How Long Does It Take To Paint A Miniature Painting?

The Step-by-Step Process of Miniature Painting

By Rachelle & Wes Siegrist

How to paint a miniature - drawing and washes
Drawing and Initial Washes

Start By Drawing and Applying Washes

Miniature painting can take us anywhere from two days to three weeks to do one painting. It all relates to how much is involved in the painting’s composition and how much detail will be in the art. For example, a one square inch painting of an animal’s head with a solid background will go much more quickly then a 2 x 3 inch of a scene at a marina or a landscape. Portraits always take the longest, with most of them taking me personally upwards to three weeks to complete. The level of drawing put into the piece before the painting process also plays a part into the entire time needed for completion. I tend to draw more of the subject before beginning to paint on the miniature, than Wes does. After drawing the subject, we lay down a few washes of watercolor to establish a tone and color harmony.

How to Paint A Miniature Painting step 2
Building up values and establishing colors with washes

Building Color and Values With Washes

To the initial washes of paint, we add secondary washes, thus beginning the process of building different values and depth of color. It is important to get your lightest and darkest values established early on, as that makes it easier to figure out the values in-between. Although we paint from photographs or a combination of photos, we always end up changing the colors to some degree, using our artistic license to create the look we want for the painting.

How to Paint A Miniature Painting step 3
Miniature paintings in progress from washes to adding detail

Having Patience to Paint A Million Marks!

Once the basic values of color have been painted in and established, the slow painstaking process of painting in the detail begins. Painting with our smallest brushes, the more teeny tiny marks we must make, the longer it takes to paint the miniature. The miniatures with more stippling technique (building values and shapes with hundreds of tiny dots of color) made with the brush end up taking the longest to paint.

How to Paint A Miniature Painting step 4
Miniature paintings in progress with details being added

When Is The Painting Done?

Once what seems like millions of marks have been made and feeling like we have painted our miniature to completion, we ask each other to look at it to see if they see anything that could be improved upon. Usually there are a couple of suggestions, which the other one almost always decides to make. Then be it three days or three weeks, we pronounce the miniature finished!

We’re planning to bi-monthly post to my blog insights into our business and painting methods. Do you have a topic or question for us? Step-by-step demonstrations of our paintings can be found on our website or weekly on our Facebook page.

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