are basecoating multiple minis at one time. Most of the time, I’m not doing that.
THAT SAID: if it’s a larger mini, like my Balor, spray paint him. Trust me on this, okay? It’ll take long enough to paint him. Get the base coat on as easily as possible.


Here’s a resin mini before he’s base coated. Notice the slight shine to him. Not at ALL ready to be painted.


Now, here’s a couple that I’ve already begun basecoating:


Notice the small areas of a lighter grey? Those are spots I missed on my first pass. Most folks like to basecoat in grey or black, so it’s easier to see where you’ve missed a spot. I think the black seeps through too much and the grey works great. It works great for me. You do you.

Notice that I did NOT assemble Xanathar’s mouth. I haven’t painted inside of it, and based on the mouth…

No, I haven’t primed it yet. Sue me.

…I wouldn’t be able to do so. So I’ll prime each one and then paint the mouth before assembling the miniature. This is not usually the way it’s done, but many people do it this way so that the details can be painted without accidentally touching another part with the wrong color of paint. To each their own.

After the basecoating is completed, it’s time to paint!

Remember that vampire I was working on? I finished him. Here he is in all his glory.

A right properly terrifying vampire. Blood dripping down his chin and all.

Well, that’s all I have today. Join me next time for more painting and DMing tips!

Published by The Daily DM

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

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