Alternative Ways of Painting Plastic Miniature Figures

Written by joseph cohen
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Alternative Ways of Painting Plastic Miniature Figures
There are a number of techniques for painting miniatures quickly. (Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

The traditional method of painting plastic miniatures is to use a paintbrush to apply colours to the models. Meticulous painting and an eye for detail leads to excellent paint jobs. This method, however, is usually quite time consuming. A number of alternative methods allow you to paint your miniatures and add details in cheaper and faster ways.


Many speed painters use the dipping method. After applying a base colour or two to a miniature, including flesh on exposed skin, dip the miniature into a chestnut-coloured furniture varnish. After dipping, remove the excess varnish, either by simple shaking or by attaching the miniature to a rotary tool and spinning it. The remaining varnish pools in the nooks and crevices of the miniature, creating an impression of shading and depth.


The use of spray-paint speeds up the process of applying paint evenly over a large area, such as a tank, or across a large number of similar miniatures, such as units of soldiers. Either use actual cans of spray-paint or hobby paints attached to an airbrush. If you use spray-paints, select paints made specifically for miniature use; they adhere better and form a better texture to paint over.

Paint Pens

While you won't win any painting awards, using paint pens is a quick and dirty way to cover up unpainted plastic. Some miniature wargame tournaments only allow miniatures that have been painted, so a quick application of paint pens over a black undercoat can make an army eligible.

Striping Paint

If you have trouble with one of these methods, remove the paint and try again with another technique. Use brake fluid to loosen the paint on plastic miniatures, but use it sparingly and beware: brake cleaner actually dissolves the plastic. Other cleaning supplies, notably environmentally-friendly all-purpose cleaning agents, produce varying results.

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