There are all kinds of paints, some cheap, some more expensive. Considering the amount of time it takes to paint a miniature and how little paint is actually used, it just does not make sense to use inferior or cheap paint. While just about any type of paint will work for painting miniatures, most miniature artists prefer acrylic based paints. Acrylic paints are non-toxic, odorless and quick drying - all qualities desired by a miniature painter. There is nothing, however, worse than cheap acrylic paint - so get the good stuff. High quality acrylic paint from the art shop can be used, though acrylic paint designed for miniature painting is best. Of these perhaps the best paints are those made by Citadel, Vallejo and Reaper. Myself, I use Reaper, not because they are necessarily better, but because they offer so many colors and I do not like to mix paints to get the color I want if I can find it in a bottle. Mixing is fun, but takes more time and it can be a pain to get the same exact color if a touch up is necessary down the road. Some artists catalog all their mixes and blends in a notebook -  but again, that takes time. So I like a lot of colors to choose from and mix to get a color I want if I really need it. When I started I had just 7 colors of acrylics, mixing was the order of the day. It was like painting miniatures 500 years ago when artists had a limited amount of colors in their pallet. In the modern world, however, there is no end to the colors that are available, so an artist can get as crazy as they want, whether mixing crazy or color ready crazy.

Reaper produces two types of paints: Pro Paints and Master Series Paints. Pro Paints cover better, can be used straight out of the bottle with no thinning being necessary and dry brush well. These are the paints to use if you want to get your minis reading for gaming as quickly as possible. Currently reaper produces 108 different colors in their Pro Paint line. Master Series Paints are designed for the more artistic painter who wants to work on blending and highlighting. These paints need to be thinned, require 2 or 3 coats to get good coverage, but are perfect for what they are intended for - more artistic painting. I use the Master Series Paints for two reasons: They come in an overwhelming 216 colors! And I am working on taking my painting skills to a higher level of artistry (wish me luck, I am going to need it...). Reaper Master Series Paints are available as individual dropper bottles or in sets of three. The sets of three are known as Triads and come with a base color, a shadow tone and a highlight tone. The organization of the large amount of colors into Triads makes them less overwhelming to use and keep track of, no matter how many of the 216 colors you have. All these features combined with the most important feature of being great paint makes Reaper Master Series Paints the choice of a large percentage of the best painters. I have to say though that I often wish I had a set of Pro Paints to speed up the process when painting a vintage piece of lead that I want to get painted and which I do not want to spend that much time on because it is a terrible sculpt with lots of faults - so consider your painting style and needs before deciding on your paints. All of Reapers Paints can be seen at Reaper's website. While you can purchase Reaper paints at the Reaper website, my favorite place on account of the lowest prices, free shipping at low volumes and great service is Miniature Giant (They do have a referral program so if you do purchase from Miniature Giant, please submit my user name "Ernst" with your order so both YOU and I will get credit on anything we buy for the next 6 months!).

Organizing Your Paints

To work effectively an organized work space is critical. You want a place that is large enough and organized and you want that place set up so that you can easily clean the area. Dust builds up and lands on your mini to ruin a nice paintjob and so the area needs to be kept clean and dust free. The last thing you want is a place with 100 bottles of  paint, 8 brushes, some pallets, CD's, books, etc. laying all over the place along with a bunch of other stuff that makes it take an hour to move everything and clear out the dust. All you want is five things on your work table: a holder for your paints; a holder for your brushes; a jar of water, a pallet, and a holder for the miniatures that you are working on.

People often ask how to organize their paints. What I have done is taken four 2 x 4 boards each 21 inches long. In each board are drilled 54 1 inch diameter holes - that is three rows of 18. The top row is drilled 1/2 inch deep, the middle row is drilled 3/4 inch deep and the bottom row is drilled 1 inch deep as per the picture below.

Four such boards will hold all of Reapers 216 Master Series paints. The boards can be arranged as desired on your work space. I put one behind the other and raise the boards so that I can see all the paints easily. The paints are organized as per their Triads.


How you organize your paints is up to you, but the idea I am trying to convey is organization and easy visibility of your colors.