For those that are looking at a mountain of figures to paint, it can be a daunting task, and all too easily a few dozen or even a hundred figures can become a never-ending task. Here I will look at painting figures in a bit more of a clinical manner and less from the “I’m taking however long it takes because I’m enjoying it” standpoint. That is valid of course, it’s an enjoyable hobby and passing the time painting a figure is a delight. But when you just need to get through the rank and file, these tips could be just the thing for you.

Shawn from Blue Table Painting is here on Faeit 212, to give us some great tips for getting the job done, something that all of us at one time or another have to do. So sit down, re-organize your painting table, and lets get some models done.

Video Version

Fig. 01 Keeping the elements close together
When you set up your paint station you should be sure that all your basic elements are grouped closely together: palette, water dish, drying towel and lamp. These are the typical elements to a painting area. This is a time savings on production that is often overlooked, the actual time it takes to move your brush from one area to another. Keep it nice and tight, and have the whole operation close to the edge of the table so you can brace your hands.

Fig. 02 Brace your hands for stability
Bracing is a stabilizing technique where you put your wrists on the edge of the table. You then keep your palette and drying towel within inches so you can reach without undue movement. Further, you can also brace one hand against the other by extending a finger or two.

A disorganized paint bin can waste a ton of time over the life of your painting career, hunting and pawing for a particular paint color. Marking your paints if needed and taking out the paints you need and keeping them close can help as well. Keeping the paints close as well as in a specific order will further tighten up your operation.

Fig. 03 Disorganized Paints
Choosing a water dish has numerous factors involved including efficiency, a shallow dish is more easily reached (you don’t have to go up and over a tall lip) and a large container that holds a lot of water will require less trips to the sink for changing. Plus it is less likely to tip over.

Fig. 04 Which container is best?
Just these few techniques can save a few minutes per figure over the course of a marathon painting session and give you more time on the tabletop.


  1. Shawn, always a pleasure to have your advice. Your channel is usually a joy to watch. Thanks for the tips here, these are some of the things I picked up coming back as an adult to the hobby. I learned the hard way painting over 200 Empire infantry models!

    I would add that if you are painting a regiment, do one colour first, on all models.

    Eg paint the red parts of a model onto each model in turn first, then once done go back to the first model (now usually dry) and do the next colour.

    This method helped me speed up my painting exponentially,

    1. Batch painting is really useful. One thing I have found is also good to do when painting large numbers of like troops (Soviet infantry in Flames of War, hordes in WHFB, or even a full squad of firewarriors in 40k) is to break it down into more manageable segments.

      If you need 100 clanrats done, break it into groups of 10 or 20 so you have some kind of observable progress that motivates you to keep working. That loss of drive is the thing that usually stalls my painting efforts.

    2. Mix up works good too, 15 dev gaunts, 3 hive guard, 15 more dev gaunts, trygon, 15 more dev gaunts, tervigon 15 more dev gaunts. LOL this reminds me, I need to paint some more guants.

    3. Couldn't agree more, its important to get batches of models done, so occasionally through-painting a squad is always a good idea to keep yourself motivated.

    4. Batch painting is finally getting rolling for me. I found out how good it could be while finishing my Circle of Orboros army. Now I'm cranking out the 'nids. Gants, endless streams of gants. I now can crank out a 10 man unit in a few hours. Painting a solo or MC is my reward each time I finish a unit.

  2. Thanks for addressing the nightmare of overwhelming painting (not really, but it looks that way, lol). I was wondering, what is a good starter airbrush set up?

    1. I run a paasche talon. I'd suggest gravity feed as it gives you more freedom with your psi adjustments, siphon usually requires 15 minimum to pull paint from the pot. Badger makes some good brushes.

    2. I have an iwata eclipse cs, it's such a good airbrush. I had a paasche for like 15 years but recently had trouble finding compatible componants.
      What seems usal these days is 1/8 english threaded. You can connect with almost anything once you run a 1/8 airbrush.
      I have a sparmax compressor, the 620x something. It's half the price of the iwata equivalant.

      Have been batch painting with ease and joy ever since then.

    3. The basic set-up from Harbor Freight is a good start. Basic brush and decent compressor for a good price. You will soon want to upgrade the brush.

  3. My table often becomes a disaster very quickly. Bracing my arms is an extremely good tip and something I will be using on my next painting stretch.

    1. I'm not a fan of bracing my arms/wrists against the table like Shawn showed. My hands tend to shake anyways, and doing that just aggravates it.

      Instead, I brace my elbows on the table, sit up straight, ahe then holding the mini in my left hand I brace the heels of my palms together. This brings my hands close together, and helps me hold the model and the brush as still as I can get them.

      Also, it brings the model right up to my eyes. I'm nearsighted, and I use a pair of over-the-counter reading glasses as "magnifying" glasses, allowing me to get in real close to the model & the brush to see what I'm doing. With the heels of my palms pressed together and my elbows braced on the table, it naturally draws my face (and, thus, eyes) in close to the model.

      The only problem is that until you're used to it, your elbows can get a bit sore when you paint for a long time.

      Otherwise I agree with Shawn's advice, and watched the video on the BTP'S YouTube channel the day it came out...

  4. Fig. 3 is my favorite, looks like one of those infomercials where the actor is trying to stuff a pizza into a toaster or something equally rediculous, then raises hands in frustration. "What do I do with all these paints?"

  5. There should be wet pallet in this tutorial =)

  6. I'm currently painting and donating alot of my old miniatures I'm doing these as blood angels between my black Templars emperors children and pre heresy emperors children, it's just nice to mix it up and breaks up the tedium

  7. Shawn,
    Please make this a series! There is so much that you can share.

  8. Excellent study! I really like this. I really like this a lot, how the money grubbing visual-data gnome within me personally desires much more! Many thanks with regard to discussing!

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