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Advice on starter painting sets (& brushes)

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This topic contains 27 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  ninjilly 2 months, 2 weeks ago.

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    I helped guide my girlfriend through painting her first miniatures a few months ago (a Mantic Walking Dead zombie) and she really enjoyed it. I’d like to buy her a starter paint set and would really appreciate some advice.

    I’d like a range of basic colours (obviously).   I’d also like to get her a brush or two.   Something reasonably good.   Not expert, but not something cheap and nasty.   Some paint sets come with brushes but I don’t know how good any of them are.

    Can anyone offer me any recommendations on paint sets and/or brushes?

    Also, are any of them available in the OTT store?   I can find GW’s AoS and 40K starter sets (and I’m considering getting one of them, though don’t know which), but nothing from the Army Painter, which I thought was surprising given how much of their stuff the guys seem to use.



    Brushes make a lot of difference. It’s a bit like buying a child and cheap instrument to learn to play on – sure they’ll not appreciate a super-high-end one at the start, but giving them something cheap and nasty that won’t stay in tune actually makes it all the more difficult to learn in the first place!

    Same goes with brushes; get some half-decent ones.

    I’ve a few Windsor and Newton Series 7 Kolinsky brushes and love them for detail work. BUT – they’re not my favourites. My favourite brushes are the old citadel orange-tipped “standard” brushes. The more modern all-black “standard” brushes are ok, but – for me at least – just not as easy to use as the orange-tipped ones. Get her some brushes with a big “belly” that also hold a nice point.

    The Army Painter brushes (I got a full set with the Mega Paint set a few years ago) are ok – some people like the triangular handles – but the bristles are longer and thinner – they don’t have a lot of volume to them. W&N Series 7 miniature brushes are the same – the bristles go from the ferrule straight to the tip of the point, in an elongated straight-sided cone shape, rather than the traditional tear-drop shape you think of with paint brushes.

    In short, don’t skimp on brushes. But don’t necessarily assume that the most expensive ones are “better”. Brushes that can hold a lot of paint and keep a nice sharp tip will make her painting much more fun.

    Keep it enjoyable. If she takes to it, she’ll have years of frustration still to come 😉 So make these early steps as easy and enjoyable as possible!


    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by  blinky465.


    I’m a fairly new painter but I will give my opinion on this for what it’s worth. 😜

    My paint and brushes of choice are the Creature Caster/Monument paints and synthetic brushes. They have a line of Sable brushes too, but for a beginner, I prefer the synthetic.

    The paints are super high quality but not overly expensive and you can buy singles or custom sets (pick your own).

    Check out and select your country for the proper store

    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by  psyntologist. Reason: Grammar and URL correction


    Thanks both.

    @blinky465 your thinking is in line with my thinking.   I’m willing to spend a bit more to get a decent brush, but I don’t think I need to go crazy for her first one.   I am though hoping that I can get some at an online retailer who will also sell me a paint set!

    Thanks for the Creature Caster tip @syntologist   I don’t think I want to wait to ship from Canada, but I’ll look into them for myself…



    Yea that would be bad.  They do have UK, Euro, and World options, so hopfully one of those will work for you if you want to give them a try.



    I would recommend these synthetics for a beginner, they’re not expensive and they have an enormous range to choose from….



    I’ll second Rosemary and co linked above, I’ve got a couple of brushes from them and I like them



    I’ve switched to the cheap ONE HAPPY CHOICE brushes (no kidding). 50 pieces for $18 on Amazon.

    Use ’em, abuse ’em. Better than screwing up your expensive hobby brush. I save the hobby brush for female faces and eyes, but, since I’m not painting to display, these cheap brushes are fine. Make sure you don’t get so lazy that you don’t build up good brush habits!

    What miniatures will she be painting next? Army Painter has various sets for different miniature painting projects (eg. a Walking Dead paint set). Alternately, paint miniatures together and note which paints of yours she uses the most. Buy her those paints, or at least a similar shade, possibly from another company. (A similar shade from another company also means you may have a paint for a different consistency, which is good for variety.)

    Also, pick up some colored primers, and an Army Painter Quickshade Ink (eye droppers) set. Colored primers followed by a wash speed up your painting.



    Thanks for the Rosemary tip guys.   I was a bit intimidated by the size of the range…

    I can’t seem to find a simple range of brushes.   Even GW’s current range is weirdly specialised and I can’t find what I really want, which is a decently large (probably a 3 using the old scale I grew up with).

    @ced1106 nothing specific in mind yet.   I should probably have thought more about that question actually!   I think characterful single piece minis of the type you get in board games are likely to be the way to go.   Trouble is, I’d like to paint most of the sets myself and not have them done in two different styles / to two different standards.

    I’ve gone for an Army Painter starter paint brush set (includes a base coat brush, a detail brush and a drybrush) and an Age of Sigmar starter set as it has a basic range of colours as well as another brush (although I’m guessing a pretty cheap and nasty one similar to the ones that come with the Conquest 40K partwork).   Also has some clippers which might come in handy.

    I do plan for us to paint together so that she can use any of my paints, but I figured it would be nice for her to be able to paint on her own if she wishes (we don’t live together) and as my range consists of all sorts that I’ve built up over time I don’t really have a simple, basic range.

    I think my next purchase should probably be the army painter inks as washes do make such a difference to the look of a model.

    Thanks for the feedback and ideas!



    I can recommend Reaper Learn to paint kits:

    Where you get both a basic set of paint colours, two useful brushes and some minis to practice on, together with a well written how to paint guide.

    I use several brands of paints, and the Reaper line of paints are amongst the better paints for miniatures available, and not all that expensive.

    For brushes, I mainly use cheap white nylon or taklon brushes bought in bulk off ebay. sizes 00 is usually the smallest you will need, and size 2 is usually the largest for most models. A general tip is to use as large a brush as you can, and keep the small ones for the smalles details only.

    I find the white nylons have a rigidity-to-bendiness /springyness or whatever you might call it that suits my style of painting well.



    Thanks for the tip @maledrakh – I wasn’t really aware of Reaper as a paints / brushes seller.   I’ll have a look into them.   That looks like a decent starter kit.



    Reaper was also my recommendation but @maledrakh did a great job getting you the info.  Check out their YouTube channel as one of the employees is doing one of the kits from start to finish.  If memory serves it is painting platinum. It is fun to watch as she paints her first ever minis.



    Thanks @ghent99 !



    If you haven’t already, look up James Wappel on YouTube – he paints ~80% of a figure with dirt cheap size 8 brushes (I’m not kidding). He only pulls out a detail brush for final touches. It completely altered my painting style and allowed me to paint much faster and with better results – meaning I also enjoy painting much more.

    There are plenty of cheap synthetic brushes available through Amazon, AliExpress etc that hold a point as well as (or better) than more expensive brushes. The larger size keeps more paint on the brush, meaning there’s a lot less back and forwards to get more paint.



    Always been a fan of the much ignored Humbrol Acrylic range (although most will be familiar with their enamel range in those little steel tins). It’s a bit thick out of the pot, but has a WIDE range of colours and a high pigmentation (so usually one coat will do even with yellow). All you need do is remember to thin with water as you use it.

    At £1.80 for 14ml it’s not the cheapest, but it’s no-where near GW prices (although apparently these were the paints GW used back in the “hex” pot days). It’s range is also very good for historicals (as they were primarily designed for the military modeller), but I will say their metallic are probably the best I’ve used 🙂

    It’s just a pity they don’t do a “starter” box set, so you would have to order individually

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