Miniatures & Scale

When I tell people about my hobby, the first question they usually ask is, "Just how small are they?".  Since my blog is about the discovery of miniature painting, my goal is to make it accessible to everyone. Recently I was asked to include a basic overview of miniatures & scale for those less-than-familiar with the hobby. Happy to oblige!

The majority of miniatures I paint are 25-28mm. For those of us who were not raised on the internationally recognized decimal system of measurement, they're about 1 inch tall. Some are a bit larger and others are considerably smaller, and once the 25-28mm minis are attached to bases, the finished product is usually under 2 inches. Of course, bases can range anywhere from a simple, flat square to a hand-carved custom display base. To help put miniature scale in perspective, here are some pictures: one with a measuring tape & push pin, the other featuring my less-than-manicured thumbnail.

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"What are they made out of?"

While some minis are made from plastic or resin, the majority of miniatures I've painted are cast in pewter. They come out of the box looking like this Reaper miniature:


Some are cast as one piece, others are in several parts and require assembly like this Privateer Press miniature:


"How long do they take to paint?"

For me, generally anywhere from 4-32 hours. It's a big range, and I personally choose how long to spend on a mini by asking myself this simple question:

What is this mini going to be used for?

  • One-time tabletop game: 2-4 hours. 
  • Many games: 8-24 hours (depending on how many people I want to impress!)
  • Display & Collecting: 12-32+ hours (depending on the projected detail & quality)
  • Personal enjoyment: however long I want!

And lastly, the final question I'm asked is, "Why do you enjoy painting these tiny things?"

Truly, I enjoy working with small-scale figures. They require a smaller volume of paint, less room needed for my painting setup, and the best part is that a $5-15 miniature is much less expensive than a large canvas. I also like the challenge of refining controlled painting techniques for the best possible results. It's a great exercise in patience!  

If you have questions, keep 'em coming! I'm happy to share my discoveries and look forward to learning from others as well. In the meantime, I'm waiting for my Infinity miniatures to arrive in the mail today-- I'll have more for you on Thursday!