Military Miniature

Essential Readings for Beginning Painters in Historical Miniature Wargaming

(This article is credited to Jason Weiser. Jason is a long-time wargamer with published works in the Journal of the Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers; Miniature Wargames Magazine; and Wargames, Strategy, and Soldier.)

As a companion to my piece on miniatures paint, I thought it best to provide some informational sources to provide beginners with all the help they can get. I remember when I started as a miniatures gamer in 1988, at the tender age of 12. Back then, a beginner, especially on the historical side of the hobby, really didn’t have a lot of places to turn for painting advice and help. Happily, this situation is a lot better today, and there are a ton of sources to turn to that I wanted to share. These are among some of the resources that I still use today, even years after decades of working in miniatures paint. 

Painting Wargaming Figures 

by Javier Gomez


Frankly, I swear by this book as a guide on learning how to paint wargaming figures. Gomez’s advice is solid, and he gives instructions in clear, easy to follow steps with great pictures. This is the one book you need on your journey of painting proficiency. And most of his subjects in the book are historical, so for us historical gamers, he gives us practical, hands-on advice we can apply to our armies.

Modelling and Painting World War II German Military Figures

by Michael Farnsworth

Modelling and Painting World War II US Figures and Vehicles

by Ray Haskins

To me, these two books are almost required for any World War II historical miniatures gamer out there. Both are well constructed, but I think Farnsworth’s book on the Germans is better. That said, the practical examples in the U.S. book are very well carried off as well. 

Painting War, Issue #1: “WWII German Army”

by Ruben Torregrosa

Painting War, Issue #3: “Japan and USA WW2”

by Claudia Zumnich

These are painting magazines that are chock full of information about a selected army, and they really do cover that army from soup to nuts. Painting advice, color charts, the works. They also cover the Age of Napoleon, the Revolutionary War, and the Spanish Civil War. The magazines are pricy at $26 a pop, but I have gotten a lot of use out of mine. 

Kevin Dallimore’s Painting and Modelling Guide Masterclass

Edited by Keith Pinfold


This weighty tome has a ton of good ideas for painting historical figures and quite a few historical subjects to pick up a few cool techniques from. Even the other subjects in the book will have you going “hmm.” It’s a pricy book, but if you can find it cheap (I did), grab it.

Colors of War, Painting World War II & World War III Miniatures

by James Brown

To me, even though I don’t play either Team Yankee or Flames of War, this is one of the best books released on how to paint smaller scale (15mm and under) armies for either World War II or Cold War Gone Hot. It’s chock full of ideas and techniques, and it’s got both general ideas and ideas by army. And the best part? All the paints listed in the book are Vallejo, which makes this book a snap to use. This is a must-have if you’re a WWII or Cold War Gone Hot Era gamer. 

The Wargaming Compendium

by Henry Hyde


This is a book every miniature wargamer should own. It’s got great advice on painting, modeling, what periods to play to suit your historical interests, and even some rules to get you started. The painting section for 1/72 scale plastic Napoleonic miniatures (which is very useful and helpful, as soft plastic figures are hard to get paint to stick to even with primer  is useful for people who want to use soft plastic figures for any period. I cannot recommend this book enough. If you’re in the hobby, buy this book. 

As for the internet, here’s the best source I have found:

Michael Farnsworth’s Painting Guides for Artizan and Crusader Miniatures:

There’s a lot of sources out there, but Farnsworth is one of the best. I really do like his approaches to a lot of the chosen subjects, the advice is good, and he gives great information for further reading on a given subject. While most of the guides are for World War II, there’s also stuff for Vikings and Romans!

The thing is, a good Google search will net you a lot of information for any sort of specific painting needs, even for the more esoteric conflicts. It takes patience and a bit of research, but it can be done!

One last item I’d recommend to any painter with a smartphone (which should be just about everyone) is the paintRack app, available on iOS and Android devices. This has revolutionized my painting, and it’s made tracking my paints a snap (and when you have as many as I do, it’s a concern!) It matches paints, it helps you construct sets, and it’s just plain got a ton of features.

At SJR Research, we specialize in creating compelling narratives and provide research to give your game the kind of details that engage your players and create a resonant world they want to spend time in. If you are interested in learning more about our gaming research services, you can browse SJR Research’s service on our site at SJR Research.

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