Do You Paint Miniatures at Night or Day? What’s Better?

painting miniatures at night or early morning - when do you paint miniatures? - banner

I’ve found that I’m more creative when painting miniatures at night because I can go into a trance-like state. Painting miniatures in the daytime is draining and it seems like my brain is too busy to focus on any one thing, but it’s amazingly captivating at night. It’s quiet and the light is soft, but it’s still easy to see my work. Everything seems to slow down and I can focus better at night.

Painting miniatures at night allows me to escape the routine and buzz of the day. All those adult responsibility concerns are muted. Working on miniatures is a great meditation for me. Some studies show that creatively-inclined people are more productive at night than in the day, and I think it’s true for me.

In this article, I share my thoughts about what I think is a better time for painting miniatures: late night or early morning.


Why are creative people more productive at night?

One study showed that creatively inclined people tend to be more productive at night, but not everyone agrees. Night owls may be more creative when it comes to art, but they also have a higher risk of depression and insomnia. However, if waking up early is hell for you, then working at night may be your best option. It’s well known that many artists tend to work well into the night because it offers them a sort of freedom from real life distractions.

painting miniatures at night or early morning - when do you paint miniatures? - Neatfi xl lamp for miniature painting
This Neatfi XL task lamp turns night into day when working late at night painting miniatures. Here is a full review of my hobby lamp.

Of course, art isn’t the only thing that happens late at night. Studies show this time period is when you are most likely to experiment and less likely to be judged, which is why we often gravitate towards junk food and alcohol at night when the day is ending.

But, of course, when it comes to painting miniatures–a kind of drug for many of us who collect and are compelled to produce paintings–there is a side benefit to painting at night that seems almost magical: it’s just easier, especially if you’re a night owl.

I work at a day job and have kids so I don’t always paint at night but whenever I can, it allows me to tap into my creative side and feel like an artist again. It’s not about being dedicated to a hobby. It’s about being able to be in the moment and focus on something I enjoy, which is painting–no matter what kind of day I had.

Painting miniatures at night just takes you into another place that few other hobbies can.

The dark side side of painting at night

Painting at night can disrupt your sleep schedule, and disrupt your quality of rest. In fact, have you ever gotten lost in a painting session that you lost track of time? I’ve gotten so immersed in my miniature painting on many nights that I stop paying attention to the time.

The next thing I know it is four hours later and it’s 3 am in the morning. Seriously, us miniature painters who prefer working at night need to take special care of their sleep patterns: try not to paint too long, and make sure you’re getting enough rest.

RELATED: HOW YOUR HOBBY LIGHT MAY BE KILLING YOUR SLEEP

The other bad side to painting at night is the junk food. Do you get the munchies close to bedtime? For some reason, I get super hungry right around midnight and need a snack. For the longest time, when I was painting, e.g., usually 40k or some horde army that doesn’t require a ton of attention, I often had a bag of chips or cookies nearby.

My health was atrocious. I stopped all those habits, and now drink decaf coffee when I’m up working on miniatures. It’s not as invigorating or relaxing as munching on junk food, but it’s much better for my waistline.

Anyway, I find that the dark side of painting miniatures at night is the risk for poor sleep and excessive weight gain. Clearly, this is something we all need to watch out for!

How about early morning miniature painting?

For a time after I had my first child–when sleep was an elusive thing you wanted, but never found–I discovered that I had more free time early in the morning. I used to wake up at 5am before Sunrise.

The mornings at this hour are still dark, often cold (during most months where I live), and quiet as a mouse. At this time of the day, I was hardly “awake,” but being so early it seemed to force me into a semi-conscious state where I could focus on painting miniatures. 

wood light dawn landscape - painting miniatures at night or early morning - when do you paint miniatures? - monring
There’s something special about working on your hobbies early in the morning! The light is spectacular at Sunrise (if you have a window near your hobby desk–I don’t). Photo by Matthias Groeneveld on Pexels.com

It’s also kind of cool because you get the feeling that no one else in the World is awake or doing anything at all except you, and your miniatures. Of course, you have to deal with the fact that the rest of your family is sleeping and try not to make noise….

It is a great time to be productive with hobbies. I would brew a strong cup of coffee, pick up my brush, and have an hour or two of productive time where I could cram in some painting. And, it would still give me time to prepare for my day job.

When you’ve got a day job, it’s very hard to fit in hobby time during the weekdays–unless you’re retired (I’m not). For me, this was the only time of day I was able to get focused on my miniatures.

Early morning is great for painting, but this requires discipline and you’ve got to be up early enough to have an hour or two to paint before others in your household are awake.

painting miniatures at night or early morning - when do you paint miniatures? - coffee mug yeti
My favorite coffee mug (well, one of them anyway). The cover makes it so I’m not dipping my paint brush in it, instead of my water cup. This is especially practical when you’re still drowsy….

For me, painting in the mornings didn’t last very long as I was always a bit groggy throughout the day. Sure, I may have gotten more hobby painting done. But, at what cost? I wasn’t very productive at work, and I wasn’t as energetic throughout the day. Clearly, this isn’t a sustainable long-term model for everyone–especially if you have a day job!

Suffice it to say, I did enjoy working super early in the morning painting miniatures. But, for my personal work-life balance, it was not sustainable. I much preferred the quietude of late-night miniature painting.

So, as of this writing (right now), it is late at night around 1am, and I’m sharing with you my thoughts on whether night or early-mornings are better for working on miniatures and other creative things.

What time of day is best for miniature painting?

I’ve learned that miniatures are something I enjoy doing in my spare time. Just like anything else, it should be balanced with other activities and responsibilities in your life. The trick is to find a time that works for you and fits into your lifestyle.  

I’ve also found that it’s very difficult to be creative when you’re tired–and almost impossible if you’re drained of energy, such as after work or sleep deprivation.

Finally, if the task is mundane and not interesting, it’s really hard to be excited about doing that task. This is especially true when you’re working on miniatures that aren’t very exciting–though there are tricks I use to get over these minis and get them painted up.

When I’m lacking in energy or motivation, well, nothing gets done and I feel like I failed at my miniature painting hobby (even though I painted quite a bit).

When the time of day and task is interesting and engaging, I can not only accomplish so much more, but I also feel like I’ve hit my goals. Amazing how having energy changes your perspective on things.

I guess that’s a good lesson: Protect your energy levels no matter what. Get rest, eat well.


Pros and cons of painting miniatures early in the morning or late at night

Painting miniatures late at night

Pros

  • Potentially fewer distractions at the end of the day
  • More creative potential for some miniature painters
  • Stress reliever before bedtime
  • Creates a forward-looking routine
  • Can help consolidate daily thoughts and ideas

Cons

  • May lead to sleep disruption or deprivation
  • Higher risk for poor eating habits
  • Less energy from a busy day
  • Could limit options for social interaction while painting miniatures

Painting miniatures in the early morning

Pros

  • Get things done quickly before your day begins
  • Quiet and free of distractions
  • Very productive time to paint miniatures
  • Have the whole day to complete other tasks

Cons

  • Requires regimented discipline and habits to sustain
  • You cannot both sleep in and still have time to paint miniatures
  • Very early starts also means you have to go to bed much earlier than most people
  • Limited daylight during the winter months
  • You may need to stop painting miniatures prematurely, e.g., less spontaneity for long painting sessions

Conclusion

Painting miniatures is incredibly therapeutic and the best part about it is that you don’t need to go anywhere or spend any money to do it; you can simply paint at home in front of your computer.

For me, painting minis at night is the best time because doing so allows me to fit it into my schedule that includes working full-time and spending time with family. It’s also motivating that I get the most done when I’m tired!

I think the benefit of doing things in the morning versus at night is negligible, but for those who like rising early and starting their day with a productive task, it’s probably a better choice.

Still, the most important thing is to find what works for you and be flexible enough to adjust your routine as needed.

All that said, here are some awesome miniatures painted on my late night binges!

painting miniatures at night or early morning - when do you paint miniatures? - stormwall colossal warmachine cygnar model
Cygnar Stormwall Colossal (Warmachine | Privateer Press)
painting miniatures at night or early morning - when do you paint miniatures? - warhammer 40k miniature grey knight army
Grey Knight Dreadknight (Warhammer 40k | Games Workshop)
painting miniatures at night or early morning - when do you paint miniatures? - age of sigmar miniature for slaves to darkness army
Darkoath Chieftain (Age of Sigmar | Games Workshop)

You can find more photos of miniature painting in my gallery!

If you’ve found yourself struggling with this topic or questions something about miniature painting that isn’t covered in the article, post your thoughts below!

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2 thoughts on “Do You Paint Miniatures at Night or Day? What’s Better?”

  1. I’m an evening painter – terrible at mornings, so that could never happen!
    My wife goes to bed about 1930 on work nights, out the door by 0500. I’m an IT guy & my schedule gets me home from work around 1800. I stay present with her until I give her a kiss good night, then it’s paint on! No distractions, and a guaranteed stress reliever – just need to be disciplined when it comes to disconnecting getting a good night’s sleep. 😉

    1. Hah yeah the disadvantage of painting at night is you always end up staying up later than you planned to. Thanks for the comment! Good to know I’m not the only one!

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