The 80/20 Rule in Miniature Painting and Life

The 80/20 Rule in Miniature Painting and Life - painting miniatures with the pareto principle - banner image

Stop giving 100%. Wait, what? Sometimes you don’t need to! The 80/20 Rule is a well-known principle in business that states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. But you can apply this principle to all areas of life, including miniature painting and art.

In this article, I’ll take a fascinating look at how the 80/20 rule applies to miniature painting, art, and life; and offer some tips on how to make the most of your time and effort.

What is the 80/20 Rule?

The 80/20 principle is all about efficiency. When applied to miniature painting and other creative activity, it means that you should focus on the areas that will have the biggest impact on the final result.


The 80/20 Rule in Miniature Painting and Life - painting miniatures with the pareto principle - More productivity, efficiency and results

For example, spending time on details such as highlights and shadows can make a big difference in the overall look of your painting. But spending hours on tiny details that no one will ever notice is a waste of time.

The key is to find the right balance between detail and simplicity. By focusing on the 20% of details that will have the biggest impact, you can achieve 80% of the results with just 20% of the effort.

How I Found the “Pareto” Way of Thinking?

The Pareto Principle is essentially the same thing as the 80/20 Rule, but it was named after an Italian economist who first wrote about it. If you’re looking for more information about this philosophy (more below), you can also look up the Pareto Principle in economic forums, blogs, and other business resources.

The 80/20 Rule in Miniature Painting and Life - the Pareto philosophy of efficiency

When I’m painting miniatures, my mind tends to drift in all sorts of different directions. In this case, somehow I recalled some tactical advice I received from my brief experience in the advertising/consulting industry.

Here I was reminded of the Pareto Principle, more commonly known as the 80/20 Rule. 

In my use of the Pareto Principle, I break it down into the following percentages:

  • 80% of my time is spent on the 20% of my work that is most important.
  • 20% of my time is spent on the 80% of my work that is least important.

This principle can be applied to many areas of life, but I find it particularly helpful when painting miniatures because there are always so many things that need to be done and it’s easy to get bogged down in the details.

I was first introduced to the Pareto Principle by a boss in the advertising industry. He was a big believer in the 80/20 Rule and he often talked about it in relation to our work.

At the time, I didn’t really think much of it, but now I realize that it’s a very useful way of thinking.

The 80/20 Rule in Miniature Painting and Life - don't sweat the small stuff

It’s helped me to focus on the things that are most important and to let go of the things that are not. The use of a ratio, 80 to 20, helped to make it more concrete for me.

It seemed counter-intuitiive to the idea that you should give 100%, or even 150%, to everything you want to accomplish. But, after giving it some thought, I realized that the Pareto Principle makes a lot of sense.

This is because if you can focus your efforts on the things that will give you the most results, you’ll be much more successful than if you try to do everything. And, here is the trick: You don’t need to do everything! Just focus on the things that are most important.

The 80/20 Rule in Miniature Painting and Life - wargames delivered mega selection set box studio image
Looking to start or expand your miniature paint collection? Check out this huge mega selection set!

It’s a way of prioritizing your time.

And, once you start using the Pareto Principle, you’ll be surprised at how much more effective you can be. I’ve found that it’s helped me to be more productive and to get more done in less time.

Sure, the last 20% of your effort and invested resources help you stand out, and there are times when you need to go above and beyond, but in general, the Pareto Principle is a very useful way of thinking.

How to Apply the 80/20 Principle to Miniature Painting

Now that you know what the 80/20 principle is, let’s take a look at how you can apply it to your own miniature painting.

Here are a few tips:

1. Simplify your subjects. When painting miniatures, less is often more. Try to focus on the essentials and leave out any unnecessary details.

2. Break down your painting into smaller parts. Rather than thinking about the whole painting at once, break it down into smaller sections. This will help you focus on each part individually and avoid getting overwhelmed.

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. As I mentioned before, details such as highlights and shadows can make a big difference in the overall look of your painting. But don’t get too caught up in them – remember that simplicity is key.

4. Prioritize your time. When you’re planning your painting session, make sure to spend the majority of your time on the parts of the painting that are most important to you. This way, you can be sure that you’re making the most efficient use of your time.

5. Make it a habit. The more you practice the 80/20 principle, the easier it will become. Soon, it will become second nature and you’ll find yourself applying it to all areas of your life, not just painting.

The Bottom Line for Effective Miniature Painting

The 80/20 Rule is a great way to boost your efficiency and get more results with less effort. By simplifying your subjects, breaking down your paintings into smaller parts, and focusing on the most important details, you can quickly improve your miniature painting skills and you’ll see progress in improving your results.

My Tactical Approach for Applying the 80/20 Rule for Painting Tabletop “Battle Ready” Gaming Miniatures

When it comes to miniature painting, it’s all about efficiency. You want to be able to paint the most impressive miniature with the least amount of effort.

This is where the Pareto Principle comes in! By identifying the 20% of details that will give you 80% of the results, you can save time and still end up with an amazing looking miniature.

Or, in my case, I tend to focus on painting the parts of a model, e.g., Warhammer 40k miniatures, that have the greatest visible impact.


For instance, I’ll spend more time on painting the armor plates, because that’s what stands out the most, rather than worry about getting into all the nooks and crannies of the miniature. If I want to be quick about it, but still maintain overall great results, I’ll paint the skin and fleshtones really well, but totally ignore painting eyes.

If I think painting reflective helmet visors or lens flare on a headlight will stand out, I’ll work on that to give my painted miniatures some “oomph”. But, if I don’t think it will make that much of a difference, I’ll leave it out.

So, that’s the core Pareto Principle (80/20 Rule) applied to my miniature painting strategy.

In the end, by using the Pareto Principle and identifying which details are most important, I can focus my attention on the things that will make the biggest impact and still have a great-looking model.

Final Word

So, there it is. The 80/20 Pareto Principle is a great way to improve your efficiency and get more out of your miniature painting hobby.

It’s helped me simplify my subjects, focus on the most important details, and spend my time more wisely.

What’s cool about this approach is that it can be applied to lots of different areas in your life, not just miniature painting. In the busy world that we live in, the Pareto Principle is a great way to focus your attention on what’s most important and get more out of your hobbies, work, and life in general.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and found it helpful! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

Happy painting!

Enjoying Your Visit? Join Tangible Day

Free newsletter with monthly updates (no spam)

Leave a comment below! Follow on X, Instagram, and Facebook.

Free photo backdrop bundle for miniature photography - tangible day - backgrounds for photographing miniatures - free gift image
Grab your FREE photo backdrop bundle for miniature photography in the shop.
135 Unique Hobby Gift Ideas: Fast 2 Days or Less Shipping!
Favorite tabletop miniature and wargaming finds on etsy - tabletop miniature and wargamer favorites on etsy image
Best Alternative to Winsor & Newton Series 7 Brushes for Painting Miniatures - cheap sable kolinsky sable brushes for painting miniatures - good budget brushes for painting miniatures - blick masterstroke brush for model paint

Blick Art Materials

Tangible Day on YouTube (Miniatures and More!)

Tangible Day on YouTube follow image flash screen

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: