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.

RELATED: 100 SIMPLE TIPS AND TRICKS FOR PAINTING MINIATURES AND STAYING PRODUCTIVE


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

READ MORE: MOTIVATIONAL TIPS FOR HOBBYISTS AND ARTISTS

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.

READ MORE: PSYCHOLOGICAL REASONS TO USE GOOD HOBBY LIGHTING (MOTIVATION AND FOCUS)


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.

Miniature painting in many ways is about momentum. Whether you have a cohort of Games Workshop space marines or an assembly line of Dropzone Commander models, you need to balance the threat of tedium with the excitement of miniature painting a novel piece.

RELATED: HOW TO BATCH PAINT MINIATURES (SPEED PAINTING TIPS)

Look for a “battle rhythm” in your personal projects.

3 Ways to Stay Motivated Painting Miniatures - choosing to paint more space marines
I choose you! Find your battle rhythm within your fights on the battlefield and in the hobby space.

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.

So, next time you’re stuck and want to keep your flagging motivation going, keep all those models on your painting table. Having several painting projects ongoing at the same time will skyrocket your productivity!

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.

RELATED: BEST DESKS AND PAINTING TABLE SETUPS FOR PAINTING MINIATURES

3 Ways to Stay Motivated Painting Miniatures - hobby desk old and dark photo
My old hobby workspace at night. It saddens me to say that I no longer work near a window with access to natural sunlight. I’m now a stereotypical basement dweller with a miniature gaming hobby.

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.

I’ll note here that a dedicated hobby space will also help you speed paint. Speed painting (or batch painting) is a process where you try and paint a series of miniatures as fast as you can.

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 - painted aos model close up on painting handle
Experimenting with a different approach for painting skin tones with no real formula.

New techniques are always something I try on miniatures when I start to feel the boredom set in with long, drawn out miniature projects. The next model is always an opportunity to “play” with new colors, techniques, or methods.

Sure, some fully painted army schemes require you stick to a formula. But, that’s where tip#1 comes in where you have more than a single project on your painting table at a time.

There are times when I have two armies (or more) in my work pipeline. This lets me divert my energy to something else when I want to paint anything different.

3 Ways to Stay Motivated Painting Miniatures - three vindicator tanks on my painting table
My three Warhammer 40k Imperial Fist space marine vindicator tanks on my painting table. Almost done!

Bonus: Get good sleep!

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.

Fully painted armies are the best!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Phew, that was a lot of information. I hope this post has been helpful and that you’ve picked up a few tips to stay motivated painting miniatures.

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding motivation and how to stay on task and more productive with your miniature painting projects.

How else can I stay motivated to paint miniatures?

Well, I’ve shown you my top 3 tips for motivation with miniature painting. But there are way more! Check out these other ways to keep the productivity up with your miniature painting goals.

  1. Set goals and give yourself deadlines. Having a goal in mind will help you stay focused and on track. Giving yourself deadlines will help you keep up the momentum and not get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately.
  2. Find someone to paint with. Painting with someone else can be a great motivator. Not only will you have someone to give you feedback and help you improve, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the process more.
  3. Join a painting group or club. This is a great way to stay motivated because you’ll be surrounded by people who share your passion. You’ll be able to learn from others and share your own knowledge.
  4. Take part in painting competitions. This is a great way to push yourself to new levels and see how your work measures up against others. It’s also a lot of fun!
  5. Set up a painting blog or YouTube channel. Sharing your work with others is a great motivator. It’s also a great way to get feedback and improve your skills.
  6. Buy yourself some new paints or brushes. Sometimes all you need is a little something new to help you get excited about painting again.
  7. Take a break. If you’re feeling burnt out, it’s ok to take a break from painting. Maybe try another hobby for awhile or just take some time to relax. You’ll come back to painting refreshed and motivated.

What are some tricks to increase my productivity when painting miniatures?

Some tricks to increase your productivity when painting miniatures are to try and find a space where you can be uninterrupted, have all of the necessary supplies within arms reach, and take breaks frequently.

Additionally, it can be helpful to establish a routine and dedicate specific days of the week or times of day to painting.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with new techniques or colors- sometimes the best way to become more productive is to switch things up and keep your interest level high.

How do I overcome boredom when painting miniatures?

One way to overcome boredom when painting miniatures is to change the way you approach the project. If you couldn’t tell by now; this is exactly how I’ve written this article.

Taking a different perspective, for example, try working on different sections of the miniature at the same time or change the colors you’re using.

You can also try painting something entirely different for a change of pace. Finally, as mentioned above, make sure to take breaks and get up and move around to keep yourself from getting too stir crazy.

What are some tips for avoiding distractions when painting miniatures?

Some tips for avoiding distractions while painting miniatures include:

  • Set up a dedicated work area in a quiet location if possible.
  • Turn off any electronics or other potential sources of distraction.
  • Make sure you have all the supplies and materials you need before starting to paint.
  • Set a goal for what you want to achieve in your painting session, and focus on that.
  • Take breaks as needed, but try to stay focused while you are painting.
  • Paint with someone else or listen to music if it helps you stay focused.
  • Reward yourself for completing a task or painting a certain number of miniatures.

Conclusion

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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