The Absolute Best Miniature Paint Sets in 2023 (3 New!)

In my years of painting miniatures I’ve tried a lot of paints. More are always coming on the market, and it’s fun to try new things.

Acrylic paints for miniatures have a lot of different qualities to them, viscosity, pigment density, how well they mix, matte/satin/gloss finishes, and more.

Having used them all I will break it all down for you by showing you the best paint sets for miniatures. Let’s start with a quick summary:

Miniature Paint Sets: The Best of the Best

These are the best of the best miniature paint sets. I have used all of these repeatedly when painting my miniatures. Since different people have different needs, I broke it up into categories.

I will go into more detail below the summary section, but here they are:

With those categories summarized, I’ll go into more depth on why I chose the sets.

The Best Overall Miniature Paint Set in 2023

Pro Acryl Base Set

Pro Acryl Base Set from Monument Hobbies is the new winner for 2023. In fact they are a newer entry into the miniature paints space. The Pro Acryl line has only been around for a few years, but Monument Hobbies have been around for a while.

These are among my favorite acrylics for miniature painting. I have quite a few of the Pro Acryl standard acrylic paints, some of the metallics and the primers. All excellent products.

They clearly know what they are doing. Great colors, smooth paints, excellent coverage, good value.

Let me give you the highlights:

QUALITY: Excellent. High Quality High-Density Pigments. Meaning you’ll get great coverage with this paint, and I have found that to be the case. In fact these might be the most pigment dense acrylics out there. The coverage is ridiculously good.

FINISH: Very Matte. If you’re not a fan of matte finishes (I personally love them), this might not be a good pick for you. Note you can always varnish them to whatever finish you prefer.

APPLICATION: Smooth application, thinner than Vallejo or Citadel, slightly thicker than Reaper or Army Painter. These paints go on like a dream. If you’ve ever had trouble with painting white for example, give the Pro Acryl Titanium White a try, it’s fantastic. Smooth and clean with great flow. No chalky, dry texture like many other acrylics.

CONTAINER: Dropper bottles. I would say these are the best droppers. It’s a much better method of holding paint than Citadel or P3 pots in my experience.

Now that I am looking at them closely, they stay very clean. Vallejo, Scale 75 or Army Painter droppers get all crusty. Pro Acryls do not.

The Pro Acryl droppers do not clog, ever. It’s funny because doing the reviews makes you really think about your experiences with the paints. You never get dried paint in the dropper tip, and that’s by design. Great improvement.

VALUE: Very Good. It’s not the least expensive of the high quality acrylics, but when you consider Citadel can cost upwards of 33 cents per milliliter, 19 cents is a bargain. Especially when these paints are excellent.

Best Value Miniature Paint Set

Vallejo Basic Set

Vallejo acrylics are the gold standard for miniature painting. They check all the boxes for me, and have a very long track record. A lot of older articles and videos will list these as the best paint for miniatures, period.

High quality, an insane amount of colors, fantastic value, great coverage, smooth paints, and they are extremely consistent. You know what you’re getting with Vallejo paints and they are top notch.

QUALITY: Excellent. Vallejo are absolutely high quality miniature paints. They are consistent and pigment dense.

APPLICATION: Smooth, on the thicker side. I typically thin down Vallejo with water a fair amount This is not a negative at all. They thin down very well with no loss in color or coverage.

Be aware of consistency with the Vallejo paint range. Right out of the dropper it’s too thick to put on a miniature. Just put a drop or two on your wet palette or dry palette, and have a cup of water handy to thin it down.

CONTAINER: Dropper bottles. Excellent droppers, they do the job and make getting exact amounts of paint easy. If you’re mixing colors you can easily track 2 drops of one color, 1 drop of another.

VALUE: S Tier, excellent, phenomenal. Sure the cheap craft paint will be cheaper, Apple Barrel is maybe 1 cent per ml. But this is about the best paints for miniature painting. For that category, Vallejo is top tier value

If you are reading this and aren’t quite sure which set of miniature paints are best for you, you can’t go wrong with the Vallejo Basic Set. In terms of value and quality, this is a no brainer.

The only caveat to this is the color choices. Vallejo gives you a great range and they picked these colors for very good reason. Having said that it’s a limited amount of choices. You can always mix colors to diversify the color palette.

Best Large All Inclusive Miniature Paint Set

Army Painter Mega Set

The Army Painter Mega Set is a very popular choice. It’s a very easy way to get a start to your paint collection. The colors are hand picked to give a broad range of choices in the right proportions.

You need a diverse range of browns and greens for example, you’ll use a lot of them. Not quite as many yellows or oranges are typically used though so they give fewer options there.

They give you a range of skin tones, metallics, washes and some effect paints.

QUALITY: Army Painter makes a good quality paint range. They have a large catalog of colors, washes and technical paints like Speed Paint. The paints are on the thin side and typically require a lot of mixing.

APPLICATION: Smooth application, good coverage. They are thinner paints that can be thinned further with water or medium while keeping a good color to them.

CONTAINER: 18 ml Dropper bottles, standard droppers that do a good job. AP sometimes include mixing balls with the sets. The Mega Set I’ve put here does come with 100 mixing balls, other sets do not. You need to buy them and add them to the bottles individually.

VALUE: Army Painter sets represent a good value for the money in terms of cost per ml of paint. You get a wide range of colors, some metallics, some washes and a couple of effect paints for blood and rust.

A few things on AP sets. They are excellent if you want one set with a lot of options and you love Army Painter products.

If you don’t know what kind of paints you like yet, buying a big set is a gamble.

Best Beginner Miniature Paint Set

Reaper Learn to Paint Set

This is more than just a paint set. It’s a full kit to paint the included miniatures. So if you are a beginner, and you’re a bit overwhelmed by the hobby, this is absolutely one of your best options.

You get 3 miniatures, all the paints you need to complete them. It also has a beginner brush and a full set of step by step instructions.

So many people started with this set, including me. My advice is to grab one and join a miniature painting group on discord or facebook. Post your pics of them when you’re done. I personally love to see new people post them!

QUALITY: Reaper master series paints are very good. They are on the thinner side, smooth, good pigment density. I would rate them about the same as Army Painter. Not quite the best but they are miles better than any craft paint.

APPLICATION: Very smooth, I don’t need to thin these very much. They do thin down perfectly well though if you want thinner or more transparent layers.

CONTAINER: Reaper master series paint come in 1/2 oz (roughly 15 ml) dropper bottles. Perfectly fine, good quality and easy to use.

VALUE: For individual paint bottles, the value is only moderate. What you’re really getting value from is the all in one nature of this set. You get 11 paints, 3 miniatures, 2 brushes and in the instructions.

This is the perfect starter set for people to jump in and get paint miniatures. No thinking about what colors to get, what minis to buy, what brushes, how to paint them. It’s all laid out for you in very easy to follow instructions.

Best New Miniature Paint Set

AK Interactive 3rd Gen Acrylics – Jose Davinci

AK Interactive 3rd Generation Acrylics were released in late 2020, early 2021. I’m still considering them for the “New” category this year though. We don’t get entire new ranges from big hobby brands often.

Jose Da Vinci is an excellent miniature painter, and he partnered with AK Interactive to make this specific set. AK is a very well established hobby manufacturer, and this range extends well beyond this one set.

If you can’t find this specific one, just search up AK Interactive 3rd Gen.

This is one of my newer sets. I only got it late last year and I love it. I’ve used many AK Interactive products, most notably their Ultra Matte Varnish which is phenomenal. I use their varnish on every single mini I paint.

I’ve also bought individual miniature paints from AK Interactive (for example this Pistachio) and along with watching Jose paint, I took a shot on the set.

I had heard from people on youtube channels, in forums and on discord that the 3rd gen paints were great, and they were right.

QUALITY: Excellent. AK 3rd gen acrylic paints are among the highest quality acrylics available. Similar consistency to a Vallejo, Pro Acryl or Citadel. Thicker than Army Painter or Reaper.

APPLICATION: Excellent pigment density, great consistency and they thin down with no problem at all. You can get these to a very thin glaze while keeping the color integrity. They fall more on the matte side of finishes.

CONTAINER: 17ml Dropper bottles, excellent quality.

VALUE: VeryGood. These are very high quality paints at a good price. Some acrylic paints are cheaper and lower quality, other paints are as expensive or moreso, and only a very few are as good but cheaper.

Best Overall Contrast/Speed Paint Set

Citadel Contrast Paints Set

Ok so, these Contrast Paint Sets are new! Citadel had some versions of paint sets but they were typically either paired with miniatures (great kits by the way), or just small and uninspiring.

These sets give a good range of the paints and I thin they are a step in the right direction.

Citadel paints are very high quality. I would put them among the very best in terms of consistency, quality of material, color choices and pigment density. The problem is, well… the cost.

Having said that, I should say that the Citadel Paint range makes up probably 50% of all the paints I own. They are excellent and their Contrast Paint range is an absolute game changer in miniature painting.

On top of that, Games Workshop (Citadel is the painting brand within Games Workshop) gives very helpful images, processes, videos and documentation to show you how to get your miniatures painted. Which colors to use, how to apply them, and more.

QUALITY: Excellent. S Tier quality for their base paints, layer paints, technical paints, and Contrast paints. I can’t fault them in any way. They are on the thicker side, which is perfectly fine since you’ll want to thin them with a bit of water regardless.

I would say their metallics leave something to be desired. I love the color ranges but the pigment is large and it looks speckled when applied. Still, the quality is good on the metallics.

APPLICATION: Buttery smooth application, and very clean finish. They can be thinned down to a very fine glaze and keep their color. I would put this range as a bit matte and a bit satin mix.

CONTAINER: Citadel paints come in paint pots. They are a wider container with plastic tops that are on a hinge. You can open it up and dip a brush in to extract the paint, or twist the cap and drip out what you need.

The pots are typically love – hate. People either prefer them or they dont. Some people, myself included for some paints, decant the pots into dropper bottles. I wouldn’t say I hate the pots, I just prefer droppers.

VALUE: Average. They are undeniably very high quality and in some cases trailblazing paints. They are also expensive.

Again, I own a lot of Citadel paints. I highly recommend their paints, washes and especially Contrast Paint line. If you’re on a budget, I only recommend you get very specific targeted paints from Citadel to try. Not a full set.

I will put a section in here on individual paints for miniatures that I suggest from each brand. This way if you’re not ready to pull the trigger on a full set you can grab one or two to try out.

A preview for Citadel would be: Rhinox Hide, Khorne Red, Guilliman Flesh Contrast, Imperial Fist Contrast, Black Templar Contrast.

Best Value Contrast/Speed Paint Set

Army Painter Speed Paint Set 2.0

Army Painter Speed Paints and Vallejo Xpress Color both came out with their versions of Contrast Paints recently. AP actually just released their version 2.0 of the brand which marks a nice improvement over the previous generation.

AP Speed Paints get my nod for best value for a couple of reasons. They work great, they don’t cost as much as the Citadel Contrasts, and they are widely available.

Really quick, the original Speed Paints had trouble with reactivation. All this means is that if you put on a coat of speed paint, let it dry, and then tried to put another coat of anything over the top, the paint would become liquid again and bleed into whatever you were applying.

With the 2.0 Speed Paints, this problem is largely gone. Even with the originals, it wasnt a huge issue. Especially if you just applied one coat and were done. You could also varnish the paint and seal it in.

All of that said, be aware of the reactivation with the originals, and feel free to try any of the AP Sped paints.

QUALITY: Good. The range as a whole is not as good as Vallejo or Citadel in my opinion, but they are definitely good quality. In fact there are absolutely some Speed Paints I prefer over any other brands.

APPLICATION: Good. There is some variance to these, some apply better than others. Overall though these are high quality and do the job they are indented to do.

CONTAINER: Standard 18ml dropper bottles. Perfectly good, nothing fancy and get’s the job done.

VALUE: Excellent. This is roughly 55% cheaper than Citadel Contrast paints. It’s even cheaper than Vallejo XPress color.

Bottom line here is they are really good value. If you’re trying out SlapChop or just want to get yourself some form of Contrast paints, these are worth looking at.

I can definitely recommend a set of them, especially because the results are so subjective. For exampl, some people prefer the look of the Speed Paint purple, some like the Contrast Paint purple, others want the XPress color purple.

Honorable Mention: Xpress Color Paints

These are very new, only a few months old as I write this. I don’t have a lot of time with them yet so I’m not willing to endorse them.

However, they could easily take the top spot next year if things hold steady. Stay Tuned.

Best Gold Metallic Miniature Paint Set

Scale 75 Metal N Alchemy Metallic Set

It’s pretty close between a couple of brands, but Scale 75 wins my award for best Metallic Set for Gold Miniature paints. Scale 75 takes the “gold medal” (see what I did there?) because of their trio of: Elven Gold, Dwarven Gold and Viking Gold.

You get all 3 as well as 5 other shades of metallics in the Metal n Alchemy set.

Viking Gold is a darker almost brass gold. You can also use this as an undertone, although the set gives you an even darker Necro Gold to use.

Dwarven Gold is the mid tone, and a great color on it’s own.

Elven Gold is brigher and can be used by itself or as a highlight to any of the other golds in the set. Beautiful color.

All of these paints have similar characteristics. They are smooth, can be thinned down, nice pigment density and small pigment size. Pigment size in metallic acrylic paints are important. If they are too large it looks speckled, and glittery as opposed to smooth.

Best Gold Metallic Miniature Paint Set

Vallejo Metal Color Set

Vallejo Metal Color paints are the king of Acrylic Metallic Paint. By far my favorite and I use them almost exclusively for anything I paint that I want to be metallic silver.

Any of their silver shade formulations are great. They range from dark silver to very bright. My personal favorites are Gunmetal Grey (darker), Steel (mid tone) and Silver (bright).

Unfortunately they only have one Gold, which I don’t love, and one Copper, which I do like very much. So while they are a no brainer for silvers, the other shades are personal preference.

The set I listed gives you 3 silvers and the Copper, all of which I like very much. If you only want silvers, I would grab this set. Or just buy individual paints.

Best All in One Metallic Miniature Paint Set

Pro Acryl Metallics

If you’re looking to just get one set of acrylic metallic paints for miniatures, this is it. Silver, Bronze, Copper and Gold are all represented, in multiple shades.

Pro Acryl is some of the newer paints on the market, and they are excellent. I’ve used them extensively now and can say they are great quality acrylics.

The metallics are no exception, very good paints. The only question is your personal taste on what shade of gold, silver, copper or bronze you prefer.

It’s kind of like saying blue paint. There are a near infinite gradation of color within “blue”.

Remember you can always mix colors. I personally like to do either Rich or Bright gold mixed with a bit of light bronze. But then again, it depends on the miniature I’m painting.

The Best Set of Acrylic Washes

Army Painter Wash Set

When we are talking sets, AP takes the win for shades/washes. They do a great job of picking a good variety and offering it at a good price.

You get 11 shades and the most important trio is represented: Black, Brown and Sepia. APs versions are Dark Tone, Strong Tone and Flesh Wash.

You’ll likely end up using those three the most, but it’s nice to have the others available.

When it comes to washes you can absolutely get away with 2-4 different shades. I very rarely use any colors other than black, brown or sepia. That said, I get it. I own a few sets of shades.

Honorable Mention: Citadel Wash Set

Citadel washes deserves a mention here because honestly I prefer their washes. When it comes to sets though, these are hard to find. The washes have been around forever, but bundling them into a set is new.

If you can find the set, and cost isn’t an issue, this is the higher quality purchase.

The Most Popular Miniature Paint Brands Available

I wanted to cover this because I think it’s useful information. Most popular doesn’t mean the best, it just means a lot of people use them.

In some cases it’s just because of price or availability, but often it’s an indication of a broad consensus that these are great miniature paints.

The Most Popular Miniature Paint Brands in 2023:

Vallejo Game and Model Color paints

Citadel Paints by Games Workshop

Army Painter

Scale 75 and Scalecolor

Pro Acryl Paints

It’s an intentionally short list. People may have different opinions, but these are undeniably popular paint brands.

Next, I want to mention some lesser known brands.

Three Less Common Miniature Paint Brands To Try In 2023

AK Interactive 3rd Gen

3rd Gen are quite new so they go in my Less Common list. AK Interactive is definitely well known in the hobby and has been for many years.

The full review of the AK is above so go check that out. My summary…. awesome paints. Top notch quality. Matte finish, dropper bottles, great coverage, great color.

Kimera Colors

So these are technically under Scale 75 but they are certainly less commonly mentioned. I wanted to be sure to include them in this list. Excellent paint and a very good price. It’s around six dollars for 30 ml.

Privateer Press Formula P3

Many of the blue Ultramarines you see on the main page and in my gallery were done (in part) with p3 Cygnar Blue. It’s a gorgeous blue and works really well through an airbrush.

These come in small 18ml pots. Great quality and some awesome colors.

Best Starting Paints for Warhammer Painters

If you’re just getting into Warhammer miniature painting, I highly suggest one of the Learn to Paint sets. Find one with the models that most interest you. Space Marines, Necrons, Stormcast and more.

They’ll come with miniatures, standard paints, technical paints, a wash and even a starter brush.

Necron Starter Set – They’re kinda like zombie robots.

Space Marine Starter Set – The iconic Warhammer Space Marines, my personal favorite.

Orruk Starter Set – This is the Age Of Sigmar set, a fantasy IP with their version of Orcs.

Stormcast Eternals Starter Set – Another Age of Sigmar fantasy set. They are kind of like heavily armored Paladins, that can’t die permanently.

Best Starting Paints for D&D Miniature Painting

If you’re just starting to paint miniatures for D&D I highly recommend a learn to paint set. There are two big options here:

The Reaper: Learn to Paint set. This is what I started with and I loved it. Easy to follow instructions, everything you need included from start to finish. It really takes the thinking out of it and gets you 3 finished miniatures.

The Army Painter Gamemaster set. The Reaper set has been expensive lately, and I think this one is a better value. You get more paints, some metallics, washes, a brush, primer and instructions. Plus 5 miniatures to paint.

Acrylic Paint, Oil Paint, Enamel Paint: What’s the Difference for Painting Miniatures?

A quick explanation here for these three types of paints:

Acrylic Miniature Paints: These are by far the most commonly used paints in miniature painting. They are inexpensive, non toxic, water soluable, commonly available and perform extremely well.

They have a relatively quick dry time which is a blessing and a curse. Quicker dry means faster completion. It also gives you less time for things like blending.

All of the paint sets in this article are acrylics.

Oil Paints for Miniatures: These are seeing a bit of a resurgence in miniature painting. They are oil based, require mineral spirits or similar to thin down, are a bit more expensive but not much.

The big advantage with oils is the ability to very easily blend them. They stay wet for a very long time and you can work with them during that period.

The big drawback is fumes from the solutions needed to thin it. There are “low odor” versions like Sansodor (which I use and like) but it’s not completely fumeless.

Oils are also excellent to use as a wash.

Enamel Paint for Miniatures: Enamels are also oil based paints. They are still used in miniature painting, but not as often. They are durable, and give great color. The problem with enamels are fumes. You need to be sure to work in a well ventilated area for these paints.

I used enamels as a kid when I painted miniatures, but that was a long time ago. Now I don’t bother with them with the sole exception of Tamiya Panel Liner, which is FANTASTIC.

What Paint Colors are Used Most In Miniature Painting

You’ll always want Black and White miniature paints either alone or to mix into other colors.

After that, Browns. Brown shades are used in a ton of thing for miniature painting. Leathers, skin tones, hair, clothes, wood, dirt, and more. So make sure you have a couple of browns or mix the one you have with other colors to get shade variation.

Next up I would say Blue, Green, Red, and Yellow. Primary colors, easy to mix and commonly used.

Grey for stone always seems to crop up as well, but one grey is fine or you can just mix black and white.

Can I use regular acrylic paint for miniatures?

This question crops up a lot. Yes you can use Apple Barrel, Arteza, or whatever other craft paints are out there for miniature painting. They will give a poor result compared to a high quality miniature paint.

Craft paint have large pigments. This gives really poor coverage on miniatures. To get solid colors, you’d need multiple coats, which end up filling in the details and ruining the look.

Craft paint has it’s place with large pieces of terrain or background for a diorama. If you’re trying to get a big styrofoam block painted, thats where you can break out the craft paints.

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