The Best Paints For Tabletop Miniatures

One of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make as a tabletop miniature painter is what type of acrylic paint you’ll use. Choosing the right paint to suit your painting skill level and standard of quality will make all the difference in producing the best results with your paint job.

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Related: Board Games With The Best Miniatures In 2023

Many painters will sample multiple different product lines and ultimately settle on a brand they’re most comfortable with. In a lot of cases, hobby miniature paints are synthesized in very similar ways, and it can sometimes be difficult to tell them apart. While each of these hobby paints satisfy the necessities, they each hold subtle, yet distinctive qualities that provide advantages over their counterparts. Let’s explore them together!

Apple Barrel (Or Any Comparable Brand)

18 Basic Apple Barrel Paints in a line

Right off the bat, you might think it’s ridiculous to include Apple Barrel on this list, but hear us out. In nearly every case, cheap craft paints like Apple Barrel will be practically useless at achieving quality paint jobs for high-fidelity models. They severely lack pigmentation, have abysmal flow, and often require multiple coats to achieve proper coverage. But there is one area where they shine, and that is with large-scale objects.

If you’re painting scenery or terrain for your game of choice or are painting large-scale models like a structure, craft paint can be much more forgiving (and more affordable) than hemorrhaging expensive model paints, which will get eaten up far too quickly if you use them on larger models and terrain pieces.

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Reaper Miniatures Master Series

Reaper Starter Paint Set

To kick off the finer entries of the list is Reaper Miniatures’ Master Series. Suitable for any skill level, but especially for beginner and intermediate-level painters, Reaper Miniatures boasts a variety of product lines that cater to different needs, such as their Bones ultra-colors, which contain a handsome selection of metallic and vibrant tones. Their true strength lies in their versatility of having good flow straight out of the bottle while lending themselves well to airbrushes.

They also carry their iconic triad sets, which can introduce newer painters to ranges of lightness and darkness within a specific range of hues. Their paint kits are also very affordable to jump into, making them a respectable choice for anyone dipping their brushes into model painting for the first time.

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Citadel Paints

Warhammer 40k starter set citadel paints and basic tools

Citadel paints have had a rocky reputation in terms of value for money, especially given all the other great alternatives on the market. Many painters will swear by them as the best and only option to paint their Warhammer armies, but that is a nearsighted approach. Citadel paints excel at one thing, primarily, which is their uniformity and smoothness.

Citadel paints are also categorized neatly into different categories designed for different applications. Their contrast paints are incredibly effective for speed painters trying to bust out their army in record timing, while their technical paints are well-suited for capturing highly specific environmental and accenting effects and garnishes.

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Kimera Colors

Kimera colours pigment sets side by side

Where Kimera paints outmatch their contemporaries is in their humble range of colors, especially earth tones. Kimera is capable in all other marks pertaining to strong pigmentation, decent flow, and competent coverage, but its main advantage is in how productive its modest list of colors can achieve natural effects, holding its color quality well when mixed.

Kimera paints are popular for both their vibrancy and saturation, making them some of the most potent and transformative paints any painter will have the pleasure of using.

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Scale 75

Metal n Alchemy scale 75 paints and box

Providing a competent range of basic colors, Scale 75’s paints are another prime choice when it comes to vibrant colors and value for money. But where they truly break ground is in their metallics. It’s no secret that a lot of metallic paints out there have viscosity and coverage issues. Many often look too intense or fail to recreate a true metallic look, but Scale 75 manages to do it right.

If your next painting project involves a lot of metal surfaces, you might want to consider Scale 75’s Metal N’ Alchemy set, which carries a range of base metallic colors that can be mixed to derive practically any shade of metallic you need.

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Tamiya Color

Tamiya Acrylic paints tubs stacked up

A fan favorite of wargamers, Tamiya Color is revered for its military-inspired hues. Many of their army tones are designed to mimic real machinery paints used in historical periods, elevating historical wargame painting to a whole other level of authenticity. They even offer some select army colors in the form of spray paints and primers for larger-scale models like aircraft and tanks.

An easy choice, Tamiya paints are the best choice to look to when colorizing your army. Be cautious when starting out with Tamiya, as their bottled acrylics are very thick straight out of the bottle and often need to be thinned to achieve optimal viscosity.

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The Army Painter

The Army Painter mega set paints and box

The Army Painter rolls in as one of the most versatile paint brands, offering one of the widest color ranges available by any one maker. The coverage of their bottled paints is very competent (with a little bit of thinning), and their paints hold up their vibrancy fairly well when mixed with other colors.

Army Painter also makes life very convenient for painters by offering one-to-one color matches with their colored spray primers and their bottled liquid paints, making the entire process of priming and painting much faster, allowing for easy corrections when necessary.

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Vallejo Model Color

Vallejo Set of 18 Basic Colours in a box

Finally, we come to Vallejo Model Color, a champion of coverage. No matter if you’re new or old to painting, one truth will always be the same, and it’s the fact that bright yellow and red paints are very difficult to get right. Pure yellow and red paints are typically made in a very different way than most other colors, and it gives them unwanted transparency that often requires numerous coats to obtain proper coverage.

In spite of that, Vallejo, although not perfect at it, is the most efficient at producing yellows and reds that cover well. Of course, that’s not the only reason they’re the best choice. Vallejo’s paints are also incredibly smooth, have superior pigmentation, and are a breeze to use. But the mere fact that they delivered an answer to the “yellow-red” issue makes them the strongest contender in the miniature hobby painting space today.

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Next: Essential Advanced Tools That Every Miniature Painter Needs

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