Miniature Wargames

Painting miniatures – How to use paint

by Vlad, Quartermaster @ The Guild Hall

April 16 2020

Wargaming is a fun and exciting hobby! Part of the fun consists of assembling and painting your miniatures. Previously I wrote about some useful tools for assembling and painting your miniatures. In this article we’ll look at the differences between paints and how you can use them.

Short disclaimer: I do not consider myself a professional miniature painter and I will always paint my armies just “battle-ready”. Basically, they will probably not win any artistic award, but they will look and work great on the gaming table. It depends on you, of course, if you like my approach or would like to learn to paint them in more detail.

Either way, here are some rules that I recommend you should follow when you start to paint:


  • always use a primer before you apply your first coat of paint
  • always thin your paints on your pallet with water
  • it’s recommended to use a wet palette to get a sharp tip for your brush
  • always apply thin coats of paint to avoid clogging the details of the mini

When you enter a game shop and look at a stand with so many colourful paint pots you might feel overwhelmed and not know which ones should you use. So lets take a look all the different kinds of paint and what they are each for.

Sprays act as a primer that prepares your model for painting, as well as providing a strong foundation to build on.

Base paints are the true foundation of painting. The high pigment count of these paints means they provide excellent coverage, giving you a base of rich color to paint over.

Shade paints make adding realistic shadows and lowlights to your models easy. They are designed to run into the recesses of your miniatures, providing excellent results with minimal effort.

Contrast is a 2 in 1 paint (base + shade) that makes painting simple and fast. The downside is that it’s not that consistent and it should be applied over a light undercoat.

Layer paints have a lighter pigment count than base paints, meaning they can be applied in multiple layers to help bring out extra detail on your miniatures. They’re great for edge highlighting.

Air paints use a thinner formula that makes them work perfectly with your airbrush.

Dry paints are formulated to be perfect for dry brushing, with a thicker texture than normal paint designed to catch on the raised edges of your mode. This useful technique makes highlighting and capturing detail simple.

Technical paints let you add all sorts of special effects to your models. Cracked earth, gore, rust, and corrosion or spectral glows – each makes for an eye-catching way to finish your miniatures.

You can have a more detailed look at how to use paints and techniques on the Citadel website and make sure to check out these YouTube channels I really like for even more painting tips:

You can find so many cool videos about this topic! Here is just one to get you inspired:

As a final thought, whenever you are in doubt, just start painting and make mistakes. That’s only way to get better at it. So what if you mess up your first mini? You can always strip the paint down and start from the beginning. Just take a look at these two minis I painted:

Above, you can see some of my first minis that I pained in 2007, I believe. And below, you can see one of my minis from 2019, that I’m actually proud of. Can you spot some differences?

If you are into miniature painting, or wargaming, or both, and you are from Cluj, then join us at The Guild Hall! Check out the upcoming miniature painting events and don’t hesitate to connect with us on the wargaming channels on our Discord server!

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