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3 Lessons Learned While Painting Stormtrooper Miniatures

Some of us just have to learn the hard way. But those of us who have traveled the path before, learning by trial-and-error, will gladly share our experience if it will keep a fellow nerd from falling flat on his face. I’ve touched the hot stove so we won’t have to.

Recently, I’ve begun painting the Stormtrooper miniatures that come with Fantasy Flight Game’s Imperial Assault Base Set. The game is GLORIOUS, and the miniatures are GLORIOUS. But since the miniatures come unpainted, I needed to do something about that.

Here are 3 lessons I learned while painting Stormtrooper miniatures included with Imperial Assault:

Painting Stormtrooper Miniatures
Click to embiggen. Without the shade added. Brilliant white and completely without highlights.

1. Trim the plastic. When plastic miniatures are molded there will occasionally be tiny slivers of plastic residue or a little extra plastic which builds up around the mold line. This extra plastic needs to be trimmed off because it distracts from the detail of the miniature.

Using a hobby knife (or a simple x-acto knife if you’re doing this on the cheap), you should gently trim off all excess plastic. If you don’t know what to trim, then trim off everything that doesn’t look like a Stormtrooper. Duh.

Have you ever rushed to do something, only to think if I would’ve just held up for 5 seconds, I would’ve done it right instead of just doing it quickly. Well, in my rush to paint my awesome little Stormtrooper miniatures, I immediately hit them with a coat of white primer, only to realize that I should’ve trimmed them first.

LESSON LEARNED: When painting miniatures, trim off any extra plastic before you prime them.


Click to embiggen. Stormtroopers with the shade added. Notice one has been lightened back up, but maintains highlights.
Click to embiggen. Stormtroopers with the shade added. Notice one has been lightened back up, but maintains highlights.

2. Use a shade layer. Stormtroopers are primarily white with a little black poking out the joints. My first thought was that I’d prime them black, then simply paint a few layers of white for their armor, leaving the black armor joints showing.

But after the first test model looked dorky, I realized that I should prime them white, then paint over the entire figure with a black shade, only to then re-apply a couple layers of white for the armor, having the brightest white be for areas that would catch the most sun. It was an extra step that was totally worth it.

With out the shade layer to fill in the crevices and create areas of depth and shadow, the Stormtrooper miniature lacked any sort of interest. It looked like he was a Stormtrooper fresh out of the Academy who just got his armor that morning, so it was brilliantly white. But adding the shade layer made him look battle worn and realistic.

LESSON LEARNED: Use a shade to give your miniatures greater depth.


Click to embiggen. Three finished troopers being chased by Chewie.
Click to embiggen. Three finished troopers being chased by Chewie.

3. Don’t fret the boo-boos. In I wrote in my beginner’s guide to painting miniatures, I am, indeed, a beginner painter. I won’t be winning any painting contests any time soon ever.

So I make mistakes. Lots of them. But I’m enjoying the heck out of painting my tiny little Imperial Assault Miniature Stormtroopers and I look forward to tackling Han Solo, Chewbacca, and the bounty hunters who can also get for Imperial Assault.

Mistakes are simply an opportunity to paint battle damage! I simply pretend the Rebellion hit him with a blaster shot, and paint the mistake area to reflect that.

I both highly recommend the game Imperial Assault (you can learn more here) and also painting miniatures that are included. It’s like nerd meditation for this long time Star Wars fan.

LESSON LEARNED: Have fun and don’t worry about mistakes. Painting Stormtrooper miniatures is fun.


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