I love painting miniatures.

But, in an effort to see from a different perspective, I searched everywhere online to understand why so many people hate this part of the miniature hobby.

In this article, we explore ten reasons why people may hate miniature painting. Some of these reasons may surprise you.

Overview: Ten Reasons People Hate Miniature Painting

  1. Time
  2. Space
  3. Money
  4. Perfectionism
  5. Identity crisis
  6. Elitism
  7. Choice paralysis
  8. Dirt
  9. Micro-phobia
  10. Hate for people

Read the full details below.


A Love-Hate Relationship

When I was a kid, I played board games with miniatures. For example, games like Axis & Allies, HeroQuest, and dungeon-crawl role playing games used plastic or metal minis. At the time, I never realized you could paint them. It never crossed my mind.

Seriously. Makes me want to slap these people.

Redditor referring to people who don’t paint their miniatures.

Now, I see painted miniatures as near-necessity to get the most out of a game (if it requires the use of minis). Part of the problem, I think, about unpainted miniatures for the adult gamer is the universal dilemma of aging.

The simple things no longer wield the same power to thrill us.  

Somebody

A two year old might still be enthralled with a helium ballon. But, it takes a bit more sensory-load for an adult. The sense of wonder is fleeting; yet, a fleshed miniature game can be a taste…if this makes sense.

Fully, well-painted miniatures can make a game come alive.

However, the problem is: what if you hate painting miniatures?

HOW I STAY MOTIVATED TO PAINT MINIATURES (article)

I know this is a struggle for many. Just look at the forum posts out there. Here’s one example:

Help! I already have a hobby [gaming] that takes all my time, money, and space…I don’t need another.

Ugh. I hate painting miniatures.

Someone who doesn’t enjoy painting miniatures

And, of course, there are the trolls; the adults who just abhor the decline of human society, because gamers won’t paint their miniatures (I find this quite humorous).

Why do so many gamers insist on putting unpainted miniatures on the game table?

They are doing this in public.

Reddit is a hard place

Playing in public without painted miniatures is now a shameful act.

Wow.

Is this what most people think, but dare not say in the open street, out of alleyway shadows (the internet)?

I have a job and a family and have no problem getting my models painted.

What is up with this lack of dedication when it comes to painting?

Logic? Or just an elitist miniature gamer?

It’s true, however, that I see more and more games played without painted minis. It might be a trend, but it could also be that we have more games to play and less time to devote to the the hobby.

A HAIRDRYER CAN SPEED UP YOUR MINIATURE PAINTING GAME

As I tried to find out a bit more about this phenomenon, I discovered that people actually hate painting miniatures for generally the same reasons.

Here’s what I found!

10 Reasons People Hate Painting Miniatures

1. I don’t want to spend the time. 

People these days are consumed by so many distractions. Their jobs, their social lives, and all the in-between things like writing blog posts or spamming social media. Painting miniatures does take time. A lot of time; especially, if you want to paint well. People hate wasting their time on things that don’t yield anything. Maybe, you’re bored by miniature painting and you want to be better entertained. Admittedly, painting miniatures can be a hard sell if you only see the value in the final product and not the process.

Do You Hate Painting Miniatures? 10 Common and Surprising Reasons
420 miniatures that require painting. If it took me 5-minutes to paint one model, that’s 2100 minutes (or 35 hours) of painting! Do you own this many miniatures and can you paint that fast?

2. I don’t have the space. 

This is a reason I can understand. When I lived in my small, cramped apartment, I only had a small coffee table in front of a 24″ TV to work. There was enough room for 5 bottles of Citadel paint, a few dood-dads including some brushes and clippers, and a small desk lamp (see an article on good lighting for painting or photographing miniatures). When I was done painting, I had to pack it all up in a cardboard box and slip it under the dinning table. This unpack/pack cycle robbed me of time and the simple ease of getting into the flow of painting miniatures. The internet supports my contention that the lack of space is a major reason people hate painting miniatures. It’s just a hassle to work without proper dedicated space!

Do You Hate Painting Miniatures? 10 Common and Surprising Reasons
This Tyranid Bio-Titan doesn’t even fit on my painting desk

3. I hate spending money.

This is a bit different than the “I don’t have money” crowd. Obviously, not having money is a problem, and getting food on the table should not be avoided at the expense of buying and painting miniatures. But, if you’re just a cheapskate, then you might also hate going to the movies, or going anywhere beyond your hometown. How are you even playing games, and reading this article? Do you pay for your internet service? (Yes, I understand some European countries get this for free). If being a miser is the only reason preventing you from painting your miniatures, then…. I’m at a loss for words.

Do You Hate Painting Miniatures? 10 Common and Surprising Reasons
Here’s looking at you! Mr. thirty-four US Dollars…

4. I suck at painting miniatures. 

I would contend that most people are actually quite good at painting miniatures. Unlike a 2D painting on canvas, there is no need to understand proportion or the technical aspects of sketching for perspective and light and shadow. No, a miniature solves all these issues because as a mini-sculpture, all the major hurdles of form have been solved. With a bit of practice and good tools, painting a miniature can almost be like a coloring book. Fill in the blank spaces and stay within the lines. In general, I think there’s a mental block, a fear that blocks most people from enjoying the process. Then, of course, we must be realistic to the possibility that there are people out there who are diametrically opposed to anything involving a painting instrument.

Do You Hate Painting Miniatures? 10 Common and Surprising Reasons
This is the result of a set of skills and good tools

5. I hate the idea of being identified as miniature hobbyist. 

At first this surprised me. But, after a bit of thought, I realized this was more common that you might think. A lot of people scour the internet about advice for painting miniatures that rarely approach people in-person. The miniature hobby in general is not yet mainstream. It is a sub-culture that runs just slightly below the norm. For example from what I’ve heard or seen: board games mainstream, “yes!”. Painted board game miniatures, “Really, you do that?…neat, I guess.” Introverts, extroverts, whatever. Everyone is conscience of how they are perceived. Some people want to maintain an image and miniature hobby-work isn’t something that jives, so they refuse to participate. A somewhat fascinating anecdote: I heard an aspiring miniature artist bemoan the chagrin of his spouse for his efforts to delve deeper into the hobby, when socializing in public with non-gamers/miniature-hobbyists.

Do You Hate Painting Miniatures? 10 Common and Surprising Reasons
You played with toys when you were a child. Some of them were abstracted miniatures of real-life. This toy train, for example.

6. I am a “real” artist, and painting miniatures isn’t art.

Hmm. You just might be an art snob, whatever that means, who easily judges people (which I’m probably guilty of doing right now, paradoxically)? But, to the point: how can you hate miniature painting, if you’re an open-minded artist (yes, admittedly some art-forms should not be celebrated, e.g., violence). Arguably, painting miniatures is an art form. It takes an individual’s emotional, physical, and personal investment, small as it may be, to paint a miniature. There is an expression and a process. The finished result communicates to other viewers something has happened, has been created, for some purpose. Even the unpainted miniature sculpt has an artist’s hand in the mix. Miniature painting is a form of art, even the miniatures deemed for gaming (see link). 

Do You Hate Painting Miniatures? 10 Common and Surprising Reasons
My head hurts…. express yourself!

7. I have too many miniatures to know where to start (Overchoice). 

Obviously, this person may not actually hate painting miniatures. They just happen to have so many in their collection that it makes them anxious thinking of the time, effort, and expense of painting them (i.e., The Paradox of Choice). So, they hate the idea of thinking of painting miniatures… sort of. I think I understand this dilemma. When I first started my collection (for Warmachine/Hordes), what began as a few models ballooned into a massive hoard. I had to resolve myself to start painting one model at a time and not look at the whole. The big picture scared the crap out of me. This piecemeal mindset helped me break through the barrier of painting. Maybe, this approach will help you? It starts with a single brushstroke.

Do You Hate Painting Miniatures? 10 Common and Surprising Reasons
My project pipeline often looks like this when I have multiple jobs to do. A neat thing that helped me is to just “start somewhere and apply constant pressure to finish anything“.

8. I don’t like getting my hands dirty. 

I mean this literally and figuratively. This complaint popped up in my Facebook newsfeed some time ago. I took note of it, because it was amusing. The whole hobby is a dirty mess. You touch and feel objects that other people put their hands on. There’s dirt in local game stores, and bacteria on everything. You’re already dirty! Now, for those who have an issue with “work” and just want to play, I do sympathize. Work sucks. But, there’s a joy in work, too, you know? There’s a sense of accomplishment. The neat thing about painting miniatures is that there is actually no pressure whatsoever other than what you put on yourself. No boss is watching you. No one cares if you don’t reach a standard. It’s your stuff. Painting miniatures takes effort, but it’s not dirty work, figuratively speaking.

Do You Hate Painting Miniatures? 10 Common and Surprising Reasons
Miniature painting often involves touching things….

9. I am afraid of miniatures. 

This is a rare one. There is a phobia, a deep-seated fear of small things called microphobia (also see this entertaining video). This usually refers to small organisms, like viruses or germs, but it translates to objects, too. Fear is a close cousin of hate. We usually hate what we fear, don’t we? I’m fairly sure I stumbled upon the idea of microphobia some time ago when I was doing some research for work. If you’re really afraid of miniatures, the kind of fear that causes your heart to race, then this is probably less of a hate-thing and more of a need help coping-thing. Mental illness is a serious, prevalent problem that affects everyone in our hobby communities. Be gentle when you judge someone who doesn’t paint miniatures.

Do You Hate Painting Miniatures? 10 Common and Surprising Reasons
…miniatures are small objects…

10. I hate people. 

I knew this would come up. The internet is full of this….mentality. Somewhere inside is a dark voice that says “people suck.” It tells you that the world is an evil place, because it’s where people live. Even if it’s true, you’re might be a cynic. And a cynic usually doesn’t like any activity that involves surrounding themselves with constantly enthusiastic community.

Miniature painting at the end of the day is a community-involved activity. At one point or another people are going to be interacting with you, and if you’re a miniature hobbyist, even at a casual-level, the activity will have consumed a significant amount of time and effort.

People will know you “to be that miniature painter”, and they will want to know more…about you. This might even scare you a bit (or a lot). Miniature painting is a point-of-interest for the public (it is a fascinating sub-culture). For you, this makes miniature painting a veritable thorn in your side, you want to play games, but not engage the people around you. But, really, if you have any remote interest in painting miniatures, I would speculate that deep down you want to be around people. This frightens you. Here’s what I’ll leave you with: Did you know that painting miniatures can make you feel less lonely?

Do You Hate Painting Miniatures? 10 Common and Surprising Reasons
A dark path to the heart of humanity, or just a subway entrance?

More Amusing Quotes: “I Hate Miniature Painting”

Ugh. I hate painting.

Some forum, somewhere out there….


I HATE the rat-kissing, finger-aching,
mind-numbing, paint-smudging, primer-inhaling, eye-straining,
stuffy-head fever so I can smash them all into little tiny pieces of
lovely lead smithereens and dance a manic jig while laughing insanely
over their broken pathetic figures and slowly lose my mind hobby of
painting miniatures! BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-
HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Google+ User

Passion is the lifeblood of poetry….

Painting miniatures is anything you want it to be, but it is never an exercise of apathy.


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6 Comments »

  1. I suspect that one reason why some people don’t like painting miniatures is because they set themselves up to fail and then get frustrated. For example, they may spray a model with black primer then go straight to yellow, or they may use the wrong tools for the job, or they may pick a colour scheme that doens’t work, or something like that, and end up with a frustrating process that ends in a bad result. Fortunately, there are lots of resources out there on the internet to get you started on the right foot, and the miniature painting community is generally more than happy to help, but I wonder if a lot of people just never recover from their first experience before they learned that they should thin their paints.

    • +1 – totally agree! Yeah, all it takes is one bad experience to throw someone off. There are so many resources nowadays that weren’t really around when I started. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Nice article. Regarding your point 4 (‘I suck at painting miniatures’) I think that there is also an element of people seeing fantastically painted stuff in real life or on the internet and then failing to produce such a masterwork on their first attempt. This could be disheartening to some.

    I have to admit that I’m not such a big fan of the clickbait-y titles on your posts as I am of the well-written pieces they contain.

    • Point four is an interesting one. Most people are better painters than they think they are. Comparing your work with others is okay, I think, if you’re doing it for the right reason. But, yeah totally agree it can be either inspirational or disheartening to see other people’s awesome work. I’m glad you’re enjoying the articles. For the most part, I’m working hard to provide useful content. Regarding titles, point well-taken! In my defense, I do try to come up with titles that are full sentences (that include both nouns and verbs), a subject with an action. I find they are more helpful to engage people. At the end of the day, engagement and utility go hand-in-hand, I presume. Hey, thank you for reading. I simply enjoy writing 🙂

  3. I just don’t enjoy painting. I just want to play. It’s part of the reason I like Star Wars Armada so much. I can just buy a new ship, it looks awesome right out of the box, and I can just go play.

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