Painting Miniatures Can Be Meditative and Rewarding, But Only With the Right Attitude

May 19, 2015
Miniatures Painting 2

As a sort of kickoff event for Miniatures May, Wyatt invited some of the Sprites and Dice staff over to his house for a day of games, good food, and most importantly, painting miniatures. While Wyatt has been going at this for years now, Brandon and I were completely new to this. Unlike many of my other articles, my point here isn't really to tell you how this new experience changed my worldview on life or something; We were just painting miniatures, after all. However, there is something intensely rewarding about the process. It's one of those things that people can repeatedly tell you about, but you don't truly understand it until you've experienced it yourself.

Like most of my favorite hobbies, painting is meditative. It's an activity you can throw all of your focus and concentration into and shut out the world for a bit. A lot of people consider buying games like Super Dungeon Explore, then are disappointed by the realization that none of the miniatures are painted. This is understandable, especially if one of your initial selling points on a game is the box's colorful art style. Something that I'm learning is that the process of painting, gluing, and preparing your miniatures is part of the fun, and helps make the game feel that much more enjoyable in the end.

Now, to address some doubts everyone has about miniatures. I know not everyone wants to get into this hobby, and this article isn't for them. This article is for the people who have always considered it, but have had some doubts that they'd be up to the task. Think of this as a pep talk to get you pumped up for one of the most relaxing hobbies in the world where the only requirement is time: painting these little guys can be meditative and rewarding, but only with the right attitude.

If your hangup is the act of painting the figures itself, you're forgetting that you're probably missing out on an awesome game because of your expectations. A game of the caliber of Super Dungeon Explore would be loads more expensive with the miniatures pre-painted. Think of the number of figures that come in a miniatures game, then think of the additional cost it would take to have each of those figures perfectly painted. To be honest, you probably wouldn't want to buy it as much if the figures were pre-painted: corners would be cut in production to keep the costs down, meaning you'd either end up with less figures, lower quality figures, or paint jobs that only do the bare minimum in terms of detail. If they did up the price of the game, I'm sure the price point wouldn't sound too appealing to you either, even if the end product would be extremely desirable.

If your hangup is the time investment painting the figures will take: you're just looking at it the wrong way. Having boxes and boxes of miniatures to paint should never feel like work (unless you happen to paint other people's figures for commission... then maybe you have a point there). Treating your miniatures like work is just like miserably clicking away at a free to play game for hours because you feel like you "have" to. As with all things, the journey is really more important than the end goal here. If you didn't enjoy the journey, than what is your collection of miniatures but a reminder of hours upon hours of misery?


Painting with friends, good music, and good drinks also makes the experience that much better.

Lastly, and most importantly: Don't get too hung up on whether or not your painting skills are "good enough" to dive in to the hobby. Remember that paint is something that can be removed, touched up, or redone if necessary. Lower your expectations for yourself a bit, and understand that just like any skill, painting takes practice. Know that in the future, you will see tangible progress in not only the number of figures painted, but also the quality. Over the course of those countless hours spent painting, these figures won't just be something you bought in a store, they will become yours. All great things in life are worth working towards. Even if you don't plan on painting for a living, it can help you learn to focus better, work through some tough times in your life, or just gain a feeling of progress when everything else seems too overwhelming.

Matter of fact, because of it's simplistic, cartoon-esque art style, I'd argue that Super Dungeon Explore is the perfect miniatures game to get into if you want to start painting minis. There are plenty of simply styled minions to practice painting on, and most of the enemy minion models don't have a whole lot of detail going on in terms of their scale. This cuts down on the time you spend on each individual figure, allowing you to make progress much faster. The game itself has a really fun and solid co-operative experience, but that's a whole different article.

If the price point is too steep, consider splitting the game with friends and have everyone chip in a bit for painting supplies. Not only will the game itself be co-operative, but so will painting: everyone can work towards a shared goal, and everyone will feel like they've contributed something significant to the game. If done right, it can be a reminder of hours upon hours of great times with friends, even if you never get to all the figures. At the end of the one painting night above, five hours had gone by, and each of us had only finished two models, if that. It didn't matter though: we had good food, good times, and a lot of great conversation about how we could totally take on that Forgotten King in the game next time we played.


Can you tell which one of these figures was painted by a first timer? No? Then maybe you have nothing to worry about.

In short, painting miniatures can seem like an extraordinarily daunting task. However, I think it's good for everyone to take on a task they deem impossible. There's really not a lot at stake when you're painting minis: no deadlines, no expectations of quality, just an ever increasing feeling of progress. After all, if you end up accomplishing this seemingly impossible task, what other impossible things could you be capable of doing in the future?

Zoë Wolfe

Co-Founder, Webmaster