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Getting Motivated to Paint

Having trouble getting motivated to paint but still enjoy painting? Here is the combined wisdom of dakka...

Better Using Your Time

Doing something else while painting can reduce the feeling of time ticking away. There are a good number of things you can do while painting including anything targeted at drivers is good as it is designed to be interesting but not too distracting.

  • Learn a language or topic while you paint. Get an audio-only guide to something and have it playing in the background. I am learning japanese conversation when painting.
  • Paint with friends at pre-organized times. This will force you to paint, but will also turn it into a fun social activity so wont feel like a misuse of time.
  • Put music or a movie on. This is the oldest painting advice known to man - stick some music on in the background and just relax when you paint. Combined with the breathing control you need for detail work, it can be extremely relaxing.


Painting to a target will rob you of some of the enjoyment you might have had, but will certainly motivate you to finish painting.

  • Sign up to a tournament or organize a large game which will require you to have three or four colours minimum on each of your models. Make sure it is far enough in the future that you can reasonably finish in time.
  • Dedicated monthly goals with a written checklist and possibly even dedicated time in your week scheduled in will help you get a handle on how much time you should be spending painting and you get an extra sense of accomplishment ticking off your checklist every time you finish a model.

Stage Painting

Try painting in stages of quality. For example, first paint your army in tabletop quality (four or five colours, no shading), then go back and do highlighting and shading over the whole army at a later time, starting with the HQ and working down the line. When you have a half finished army, it is a lot easier to finish it than having a single well painted unit and an army of unpainted plastic.


Keep your painting area well away from working or other hobby areas, especially distractions like video games. Having a dedicated area to go to will make you less likely to feel like doing other things once you get started.

Have a specific type of music or band that you listen to when painting. This will induce a pavlovian style response in you that will make you want to paint any time you hear that music, and will certainly help you to paint.

Have your painting area always ready to go, so that if you just walk past it you might be tempted to sit down and spend 30 minutes undercoating or shading. It all adds up quickly and saves time setting your paints up again and again.

Project Size

If you are really very bad at getting motivated to paint, then why not stop what you are painting now, and get a smaller, skirmish army to paint instead. Something like a blood bowl team, mordheim or necromunda gang, etc. Use some of the other techniques in this article to motivate yourself to paint them and then put them on display near your painting environment to remind you that you can get things done when you want to!

Likewise, you could try and base your armies around models that would be interesting to paint as well as play with. Armies with lots of open plate areas like Space Marines or single color areas like Necrons are good for painting quickly and painting quickly can motivate you a lot too.

General Motivation

Look at the work of other people here on dakka to get motivated. Check out our project logs and modeling and painting forums and browse through, getting ideas that you might want to replicate. If you can do so next to your painting area then that is even better for motivation!

Work on a mixture of models so that the monotony of doing many of the same type does not put you off. Perhaps have two armies on the go at any one time, or buy the occasional character unit for armies or games you dont even play just do develop your painting techniques and give you something interesting to work on.

Work on interesting models and have boring ones nearby, but dont let yourself finish the interesting ones until you complete the boring ones. For example, don't allow yourself to paint a Tyranid Carnifex until you have painted 10 gaunts, but have the carnifex sitting there in front of you to motivate you. You can also break this up a bit by assembly line painting them all together, for example doing the carapace on all the gaunts, then allowing yourself to do the carapace on the Carnifex.

Once you have a few models painted then start your own project log and the users of dakka will help motivate you and give you ideas and help that you would never have thought of. If you have a great project then they will bombard you with requests for updates which can be very motivating!

Look at your unpainted models, wouldn't they look so much better fully painted? Stop reading and go paint them now!


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