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A Miniature Guide to Painting Miniatures

Learning How To Start Miniatures: unprimed brotherhood of steel and wasteland gunslinger
Learning How To Start Miniatures: pre-primed miniatures with gravel added for texture to the base

The hardest step in painting miniatures for board games and other tabletop games is putting brush to miniature. Together we will work on breaking down the high wall that changes you from a miniature collector and turns you into an artist. Let’s begin learning how to start miniatures.  

You’ve spent the money to buy the miniature(s) and even bought a cool paint starter kit from Citadel or Army Painter; then it hits you; what if I mess up? The initial fear of failure really is the first hurdle in painting miniatures and getting past it is a skill that will serve you well.

Learning How To Start Miniatures: primed brotherhood of steel and gunslinger
Learning How To Start Miniatures: Adding a layer of primer to begin painting over the base model

What is Priming?

There is no better first step than priming your miniatures, what is priming? with any paint project, you typically want to prime whatever you’re going to paint. Priming involves a matte base coat of paint that will stick to the miniature’s surface. The action of spraying down a base coat of primer; breaks the sacred barrier of unpainted miniature to painted miniature. Now you can begin the fun part. You’ve already covered the mini in paint, so the band-aid is well and truly off now.  

The choice of what color Primer to use is important to the overall look of the miniature. Using a bright color like grey or white will make your colors pop and be brighter. Use a dark color like black and it’ll naturally provide shaded areas. It’s important to make sure your primer is also a matte finish because using gloss and semi-gloss and cause a weird plastic look you may not want.

Terrain Considerations

Learning How To Start Miniatures: space marines
Learning How To Start Miniatures: two completed miniatures with a light grey primer (left) and dark green primer (right)

Before priming you can also glue on gravel or other terrain elements that would fit the game your mini is in and wouldn’t mind also covering in primer, other non-paintable details should be added after but for this example we will assume you haven’t added any additional terrain to the base of your miniature. 
In the next article. We will cover the different types of paints, how they are used, and some simple techniques that will help you avoid globing on a lot of paint on your miniature. How to get quick, satisfying highlights with a few brush strokes while we continue learning how to start miniatures.   

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