Painting Black Miniatures: A Tutorial and Tips

  • By: Richard
  • Time to read: 10 min.

Black paint is a material that all miniature painters need. Painting black miniatures can be hard because it is difficult to know where to start. In this how-to guide, I will show you how to paint black miniatures. I will give you tips on the best paints and brushes and some helpful techniques for creating realistic shadows and highlights.

What You’ll Need

  • Black paint
  • Blue paint
  • White paint
  • Gloss paint
  • Brushes
  • A surface to paint on

There is a black base coat, but you could also use dark blue.


  • Paintbrush
  • Water cup
  • Wet palette
  • Paper towels or a cloth


What Paints to Use

There are three main categories of paint: acrylics, oils, and watercolors.

  • Acrylics are the most popular type of paint for miniature painting, as they are versatile and easy to use.
  • Oils offer high-quality results, but they require more time and effort to work with.
  • Watercolors are less common than the other two types of paint, but they can be used to create beautiful and delicate effects.

There are also two main types of black paint: matte and glossy. Matte black paint is flat and non-reflective, while glossy black paint is shiny and reflective.

It is up to you which type of black paint you use. However, I would recommend using matte black paint for most applications, as it will be easier to work with and produce more consistent results.

Now that we know what paints to use, let’s discuss some tips for painting black miniatures:

  1. Acrylic paints are the best type of paint to use for miniature painting
  2. Enamel paints can also be used, but they are more difficult to work with
  3. Oil paints should not be used for miniature painting
  4. Some good brands of acrylic paint to use are Games Workshop, Vallejo, and Reaper
  5. When choosing a brush, make sure it is specifically designed for miniature painting
  6. Always thin your paint with water before applying it to your miniature
  7. Paint in light layers, adding more paint as needed
  8. Use a wet brush to blend colors together

When it comes to doing this, you will need to consider the overall appearance of the model. In addition to considering what material the area you want to represent is made of, think about your overall color scheme and how the black areas will work with this. Although this may sound odd, what kind of black are you wanting to use?

When creating a model, you must think about how it will look. You should consider what material the area you want to represent is made of and your overall color scheme. Be sure to think about what kind of black you want to use.

Most Matte Black Miniature Paint

The most matte black paint I tested was Black 3.0 by Culture Hustle. This paint is very dark and doesn’t reflect light. It’s almost like it sucks up the light.

However, Army Painter Matt Black is still the most matte black miniature paint because it is easy to find and purchase.

Blackest Black Miniature Paint

Black 3.0 by Culture Hustle is the blackest black paint we tested. It is very close to being “true black.”

Highest Quality Black Miniature Paint

Two types of black paint are both great. Vallejo Model Color Black and Tamiya Flat Black XF-1 are high-quality paints with a lot of pigment. However, they are very different, so you should choose the one that is best for you. VMC Black comes in a dropper bottle, while Tamiya Flat Black XF-1 comes in a short glass jar.

Best Value Black Miniature Paint

If you want a deep black paint that is very durable and can be used on many different surfaces, then you should get Golden Acrylics Carbon Black. This paint is also matte, taking the shine off your models.

In this guide, I have answered the question of what to paint plastic model kits.

Colour Theory in Miniature Painting

When it comes to miniature painting, color is key. To create a truly effective and eye-catching painting, it’s important to understand the basics of color theory. In this tutorial, we will discuss the three fundamental properties of color: hue, saturation, and value. We will also explore how to use these properties to create different shades of black.

Hue is the name of a color. Red, green, blue, and yellow is all hues. Saturation is the intensity or brightness of a hue. A high-saturation hue is more intense than a low-saturation hue. Value is the lightness or darkness of a hue. A high-value hue is lighter than a low-value hue.

To create different shades of black, we will first need to mix some other colors. Darker colors will be created by mixing various amounts of blue and black. Lighter shades of black can be made by adding white to the mix. Here are some basic guidelines for mixing different shades of black:

  • Darkest Shade: 1 part black, 3 parts blue
  • Midnight Shade: 1 part black, 2 parts blue
  • Very Dark Shade: 1 part black, 1 part blue
  • Dark Shade: 1 part black
  • Light Shade: 1 part black, 2 parts white
  • Very Light Shade: add a small amount of black to white

Now that we know how to mix different shades of black let’s explore some tips for painting black miniatures.


Now that we’ve gone over the basics of painting black miniatures let’s discuss some more advanced techniques.

  • One way to create a realistic shadow effect is by using a technique called “dry-brushing.” This involves applying a small amount of paint to your brush and then lightly dragging the brush across the surface of your miniature. The goal is to deposit a small amount of paint on the high points of your miniature, creating the illusion of shadows.
  • Another way to create shadows is by “washing” your miniature with a dark color. To do this, simply apply a thin layer of paint all over your miniature. The paint will settle into the recesses and crevices of your miniature, creating the illusion of shadows.
  • You can also create highlights by painting a small amount of paint on the raised areas of your miniature. This will create the illusion of light reflecting off of your miniature.
  • Weathering Techniques In addition to the standard painting techniques, various weathering techniques can create a more realistic effect.
  • Edge highlights are a great way to make your miniature pop. To create edge highlights, simply paint a thin line of light-colored paint along the edges of your miniature. You can also create rust effects by painting a thin layer of dark brown or red paint on your minis and then lightly dry-brushing over it with a lighter color.
  • Another way to make your miniature pop is by using a technique called “wet-blending.” This involves applying a small amount of paint to your brush and then lightly dragging the brush across the surface of your miniature. The goal is to deposit a small amount of paint on the high points of your miniature, creating the illusion of shadows. You can also create highlights by painting a small amount of paint on the raised areas of your miniature. This will create the illusion of light reflecting off of your mini.
  • Paint chipping is another weathering technique that can create a realistic effect. To create paint chipping, apply a thin layer of dark brown or red paint on your minis and then lightly dry-brushing over it with a lighter color.

Different black surfaces will react differently to light. You will need to use different techniques depending on the material.

How to Painting Black: A Step-By-Step Tutorial

I start by prepping my surface. This means giving the miniature a good cleaning with soapy water and making sure any mold lines are filed down.

My Process for Painting Black:

Step 1: Primer

I always start with a black primer. This gives me a nice, even base to work from and ensures that the color is truly opaque.

Step 2: Basecoat

Once the primer is dry, I move on to my base coat. For this, I like to use a mix of black and gray. This helps to break up the monotony of an all-black surface and provides some variation in shade.

Step 3: Layer Coat

After the base coat is dry, I apply a layer of black paint. This is where you can start building up the depth of your blacks. You can do this with one or two coats, depending on how rich you want the final color to be.

Step 4: First Highlights

To highlight the black armor panels, use a thin brush and lightly apply paint around the edges. Remember to thin the paint, so it flows easily but not so much that it will run everywhere. This step requires patience, so keep the lines smooth and even.

Step 5: Second Highlights

Apply another highlight using Thunderhawk Blue. But this time, focus on the top edges of the panels. If you make any mistakes, you can fix them with some Abaddon Black.

Step 6: Third Highlights

Apply a final highlight of Fenrisian Grey to the corners and focus points on the armor.

As always, any mistakes can just be corrected with some Abaddon Black.

Step 6: Mid-tones

To add some mid-tones, I like to use a mix of Black and Codex Gray. This helps to break up the starkness of the black while still retaining that rich, deep color.

Step 7: Wash

After the mid-tones are dry, I like to apply a black wash. This helps to create shadows and add depth to the miniature.

Step 9: Paint Details

Now it’s time to add the finishing touches. Paint any details such as eyes, teeth, and claws. I also like to add a bit of weathering to my miniatures. This can be done with washes or by dry brushing on different colors.

Step 10: Matte Finish

I like to apply a layer of matte varnish to protect your paint job and give it a nice, even finish. This also helps to keep the paint from chipping or flaking off over time.

And that’s it! You now have a beautifully painted black miniature.

How to Prime Black Miniatures

When priming black miniatures, you should use a white primer. This will help to bring out the details of your miniature. You can also use a light grey primer to create a more subtle effect.

Once you have primed your miniature, you can begin painting it with black paint. You should always start with a light layer of paint and build up the opacity as needed. Remember to thin your paint with water before applying it to your miniature.

It is hard to get the right mid-tone when working with black. If you make it too bright, then it won’t look black. But everything will look flat if you don’t put in a mid-tone.

Painting Black Skin Tones

Painting black skin tones on mini can be tricky, but getting a realistic and accurate result is possible. Here are some tips and tricks to help you out!

  • Use a black primer. This will help to even out the surface of the miniature and provide a good foundation for your paint job.
  • Choose your paint carefully. Some brands of paint may not cover black surfaces as well as others, so it’s important to do some research beforehand.
  • Use multiple thin layers of paint rather than one thick layer. This will help to avoid any streaky or uneven results.
  • Be patient! Don’t rush the process; take your time to ensure each layer is dry before moving on to the next.

Painting Clothes and Armor

When painting, don’t use the same color for everything. That black cloth next to black armor will look like cloth and armor, depending on its colors.

Here are a few tips:

  • If you want something to look like metal, make it a few shades lighter than the surrounding area.
  • For cloth, use shadows to give it some depth and volume.
  • And always remember that even black can have different shades! A dark black might almost look blue, while a lighter black can have a brownish tint.

Painting Weapons

You’ll want to focus on making the metal parts look shiny and reflective when painting weapons. To do this, you can use a technique called “wet-blending.”

To wet-blend, start by applying a light layer of paint to your brush. Then, dip the tip of your brush into some water and apply it to the painting area. The water will help to spread the paint around and create a smooth blend.

This was to emphasize the surface’s reflectiveness and suggest the edges’ sharpness.

FAQs about Painting Black

How do you paint shiny black miniatures?

The key to painting shiny black miniatures is to start with a gloss black basecoat. This will give your miniatures a nice, shiny finish. You can then add highlights and shadows in different colors to create a realistic effect.

How do you highlight black models?

You can highlight black models by using light colors to brighten the areas that you want to stand out. You can also use a highlighting technique called dry brushing, which involves using a light color on a very dry brush to pick up paint from the surface of your miniature. This will give your models a subtle highlight that will make them look more three-dimensional.

How do you paint black metal miniatures?

The best way to paint black metal miniatures is to start with a dark primer. This will help the colors you apply later look brighter and more vibrant. You can then use a mix of light and dark blues, purples, and grays to create a nice range of shadows and highlights on the figure. Finally, seal the figure with a matte or gloss varnish to protect it from scratches and smudges.

How do you paint black armor miniatures?

To paint black armor miniatures:

  1. Start by priming the figure white.
  2. Once the primer is dry, use a dark gray to paint the entire figure, including the armor.
  3. When the gray is dry, use light gray to add highlights to the armor and other areas of the figure.
  4. Use a black wash over all of the gray to give it a more realistic look.

Hi! I'm Richard Baker, a miniature painter who has been painting for about ten years. My website is packed with great advice that I've learned from both books and personal experience on building and painting miniatures.

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