Tools of the Trade: Handy Things

This week’s blog is about things that are helpful but not necessary to have around.

“So what kind of things might I want to have around?”

First and foremost in my opinion are notebooks. Notebooks are handy for many things in the miniature painting world. You can use them to do things like plan out color schemes and write down recipes for mixing colors that you may want to remember. I’ve almost finished three at this point. I use some nice looking journals I picked up at the bookstore. I also picked up a sketch book to make my swatch journal which has been incredibly helpful with color scheming. 


“Swatch journal? This sounds a lot like a notebook, what’s up with that?”

Well it is but here’s why it’s different. I have a swatch journal and I’ve found it’s made a ton of difference in the speed of getting things done. Once you reach a certain point, picking through paints one by one to find the perfect color can be overwhelming. With a swatch journal you can quickly flip through pages to see the colors and how they look once dried.

For my swatch book I took a sketchbook and painted down a swatch of each color I own. After priming the paper I’ve got 5 swatches per color; one straight out of the bottle, one thinned down to what I use as a base consistency that I put over white paper and then one each over different color liners that I use as a primer on Reaper Bones miniatures, the last swatch is just the paint thinned down to a wash consistency.

swatch book

It is probably one of the most handy things that I’ve made and I will do a future post on how to do this step-by-step.

“Okay, what’s next?”

Tweezers  and spring-loaded scissors are also super handy tools. For one they can help you hold a small piece of a miniature while gluing without getting your hands covered in glue. Along with tweezers, I like to keep a pair of spring loaded scissors to trim the rare stray hair on my brushes. 


“I can just hold my mini in my hand while I paint it, right?”

Well, yes but mini holders help keep your fingers off of the mini while you are painting. This is important because getting the oils from your fingers on the mini can make painting difficult and occasionally impossible. They also help stabilize your hands somewhat so tremors aren’t so much of a problem. There are many options for mini holders.

First you have the DIY options. You can take an empty pill bottle and fill it with something heavy such as small rocks, sand, etc. and then affix it to the top of the lid with some blu tack. Another option is to put a pin in one or both of the feet of the model and stick it into a piece of cork, like from a wine bottle.

pill bottle.jpg

Second there are several options that are available at retail. One being, my personal favorite, the Hobby Holder. It is a plastic hook that attaches to a base that allows you to hold the miniature in your hand but because of the shape of the hook it lets you rest your fingers on it to avoid rubbing paint off of the mini while also helping to prevent hand trembling.

I’ve already done a review of the Hobby Holder that explains further how it works. You can find that here: Hobby Holder Review They have since added some mods that you can buy to make it even easier to work with.


The other two, that I’m aware of, are the Rathcore holder and Citadel Painting Handle.  

The Rathcore holder is in it’s third version. It works with a bar, much like the Hobby Holder, that attaches to an adapter or handle and then using a split piece of cork you are able to insert a mini that has been pinned or still has a bit of sprue left on the bottom and that will slot into the adapter that the bar wraps around. The bar has a few sizes available so you can work on larger miniatures. They have also made adapters that will hold miniature bases in a cork. There are three sizes of this base that will hold various sizes of miniature bases. However, I do not own one of these so I cannot personally attest to how well it works.

rathcore holder

The Citadel Painting Handle is more along the lines of the pill bottle method. It is a hefty looking handle that has a spring loaded holder on the top that will hold the miniature by the base. The holder will stretch out far enough to hold several different base sizes and shapes.


“What’s blu tack and what’s it got to do with holding minis?”

It goes by many names: Blu Tack, Elmer’s poster putty, Museum Putty, and more. These go on top of most of the holders you may use to hold the miniature in place while painting. Most of these will not leave residue on the mini and some will hold better than others.

I currently use the Elmer’s poster putty and Scotch mounting putty, they work well for most models. The bigger the model the more you will need. However there is a point where you won’t be able to put minis on a holder because they are too big.


“I was trying to squeeze out some paint and my bottle clogged, what do I do?”

I’m glad you asked. One of the most handy things to have around are sewing pins. Or rather something that is thin enough that when inserted into the bottle will remove the clog but not get stuck. Ideally, this will be something sharp like a sewing pin or safety pin. If using pins for sewing, I find, that the ones with balls or come to a T are best so you don’t lose the pin in the bottle accidentally.

sewing pins.jpg

“Is that it?”

No, I could go on for days about things I find are handy to have but this is the end for today. If there are any other things that y’all find handy that’s not mentioned let me know in the comments. If you’d like to know more about any of these tools feel free to contact me over on the”contact” page.

Thanks for reading! Next week we’ll go over how to start assembling minis and the tools you’ll need to do that.

3 thoughts on “Tools of the Trade: Handy Things

  1. Swatch journal is pretty nice. I’ve seen people do it with just sheets of paper, but easier to store in a book. I tend to make ‘test strips’, cardboard strip with bits glued on. It helps me a lot with color combos before I actually start painting.

    The GW holder is not bad, but I use a weighted cork with a slit cut in the top. I’ve also got rubber stoppers with blu tac on top for minis on bases and/or without tabs.

    Self closing tweezers are another really nice item to have.


    1. I definitely do testing on different papers for mixes. The swatch journal is basically just the single color in various dilutions and backgrounds to see how I might want to use it on a project. I have some self closing tweezers but they are not very good quality, probably why they didn’t make it into the post.

      Liked by 1 person

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