Are you looking for the best hobby paint station? If you’re a miniature painter, then you know how a large model paint collection can get out of hand. A well-designed miniature paint station can help keep you organized and productive. For someone who wants a dedicated hobby space but has limited room, a portable hobby workstation or miniature paint case is an ideal solution.
In this article, I review 13 of the best hobby paint stations, including portable miniature paint stations, traveling paint cases or boxes, and compact desktop hobby workstations.
In a hurry? Check out the top 3 editor’s picks! 🏆
- Cosmetic Box Travel Organizer (Most versatile)
- Modeling Paint Workstation (Best Compact)
- The Army Painter Model Paint Stand (Popular)
Continue reading for the review and tips for the best 13 hobby paint stations for miniature painting and models.
Best hobby paint station for painting miniatures and models?
The ideal hobby workstation for miniature painting and modeling for you depends on your available space, your workflow, hobby needs, e.g., paints and tools, and available budget. You may even care about aesthetic and appearance. A great hobby paint station may be highly functional, but ugly and appear too DIY or cheap-looking.
For a great hobby carry case that you will help you stay organized even when you travel, you’ll love using cosmetic organizer boxes and cases, such as this cosmetic travel organizer or a professional makeup train case. These are affordable, handsome (stylish), and perfect for traveling with your hobby supplies and paints. Cosmetic cases are sturdy, built for storage and travel, and have easy access to your hobby stuff.
If you’re looking for a paint station that doesn’t take up much space and keeps your organized, a modular hobby workstation is a good option. For dedicated hobby spaces, check out this review of other useful hobby paint storage racks and organizers. Here is a great overview for those of you looking to design your perfect DIY workspace.
Are you looking for a dedicated hobby space you call “home”, but need to keep it compact or storage- and travel-ready? Continue reading to see what else you should consider for your ideal workstation and a review of the top 13 mobile workstations for miniature painting and modeling hobbies.
Why should you be organized with a hobby paint workstation?
There are 5 key reasons a hobby paint station is important for any miniature painter and hobbyist:
1. Saves you time
Time is your most valuable resource. You can never get your time back. By staying organized, you spend all your free time doing the things you enjoy rather than wasting it on clutter. If you’re trying to get the most done with your miniature painting hobby, staying organized with a hobby paint station will help you get into “the groove” and finish projects more efficiently.
2. Reduce stress
A cluttered work space is a recipe for stress, according to psychologists. Even when you’re not working at your hobby desk, the mere sight of the messy space can trigger a stress response. The visual of clutter reminds you of the frustration that painting miniatures in a messy environment. A workstation takes your haphazard space and contains it in a pleasant compartment of joy (yeah, joy).
3. More creativity
To get your creative juices flowing, you need to remove as many barriers to your art as possible. For miniature painting, creativity is a key element in learning how to harmonize color, contrast, and composition. When you’re drained from a hard day at work, or other responsibilities, e.g., household chores, the last thing you want to do is more cleanup at your hobby desk. Look, when you’re exhausted, creativity is the first casualty.
4. Locate things, fast
An model paint organizer, paint organizing box, or miniature painting station can help keep you calm. Some even close with latches so you can store your stuff unseen. Perhaps, you travel a lot and want to take your hobby painting with you. A portable miniature paint station will be your best option. In either case, with an organized hobby workstation you’ll find what you need quickly!
5. Meet deadlines
So, you have a miniature painting league coming up? Or, maybe a commission you need to finish? You’re more likely to meet your deadlines if you have a dedicated workspace for your hobby miniature painting. With a nice workstation, you can jump right in (or out) of a project when time permits. No need to wade through your things to start working. A hobby paint station liberates you from what holds you back!
Bonus: Make more money
This doesn’t apply to everyone, but for those who make money from their hobbies, “time is money”. If you save time doing things that aren’t impacting your work, then you’re losing financially. Efficiency leads to increased profits, and without sacrificing quality. Maybe a hobby workstation is best investment you make in your miniature painting and modeling hobby or business?
Portable versus dedicated hobby workstations?
A quick word on portability versus dedicated hobby workstations. Your challenge is finding the right balance between compact-size and functionality. Obviously, the larger a workstation, the more capabilities it will have for organizing your hobby paints, tools, and supplies. A portable paint station must have compromises that allow you to move your hobby workspace around (or even store it away).
Things like folding paint organizer cases or boxes, or drawers with magnetic clasps help make a hobby workstation more convenient for the traveler, or simply someone who wants to move their workspace around the home, e.g., kitchen to bedroom.
Fortunately, you don’t need to make a hard choice, because several workstations have modularity to them and can expand or minimize as needed. Others act as hybrid workstations that you can carry like a dinner tray around your space. Take a look below!
7 Must-know features of the ideal hobby workstation for miniature painting
- Available workspace
- Lighting setup
- Paint compatibility
The type and kind of hobby paint station you get must fit in the space you have available. If you’re in a college dorm room, a hobby workstation that sweeps a cavernous terrace of paint shelving around you in an obscene hobby nirvana may not work. You need to go compact. Below you’ll find information regarding recommendations for different paint stations that will fit your ideal hobby work area.
All hobby spaces need excellent lighting for an enjoyable time. Make sure you use the best lamps or lights you can that will fit your budget, space, and electrical connectivity. You’ll want to make sure you save space for a nice desktop hobby lamp or light that clamps to the edge of your table.
Some portable hobby paint stations have built-in lights, like this one or this paint workstation case. But, I find these lighting systems to be subpar, either too dim or narrow for most miniature hobby and painting work. I suggest getting a dedicated, high quality lamp for your workspace. There are great portable lights made for miniature painting and modeling arts, too.
Do you travel with your hobby or need to store your paint station, frequently? Need mobility? Consider a portable hobby paint station. These workstations are often lighter weight, fold, and have convenient carry handles or straps. Of course, these travel or storage-ready paint workstations are smaller and have much less capacity to hold your stuff, but they work well as intended.
Some hobby workstations can serve more than one purpose. Sure, most would use these for painting miniatures, but you can use your space for other useful things, too. You can store paints that you rarely use in your folding paint station. They are also much more durable than a random cardboard storage box, e.g. shoebox.
Or, another example, fixing a household appliance or touching up a broken, chipped doodad that your cat tripped/chewed/clawed/mangled. Maybe you have other hobbies that could use your attention and you want to keep this activity contained. A hobby workstation gives you that versatility. Your hobby workstation is your “place” to work on small things that may get lost on any other desk.
The best paint station for your needs will depend on the type and brand of paints in your collection. Whether you’re using Vallejo or Citadel style bottles or pots, you’ll want to make sure they fit in your hobby workstation. Maybe you have aerosol spray rattle cans, e.g., Model Master (Testors), Tamiya, or Army Painter sprays, that you want to keep in the same place. Make sure your workstation can hold these larger cans or bottles, too. You can download a handy bottle and can sizing reference chart of major paint and hobby brands here.
This is relevant for workstation cases or boxes that you can fold-up and close with a locking clasp. If you’re traveling with your hobby workstation, you’ll want your tools to be safe. That means there are well-designed drawers, containers, or holders inside the portable paint station that won’t jostle your stuff around.
You’ll also want to consider the possibility of using a combination lock or lock and key system to protect your workstation while you’re not watching it in a public space. For those traveling by car, the durability of the workstation is also important.
Will your portable hobby station handle the higher temperatures of being left in a car on a sunny day? Do you live in a humid environment where a paint station made of wood can warp? Metal travel organizers are the best kind of portable hobby units for travelers who use a variety of transportation modes, e.g., cars, planes.
Get what you can afford, but don’t skimp on your hobby workstation. Pay for the quality you need. You’ll be using it a lot more than you think! The best value modeling workstations are affordable and highly functional. You can see our top recommendations for hobby and miniature painting workstations below.
How do I know if my paints and supplies will fit the hobby station?
The size of your paint bottles, pots, or cans will determine the best size and type of workstation for your needs. Strike the right balance between portability, internal capacity, and utility of your hobby carrying case, storage box, or workstation organizer. Here is a simple reference chart for determining the size off your paint bottles and pots.
|Model Paint Brand||Diameter||Height|
|Army Painter/Vallejo/Master Reaper Series/Scalecolor||0.75″ (20mm)||3″ (77mm)|
|Citadel (Games Workshop) – 12ml||1.25“ (32mm)||1.75″ (45mm)|
|Citadel (Games Workshop) – 24ml||1.25″ (32mm)||2.4″ (61mm)|
|P3 (Privateer Press)||1.2″ (30mm)||2″ (50mm)|
|Testors Enamel Paint||0.94″ (24mm)||1.9″ (48mm)|
|Minitaire (Badger)||1.2″ (32mm)||3.2″ (80mm)|
|Vallejo wash or pigment bottles (35ml)||1.5″ (35mm)||2.75″ (70mm)|
|Vallejo surface primer bottles (200ml)||1.9″ (50mm)||5.75″ (14.5mm)|
|Vallejo surface primer (60ml)||1.5″ (35mm)||3.8″ (97mm)|
|Kimera color paints (*not round bottles)||*1.6″ (40mm)||3.75″ (95mm)|
Best 13 Portable Hobby Workstations for Painting Miniatures and Models
Here are the 13 best hobby paint stations for painting miniatures and models:
- Cosmetic Box Travel Organizer
- Makeup Train Case Large 6 Tray Professional Organizer Box
- HobbyTrayz Modeling Base
- Airfix Humbrol Workstation
- The Army Painter Model Paint Hobby Station
- Citadel Hobby Project Box
- Vallejo or Army Painter Style Paint Storage and Carry Case
- Games Workshop Style Paint Storage and Carry Case
- Modeling Paint Workstation for all Major Paint Types
- Portable Paint Station Compatible with GW, Citadel, Model Master, Vallejo and Army Painter
- Vallejo/Army Painter/Reaper Painting Station
- Vertical Paint Storage Rack for Model Painting
- Modular Painting Station Suitable for Right or Left-Hand Users
This Cosmetic Box Travel Organizer will carry nearly every sized bottle, pot, or can you own. It has a huge capacity two layered trays that fold outwards for easy access to your hobby stuff. On the inside, the trays and bottom of the case are lined with a firm, cushy PVC foam material to protect any fragile tools or bottles, including glass. The case also comes with a pluck foam tray to hold bottles and small tools, e.g., like your Citadel or other painting handles and holders.
A hobby storage and travel organizer, it serves as a versatile workstation for anyone looking to move about with their miniature painting hobby. The folding case has a mirror built into it as well. Use the glass mirror with a dry erase marker to take notes, doodle your freehanding, or track your tabletop gaming score, e.g., victory points.
The aluminum build is durable and will slip under a chair, a desk, or in your car’s trunk. You can keep everything secure with a keyed locking clasp. The sturdy carry handle and shoulder strap will make taking your hobby with super easy. It’s a good looking case, too! Overall, this is one of my favorite portable miniature paint stations.
- Large capacity
- Folding, tiered trays with PVC foam bottoms
- Pluck foam included
- Folding closure with lock
- Sturdy carry handle and shoulder strap
This Makeup Train Case is similar to the cosmetic box travel organizer, but is about 20% larger and provides you with more compartmentalized space. It has 6 large trays with a maximum length of 14″ (or 35.5 cm). The fold out trays give you full access to everything at the same time, including the cavernous bottom compartment.
This train case has adjustable tray dividers that allow you to create the perfect compartments for your hobby supplies. The ability to create snug fitting spaces for paints and tools will help keep things from shifting around during travel. Reserve a tray (or two) for your tabletop gaming tokens, dice, e.g., RPG polyhedrals or bucket of D6’s, and playing cards. Use the rest of the case for your miniature painting stuff.
The case folds up securely and you can lock it with metal clasps and a key. Other features like the shoulder strap, sturdy carry handle, and strong metal hinges make this organizer box a great way to store or travel with your miniature painting hobby.
- Sturdy metal construction
- 6 Large folding trays
- Lock and key for security
- Adjustable dividers for hobby tools, supplies, and gaming accessories
- Rubber feet for tabletop stability
The HobbyTrayz Modeling Base Station will fit any workspace. The hobby station is 12×9″ (or about 30 x 23cm) in size, which is plenty for working on most miniatures. This is particularly useful for assembling model kits. It comes with space to organize paints, glues, and compartments to hold your tools, e.g., brushes, tweezers, and other helpful doodads. There is also a self-healing cutting mat built into the tray.
Under the mat, there is another small item storage compartment for keeping things like files, loose bits, and things you want nearby but don’t use often. The entire tray weighs under 1.4 lbs (0.64 kg), so taking it with you is easy. Use it as a carry tray to move your hobby things around, or put the tray station in a backpack and go.
Of course, the smaller compact size of this hobby station does limit how much you can organize within it. But, for someone who wants a compartmentalized place to keep their frequently used tools and paints together, this is a great option.
- Compact size
- Plethora of side and back compartments for storing frequently-used tools and paints
- Built-in cutting mat
- Small storage compartment
- Durable construction
The Airfix Humbrol Workstation is similar to the HobbyTrayz (above). It is a compact hobby workstation for assembling and painting miniatures and models. Although it does not include the cutting mat (sold separately here), the tray has a minimalistic design. There are multiple places for paints, brushes, and glues. Slots and walls keep your tools from rolling away.
The cutouts on the tray can hold paint Vallejo or Army Painter style dropper bottles (not Citadel pots); whereas the larger cup holders can organize sprays or even small water cups. The side handles make this workstation into a convenient carry tray. Move your hobby space easily between desks, tables, or even outdoors when you want some natural sunlight while you paint and work on your miniatures.
- Minimalist design carry tray style hobby workstation
- Organize up to 9 dropper style bottles, and larger bottles/cups
- Brush and tool holders
- Lightweight, durable construction
The The Army Painter Model Paint Hobby Station is a very popular miniature painting station for wargaming hobbyists. This hobby project workstation is perfect for organizing your miniature paints and tools. All your paintbrushes and other supplies are within easy reach.
The paint holders is designed to hold 30 dropper-style paints, e.g., Army Painter, Vallejo, Reaper, Scalecolor (Scale 75) paints, and a water cup. The bottle holders are tiered, so you can see the bottle labels. You can store 7 paint brushes behind the bottles. If you’re using Army Painter brushes, such as the highly-rated Regiment brush (reviewed here), you can see the brush labels.
The Army Painter paint station is made of MDF (or medium density fiber) board, which is durable and lightweight. There is space on the paint station to place your models while you work, too. Keep all your model hobby supplies organized and contained. Note that some assembly is required to put this workstation together when you receive it. Use any super glue or PVA white glue (more about best glues for plastic, resin, and metal models).
- Popular paint workstation for modeling hobbies
- Good holding capacity for dropper paint bottles and brushes
- Lightweight, MDF construction
- Excellent visibility and easy access to paints and paintbrushes
The Citadel Hobby Project Box is another popular paint base station for hobbyist looking for a self-contained system. The Citadel Hobby Project Box is designed especially for use with Citadel Games Workshop brand model paint pots. It is built with very durable ABS plastic and will safely store and transport Citadel paints, brushes and tools. The project box closes securely with firm clasps on either side.
There are three racks in this project box that hold 21 pots of paints, with another compartment inside the paint case for another 56 pots. There are two tool racks that can hold sprue cutters, glue, and even a painting mat. I’ve found this compartment can also hold up to 10 paintbrushes, too. As a bonus, the Hobby project box will fit nicely inside a Citadel Crusade Case (reviewed here along with other army transport options).
Do you paint Warhammer 40k, Age of Sigmar, or other GW gaming models? This make a great gift, too, for a fellow hobbyist or yourself!
- Very durable hard case
- Designed for Citadel brand paints
- Lots of rack space for paint, brushes, and tools
- Secures well and fits inside the Citadel Crusade army transport case
This Vallejo or Army Painter Style Paint Storage and Carry Case is my top pick for those looking for a way to store and travel with their dropper-style paint bottles (along with other tools and supplies). This paint storage and carry case station is designed for Vallejo and similar dropper style bottles, but can also hold other paints, too.
If you’re looking to avoid drawing attention, this miniature paint case will close up into a discrete briefcase. You can purchase the inserts for use with an appropriately sized Art Box case (see here). Check with the vendor. Because this is made-to-order, you also have the option for custom graphics imprinted on the outside of the box.
- Modular inserts made-to-order
- Compatible for Vallejo style dropper bottles (includes Army Painter, Reaper, and Scale 75 paints)
- Multiple compartment tray for holding other supplies like tools and glues
- Sturdy, handsome wooden construction
- Secure clasps with carry handle
The Games Workshop Style Paint Storage and Carry Case is the same case as the Vallejo Paint Storage and Carry Case (shown above), except this is built for GW paint pot compatibility. This portable =station is designed for regular-sized Citadel paint pots (12ml), but not the taller pots (24ml). You can transfer paints from the bigger pots to a smaller empty pot if you want to use this case. with your entire collection.
A side benefit of this miniature painting briefcase of sorts, this won’t draw much attention. You can purchase the inserts for use with an appropriately sized Art Box case (see here). Check with the vendor. Because this is made-to-order, you also have the option for custom graphics imprinted on the outside of the box.
- Modular inserts made-to-order
- Compatible for GW paint pots bottles (12ml only)
- Multiple compartment tray for holding other supplies like tools and glues
- Sturdy, handsome wooden construction
- Secure clasps with carry handle
The Modeling Paint Workstation for all Major Paint Types is one of my favorite hobby stations for miniature work. You can order this modeling paint station with various modular components to suit your needs for organizing paints and tools. The main construction is thick MDF, which is highly durable and sturdy, yet lightweight. The workstation has built in handles as an easy tray carry and portability.
This paint station is compatible with Vallejo, Scale 75, Andrea, GW tapered or hex pots, Citadel paints (both sizes), Humbrol, Foundry, Tamiya, and many more model paint brands. The primary work surface and paint racks can be replaced if you want to change your station build. No need to buy a brand new workstation.
Built into the base of the workstation is a space for an A4 sized cutting mat. You can also change this out with a ceramic tile insert as a palette for oil or acrylic paints. For those looking for a smaller hobby workstation, contact the vendor for this option. This hobby paint station comes highly-rated by hundreds of users.
- Modular workstation for hobbies and miniature painting
- Sturdy construction with thoughtful design
- Carry handles for easy portability
- Good capacity for select model paints
- Built-in space for A4-sized cutting mat or ceramic palette
This Portable Paint Station is ideal for a miniature painter or hobbyist looking for easy access to all their supplies in a portable carrying case. This is perfect for someone who has limited desk space or wants a dedicated and mobile setup (i.e., a hybrid workstation). The shelves and drawers are modular and you can changes these out depending on your needs.
There is a huge capacity for storing brushes, paints, and other accessories. Everything you need is close at hand. When the paint station is closed and latched shut, the entire station is easy to move around. Be forewarned that to prevent objects from shifting about, it is recommended to keep the case upright and vertical during travel.
Included are a large tray that works as the front door cover, and 3 drawers (one large, two small) for storing tools and brushes. An interachangel brush and water cup holder has space for up to 25 brushes or narrow-handled tools and a 3.15″(or 80mm) diameter water cup. Here’s a non-spill water cup that will fit perfectly. Check the link for exact dimensions of this portable hobby workstation.
You can order this station unassembled, assembled, or assembled and varnished.
- Huge capacity
- Easy access to all your hobby paints and tools
- Modular compartments, drawers, and trays
- Closes securely for travel or storage
- Acts well as a dedicated mobile paint station
The Vallejo/Army Painter/Reaper Painting Station is a best seller for good reason. Affordable and functional, this hobby station works great as a tabletop paint organizer and display. It can hold up to 72 Vallejo, Reaper, Army Painter, or similar dropper bottles (up to 1″ or 2.55mm in diameter).
There are handles and paint brush holders (holes) built into the rack. This makes this painting station a one-stop portable home base for any project. Check it out!
- Solid MDF construction
- Holds up to 72 dropper style model paint bottles
- 4 tiered rack system with carry handles
- Combine with other racks for a dedicated hobby space
The Vertical Paint Storage Rack for Model Painting reminds me of the toolboxes we made in shop class. Highly-functional and simple to use, this model painting rack acts as a dedicated shelf for hobby paint storage and travel. The vertical build is ingenious and allows you to store a large amount of paints without taking up too much desktop space. You can also see exactly where your paints are located.
In terms of paint compatibility, you have a wide variety of options for this portable paint station. You can order this with shelves that hold a mix of different paint sizes, including Vallejo and Army Painter style dropper bottles (up to 96 bottles), and GW, Citadel, or Model Master paints (up to 64 pots). See more details here.
- Great functional design for hobby paint storage or mobility
- Compact table footprint with vertical shelving
- Large paint and tool holding capacity
- Modular construction
The Modular Painting Station Suitable for Right or Left-Hand Users is a compact modular hobby painting workstation. The internal shelving is interchangeable with 3 patterns for wide paint bottle/pot compatibility, e.g., GW, Citadel, Model Master, Vallejo and Army Painter. Depending on the configuration, this paint station will hold between 20 to 10 bottles or pots of model paint.
All base tray components for this painting station have carrying handles and space for twelve brushes or model accessories such as files, scissors and tweezers. Additionally, there is space for a water cup up to 3.15″(or 80mm) diameter and a small drawer for storing other hobby tools, e.g., knifes, clippers.
The simplicity, compact size, and tray functionality make this a great choice for anyone looking for a “homebase” they can move around their home or want to take with them on the road.
- Simple compact size
- Easy carry tray design
- Modular shelving with drawer
- Lightweight, mobile “home base” hobby station
Summary table of the best portable hobby workstations
|Cosmetic Box Travel Organizer||Large capacity portable case for miniature hobby and modeling supplies|
|Makeup Train Case Large 6 Tray Professional Organizer Box||Sturdy metal case with folding trays for
hobby tools, supplies, and gaming accessories
|HobbyTrayz Modeling Base||Compact hobby workstation with included built-in cutting mat and small storage compartment
|Airfix Humbrol Workstation||Minimalist paint station with tray style design for organizing paint, paint brushes, and tools
|The Army Painter Model Paint Hobby Station||Popular paint workstation for miniature painting and modeling hobbies
|Citadel Hobby Project Box||Durable hard case box designed for Games Workshop Citadel brand paints and hobby tools
|Vallejo or Army Painter Style Paint Storage and Carry Case||Modular and portable paint storage and organization case compatible with Vallejo style dropper bottles (includes Army Painter, Reaper, and Scale 75 paints)
|Games Workshop Style Paint Storage and Carry Case||Modular and portable paint storage and organization case compatible with GW paint pots bottles
|Modeling Paint Workstation||Modular workstation for scale model hobbies and miniature painting with carry handles for easy portability|
|Portable Paint Station||Travel ready, vertical hobby station case with huge paint and hobby tool capacity
|Vallejo/Army Painter/Reaper Painting Station||Affordable tiered shelving paint rack station with tray handles and paintbrush holders
|Vertical Paint Storage Rack for Model Painting||Mobile, compact table footprint with vertical shelving with ample space for secure paint and tool storage|
|Modular Painting Station Suitable for Right or Left-Hand Users||Lightweight, mobile “home base” hobby station with interchangeable tray system|
The ideal hobby and painting workstation mainly depends on your available workspace, your specific project needs and favored model paint brand.
For affordable options, you may want to take a closer look at non-branded painting workstations, e.g., constructed by artisans and other hobbyists. Whereas with established gaming brand paint stations, you may have more post-purchase support and compatibility with your favorite hobby tools and paints.
I’m sure I missed a few favorites. Some are quite wild and outlandish. Check back for updates as I discover other interesting and useful products for painting miniatures and scale modeling hobbies. Thanks for reading!
Happy painting and hobbying!