3 Ways to Stay Motivated Painting Miniatures

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I wish I had more time in the day for hobbies. With all the responsibilities of daily life as a parent, I know I have less time to do the things I want to do. Painting miniatures is one of the few fun activities I’ve kept up with, but I’m always a tad pressured to finish projects as quickly as possible. On the bright side, of course, I’m forced to stay efficient and productive. Then again, there’s also that haunting drag that sometime I’d rather just be lazy and not do anything despite my desire to get more models painted.

In this article, I share 3 tips for how I stay motivated and productive for painting more miniatures. Do you have a horde of gray unpainted plastic models? Wish you could them painted in a decent amount of time? Here’s how I go about staying on track for painting all those miniature armies.


Are You Too Busy and Distracted?

A part of me knows that my daily schedule keeps me busy and always prone to distraction. I have responsibilities that take up much more of my attention, such as my day job, trying to eat healthy and exercise, and caring for a family.

If I did have more time, what would I want to do?

Well, I would certainly try to paint more miniatures at a highly competitive level. I’ve heard that 28-35 mm scale minis painted to a competition level could take upwards of 100 hours to paint.

I can’t even guess what it would take for me to paint a 75mm scaled bust or figurine.

Three Ways I Stay Motivated
When you have this many models to paint (I did), you need to stay focused over the long term


I haven’t tried to paint to a very, very high level in a long time. That’s kind of sad for someone who loves to paint minis. But, there’s a diminishing return for painting to such a high level–at a certain point, you invest all those hours and you only get single model done. Maybe that should be okay.

But, I also enjoy seeing a job finished and I’m always wary of the tedium of working on one model for too long.

I’m sure the threshold is different for everyone, but I get a bit bored after spending about 5-12 hours on a single model. After this point, its more of a mental struggle to push to that final varnish step.

3 Tips for Overcoming the Lack of Motivation to Paint Miniatures

1. Paint more than one model at a time

I generally get over this motivational bottle neck by painting multiple models of different genres at the same time, bouncing between a 40k Space Marine, a Warmachine Warjack, and an Age of Sigmar something. In any single painting session, I’m probably applying paint on 3-6 different models.


Sounds silly, but with a bit of planning (e.g., you know the colors you want to apply) and a nicely prepared wet palette, this isn’t too difficult. The great part is that the normal stop and go between models also matches the rhythm of those sporadic 30 minute blocks of time. It’s about building a flexible pattern of hobby-work, and non-hobby time.

2. Dedicated hobby space

You’ll need a dedicated hobby space to delay the motivational drain. There’s an activation threshold break through every time you want to start a project. If you had to unpack and pack-up models with all their paints laid out each time you wanted to start, ugh, I wouldn’t even want to continue or start painting.


Clean up is the worst. It’s great when you can just leave everything out and walk away when you need to and come back to where you left off later.

3. Experiment (science)

The excitement of starting a new project powerful. I think the best motivational force behind my productivity in the past few years has been the absolute thrill of discovering new ways to paint the same types of models. Experimentation, such as trying a new painting technique and doing it over and over again, is super helpful.

Repeatedly trying to get this new skill in my head and hands so I own it is a wonderful motivational trick I use. One of the easiest ways of breaking out of a rut is to do something brand new so that even the idea you’ll have a good outcome is irrational and ridiculous. It’s liberating to have zero expectations, except to apply that new method.

Three Ways I Stay Motivated
Experimenting with a different approach for painting skin tones with no real formula.

Another thing I noticed that has helped me in the past and doesn’t really make it into my list above is getting good sleep. Seemed too obvious.

The lack of good sleep to gain more hours of work or hobby time actually worked against me. When you’re painting or doing anything creatively, the poor mental acuity and sharpness that comes from not having enough Z’s sucks the life out of doing anything.

It’s a huge downer. Painting minis can be an epic battle of will. Arm yourself.

Sleep more. Play more.


Well, there you have it: 3 quick tips for trying to regain your motivation for painting miniatures. If you’re in a rut, there are a lot of things you can do to try and keep making progress. Of course, maybe taking a break is another idea, and you simply need rest to get your mojo back. I know a lot of professional miniature painters who take month long breaks from painting models, just so they can relax their minds and do something else creative for a while.

I hope you found this article helpful! Do you have any tips for staying motivated while painting miniatures? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your other ideas that could help out our community.

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