22 Best Acrylic Paint for Miniatures For Beginners

Last Updated on March 14, 2024 by Masha Eretnova

Interested in painting miniatures and overwhelmed by choice and prices of special paints? You’ve come to the right place. I’m here to help you learn about the best acrylic paint for miniatures.

Good miniature paints are thin, dry fast, have smooth coverage and vibrant opaque colors, and don’t peel off from plastic models.

Top performing miniature paint brands are Citadel, Vallejo, Army Painters, and Reaper Miniatures.

But there are some underdogs that you should not miss out.

Best Miniature Paints

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One of the best types of paint to use on plastic model kits is acrylic paint.

Acrylic paint is also one of the easiest to clean up as well as being available in a wide variety of colors.

The best miniature paint for a hobbyist should be not only high quality and durable, but also simply easy to buy and refill your stocks!

Some paints are great, but every refill becomes a challenge so eventually we may switch to an available alternative.

Read also: Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Miniatures or Models?


Here are the best paints for miniatures:

all miniature paint brands
all miniature paint brands

Professional Acrylic Paint for Miniatures

1 – Vallejo Miniature Paint & Vallejo Game Color

Vallejo Basic USA Acrylic Colors Paint Set, 17ml, Assorted Colors, 0.57 Fl Oz (Pack of 16)

Vallejo paints are great for miniature and model painting – they are one of the most recommended and known paints used for plastic models. Vallejo paint for miniatures is versatile, opaque, rich in pigments, and lightfast.

Yet, they are often going under the label “pricey” and that’s why some miniature painters vote for other brands.

They recently released new professional miniature paint series – Game Color with colors in 3 ranges Base, Shadow, and Light which makes the combos perfect – you don’t need to try and match colors anymore.

More to it, to address sustainability, all the bottle are recyclable. Price per bottle is around $3-4. Not available through Amazon.

All Vallejo paint will cover both metal and plastic models fatastically.

The basic paint set – Vallejo Basic USA Colors Paint Set – includes 16 bottles of 17 ml each – great paint set for beginners or as a gift at a very affordable price – around $30.

In fact, Vallejo also sells different sets designed for some types of models like:

  • for airbrushing minis.
  • civil war color scheme
  • sets for painting buildings, roads, ruins, floors or tiles.
  • set for imitating rust, stains, and streaking for war models
  • Vellejo has color sets by war & time period
  • Fantasy sets and many more

The variety is so diverse and unique that this is an absolute leader for war models right next to Citadel.


2 – Citadel Games Workshop Paint – Best paint for Warhammer 40k

Citadel paints are the best because they provide a smooth finish with excellent opacity, but also because Games Workshop is well known as the best game shop and manufacturer for miniature painting supplies.

Army Painters and Citadel are both featured by Games Workshop and are bestselling miniature paints of the highest quality.

best paint for warhammer 40k

Hobby Model Choose-Your-Own Paint Set is the easy way to go if you’re shopping on Amazon: you can pick the colors you like, one color will cost around $5. This paint is ideal for painting your minis in layers.

Games Workshop officially sells miniature paints & tools sets with Citadel paint for Warhammer 40k like Warhammer Age of Sigmar Set or Games Workshop Warhammer 40,000 Box.

Both will make a perfect gift for a Warhammer 40,000 fan! No wonder, Warhammer was created by Games Workshop and they know best what will work for the models.


3 – Army Painters – Best paint for D&D miniatures

Army Painters paint is the best acrylic paint for D&D miniatures as they do have special Dungeons and Dragons painting bundles and master miniature paints and wargaming for more than 10 years already.

This paint is created by real fans and hobbyists which means that people know how a good miniature paint should perform.

Best paint for D&D miniatures
The Army Painter Dungeons and Dragons Paint Set

Army Painters mostly sell paint sets and bundles – great gift and starter pack for every beginner and D&D fan, or in general, model painting enthusiast. The most popular one is The Army Painter Dungeons and Dragons Official Paint Line Adventurer’s Paint Set.

Army Painters Pros:

  • This is the official line of acrylic paint for Dungeons and Dragons by Army Painters.
  • The set includes 1 metallic, 1 brush-on primer, and 1 synthetic miniature brush.
  • Includes a Minsc and Boo D&D miniature!! Perfect for gift – everything in one place and so cheap.
  • Nolzur’s Marvelous Pigments – creamy, fine pigments for perfect coverage.
  • Nordic Swan Eco-labeled – eco-friendly and non-toxic paint.
  • Amazing reviews, 4.8 score on Amazon with more than 3,800 reviews.

Prices range from $35 to $233 for a bundle with tools.

But don’t be confused, Army Painters produce miniature paints for ALL types of models and miniatures, not only D&D. You can fully trust them with any other models!


4 – Reaper Miniatures – Best miniature paints for Beginners

Reaper has an amazing range of colors to choose from and easy-to-use bottles for the paint.

The paint will cover both metal and plastic models.

When painting miniatures with Reaper, you should always paint in thin layers and in a light color in order to avoid runs and drips in the detail areas in your model.

Reaper Miniature paints are perfect for first-timers and beginners.

Reaper Miniatures - Best miniature paints for Beginners
Best miniature paints for Beginners

Learn to Paint Kit Core Skills by Reaper is the all-in-one bundle for a beginner to learn how to paint miniauters and models – it includes 11 paints, 3 miniatures, 2 miniature paint brushes, and a full guide on how to paint minis, and a storage box itself that can fit 25 more paint bottles.

Reaper Miniatures sell bundles, paints and a lot of mitiatures to paint. The brand is very budget-friendly (around $30) and beginner-friendly – they tried to make miniature paints set to teach you model painting:

Each of them includes paints, brushes, miniatures to train on, storage box and a detailed guide by a professional painter, for example, Rhonda Bender.


5 – Testors Acrylic Paint

Testors produces enamel and acrylic paints for diverse surfaces, not only for painting miniatures and war models.

They are especially good on plastic, paper, and wood and offer nice coverage with high-pigmented colors.

You can get basic colors set, metallic set or buy some colors individually on Amazon.

Testors Acrylic paint set is pretty much same as classic enamel set, but this time you’ll have 9 acrylic paints. This paint is still toxic, so be careful.

Both Testors enamel and acrylics are affordable model paints and have a lot of nice reviews from hobbyists!

However, as the sets only include basic colors, be ready to mix some tones and make some samples before you paint your actual miniatures.


6 – Molotow Acrylic Markers

Molotow Acrylic Markers Set is a nice alternative to paint, brushes, water, thinners and any traditional painting mistakes.

These UV and water-resistant, vibrant 2 or 4mm acrylic markers will work great for painting models and minis, and for most surfaces too!

The basic small set include high-pigment high-covering 10 colors and you can choose between 2 or 4 mm round tip (this will affect the price).

They are durable, long-lasting and are sometimes presented as an alternative for Posca markers.

However, if you’re not used to paint with markers, you need to keep in mind few things:

  • blending may be challenging and not as straightforward as with acrylic paint,
  • the tip is 2 or 4 mm and it may be stiff or dry sometimes which can affect the results,
  • good quality markers are more expensive than some miniature paints.

2mm set will cost around $45, and 4mm set – around $50.


7 – Ammo of Mig Jimenez

Ammo of Mig Jimenez has a whole series of different acrylic-based paints, effects and washes for models and Mechas, especially. Both for brushes and airbrushing!

Wow! There are so many mini-sets and individual colors – for any type of desirable effects and weapons, uniforms, vehicles, military equipment.

Ammo paints are not quite popular on Amazon and it’s quite hard to get them delivered, but you can always browse their official websitetons of useful information and products.


8 – AK Interactive

AK Interactive is a Spanish acrylic-based paint, competitor of Ammo and they also specialize in war models – they sell immense number of different weathering sets, coloring sets for different vehicles, uniforms and effects.

AK Interactive paints fit best-experienced war, civil or space model painters who know exactly what they need.

They also produce brushes, tools and all additional supplies you may need to do model painting.

The sets or individual paint bottles are quite pricey for a beginner – $13-$20 per bottle or a mini-set with a very specific purpose.


9 – Badger Minitaire – Best paint for airbrushing models

Badger is a very reputable American manufacturer of airbrushes and airbrushing supplies, including miniature paints.

If you’re working with airbrushes, you should definitely consider trying Badget Minitaire serie for model painting and wargaming.

best paint for airbrushing models

Badger Minitare Paint Set includes 12 colors, non-toxic, organic and quick-drying. In total, Minitare collection has a color chart of 80 colors, that you can buy individually later on.

This paint is great for models airbrushing and assure easy and smooth coverage.

Of course, you can use this paint with regular brushes too – the consistency will work fine and adhere great to models.

The price is very reasonable for twelve 30ml bottles – around $38 for the whole set ($3 per bottle).


10 – Warcolours – Best eco-friendly miniature paints

Warcolours offer one of the world’s finest handmade acrylic paint for wargaming and miniature painting. Their acrylic paints are hand-made, rich in pigments, compatible with brushes and airbrushing, and guarantee smooth finish with no strokes.

The brand is sustainable and eco-friendly, all paints are non-toxic, and the packaging is recyclable.

The ultimate Warcolours set includes 240 colors (wow!!), but there is a Warcolours starter set: 10 colors with matte finish, 15 ml each, and 2 brushes.

Of course, you can buy each color individually.

All colors are lightfast, high-pigmented, contain 100% acrylic emulsion with no additives, UV and weather-resistant, and dry quickly.

Yet, I would say that for a beginner, this paint is not wallet-friendly, as the simplest set will cost you around 35 EUR (around $42), plus shipping (flat shipping to the US is 8.95€).

The best option is to order Warcolours paints directly via their official website.

Apart from model paint and paint sets, Warcolours also produce brushes, primers, mediums, additives, varnishes, model painting tools, glue pens and markers, all airbrushing supplies and many more things that will help you enjoy your hobby.

I highly recommend checking their products.


11 – Secret Weapon Miniatures Paints

Secret Weapon acrylic paints come individually or in sets: Mech acrylics sets, weathering sets, and washes.

Unfortunately, it’s not available on Amazon in the US, even if it is an American brand, but you can always order it directly from their website.

Secret Weapon miniature paints are high-quality pigmented paint both for paintbrushes and airbrushing as they have just the perfect consistency and coverage. Individual 1/2 oz. dropper bottles cost around $5, and regular weatheting sets around $12, which is extremely affordable.

The company is constantly growing and to compete with market leaders they have no choice but to deliver the highest quality standards, that’s why weathering pigments they use are pure art and cosmetic grade pigments free from any additives.

All paints are non-toxic, contain natural pigments and offer incredibly vibrant colors.


12 – Black Hat Miniatures – Coat d’arms

Black Hat miniatures paints were created by Mike Lewis – experienced wargame, Sci-Fi and fantasy writer and huge wargaming enthusiast – and operated in the UK since 2004.

Throughout their story they produced miniatures, but also high-quality paint and paint sets for model painting.

Today Coat d’arms paints have so much to offer: fantasy or military ranges, World War II range, shaders, inks, washes, British, German or American coloring sets, Ancient sets, shades triads, and more miniature painting supplies.

It is recommended for a first timer to get a 901 starter set – for $30 you’ll get 10 paint bottles (18 ml each) to start your journey.

Not available on Amazon US or UK, only via official website.


13 – Green Stuff World Acrylic paint

Green Stuff World specializes on wargames paints: they manufacture acrylic paint for military models, acrylic inks, fluorescent, chameleon, and metallic paint, and some mediums like retarders, and varnishes.

All paints work great for paintbrushes and airbrush.

Weathering liquid pigments create a very natural-looking effects similar to powder pigments.

All acrylic paints are rich in pigments, non-toxic, have homogenous smooth consistency and coverage and work best for wargame models, vehicles, miniatures and dioramas.

Winter Camo Acrylic Paint Set

I always recommend buying a paint set for a beginner, and later on buy any additional colors you want.

With wargaming models paint sets are different: they are created based on the purpose, not just the number of different colors.

If you need some rust, some dust, if you paint winter tanks or whatever – you’ll find a very specific paint set for that.

Individual bottles of acrylic paint or ink cost around $3, a paint set – $18 to $25, which is a very reasonable and affordable market price. Available only via Green Stuff World official website.


14 – Tamiya paints

Tamiya produces acrylic paint and paint sprays, as well as semi-wet weathering paint sets – all products are made in Japan, adhere nicely to the scale models and dioramas.

Best all-in-one weathering set for war models

If you’re looking to get a weathering set, you’ll see that every brand sells each weathering set separately for $12-$20 while with Tamiya you get the best deal: ALL weathering effects in one set: mud, rust, snow, sand, stain and more!

If you would buy them all one by one from other manufacturers it will cost you more than $100, so I think it is the best option for a beginner!

At the same time, if you are looking for Tamiya’s acrylic paints – they come in small pots and have gloss finish.

Tamiya acrylics also have one of the best white miniatures paint as of today along with Army Painter white.

Tamiya America, Inc Acrylic X2 Gloss,White, TAM81002 0.77 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)

Tamiya full weathering set and some individual paints and sprays are available on Amazon but there is much more choice on their official website (it looks very old-school, don’t be scared) and the US and UK reseller – The Hobby Company.

Honestly, both are very complicated to navigate and do not have the same product lines 🙁


15 – Scale 75 – Scalecolor Paint

Scalecolor produces amazing acrylic paint and paint sets for models and miniatures painting: a variety of wargaming, fantasy, mediums and individual artist grade paints.

They got you covered if you want to paint metal shades, skin tone, eyes, soil washes – anything!

Scalecolor Collection set of 63 colors
Essentials Paint Set

The Ultimate Scalecolor Collection set includes 63 colors with rich matt finish and a wooden storage tray. Each bottle of 17ml. The price is quite adequate – around 165 EUR (taxes excl.) for 63 bottles, means less than 3 euros per bottle.

The essential basic color set will be an amazing gift for a modeler-beginner and has 8 colors and a step-by-step guide. The basic paint set will cost you around 20 EUR without taxes and shipping fee.

Scale75 sell tons of scale models of all historic times, scale games, paint sets, brushes, airbrushing supplies and mediums.

Their recent addition is Kimera Paints – 13 highly pigmented colors with matter finish. Quite expensive per bottle.

They are not available on Amazon US, but some products can be found on Amazon UK, and, of course, on the official website. Shipping is around 6,25 EUR without taxes.


16 – Privateer Press – Formula P3 Paint

Privateer Press are known for their Warmachine and Hordes miniatures and they also have a paint series called Formula P3 with liquid pigments.

All paints are smooth, opaque (as far as the pigment allow), and offer great coverage even with one single coat. Formula P3 has an extended workable time – this paint dries slower than other miniature paints.

You can buy each color individually or get a paint set for a miniature you’re working on: ex., Mercenary colors set. There are 12 paint sets in total and a whole color range in individual bottles.

The individual bottles of 1/2 oz are quite expensive on Amazon- almost $10 for each, while the average market price is around $5. Plus, the choice on Amazon is very scarce…The official website will give you better price and choice.


17 – Wargames Foundry Paint System

Wargames Foundry produces a whole lot of models: animals, ancient minis, Dark Age, including vikings, Mediaval models, war and civil models – all centuries and major cultures or events are covered, plus Science Fiction and fantasy, of course!

To maintain such a diversity they launched their own Paint System with a unique feature: each color has 3 shades to give your miniatures depth and details.

Each color then comes in a set of three 20 ml bottles called a triad: main color, shade and highlight. In total, Wargames Foundry Paint System’s color chart offers 350 colors. If you need a refill, you can buy each of them individually.

Special sets by historic times will also help you choose the right one for you. If it is your first time painting models, just go with a Starter Paint kit – the ultimate set for a beginner. It includes 36 colors, 6 brushes, and a Kevin the Painter model for practice. The set’s price is £99.00 (around $130).

Not available on Amazon.


18 – The Grinning Gargoyle Paint Starter Set

The Grinnin Gargoyle produces wargaming paints and supplies and one of their bestsellers is the Gargoyle Paint Set available in Started, Advanced, Core and Extra options.

The Grinning Gargoyle Starter Paint Set is a perfect gift and purchase for a beginner: 16 acrylic paints, 2 metallic paints, 2 shading washes, a paintbrush – it is all you need to start model painting.

Optimal consistency and great coverage, as well as Army Painters color range and easy-to-squeeze dropper bottles make this set an ideal choice for any modeler.

Yet, keep in mind one serious precaution: this paint is not for people with allergic reaction as it contains benzisothiazolone.

Haven’t seen them on Amazon US, but available on Amazon UK for around 50.


19 – Monuments Hobbies Pro Acryl

While not very popular choice among beginners, Monuments miniature paints are long adored by hobbyists like Ninjon, Vince Venturella, Sam Lenz, and many others.

They offer stunning coverage and the paint is very rich in pigments. Come in regular and metallic sets.

They are also very consistent in their performance – easy to thin but also can be used straight from the bottle, dry to matte finish, and do not peel.

Their no-clog bottles are said to be one of the best bottles on the market by users and that is a very strong statement.

Compared to Citadel the quality is amazing but Monuments are much cheaper.

Monument Hobbies Pro Acryl Base Set Acrylic Model Paints for Plastic Models - Miniature Painting, no-clog cap, comes loaded with glass agitator
Best Acrylic paint for Miniatures

20- Apple Barrel – Best cheap miniature acrylic paint for beginners

Apple Barrel is a versatile, cheap acrylic craft paint that can work for all kind of creative projects you have in mind.

It wasn’t specifically designed for painting miniatures but as almost all acrylic or craft paints, especially if they are such a bestseller, it will work just fine for models and minis but mostly for kids projects

Best cheap miniature paint for beginners

The absolute must have from Apple Barrel is their Paint set of 18 colors with matt finish – it will only cost you around $20 and you get all colors you will potentially need!

Perfect pick for a first timer, especially if you’re painting not only models.

Sometimes you may need several coats, keep that in mind.


21 – Folk Art

Folk Art craft paints are extremely affordable and good quality which makes them so popular among beginners and even experienced hobbyists.

Again, Folk Art was not created as miniature paint, but it is a multi-surface acrylic paint and will adhere to models and miniatures with proper priming.

The Multi-Surface Satin Finish Folk Art Paint Set includes 12 bottles of non-toxic acrylic paint, all colors are vivid, easy to apply and quick to dry.


22 – Golden Fluid Acrylic

Probably the best acrylic paint for miniature that performs closest to professional model paints is Golden Fluid.

Golden Artist Colors, Fluid Acrylics, 10-color Mixing Set

Firstly, because Golden is a really good brand and their manufacturing and research process is impeccable.

Second, because it is a fluid paint – so it was already thinned with professional medium and you can use it for airbrushing or with a brush on models.

Thinner paint gives more control and better coverage as special mini paints are thin as well.

Golden however can be pricey and some colors are still more transparent than Vallejo or Citadel.


How to make sure the paint is a good choice?

Transparency vs Opacity

Transparent paints allow the surface beneath it to show through whereas opaque paints cover up what’s beneath them.

Opaque paints are good for painting solid objects whereas transparent paints are better for painting skin tones or other skin-like colors because they have a higher level of detail and realism.

Some pigments are naturally more transparent or opaque, check all pigments opacity here.

Drying Time of Miniature Paint

If you are painting a whole army, you cannot wait to put second coat for days.

On average acrylics dry within 5-20 minutes. And once they dried, you won’t be able to reactivate them with water.

If you are painting some models for the first time however, it may seem like too fast, then you should choose paint with slow drying time.

Among miniature paints Privateer Press P3 has extended working time and dry slower than other paint for models.

Viscosity

For models and minis we should use low viscosity paint – more fluid and thin paint to make sure it will stick to the model, cover it nicely and dry quickly.

Budget

Miniature paints prices vary from $3 to $10 per bottle of 1/2 tot 2 oz, and from $12 to $25 for triads and small paint sets.

Master sets of 60+ paint colors will cost much more than $100.

Many professional model painters consider how many ml of paint do you get for your money and decide whether buy or not a paint based on this ratio.

Related post:


How to care for miniature paint

Not only you need to read the labels carefully to get the best miniature paints, you should also take good care of them once you start using it, otherwise the paint will not last as long as you wish and results may disappoint you.

  • Always shake miniature paint before use. You can add paint mixing balls in each bottle so every time the paint will be homogenous and well mixed before use.
  • Apply acrylic paint in thin layers and always let them dry in between.
  • Always wash your miniature in warm water before painting.
  • Working with professional paints like Citadel, you will need a set of 3 types of bottles: basecoat, color (tone) and shade or wash. Washes can come on top of colors to add transparency and effects. Technical paints are optional but they can give cool effects like rust or blood.
  • If you’re airbrushing your models, thin the paint accordingly (not till dripping state) or use miniature paint that is labeled as good for brushes and airbrushes.
  • For painting armor pick metallic colors.

Best Miniature Paints FAQ

What are the best paints for painting miniatures?

Acrylic paint is best for miniature painting, while enamel paints are great to paint weathering effects. Some of the best paints for painting miniatures are Citadel paint for Warhammer 40K models, Reaper Miniatures for mastering the skill, Vallejo paint for versatile projects and experienced modelers, Tamiya Weathering sets for adding effects and stains to war models.

Army Painters is the best miniature paint for D&D models, and Warcolours are one of the most eco-friendly brands.

What paint is best for Warhammer?

The best paint for Warhammer is Citadel paint by Games Workshop, because Games Workshop created Warhammer – they know exactly how to paint it and what paint to use. Citadel paint has best base coats, shades, layer paint for Warhammer models.

Can you paint D&D minis with acrylic paint?

You can absolutely paint D&D minis with acrylic paint, the best choice will be to buy Army Painters acrylic paint set for Dungeons and Dragons miniatures. They offer a lot of bundles created specifically for D&D fans and using the best matching color charts.

Are Vallejo paints better than Citadel?

Both Vallejo and Citadel paints are highest quality paints for miniature and wargaming painting. Citadel is the best choice for painting Warhammer minis and it is one of the bestselling products from Games Workshop. Citadel is a trusted choice for base coats, adding shades and technical details for Warhammer.

On the other hand, Vallejo has just an overwhelming choice of sets, stains, effect and paints for any kind of model and miniatures, and situations you may think of. Hands down they are the most versatile brand. Yet, one of the most expensive as well.

Pots vs Dropper bottles: which are better?

For miniature painting, dropper bottles with a good no-clog lid are the best. Monumets Hobbies Pro Acryl models paints probably have the best bottles.
Pots are better for regular painting, as it is easier to scoop more paint and it also dries fast.
For models you need smaller amounts of paint and precision.
The bottle are also tightly closed and the air doesn’t come in contact with paint like with pots.

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced miniature painter and models collector, painting your new Warhammer set is always exciting and satisfying.

I hope you now realize that even all professional paints are actually acrylic based and you have a wide range of colors and brands to choose from.

Get a nice fine brush, a set of miniature paints and make yourself a cup of coffee!

What would be your vote for the best acrylic paint for miniatures?

Last update on 2024-05-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API