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The 6 Best Acrylic Paints for Miniatures and Models: Reviews and Complete Buying Guide

best acrylic paint for miniatures and models

One of the most time consuming tasks about collecting miniatures or playing tabletop games is the painstaking task of painting them all. I’m not talking about just painting them a solid color and calling it a day. I’m talking about the expertise level which requires an awful amount of patience and time to make the miniatures look so good, you’d think it came from a factory.

That’s exactly what I thought when I first saw a set of Warhammer 40,000 miniatures in a glass display case. I was shocked when the guy behind the counter told me that he had hand-painted them all one by one. At that time I was hooked…

Finding the best acrylic paints for your miniatures shouldn’t be a problem, but with so many different brands and types in today’s market, it can be very difficult. I’m here to help.

I’ve picked out the 6 best brands in every category from beginner to expert level model painter. Be sure to take a look at this complete guide to make sure you choose the correct paint set based on your experience level and needs.

IN A HURRY? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS…

NameOur RatingPrice

Top Pick: The Army Painter Miniature Painting Kit
5/5Click for Price

Dungeon and Dragons Official Paint Set
4.5/5Click for Price

Vallejo Basic Paint Set
4/5Click for Price

1- Dungeon and Dragons Official Paint Set

I just had to review this set first. It’s by none other than the creators of Dungeons and Dragons. If you don’t feel the nostalgia then you are probably not from my era growing up. Dungeons and Dragons is a very popular role playing and board game still to this day.

This acrylic paint set was specifically built to be used with minatures in mind. It comes with 10 water-based, non-toxic war paints. 8 of which are acrylic paints, 1 primer, and 1 metallic paint. The bottles this set comes with are precision dropper bottles that each hold 12 ml of paint.

If you don’t have a brush, don’t worry. This set comes with 1 hand-made quality starter paint brush for your minis. They were even nice enough to include 1 D&D miniature that you can practice painting with before moving onto your other models.

This set is perfect for the beginner miniature painter and is why I have included this in our recommended picks. Even if you aren’t a beginner, this set is still great if you are an avid D&D fan.

What we like

  • Great for beginner painters
  • Awesome low price
  • Comes with a free hand-made brush
  • Precision droppers

What we don’t like

  • This set only has basic colors
  • Lots of mixing involved to get useful colors
  • Paint quality will not satisfy the miniature enthusiasts

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

2- Vallejo Basic Paint Set

If you’ve graduated from the “beginner” title when it comes to painting miniatures then you can go without the free brush and minis like the previous Dungeons and Dragons set. This set is a step up and I highly recommend this paint set once you feel comfortable with the basic colors.

These model colors have been specially formulated with permanent pigments so you can get that perfect color on your miniatures. This paint is completely permanent and lightfast with an opaque look to it. This is quality at its finest.

The consistency is also one of a kind by Vallejo. The colors allow for an extremely smooth and uniform paint film with no traces of brush strokes. You can give your models that professional look that’s sought after by many gamers.

This is a water-based formula that has been specifically designed to develop a strong adherence on difficult surfaces like metal and plastic, otherwise known as our game pieces!

This set includes your primary and secondary colors, as well as a few metallic ones. The actual colors that come in this set are Flat Red, Purple, Lemon Yellow, Flat Flesh, Gold, Silver, White, Azure, Flat Blue, Yellow Ochre, Buff, Orange, Flat Green, Black, and Flat Brown.

What we like

  • Comes with primary, secondary, and metallic colors
  • Very high quality acrylic paint set
  • Precision dropper bottles

What we don’t like

  • On the pricier side for just paints and dropper bottles

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

3- The Army Painter Miniature Painting Kit

The Army Painter miniature painting kit is our top pick in this list! This set is just MASSIVE! There are so many colors in this set that it will leave your head spinning. If you’re a beginner don’t worry, you can stick to the primary colors and slowly work your way up as you get more accustomed to painting.

This is a complete set of 50 Wargamer miniature paints and 1 detail paint brush. This breaks down to 39 nontoxic acrylic paints, 5 metallics, 4 quickshade washes, 2 effect paints, and 1 triangular-handled detail paint brush to help bring your miniatures to life.

Each bottle in this paint set is 0.6 oz/18 ml. It is advertised as fantastic consistency and color pigment. The paint is not too thick nor too watery, it’s perfect. As with almost every set, the droppers are precision droppers so you can excrete the paint without causing a huge mess or wasting paint.

This paint set is marketed towards painters of all levels so do not feel intimidated by the amount that is offered in this set. You are saving a total of about 20% buying this set than if you were to buy the bottles one at a time.

What we like

  • Professional quality paint
  • Very big selection of colors ranging from primary, secondary, and metallic
  • Comes with a painting brush
  • Great for beginners and veterans alike

What we don’t like

  • High price point
  • Must vigorously shake paint before using

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

4- The Grinning Gargoyle Paint Starter Set

The Grinning Gargoyle starter set is fairly new at the time of writing this article, but the customer feedback doesn’t lie. This is the next up and coming popular brand of paint for your miniatures. This is a starter set so everything you need to start painting comes inside this box, including a paintbrush.

There are a wide variety of colors, 20 to be exact. Out of the 20, there are two washes and two metallics. The colors have been carefully picked out with the user in mind. It comes with a decent selection for painting small or large scale models.

The paint comes inside easy-to-squeeze dropper bottles with a dropper cap system. This is basically the same as saying they are precision droppers. In my opinion this is a must in today’s standard. This type of design prevents wasting and drying out the paint.

What we like

  • Decent variety of colors
  • Comes with a free paintbrush
  • Marketed towards veterans and beginners
  • Excellent color pigmentation

What we don’t like

  • High price point for only 20 colors

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

5- Reaper Miniatures Paint Kit

Can I just say that this paint set’s carrying and storage case is awesome? This made the list solely due to the fact that it has a nifty carrying case and is designed towards beginners learning how to paint miniatures. On top of the cool case, it also comes with 2 paintbrushes, 11 bottles of paint, and 3 miniatures for you to paint.

Make sure to have some type of super or crafting clue as the models do not come fully assembled. Some limbs and weapons will need manual assembly so keep that in mind when purchasing this set. The miniatures are 28 mm scale.

The colors are as follows: Leather Brown, Pure Black, Dragon White, Blade Steel, Polished Silver, Mountain Stone, Harvest Brown, Desert Sand, Candlelight Yellow, and Dragon Blue.

As an added bonus, this kit comes with an easy to follow instruction guide by an award winning painter by the name of Rhonda Bender.

What we like

  • Carrying case
  • Comes with 2 paintbrushes
  • Includes 3 different miniatures to paint
  • 1 instructional guide with an award winning painter
  • Well priced

What we don’t like

  • Not the greatest paint quality
  • Marketed more for beginners

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

6- Games Workshop Warhammer 40,000 Citadel Base Paint Set

It’s Citadel. What more can I say. This is the luxury of acrylic paints for miniatures. The only reason this isn’t in the top spot is because The Army Painter kit provides an untouchable variety and amount of colors.

Enough of The Army Painter. It’s Citadel’s time to shine. If you’re not new to painting models, then you’ve heard of Citadel paints. The quality is almost unrivaled, and you definitely get what you pay for. Throw a few of these paint pots into a painters stocking and watch the look on their face when they pull them out. Priceless.

Citadel base paints are the foundation upon which a good paint job is built

Included in this kit is 1 paintbrush and 11 pots of paint. The colors are as follows: Leadbelcher, Macragge Blue, Waaagh! Flesh, Bugmans Glow, Mephiston Red, Mournfang Brown, Abaddon Black, Ceramite White, Zandri Dust, Averland Sunset, and Balthasar Gold. That was a mouthful of paint.

What we like

  • Very high quality paint
  • Comes with a paintbrush
  • Great for beginners and veterans alike
  • Caters to the miniature enthusiasts

What we don’t like

  • High price point for a base set of paint

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

What to Look for in Acrylic Paint for Miniatures

To find the best acrylic paint for miniatures, consider the following major aspects before finalizing a purchase.

Use Specialized Acrylic Based Paints for Your Miniatures

Acrylic based paint is the most popular form of paint for miniatures used in today’s era. Way back in the day, oil paints were mainly used when painting models and miniatures, but times have changed since then. Acrylic paints have drastically improved since then to offer similar performance to oil based paints

There’s one catch to acrylic based paints. You need to find an acrylic based paint that is specifically produced to adhere to the miniatures properly. Regular acrylic paint needs to be thinned quite a bit, and you risk weakening the paint.

Some of the main benefits of paint specifically designed for models is: short drying times, ability to modify the viscosity and flow of the paint without ruin, and lightfastness.

There are also various ways to apply acrylic paint to your miniatures. You can apply the paint by brush, spraying, and even using markers. The most common and recommended technique is with thin detail paintbrushes.

Look for Lightfastness

High-quality paints will often have something called a lightfast rating. This complicated word basically means that the paint will stay bright and vibrant even with prolonged light exposure. This means your painted models will last the test of time with a paint that has this rating.

Look for paints that are described as being lightfast to take advantage of a long-lasting paint job.

Artist Grade Paint VS Model/Miniature Paint (What’s the Difference?)

Artist grade paints are made up of the highest quality and pigmentation available to give the best finish possible. Paints that are marketed specifically for models or miniatures are usually not too different from artist grade paints. The main differences are drying times, lightfastness, and viscosity.

Since a manufacturer never tells what’s in their paint formulas, we may never truly know the main difference of the two paints. As a common rule to follow, artist grade paints are usually the most superior to other paints on the market.

If you have a large selection of artist grade paints in your home, it would be wise to test these out on your miniatures first before allotting more money on paint that you possibly do not need. If there is a visual difference between the two paints, it will be nit-picking at that point.

It’s all mostly personal preference. If you talk to a hard-core miniature enthusiast, they will swear up and down that Citadel is the best paint. If you ask a regular painter that likes to paint miniatures and models on the side, they may say artist quality paint is the best. To each their own.

Best Acrylic Paint Brands for Miniatures

Games Workshop

Games Workshop is hands downs the worlds largest and most successful hobby miniatures company. Their most known brands are Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. Games Workshop is any miniatures dream stop.

At its core, the Hobby is all about their eye-astounding miniatures and collecting, modelling, painting, and playing tabletop games with huge armies of them. These are activities enjoyed by million around the globe. Games Workshop has set a pretty high standard when it comes to the quality and artwork of miniatures and models alike.

Games Workshop began their journey in the UK, but now has direct sales operations in the United States, Australia, China, and Japan.

Acrylicos Vallejo

The Vallejo company was registered in New Jersey, U.S.A., in 1965. This company has been around for a very long time and started its journey in the animated films world. They specialized in the manufacture of colors for cartoons. They then started to expand in the early nineties.

They then directed their paints at the Model painting and Hobby sector. Vallejo became the first specialist company in acrylic colors for Model color paints. With a range of 218 very highly pigmented acrylic colors, that were specifically designed for models and miniatures alike. The model colors were indicated for all surfaces, and especially formulated to adhere to plastics and polyesters.

The Army Painter

The Army Painter was created by two veteran painters named Bo Penstoft and Jonas Faering. The founders have all in all fielded over 30 fully painted miniature armors, which resulted in countless hours of meticulous work.

The company consists of around twenty people that are all dedicated and passionate to create products that will bring your miniatures to the next level.

FAQs

Q: What is lightfastness in high-quality paints?

A: This rating determines how easily the color will be to fading color due to light exposure. A paint that is described as being lightfast means that it is a great, long-lasting paint even if exposed to light.

Q: Can you use acrylic paint on miniatures?

A: Yes, but your results won’t even compare to acrylic paints specifically designed for plastic and metals. You have to pay special attention when thinning basic acrylic paint because if thinned too much, it can become weak.

Q: What are the best paints for miniatures?

A: The best paints for miniatures are acrylic paints specifically designed to adhere well to plastics and metals. Some of the best acrylic paints are from brands like Games Workshop, Vallejo, and The Army Painter.

Q: Is Citadel an acrylic paint?

A: All Citadel paints are water-based acrylic that are designed for use on plastic, metal, and Citadel miniatures

Final Thoughts

The Army Painter Miniature Painting Kit does a phenomenal job when it comes to bringing your models to life. With a vast selection of over 40 different paints to choose from, you won’t fall short in finding that perfect color for your miniature.

Although it is one of the priciest paint kits available, it truly delivers with its quality paint, bright pigments, and fast drying times. This is what makes this kit the best for both beginners and veterans alike.

Whichever acrylic paint you choose for your minis, we hope that this guide has been helpful, and that your next painting session will be successful. Thanks for reading!

Annick

Annick's passion has been painting with acrylics since her youth. She has a lot of experience with all sorts of projects, from simple acrylic painting to advanced techniques like acrylic pouring.

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