The Miniature Painting Hobby

Miniatures, Models and Figurines are the core of what people sometimes simply refer to as “Hobby”.

Hobby refers to the collecting, building, and painting of the miniatures used to play the games. In fact the collecting and painting piece of tabletop miniature gaming might be the largest part. In 2022 Goonhammer, a site dedicated to Warhammer 40k and other tabletop miniature games, did a survey of its readers. The result was a clear majority saying they are primarily Hobbyists.

It has often been asserted that the majority of Games Workshop sales are attributed to pure hobbyists. Meaning people who buy, build, paint and collect the miniatures, but do not play the games. I myself fall into that category.

I go into how this all fits together in an article, but let’s recap what goes into “Hobby” here as well:

Buying or 3D Printing Miniatures:

The main focus of the hobby is the Miniatures. They can either be bought or created. Many companies produce and sell their own miniatures.

Miniature Manufacturers:

Some of the larger miniature companies include:

Games Workshop: They have many different IPs (intellectual properties) including Warhammer 40k, Age of Sigmar, and Necromunda.

WizKids: This company is owned by NECA (National Entertainment Collectibles Association, Inc.) and they are the officially licensed producer of Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures for Wizards of the Coast.

Reaper Miniatures: Reaper has a ton of fantasy miniatures suitable for D&D, Pathfinder and other games. They also have some sci-fi and steampunk minis.

Atomic Mass Games and Fantasy Flight Games:  Both are owned by Asmodee USA.  Atomic Mass makes the Marvel Crisis Protocol and Star Wars Legion miniatures .  Fantasy Flight Games makes Star Wars Legion miniatures amongst many others.

CMON:  Makes miniatures for He Man, Game of Thrones, Zombicide, Thundercats, and more.

3D Printing Miniatures

The other major source of collecting miniatures is from 3D Printing. A great many hobbyists are involved in 3D printing in one way or another. Either for the miniatures themselves, or supporting items like terrain, trees, mountains, castles, dungeons, and more.

To print your own miniatures, you need a 3D printer, the associated material to print with (like resin or plastic filament), and an STL file to give the printer instructions on what to print out.

These STL files for miniatures and other prints can be found in a number of places, including:


Loot Studios


And many other sites.

There are also sites that will allow you to customize a miniature, which they will then print and ship to you:

Hero Forge

Eldritch Foundry

Assembling Miniatures

Not all miniatures require assembly, but many of the more intricate, higher quality ones do. For example, most if not all Games Workshop miniatures require some kind of assembly. Games Workshop does have some resin miniatures, but the bulk are plastic miniatures that are manufactured on a sprue. Sprues are plastic frames that are used in injection molds. They hold the small pieces in place during the molding process.

Assembling miniatures from a sprue requires clipping the pieces off, then assembling and gluing them in place. Some sets are “push fit” which simply means they have a peg and hole system that doesnt require glue or adhesives.

Assembly can require a large range of tools. Clippers, hobby knives, sanding sticks, glues and plastic cements, pins, clays, and more.

Painting Miniatures for Fun or Competition

This is the painting part of Miniature Painting. While there are many styles and techniques, the goal is to get a plain plastic or resin miniature painted.

Some of the common tools used for this include paint brushes, airbrushes and sometimes spray paints.

Creating or Buying Terrain for Games or Display

Terrain in this case refers to miniature depictions of the environment. Miniature trees for example, or hills. A castle or dungeon. There are miniature versions of any environment type you can imagine. Both real and fantasy.

As with the miniature figures, terrain can be bought or created with a 3D Printer. For example you can buy premade dungeon tiles from Dwarven Forge or similar companies.

Alternatively, you can find plenty of 3D printable terrain from the same sites you find your miniatures. Myminifactory, Thingiverse, Loot Studios, Kickstarters, Patreons and many more.