10 Top Tips for Beginner Painters

Hi All,

Before John rocks up with his pro tutorials, I thought I’d drop in a quick and easy set of tips for folks just starting out!

Plant your mini on a cork or paint bottle or something similar. You can stick it down with poster putty (blue tac). The benefits here are that you’ll get less hand cramp, and since you’ll be holding the cork instead, you won’t risk touching your mini with your sweaty mitts and rubbing off that beautiful paint job!


Use a coloured primer to do most of your painting for you. You can get coloured primers from Army Painter, or use car primer instead. Both come in spray cans. Obviously this tip is most useful for things like Ultramarines which are predominantly blue, or Blood Angels which are mainly red!


Do not paint directly from the pot. Paint from the pot is too thick, and dries too quickly (like on your brush) and leaves a chalky streaky texture on your miniature.

Use a wet palette. A wet palette can be made at home for peanuts, and is a device used to keep your paint moist whilst it sits on a palette, or is being mixed on a palette. I wrote a guide on how to make your own if you don’t want to buy one of the commercially available ones.

Thin your paints. Beginners use water to thin, professionals use something like Vallejo Glaze Medium. Just a 1:1 or less drop to drop ratio is all that’s required (please experiment). The benefits of thinning your paints are a smooth (non-streaky) finish to your paint job, significantly less paint drying on your brush, and far more brush control.

Be aware of how much paint is on your brush, if it looks like you’re carrying a small pond, that’s far too much and all that’ll happen is a massive transfer of watery mess. Wipe some of that paint off your brush with a tissue if need be!

Paint in multiple coats. If you thin your paint, you often won’t be able to get good coverage from one coat (if you ever could). Relax! Do one coat, let it dry (important, don’t push paint around whilst it’s drying, you’ll create streaks) then do another. And possibly then another again. Patience is a very rewarding virtue when it comes to miniature painting!

Once you’ve blocked in all your base colours, try using Quickshade Dip to quickly and effectively add shadow and depth to your mini. Remember to let it dry for 24 hours and give it a spray with matt varnish before you continue. I wrote a guide on how to use Quickshade Dip properly!

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you must paint an entire squad using the same method. If you have a new technique to try out, do so, you’ll learn much faster experimenting on a mini by mini basis rather than waiting for a new project to try out your latest technique.

Use an appropriate brush. At the posh end, we’re talking something like Windsor and Newton Series 7 at about £10 a pop, at the budget end you can happily use the Army Painter or Vallejo brushes you find in the paint section of your FLGS. Pick a size of brush that’s right for the job – small brush for tiny details, standard brushes for most other things, large brushes for basing large flat areas (like tanks).


Do you have any other suggestions? What do you think to the list? Post your thoughts in the comments below!


21 thoughts on “10 Top Tips for Beginner Painters

  1. Excellent tips and spot on. Just getting back into the hobby and another thing really worth considering is lighting, lighting and lighting. Even if your in a ‘well lit’ room I would recommend getting a table lamp where you paint so you can really see whats going on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Jimmi,

    Just wondering on paint thinning, do you use a thinner instead of a wet palette or as well as? I assumed the paint would already be thinned if you were using a wet pallette?



      • Right so bare with me here, you thin your paint, then put it on a wet pallette to keep it from drying out? Or do you thin it on the wet pallette, using thinners and then the wet pallette keeps it from drying out.

        I’m just about to start painting again after an 18 year absence 😱

        Liked by 1 person

      • The latter mate, from paint pot to wet pallette, and then I typically add a drop of glaze medium. The wet palette keeps it wet for me from then for a long time


      • Awesome thank you! I have a pot of citadels thinner so am all set.

        Thanks again, much appreciated 👍🏼


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