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The 8 Best Acrylic Paints for Miniatures and Models (2021 Update)

best acrylic paint for miniatures and models

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.

We’ve found the best miniature paint sets and paint brushes you’ll need to build your army. Whether you’re painting Warhammer or D&D miniatures, we’ve got you covered.

These paints will also be great for model painting, so let’s dive right in!


Best D&D Miniature Paint Set: The Original

I just had to review this set first, because I’m a huge D&D fan. This is the best paint for D&D miniatures, especially if you’re a beginner.  

This acrylic paint set was specifically built to be used with D&D miniatures 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 and need colors that match your sets. 

What we like

  • Great for beginner painters
  • Awesome low price — only $25.19
  • 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

Vallejo Basic Paint Set

If you’ve been painting miniatures for a while, 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 Vallejo 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.

You can usually find deals on Amazon for this particular set — last time I checked, it was 14% off!

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

The Army Painter Miniature Painting Kit

The Army Painter miniature painting kit is our top pick in this list! This set is just MASSIVE! 

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
  • 1 triangular-handled detail paint brush for miniatures

If you’re a miniature or model painting beginner, don’t worry. You can stick to the primary colors and slowly work your way up as you get more accustomed to painting.

Each bottle in this paint set is 0.6 oz/18 ml. You’ll find fantastic consistency and color pigment in every color. 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 is one of the best miniature paint sets for buying in bulk, because you’ll save about 20% compared to buying each individual color. 

What we like

  • Professional quality paint
  • One of the largest sets available
  • 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

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

Best Paint Set For Miniatures With Accessories

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

Best Warhammer Minatare Set: Citadel

It’s Citadel. What more can I say. This is a luxury acrylic paint brand, and in my opinion it’s the best Warhammer miniature paint set. 

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 painter’s 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. My favorite part about this Warhammer miniature paint set is that everything is hilariously branded. Just look at how they’ve named the colors: 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).

What we like

What we don’t like

  • High price point since it’s a build-your-own kit

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Best Warhammer Paint Set For Beginners

The Age of Sigmar paint set is a good option for beginners, and it actually comes with Citadel. It comes straight from Games Workshop (parent company of the Warhammer franchise), so you know it’s good. 

What I love about this paint set is that it comes with tools you might not have. For example, they have a mouldline remover tool that gets rid of the extra plastic. These precision clippers are great for removing awkward plastic that can take away from your miniature. 

The set comes with 13 colors branded with cool Citadel names: Retributor Armour, Abaddon Black, Armageddon Dust, Kantor Blue, Reikland Fleshshade, White Scar, Leadbelcher, Mournfang Brown, Celestra Grey, Khorne Red, Nighthaunt Gloom, Rakarth Flesh, and Bugman’s Glow.

What we like

  • Citadel quality paints 
  • From the creators of Warhammer 
  • Mouldline remover tool included

What we don’t like

  • Quality comes at a price 
  • You can’t pick and choose your paints like the build-your-own Citadel kit

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Follow-up: Sequel to The Best D&D Paint Set

Well after writing this article it looks like D&D has come out with another amazing paint set: The Underdark paint set. This is the follow up to the original Nolzur’s Marvelous Pigments set, and it includes 10 warpaints (as well as an exclusive miniature!).

This paint set is specifically catered towards the Underdark races and creatures, so it includes a lot of dark reds, greys, yellows, and other matted colors. The colors in the set have fun names like “Faerzress Purple” and “Duergar Metal.” 

If you already have the original set, it’s worth picking up the Underdark extension.

What we like

  • From the creators of D&D
  • Excellent addition to the original set
  • Fun paint names and high quality acrylic 

What we don’t like

  • Colors are a little bit limited, and some repetition of similar colors 

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Best Paint Brushes for Miniatures

Which miniature paint brush will be best for you is going to largely depend on your needs and your budget. 

Assuming you regularly clean your paint brushes after use, sable hair brushes are your best bet. Synthetic paint brushes can work, but they won’t last as long.

We’ve broken the best paint brushes for miniatures down into two categories: the best brush and the best set overall. 

Let’s start with the best overall: the Windsor & Newton Series 7. This brush offers stellar longevity and quality with a crisp point. The brush has an even flow, and it snaps back into place with every brush stroke. It’s truly the highest quality paint brush for miniatures. 

Yes, it’s only a single paint brush for $15 or more, but it’s worth it! 

Next up, the best brush set: the Army Painter WarGames Mega Brush Set. I love that this set comes with 10 brushes of different shapes and sizes, but it doesn’t skimp on quality. These brushes are made with sable hair that retains a strong bristle (assuming you take care of it). 

My recommendation: Get the Windsor & Newton Series 7 if you already have a solid set of brushes, and go with the mega set if you’re new to painting miniatures.

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.

Model and Miniature Painting FAQs

What is lightfastness in high-quality paints?

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.

Can you use acrylic paint on miniatures?

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.

What are the best paints for miniatures?

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.

Is Citadel an acrylic paint?

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

What is the best paint for Warhammer?

The best paint brand for Warhammer is Citadel Colour. Their entire paint line is dedicated to the Warhammer franchise.

Can you use acrylic paint on Warhammer figures?

Yes! Acrylic paints are the most popular type of paint for miniature and models. Acrylics are water-based and non-toxic, so they’re ideal for Warhammer figures.

Do you need special paint for miniatures?

No, you don’t need a special paint for miniatures. Any acrylic paint will work, but there are colors from specific brands that hobbyists seek out.

Can you use enamel paint on miniatures?

In general, enamel paint is not good for miniatures, because you need special solutions to thin the paint down to make it usable. Acrylics are generally preferred by most hobbyists.

Is acrylic or enamel better for models?

The same rule applies for models: acrylics are generally better because they’re easier to work with, but you can technically use enamel if you’re skilled.

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!

Editor’s Note: This article was updated May 23rd, 2021 with the latest info about painting miniatures and models.

Acrylic Art World

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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