Monday, January 20, 2014

Mini Monday: How do you paint miniatures fast? (While keeping a tabletop standard)

In 2013, I didn't make my personal goal of at painting at least 52 miniatures. This year, I looking into ways of painting miniatures FAST but while maintaining a tabletop standard. 

What are some methods you use to getting the average 25mm or 28mm fantasy or historical miniatures done quickly? 

After poking around in my own miniature collection, looking for miniatures I can fast, I've come up with my own list, but I'm always looking for more advice.

1. Paint in batches (or "the assembly line method").

For wargaming miniatures, this is pretty standard. You paint 10 or more figures of the same type at once. Paint all of the eyes and faces at once, then their helmets. And so on.

If learned that this method can also be used for fantasy figures as well. Once I had some red paint left over from painting an imp, so I looked for other miniatures that needed some red paint. While it this might not save time in the short term, it does in the long term because you don't need open up the red paint bottle again.

2. Pick 25mm over 28mm.
This is pretty self-evident, given that 25mm figures are a smaller and less detailed. Hence, they require less paint.

3. "The Army Painter" method

You paint a batch of miniatures with single coat of paints (often priming them first with their dominant color), then dip them in the Army Painter varnish to both shade and seal them. I've used this method on miniatures that I just want done, and not to worried about them being fancy. The Mordheim priest in the picture above was painted that way, as were the Hundred Years' War generic foot knights below.

Do you know of any other methods? Sharing them would be greatly appreciated. 


  1. I start with the scraping and gluing, then do a white glue treatment on the base, and a gravel & sand dip the base to give some ground texture and disguise native base to washer joins, then when that is dry, another thinned coat of white glue to lock it down. All of this stage is in big batches, 20-30 typically.

    When the glue is all dry, prime with a white spray primer.

    Then using cheap craft store/Walmart acrylics, I give them a stain with Raw Umber, Payne's Gray or some mix of the two, or some mix of one of them plus the dominant color of the minis, depending on how warm (yellowish or reddish or brown) or cool (blues, grays) their dominant color scheme will be. This gives them a somewhat shaded look with dark crevices similar to black priming but less stark and easier to see the details to paint. The stain layer is sometimes good enough for some parts as is, and it will at least make a partially painted figure presentable instead of blank white or black.

    Everything up to this point goes so quick and mindlessly that I have a lot backed up in the queue for the real painting work.

    Then I line up several that will share a color and batch paint with hobby acrylics. I try to keep my batches at up to around 10. More than that I start to get bored. I'd rather do a couple batches that are pretty much the same than slog through 20+ of the same at the same time. If I have some paint left of a color, I may grab a few more that can use it and put it on them before going back to batch painting. I generally try to work from the inside out, so that if I have a bit of slop working on a difficult to get at space, it will be onto a piece that has yet to be painted. I do try to load the brush relatively lightly though, so as to preserve a lot of the pre-shaded gaps between colors.

    1. I'll have to try that method of priming. I've used black primer for years--it works, but at time it is hard to see the details. That's one of my appeal toward the Army Painter Method--the primers are light enough to see the details. But it isn't really meant for detailed fantasy figures.

      Thank you for sharing!

  2. Yes I use these methods. Another idea is to line up similar miniatures in groups of three-ish and then paint them together. Example, three knights all with platemail. By having them all on the same stick you get rid of the constant picking up and putting down of miniatures. Also, if you use separate bases do those in large batches before your miniatures are completed.

  3. I paint less and less quickly ... I should not be very useful, but...nice looking troops anyway!

    1. The important thing is that you get the miniatures done. ;)

      I'm usually take my time, too. Right now I'm just wanting get some projects done in the near future--no particular reason--but just to get them done.


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