Getting started with Warhammer 40k is a lot of fun. You’ve got a great game with a rich history, for one thing. For another, you’ve also got a small army of highly detailed miniatures. On that matter you might be wondering….
Do Warhammer miniatures come painted? Warhammer miniatures do not come painted. While you buy them from folks who have painted them for you, by default your miniatures are a blank slate waiting for you to give them a little flair.
We’ll answer some common questions about painting Warhammer miniatures and give you a step-by-step guide on painting your own. You’ve got your army, are you ready to personalize them? Let’s get started with those questions and then we’ll tell you how!
Do Warhammer Sets Come With Paint?
Some sets do come with paint and figurines, so that you can get cracking on painting your new troops right out of the box. Two examples of such sets are the Necron Warriors and Assault Intercessors sets. You can also buy Warhammer ‘paint and tools’ sets, however, that will give you the brushes and acrylic paints with a better selection and volume.
How Long Does It Take to Paint Warhammer Miniatures?
When you factor in the drying time, it can take 3 -4 hours to paint a troop figure. Painting your minis is a labor of love, but well worth the time. Properly painted figures display a level of detail that is amazing and while it take s a bit of practice, it’s worth it.
How Do You Paint a Warhammer Mini?
Now that we’ve answered some basic questions about the painting process, it’s time for a step-by-step journey through the actual process. If you’ve got your figurines then you will need a few supplies and we can get started. You’ll want to gather the following.
You will need:
- Acrylic paints
- White or Black Primer spray for plastic
- Thick and thin paintbrushes
- Paper towels
- Some small plastic saucers for paint
- Latex gloves
- A Water dropper (optional, but useful)
Instead of purchasing a premade set of Citadel miniature paints, we recommend building your own paint set with this build your own assortment bundle. This allows you to choose only the colors you need or want at a great value.
Prepare Your Area
You’ll want to select a well-ventilated area so that you’re painting safely. Once you’ve got a spot, lay out your newspapers so that you don’t stain the table that you’ll be working on and we are ready for the ‘primer’ stage.
Prime Your Figures
Priming is the first thing that we’ll need to do with your miniatures. Holding each miniature about a foot away, start spraying them with your primer, rotating them so that you get an even coat all around. Priming your figures before painting them is important, as the primer will make sure that they hold your paint properly.
You might want to consider setting up a fan nearby to circulate the air as there will be some fumes involved with primer.
Let Them Dry Out
Once you’ve primed all of your miniatures, then you’ll need to let them dry out for a space. 15 minutes is the recommended minimum time and they should be dry by then. You can touch one to see if it is dry and if so, we are ready to apply a basecoat.
Your basecoats are simply the colors that take up the majority of specific portions of the figurines.
This is typically their uniform or skin color, but you will also have large items such as guns, masks, capes. Getting in a good basecoat for these items now helps to ensure that you don’t paint in some nice details and end up painting over them. So, get the big colors first and then you are ready to proceed to the finer points.
Prepare Your Basecoat Acrylics
We’re going to need to water down your acrylic pain a little and we’ll tell you why. Your Warhammer minis have a lot of detail to them. Belts, buckles, weapons… just to name a few things. If we don’t water down the acrylic paint then it will be too thick when applied, which tends to obscure finer details when it dries.
To avoid this, put a bit of paint in your saucer and using your dropper add 1 -2 drops of water and stir it into your paint. You just want to thin it, not make it watery, and you can test it on one of your minis to make sure that you’ve got the consistency that you like.
Paint on Your Basecoat
Now that you’ve got the right consistency, it’s time to apply that basecoat. Cover the large areas (uniforms, masks, big pieces of armor) until all of the large areas are covered. You’ll want to do them in the order or largest first, then next largest, etc.
Don’t worry if you accidentally miss a few times, as you’ll be doing some more detailed painting shortly and you can simply paint over the areas that you accidentally got while applying the basecoat.
After all of the basecoat work is done, you’ll want to let your figurines dry. This will typically take about 30 minutes and you can do a touch-test like you did in the ‘primer stage’ to make sure that your figures are completely dry. Don’t rush it. If your figures are still wet then the paints will mix when you are doing detail work.
Note: Don’t try to erase mistakes with fingernail polish remover, as this can dissolve the plastic. Isopropyl alcohol is a better choice, as it can remove the paint and leave the plastic figure intact.
Prepare and Paint Your Details
Now it’s time for the detail work. Change out the newspaper in your area if you need to and mix up the acrylics that you wish to use with a little water so that they thin out and are ready for painting. At this point, you can start on the detail work.
Paint in the eyes, lips, weapons… all those small details that you can see on the figure are ready to shine. Be sure to use separate brushes for separate colors and be patient in your painting. If you have a lot of different colors for one area, you should let each color dry before introducing new paint to avoid accidental mixing.
You can also paint in layers to make your colors look sharp and bright. Simply paint a few spots with the colors that you like, wait for them to dry, and then apply a second or even a third coat if you like. Try it on a test mini and then do some minis with just 1 coat and you can get a visual demonstration of the difference.
It takes longer but it’s hard to argue with the results.
Add Highlights and Shading
You can add highlights to your figurines with a technique called ‘drybrushing’. To do this, simply dip a clean brush directly into some undiluted paint, and then pinch it in a fold of paper towel to thin it out. Brush the areas that you wish to highlight in this manner and you’ll see little flecks of your highlight color appearing like magic.
The effect looks really nice and you can use lighter shades of the color that you are trying to highlight in order to produce a complimentary effect.
Now, if you want to do some shading, you can mix up some ‘paint wash’ that will get into some of those detailed areas and shade them in nicely. Paint wash is just paint, typically mixed as 1/3 water and 2/3 paint, though you also purchase it in the same colors that you are wanting to shade.
Shade in your figurines as you like and let them dry for half an hour. Congratulations, you’ve just painted your first Warhammer troops!
Clean and Maintain Your Paintbrushes
Taking care of those paintbrushes is very important, so make sure that you clean them thoroughly when you are done instead of letting the paint dry out on them. Keeping your brushes in good shape helps to ensure that you can paint details without so much fuss.
So, don’t forget to give them a good cleaning when you finish your painting so that they will be ready for next time!
Painting your Warhammer miniatures makes them look good and let’s face it, it’s kind of addictive. The attention to detail given in casting those figures makes each individual piece a joy to work with and may result in cursing when a troop falls in battle.
Don’t worry if your painting session is a bit sloppy the first time, as everyone has to start somewhere. Painting minis takes practice and over time you’ll develop your own tricks for the process. You can also find videos from veteran miniature painters online and some of their tips can really help your technique to mature.
Just stick with it and before you know it, you will be painting Warhammer 40k minis like a pro. After all, winning isn’t everything… it’s much better to win and to look good doing it!