Photo of Person Holding Paint Brush

5 Major Miniature Painting Mistakes to Avoid

Welcome, fellow brush-wielders and paint-splatterers! Today I wanted to share some of the most common miniature painting mistakes that even the most skilled of painters have made…and maybe still make, but shh, we won’t tell lol..).

So, grab your brushes, prepare your paints, and let’s dive into a whirlwind of mishaps, blunders, and a sprinkle of sarcasm that will leave you questioning your sanity – in the most entertaining way possible, of course!

Now, let’s be clear, my dear painters – this is not a guide on how to paint like a professional. Oh no, no, no! This is a guide on how to avoid the pitfalls that we all stumble into, like a clumsy giant tripping over their own feet. We’ll be exploring the art of spilling paint on your favorite shirt (because who needs clean clothes, right?), the joy of accidentally gluing your fingers together (a modern masterpiece in itself), and the thrill of realizing you’ve painted the wrong miniature for an entire afternoon (oopsie daisy!).

So, whether you’re a beginner, an intermediate painter, or a self-proclaimed master of miniature disasters, this blog post is for you. Join us as we navigate through the treacherous waters of paint spills, brush mishaps, and the ever-elusive “oops, I didn’t mean to do that” moments. Together, we’ll laugh, learn, and maybe even shed a tear or two (of laughter, of course) as we uncover the secrets to avoiding these miniature painting pitfalls.

So, buckle up, my friends, and get ready for a rollercoaster ride of miniature painting mayhem. Remember, it’s not about being perfect; it’s about embracing the imperfections and turning them into strokes of genius. Now, let’s dive headfirst into the colorful chaos and discover the mistakes that will make you a miniature painting legend – or at least give you a good story to tell at your next hobby gathering. Let the adventures begin!

Well, let’s just say that my first attempt turned out to be a bit of a disaster. It looked like a weird mix between a cheap plastic souvenir and a finger painting from my kindergarten days. Not exactly what I had envisioned. But instead of giving up, I decided to keep the little guy and give it another shot, even though I had no idea what went wrong or how to fix it.

After countless hours of practice, studying, and seeking advice from the pros, I finally figured out the mistakes I made. And guess what? I’m here to share them with you so that you can avoid your own Finger-Painted Model and become an incredible painter in no time!

Mistake #1: Wrong brush for the job.

Hey there, Picasso-in-the-making! So, you’ve learned the hard way that using a one-size-fits-all brush for your miniature painting endeavors is like trying to fit into your skinny jeans after a buffet feast. It just doesn’t work, my friend.

But fear not, for I am here to guide you through the wonderful world of miniature painting with a sprinkle of catchy fun and a dash of sarcasm. Buckle up, because we’re about to dive into the importance of a specialized detail brush.

Now, let’s talk about those tiny details, shall we? We’re not just talking about a simple smudge of color here; we’re talking about the intricate little eyes that can make or break your masterpiece. And let me tell you, my friend, those eyes are like the windows to the soul of your miniature. You don’t want to mess that up.

That’s where the detail brush comes in. It’s like a precision tool designed specifically for those delicate lines and intricate details that make your miniatures pop. It’s like having a surgeon’s scalpel in your artistic arsenal. So, put down that clunky brush and embrace the power of specialization!

warhammer dude

Now…you might be thinking…well then I’ll just use that detail brush for everything…but don’t think that one detail brush fits all. Oh no, my friend, that would be too easy. Just like how different people need different shoes for their unique feet, different miniatures require different brushes. You wouldn’t wear 3 inch stilettos to run a marathon, would you? (Well, maybe you would, but that’s a whole other story.)

So, take a moment to appreciate the diversity of brushes out there. From the fine-tipped wonders that tackle those delicate features to the slightly larger brushes that handle broader strokes, each one has its own purpose. It’s like a miniature painting toolbox, filled with different brushes for different strokes. See what I did there?

So, my eager artist, remember this golden rule: when it comes to painting miniatures, don’t be a one-brush wonder. Embrace the specialized detail brush, and let it work its magic on those tiny masterpieces. Trust me, your miniatures will thank you for it.

Mistake # 2: Paint was too thick.

Oh, the horror! Imagine spending hours meticulously painting those tiny little beards and eyes, only to have them obliterated by a thick coat of paint. It’s like a cruel trick played by the miniature gods, mocking your artistic efforts.

But fear not, my friend, for there is a simple solution to this catastrophe. Thin your paint, my dear hobbyist, thin it like you’re on a mission to create the most delicate masterpiece known to mankind. Don’t be fooled by its initial viscosity, for that is just a cunning disguise. It wants you to think it’s ready to be slathered on like butter on toast, but oh no, it’s a trap!

Now, you may be wondering, how do I achieve this magical thinness? Well, it’s as easy as stealing candy from a baby. Grab yourself a palette, a brush, and a little bit of water. Dip your brush into the paint, then dip it into the water, and mix it all together like a mad scientist concocting a potion. Keep adding water little by little until your paint reaches the consistency of, let’s say, milk. Not too watery, not too thick, just right.

Once you’ve achieved this perfect balance, it’s time to unleash your brush upon those unsuspecting miniatures. With a flick of your wrist and a stroke of genius, apply the thinned paint with the precision of a surgeon. Watch as those fuzzy Dwarf beards regain their shape, their individual strands coming to life. Behold, as the once blank voids of their eyes transform into piercing gazes that could melt the hearts of your opponents.

Remember this mantra: thin your paint, save your miniatures!


Don’t let them suffer the fate of becoming shapeless blobs in a sea of thick paint. Take control of your artistic destiny and embrace the power of thinned paint. Your miniatures will thank you, and you’ll be hailed as the hero of the hobby community. Now go forth, my friend, and may your paint always be thin and your miniatures always be magnificent!

Mistake #3: You Need More than a Single layer of paint.

Alrighty, listen up, fellow hobbyists! We’ve got a little secret to share that will take your miniature painting game from “meh” to “oh yeah!” So, buckle up and prepare to have your mind blown.

Now, picture this: you’ve spent hours meticulously assembling and priming your tiny work of art. You’re ready to dive into the painting process, but hold your paintbrush, my friend. One measly layer of paint just ain’t gonna cut it. Oh no, we’re aiming for that next-level, jaw-dropping, “how did you do that?!” kind of result.

So, what’s the secret ingredient? Layering. Yep, you heard me right. Layering is the name of the game. It’s like adding sprinkles to your ice cream or a dash of sass to your personality – it’s that extra oomph that takes things from ordinary to extraordinary.

Now, there are a few ways you can go about layering your paint – see our guide to layering when painting miniatures. And there are lots of options, so let’s dive into the options, shall we?

First up, we’ve got the classic basecoat and drybrush technique. It’s like giving your miniature a solid foundation and then dusting it with a touch of magic. The basecoat provides a solid color, while the drybrushing adds highlights and texture. It’s like giving your mini a little makeover, and trust me, it’ll make ’em shine.

But wait, there’s more! If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try washing your miniature with an ink? No, not the kind you write with, silly. I’m talking about those magical little bottles of pigment that add depth and shadows to your masterpiece. It’s like giving your mini a spa day, except instead of cucumber slices, it gets a luxurious ink bath. Talk about pampering!

Now, for those of you who really want to take it to the next level, we’ve got the holy grail of layering techniques – the basecoat, middle layer, and highlight layer combo. It’s like giving your miniature a three-course meal, but instead of food, it’s layers of paint.

The basecoat lays the groundwork, the middle layer adds depth and richness, and the highlight layer brings out all those fine details. It’s like a symphony of colors, and boy, does it make your miniatures sing. Certain colors like white, yellow, orange, and red can be particularly tricky and may require multiple coats.

So, my friends, don’t settle for mediocre. Don’t let your miniatures wallow in a single layer of paint when they could be strutting their stuff with layers upon layers of awesomeness. Embrace the power of layering and watch your creations come to life.

See my full guide on painting layers here.

Mistake #4: Paint the Bottom first!

Who needs gravity anyway, right? I mean, who wants their paint to stay where it’s supposed to be? Not us! We’re rebels, we’re risk-takers, we’re…okay, maybe we’re just a little clumsy. But fear not, my friend, because I’ve got a genius solution for you.

Picture this: you’re holding that paintbrush, ready to tackle that masterpiece in front of you. But uh-oh, you’ve got shaky hands and a penchant for making a mess. Well, worry no more! Just start from the bottom and work your way up. It’s like building a skyscraper, but with paint. If you mess up along the way, no biggie! The top surfaces are still pristine and untouched, ready for you to fix any mishaps.

So, remember, my fellow paint enthusiasts, go against what your natural instincts are to start at the top and work with gravity. Paint from the bottom up, defy the norms, and embrace the chaos.

Mistake #5: Not Doing Your Homework.

Oh boy, here we go again! So, you think you can just dive headfirst into the world of miniature painting without doing a little bit of research? Well, well, well, my friend, you’re in for a colorful surprise!

Picture this: you sit down all excited, paintbrush in hand, ready to bring those tiny soldiers to life. But hold your horses, Picasso! Have you even taken a moment to understand the basics? Do you know the difference between acrylic and enamel paints? Have you figured out the right brushes to use? Or are you just going to wing it and hope for the best?

Let me tell you, my eager apprentice, painting miniatures is not for the faint of heart. It requires dedication, patience, and a little bit of know-how. You can’t just slap some paint on those little guys and call it a day. No, no, no! You need to do your homework, my friend.

Now, I’m not saying you need to enroll in a miniature painting masterclass (although, that wouldn’t hurt). But a little bit of Googling wouldn’t hurt, would it? There are countless tutorials, forums, and videos out there that can guide you through the process. Trust me, it’s like having a wise old wizard by your side, whispering the secrets of the paintbrush into your ear.

So, before you embark on this colorful journey, take a moment to educate yourself. Learn about the different painting techniques, the proper way to thin your paints, and the importance of priming your miniatures. It may sound tedious, but hey, Rome wasn’t painted in a day!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But Assistant, I just want to have fun! Why do I need to do all this research?” Well, my dear friend, knowledge is power. The more you know, the better your miniatures will turn out. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want their little army to look like a fierce battalion ready to conquer the tabletop?

So, put on your learning cap, grab a cup of tea (or a can of energy drink, whatever floats your boat), and dive into the wonderful world of miniature painting. Trust me, it’ll be worth it. And hey, if all else fails, at least you’ll have a good story to tell about that time you thought you could paint without doing your homework. Happy painting, my adventurous friend!

Mistake #5: Patience…

Let’s face it, painting miniatures takes time and patience. If you rush through it just to get it done, you’ll end up with a blotchy mess.

Take a deep breath, embrace the process, and be patient. It’s worth it, I promise.

You can whistle this Guns N’ Roses song while you paint to remind you to be patient.

Feeling like you’re about to lose your mind over those tiny little details? Take a chill pill and step away from the brush. Trust me, having the patience of a saint is a must in this miniature painting game.

I mean, who needs patience anyway? It’s totally overrated. Why spend hours meticulously painting each individual scale on that dragon when you could be binge-watching your favorite show or devouring a tub of ice cream? Priorities, people!

But hey, if you’re serious about this whole miniature painting thing, you might want to reconsider. Patience is like the secret sauce that takes your miniatures from “meh” to “wowza!” It’s the difference between a wonky-eyed goblin and a finely detailed masterpiece that could make even the most seasoned adventurer weep with envy.

Think of it this way: painting miniatures is like a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a test of endurance, a battle against your own sanity. So take a break, my friend. Step away from the hobby desk and do something that brings you joy. Because let’s face it, if you’re not having fun, what’s the point?

But don’t worry, I’m not here to judge. If you’d rather throw your brushes out the window and never look back, that’s cool too. Miniature painting isn’t for everyone. Some people prefer the instant gratification of a coloring book or the simplicity of finger painting. And hey, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

So whether you’re a patient Picasso or a paint-slinging rebel, just remember to have fun with it. Life’s too short to stress over tiny pieces of plastic. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll look back and laugh at all those moments of frustration. Because in the end, it’s all part of the adventure.

These are some general tips to avoid common pitfalls and minimize mistakes. They’ll help you steer clear of any painting disasters and leave you wondering why on Earth your masterpiece turned out the way it did.

Now, go forth and paint with precision, my friend. And may your miniatures be the envy of all who lay eyes upon them!

Have any tips you want to share? You know I love them in the comments below!

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