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Paint Five Colors

by Felix Flauta aka "malfred"


Paint Five Colors shows you how to sneak painting time in by selecting just five colors.


Painting miniatures for tabletop wargames means having the patience to complete entire squads of soldiers. This generally means you need a block of time in order to work on your army. For some, having this block of time means they have time to do other things such as watching a movie, playing a video game, or even playing with their unpainted soldiers, and so they put off painting for another day.

Painting with five colors means controlling and limiting the time you spend painting your army by working toward small goals, five (or even less) paint colors at a time. You are working on a little bit each day to get the army painted, and success with these small steps encourages you to paint even more.


The following steps assume that your models are assembled and primed.

Pick your models

Pick the project based on your experience. I tend to operate in large batches. With less experience, you should probably work with 5-10 models at a time.

A few suggestions:

  • Same units or model types.
  • Avoid working on only one model at a time. That way lies madness.
  • Pick fewer models if they are larger or have more detail.
  • Pick more models if they are smaller or have less intricate detail.
  • Some like to pick mono-pose models (all models with the same or similar poses).

Pick your colors

Pick five colors you want to paint with. These can be any combination of base or highlight colors.

For example:

  • Painting a blue uniformed soldiers might mean you're picking three shades of blue and two shades of yellow, or one shade of blue, two shades of yellow, and two metals.
  • If highlighting takes you a long time, pick fewer highlight colors and more base colors.
  • Count one color as two paints if you're mixing colors.

Use a wet palette

The wet palette above is parchment paper on top of a wet paper towel. These paints shouldn't dry out the entire time you're working with them. And if you want to save the colors, seal the wet palette in a blister pack or something airtight.

You put your five colors out like this so that you won't be tempted to add another step or skip one of your steps. You can put the rest of your paints away, and they will remain out of sight, out of mind.

Paint five colors

Paint five colors onto your chosen models. Figure out how much time it takes.


Once you've painted five colors, stop. You have achieved your goal for the day. Set the brush aside and feel the satisfaction of having accomplished some painting.

Adjust for your next session

  • If five colors turn out to be too much, reduce the number to three for your next session.
  • If you have too many models this time around, cut the squad in half and only work on them next session.
  • Make any adjustments you need in order to fit the time you have committed to doing this.

Repeat the Method

Paint five colors as often as required. In the course of a month, painting just two or three times a week you will have put in 8-15 painting sessions. That's more than enough time to finish a portion of your army!


I hope you find this method useful in achieving small goals that will eventually lead up to having a completely finished army.


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