My Minipainting Journey

Chapter 1: Who I Am – How I Came to Be

Several years ago, I joined a group of friends in an already-established Dungeons & Dragons game. I’ve been playing Role Playing Games since I was in 7th grade, starting with the Dungeons & Dragons Basic red box, then Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (2nd. ed), and then a multitude of games from Rifts to Paranoia (2nd ed). Even today, I have a Glitter Hearts game about once a month and a Dungeons & Dragons (5th Ed.) every 2 weeks. I play some RPGs is what I’m saying.

Pictured: Lots of weekends.

However, there was something intimidating about the new group, As an incentive to really get into the game, the DM was offering an experience bonus for painted minis.

I had never painted a mini before. It seemed too cost-prohibitive, skill-intensive, and time consuming. I had an interest in painted minis – my friend Jeremy had painted all the minis we used in the D&D 3.5 games he had run for years in my previous group, and I loved to marvel at them. But I didn’t think I could do it.

What I settled on was using markers. I’m talking those big Crayola Magic Markers. I knew this would be a poor substitute for paint, but I hoped that by taking a mini from an incomplete copy of the game Dark World that I bought at a garage sale and putting a little color on it, I could give it a sense of wear, a sense of antiquity that would make up for my lack of skill.

Pictured: Lack of Skill.

The DM begrudgingly game me my XP bonus, but it felt like an empty victory. This group also fell apart after 2 sessions due to work obligations, and I put my markers on the shelf and gave up on minis.

That was until a couple of years later, Em and I got Star Wars Imperial Assault.

We immediately fell in love with Imperial Assault. How could you not? We built skirmish teams and set to pounding the Dooku out of each other. This was early into our relationship, so those games will always have a special place in my heart, and even though I lost far more games that I won, most of my memories of the game are extremely positive. The one negative thing that stands out, though, is that we quickly got tired of looking at beige and grey plastic. I knew I had to get into mini painting, and if you are also looking into painting minis, maybe you can follow a similar path.

STEP ONE: Figuring out what goes into painting figures in the first place.

In our digital age, you can find out how to get started in just about any hobby. I went to YouTube and looked up “Imperial Assault Minipainting.” That led me to Sorastro’s Painting. Sorastro breaks down his painting process so that it’s easy to follow, and even if you aren’t painting the minis he’s painting, his Imperial Assault tutorials lay down some foundational techniques that I still use today.

The first minis I ever painted.

STEP TWO: Get some supplies.

So, assuming you already have minis, how to you get enough paints to start off. Well, you could go to your FLGS at ask around, especially if they cater to model painters. However, I just went online and looked for a cheap set that had lots of colors and some brushes. I settled on this starter set from Army Painter, BUT if you’re going this route, and you don’t mind buying from an online seller, look around for a better price. I think I paid $20 for my set, which has all the basic colors of paint and a few brushes.

With my five-ish years of experience, I will say that Army Painter is not my favorite brand of paints, but when you’re just starting off, you don’t need the best paints. Don’t spend a ton of money on painting supplies if you don’t even know if you’re going to like it.

I still have these, though I usually use other paints, and those brushes are dead.


Seriously, just paint. Don’t compare your work to other painters. Don’t worry about messing up – paint can always be painted over. Don’t worry about painting your models “right” – just paint them how you want. You’r learning how paints work and what color schemes you like.

That is how I got started in minipainting. If I knew then what I know now, I could have had a nicely-painted paladin in that doomed D&D “campaign” and felt like I earned those experience points.It wasn’t anywhere near as expensive or as difficult as I had anticipated. I’ve gotten better since I started, and I’m always improving and learning new things.

And so will you.

A much more recent mini I painted. Good-good!

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