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Made in gb
Regular Dakkanaut


I've often wondered if I could make money as a side line, painting miniatures and selling them. Perhaps not as a commission painter though, as I'd want to avoid demanding clients and time constraints and all that, just painting subjects that I think people would want at my own pace. I've seen some of the "pro painted" stuff on ebay, and to be honest, in many cases I believe that I can do a better or equal as good job.

So, based on the photos of my work below, would you pay for my work and what would you pay (bearing in mind the cost of the models themselves)?

Thanks in advance for any input on this.

Necromunda gang -

Captain Tycho (old school 90s version) -

Imperial Knight (magnetised with all weapon options, heads, LED eyes and resin base) -

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2020/03/03 10:48:21

Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut

Honestly? Not much more than retail, if anything above retail. Maybe the Knight would be an exception as it is very well done. However, if I'm not paying for a fully commissioned army the problem with buying pre-paints is what do you do when you want to add to them later? It's unlikely I'd be able to replicate the colour scheme exactly and, frankly, the painting isn't so good that I couldn't do a similar job myself. I think pre-paints as opposed to commissioned armies are in a weird limbo state where they're unlikely to appeal to many people and I suspect you wouldn't be able to sell them for enough to make any money on them.
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Ancient Chaos Terminator

Eye of Terror

I've made money doing commissions. People are willing to pay more than retail for painted models, but there are serious supply and demand issues to think about.

On the demand side, there's people who NEED someone to paint their miniatures and people who WANT someone else to do the job for them. An example of the former is someone who is legally blind in one eye and literally can't paint. An example of the later is someone with excess income who wants an amazing looking army. An example of the later might be an FLGS owner or a lawyer.

On the supply side, there are a lot of places that paint miniatures. Some of the ones in Eastern Europe have legitimate artists working for them who are highly efficient and produce outstanding results each and every time. They work at rates that are unsustainable for someone in the US or the UK.

Most of the commissions I've done were from people I met in person. They liked my the way armies look and wanted the same. I've probably made enough doing it to pay for a new car, but it's sporadic. It's not something that comes close to earning enough for me to make a living off of. In some cases, I just painted the armies for free, because I liked the challenge.

If you want to pursue this, set up a service and do some marketing. Talk to people and figure out what they're willing to pay. The hobby continues to grow and the pool of people who need help expands every day. Most miniature painting services have tiers of quality that control pricing, you might find there's some mix of time / effort that works out for you. The simplest commission I ever did was a Blood Angels army, took me two evenings to assemble everything, one day to go over everything with an airbrush, about 10 hours over the next week to do highlights / decals, and about a day to do custom bases for 40-some models. All time that I had to spare, it was fun, the complete army out the door in 2 weeks and I made $1200 for the effort.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2020/03/03 11:41:59

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Fixture of Dakka


When people buy painted models at random on ebay, they are typically buying them to strip the paint and repaint in their own scheme. Therefore they are looking for a discount since they've got to put in the work to strip the paint.

You won't get more than retail, you'll get less. Quite a lot less actually since even if you try selling retail (new in the box) secondhand you often end up taking a hit on price - because the sort of person hunting for a secondhand product is looking for a better deal than they can get retail.

There are exceptions. If the models are out of production that can put the prices up, even more so if they are a durable material such as metal. Which is very easy to paint strip with. In fact some metal models which are popular and out of production can easily leap up to become more expensive than they ever were before (such as the Diaz sculpted Deamonettes which sell for silly money on ebay).

Something like your knight might sell for more since you've put the LED system into it and the paintwork looks better than your troops. However, again, you might take a hit because, as Slipspace notes, its most likely not going to be in the purchaser's colours for their army.

You'd likely get more for a well assembled, but not painted LED knight.

However this is one of those areas where if you make it and wait to sell you're chancing it. Taking it as a commission would likely net you even more gain because then the person who wants it is coming directly to you to work on it. Such a customer is already prepared to pay for someone to do the work for them to an advertised standard and thus paying more than retail makes sense. You are working on THEIR model rather than selling off your own projects.

Whilst you say you don't want to deal with the potential downsides of time limits, deadlines, fussy customers etc.... I think if you want the profits or at least even a good value for your time and investment; then the only real way for a certain return is to do it on commission.

If you just want to ebay your old projects you'd likely need to set a reserve and you might have to wait a long long time before someone wants it. LED Knight might get more attention and sell easier, but your troops might never sell unless they were rare out of production models.

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Thunderhawk Pilot Dropping From Orbit

Across the Rubicon

I have met only a couple of people who buy non-commissioned pre-painted miniatures that were painted to an okay to good standard. It was usually only skirmish sized amount and usually not much more than retail. And as they continued to game, they also learned they didn't have to pay nearly as much as well. The models they got were usually pretty generic and common schemes. If, and this is a big if, these players continued playing more than a year, they also usually moved on to painting the stuff themselves or straight commissions though.

So it is possible to sell non-commissioned painted miniatures. However, it is like throwing darts across a room in the dark. The miniatures you painted just so happen to be the ones this person is looking who doesn't like/know how to paint, they have to stumble upon your listing and they have to think both the quality and asking price are fair. Not to mention the fact someone else could be unloading their miniatures for half the price which will likely be what that person buys regardless if the quality of models are painted several time better. So it is basically a lottery.

I not anything special with my painting. I am fairly quick and willing to just do a lot of the heavy lifting (read: just base coat commisions). So, I occasionally take commissions, but it is more based on the model and colors (I primarily paint military schemes) than anything else. And I only take work locally. I don't really make a whole lot of money. Maybe about $100 US in a year. Time to money is way less than a minimum wage job. I mostly do it for a little guilt-free hobby money and the enjoyment of painting miniatures as I usually have a good idea what I will enjoy painting.

I don't really think painting miniatures without being a direct commission is ever going to allow person to break even monetarily. Most stuff isn't going to sell for over retail prices, and the rare stuff that does isn't going to make up for the lots that didn't. There is always going to be people ebaying their armies after they decide to leave the hobby, and that is usually more than enough for the very little demand there is for non-commissioned painted stuff. I often wonder if those x3 retail price models do actually sell all that often even if they have a good to great quality paint job. My guess is they probably do eventually most of the time. I don't know if they keep the x3 price tag though.

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Powerful Phoenix Lord

On the basic infantry figures, I think you paint to a standard where friends would pay you a small lump sum to paint up their armies for them to a playable standard. It's definitely just a tabletop standard paintjob. That's the hardest thing to convince people to pay for, particularly if you're competing against some paint studios who can churn that stuff out pretty quick.

The Knight looks better, and I'd say maybe you could purchase a few knights (study what's popular) and then try hawking them on eBay or forums? See what money you can get from them.

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Courageous Questing Knight


Might as well start an experiment on eBay and see what sells! Report back and make a study of it!

I would pay less than retail for those models as I would end up stripping and repainting them - my response to the OP question isnt exactly valid. The first green infantry squad would be in the $2-3/model zone

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2020/03/03 21:13:41

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Twisted Trueborn with Blaster

Sorry to potentially add to the bad news:

I wouldn't pay for the Necromunda gang at all, nor Captain Tycho. I'm not a good painter, but, while the gang leader isn't bad, he isn't great either. I think with a LITTLE care, I could produce as good myself without too much hassle, so there's no value to me.

The Knight is MUCH better, and better than I could do. That catches my I and I thought "Hmmm, maybe... " Then I searched on ebay UK for "fully assembled and painted imperial knights". As I write, there are 69 for sale. Of course, I don't know how many were listed and immediately sold, but of the 69 available, the only one with an actual bid is an armiger, currently at £5.80. Other prices range from £60 to £1600, but have not sold (as I write). Your knight IS better than I could do, but the market seems over saturated.

Good luck!
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Scouting Shade

I have bought pre painted models but I never paid extra for a paint job nor would I. I'm not a great painter but I do a good enough job and IMO I spend enough getting the models I don't want to pay to have them painted. The only exception would be paying a friend or aquantance a small sum.to.paint an army for me because I didn't want to for whatever reason. I am a very slow painted due to many life obligations so I COULD see myself loaning my models to someone I knew to paint them to a table top standard for a friend price. I have friends who will paint my models for free or maybe a 6 pack of good beer just because they like the model but don't intent to have the faction or they just like the painting aspect of the hobby and are more excited about playing against me with a fully painted army.
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Mutilatin' Mad Dok

Crescent City Fl..

For me Painting whole armies has been the best way to go.
Every few years I will put one up for sale and have done well enough that way I put a Necron army up in 13 or 14 and landed a client who had a huge collection he had never painted and was buying a lot more models to go with it and I think I made about 8 grand or 9 and a half just painting two of his collections. Other than that I know a few people who want a new army painted almost ever year and make about 7 or 8 hundred a pop when we do that. One guy pays in cash and trade. This has worked to build several armies I later sold either to him, which is funny, or online. You have to look at where you are going to make the most return. When I am working on a commission I post weekly progress posts on my blog so that my client can see what's going on and try to set up calls when requested. Communication is important.
If you want to pain an army for resale you might try to budget a few lots from ebay, paint those and try to resell those for double what you paid. It might be good.

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Battlefield Professional

Nottingham, England

As someone who sells and resells on eBay, you'd make more buying and breaking up the new box sets plus it's easier to post and easier to deal with buyers as it's clear what it is.

Personally wouldn't pay for any paint job, but the only people I know who would want small skirmish forces at a high quality or complete armies at a high quality.
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Charging Dragon Prince

West Lafayette, IN

My immediate thought about buying a prepainted army is if it's enough models to run it EXACTLY the way I would listbuild or would I need to try to match the paint scheme to fill in the army. So unless the army was completely finished in such a way that I'd never add to it, it's not in my interest to purchase prepainted stuff.


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Incorporating Wet-Blending

Yet another option is to paint for the boardgaming market. Paint a set of your favorite boardgame, post pics on BGG, and get commissions.

YOYO: You're on your own. 
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Barrow Wight King


My advice is not to try and become a professional painter. It will kill your love for the hobby and the art.

Also, I don't think you're really at the right level yet. (although I've seen worse advertising commissions on Instagram) just paint for yourself and enjoy the hobby. If you get great at painting then decide to give it a go, then cool, but it should come in that order, not the other way round.

I'd say a good milestone to show that you might be able to get into some tabletop standard commissions, is winning or placing in some painting competitions. Gw stores often run local competitions. Your gold standard is of course golden demon or other miniature painting contests.

Personally, if I were the kind of person who wanted miniatures painted for me, I'd want the painter to at least be able to get finalist places in GD or other comps like ironskull, that's the only way I'd pay over retail.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2020/03/10 13:32:40

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Longtime Dakkanaut

NE Ohio, USA

To answer the question in general? Yes.
I have multiple armies for both WH40k & WHFB/AoS & stuff for several other systems (Flames of War, SW squads, misc GW games, etc + random minis) painted by others.
If I like the quality/style/etc I've no qualms spending $.

To answer the question in regards to the quality I see on your infantry? No.
My laziest effort exceeds that.
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