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How to Paint Military Miniatures

This is a wonderful tutorial by John Staehle of Hobbies in a barn. He shows us step by step how to paint a miniature soldier.

My thanks go to him for this terrific tutorial! And, if you like his work you have got to check out more of his stuff.

John has more dioramas and some great tutorials on my website. Check them out right here

He has a business called Hobbies in a Barn and you can check out the facebook page to see more pics and get more info: Hobbies in a Barn on Facebook

You can also check out his website here



First and ... foremost, I use all acrylic craft paints. They have been around for years as the same paint used for ceramics and they are by far the best I have ever seen. Besides matching every known military and naval color they will mix with every other acrylic product to make mud, ice, water and more. I purchase mine at WalMart or HobbyLobby at under .75/ 2 once bottle. "Anita's", "Creamcoat" and "Apple Barrel" account for all of my paints for all concepts. They are dry with a solid seal and last for ever!

Steps to a successful figure

Step 1

1.) While having the parts on the sprue, use a plain green scouring pad and gently buff off any shinning of the plastic to a dull tone, this creates tiny scratches in the model surface that the paints love to stick to.


Step 2

2.) Rinse in cool plain water and dry. I use a hand hair dryer on low for this and drying the layers of paint. Apply a coat of the basic uniform color to the parts as you assemble the figure and dry with the above method. Do this to the face and hands as well using a reddish brown tone to start with for the skin tones. Two light coats should do the trick.


Step 3

3.) Add the colors to molded on harnesses, boots, straps, that sort of thing. Paint all attached gear a light shade, i.e., light green, tan what ever the painting guide describes.
Dry all paints.


Step 4

4.) Now for the fun, and yes this is tricky even for the best of us figure painters. Attach all webbing, gear, canteens, etc. with "Superglue" let these set up and dry. Next get out the acrylic (same brands) make a puddle of thinned black paint and with about a 1/2in wide brush coat the entire figure and attachments with thinned black paint! As much as it takes to black out the details!

Step 5

5.) Dry these coats which will be at least two with the hair dryer. Now the real detailing begins, Use a completely dry semi stiff 1/4" wide brush with the slightest amount of a lighter tone paint practically dry, "dry-brushing" as it is known, start with the facial features lightening the face with lighter skin tones with a slightest reddish paint mixed in with lighter tones. Over doing the skin is easy to do, just picture yourself in combat! Were you ever really clean shaven, dirt and grease free. If you were, something was wrong.


Step 6

6.) Uniforms are an easy painting as long as they are not camouflaged like crazy, but even they aren't as bad. Dry brush in the same manner using lighter shades until you get your desired tones. Unlike oils (yuk) acrylics are able to be brushed away with plain water unless they are completely dried. Look over the photos I have posted on this page for a closer look and do please do not get intimidated as this is a practice, practice method.

And most of all, have fun, your not loading nuke's onto aircraft so being careful and following
some rule isn't a requirement.
Basic tools and paints, for $10.00 one could have every military color. I have about 25 bottles that I haven't even opened the seal on yet and a large drawer full of my total paints.


The figure in place


Want to see more pictures of the diorama this miniature is for? That's John's 88's diorama. Check it out here.



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