Do your hands or fingers hurt painting miniatures? Have you accidentally touched a miniature that had wet paint?
In this article, I review three Citadel Painting Handles available from Games Workshop (GW).
There are 3 reasons to get these painting handles. First, each Citadel Painting Handle is a sturdy plastic tool with a spring-loaded clamp that holds the base of your models securely while you paint (with a regular brush or airbrush) or glue them. Second, at a price of $10-20, these handles are inexpensive, similar in range of other painting ergonomic devices. Third, these painting handles provide a tangible improvement in miniature painting comfort. I highly-recommend all of these painting handles.
Avoid Pain and Discomfort
Pain is a common problem for miniature painters.
A lot of the painting hobby requires repetitive motion. This can lead to major discomfort, including muscle soreness, tendon and joint inflammation, and even chronic issues. Medical problems like trigger finger, bursitis, and back & upper neck pain conditions are actually quite common for miniature painters. I’ve experienced these issues myself.
Holding an object steady for long-periods of time with a tight finger grip on a small surface is a problem waiting to happen.
The solution is to take frequent painting breaks or improve ergonomics. Attaching a handle to miniatures can solve the problem of pain and discomfort.
1. The Citadel Paint Handle
The Citadel Painting Handle is a simple design. It consists of a plastic handle and a spring-loaded clamp. The clamp can hold round or square bases of many sizes.
The handles have a beveled edge, shaped for a strong hold on a model’s base.
This is a very unique feature.
The spring is strong enough to allow you to manipulate the miniature in any direction without it shaking loose. But, the spring is easy enough to use to allow easy insertion and removal of a model.
The flat bottom of the painting handle also allows you to place the whole thing down on the desk without worry of it tipping over.
In actual use, I found the painting handle to be very comfortable! I could paint for many straight hours without cramps in my thumbs or fingers.
I was also able to paint miniatures without worry of it falling off, and could turn the model around in every direction; upside down, sideways, etc.
This is incredibly important for getting your brush into the nooks and crannies.
Of course, I purchased three of these handles so I could paint multiple pieces at the same time, or let a model’s paint dry while I continued with another project.
Finally, the painting handle can hold miniatures with many base sizes. These include 25mm to 40mm round bases, as well as 60x35mm oval shaped bases. This means the painting handle will work for models produced by many companies, including Games Workshop, Privateer Press (i.e., Warmachine), Corvus Belli (Infinity), and even board game miniatures.
For the Painting Handle’s utility, it has strong value and is well-worth its price of $10.
2. Citadel Painting Handle XL
For larger miniatures, there is the XL Painting Handle (XL stands for extra-large).
This handle holds miniatures with bases up to 100mm.
All the features are the same as the smaller model.
Perhaps the only issue I might have with this handle is that the base of the handle is a bit small for the larger models.
It could become top-heavy and more prone to tipping over. But, functionally while painting, it is very comfortable to use.
Interestingly, a possible solution to the ‘top-heavy’ issue could be solved with a simple “hack”.
You can remove the spring-loaded clamp from the handle.
And, the screw that holds the two parts together has threads that are the same as those used in camera tripods.
This means that if you wanted to, you could use a tripod with just the spring-loaded clamp.
A desktop camera tripod could add more stability. Alternatively, a larger regular tripod could allow you to paint standing up, or elevate your working surface. I’m sure there are a lot of different ‘hacks’ out there for the Painting Handle that have yet to be revealed.
Importantly, although top-heavy, the XL Painting Handle fills a niche by being able to securely hold larger-based miniatures.
3. Citadel Assembly Painting Handle
Of the three painting handles, the Citadel Assembly Painting Handle is the most versatile.
The two articulating arms have alligator clips that are spring-loaded to hold small parts or even the entire miniature. I was quite pleased with the stiffness of the arms. They don’t flop around. Rather, they are rigid enough to stay in-place wherever you want them to be.
Above all, I found this handle useful for many reasons.
The Assembly Handle can be used for its namesake to assemble models.
The clips are precise and strong enough to hold small bits together while glue is drying.
I have always struggled keeping pieces together in their position while glue cured.
This handle solves this issue perfectly!
In addition, I found that because of the strength of the clips and the rigidity of the arms, the handle could hold up entire miniatures that might not yet be attached to a base.
This is great for airbrushing!
You can airbrush sub-assemblies before attaching them to the model, or the full model itself. For example, this was useful for flying-type miniatures that I wanted to airbrush, but that I didn’t want to get the clear-acrylic stand painted.
I’m sure you may find other uses for these articulating arms. Maybe a glorified brush holder, or use it for soldering electronic parts?
As with the other handles, the Assembly Handle is very comfortable to use.
Finally, the two arms can be removed to become the regular painting handle.
This is the reason that if I only had the choice to buy one of the three types of Citadel Painting Handles, I would choose the Assembly Handle. It can do the most jobs in a single package.
Problems with Alternative Solutions
There are many other solutions for better ergonomics for painting miniatures. DIY and commercial products are all available.
However, they have three common issues:
- Poor adhesion
- Limited base holding capacity
- Uncertain durability
Before Games Workshop created the Citadel Painting Handle, I used a variety of do-it-yourself (DIY) items to help me paint more comfortably.
This included the ubiquitous spray can cap that comes with aerosol primer.
It works great for small and large models.
The problem with the spray cap is 1) the difficulty in securing models to the cap, and 2) removing the models whenever we need or want to.
Yes, you can use glue or sticky-tack, but these adhesives are too strong or too uncertain. The spray cap was only a stop-gap measure.
There are also cork-based solutions, including those made by RathCore.
However, I found these to be limited as well. They can only hold miniatures that are pinned (by inserting the metal pins into the cork), or miniatures with specific base sizes.
Cork is also a material that breaks down over time, so it will need to be replaced on a regular basis with routine use.
Other commercial options that I have not detailed here have similar limitations with model adhesion, limited base-holding capacity, or durability. All of these products are between $10-50, which is similar in price to the Citadel Painting Handles.
Overall, Games Workshop has made a really useful line of hobby products here. These handles are not gimmicks. They work extremely well for their intended purpose. More comfort, more fun.
The regular painting handle is priced well for its utility, design, and durability. For larger models, the XL painting handle allows you to paint larger-based models. Whereas the Assembly Handle with its articulating arms and clips has an unsurpassed level of versatility.
Because of the unique spring-loaded clamp design, all of the handles are compatible for miniatures from different brands and companies. Beveled or round-edged bases all fit securely in these clamps.
Personally, after using the regular Citadel Painting Handle for a few weeks, I was so impressed that I ended up buying several of them. I also purchased the other two, the XL Painting Handle, and the Assembly Handle, which have become indispensable in my miniature painting workflow.
At a price of $10-20, I highly-recommend all of these Citadel Painting Handles. They are well-worth their price because of their ease-of-use, versatility, and tangible improvement in miniature painting comfort.
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