If you are just starting out in the hobby, you probably want to start by painting an army that will not overwhelm you. But what is an easy army to paint in Warhammer? And what makes an army easy to paint in the first place?
Some factors can make an army easy to paint and a lot of things will make it more difficult to paint.
I will start by listing the factors that will make an army easy to paint for you.
Then I will list different things you might want to avoid, because it will take too much time or be too difficult if you are painting your first army.
After that, I will go through some of the armies in Age of Sigmar that might be easier than others to paint for a beginner.
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What makes a Warhammer army easier to paint for beginners?
1. Big models (but not too many big ones)
Big models are high on the list of things that will make an army easier for you to paint. Big models will mean that you have a lower model count in your army. A lower model count will make it much easier for you to complete the task at hand. Just ask anyone who has ever painted 200 Skaven Slaves (after 100 it is close to torture).
Big models will also be more straightforward for beginners because you will have less fiddly details to worry about. It will be easier for you to apply a neat basecoat, do a good job on shading, and eventually highlighting the model.
2. Cartoonish style
In general, painting something to look realistic is hard. On the other hand, painting something to look cartoony or ‘wacky’ is much easier. I would have no trouble recommending Bonesplitters for a person wanting to paint his first army. If those models did have green skin and crazy big muscles, I would probably not recommend them. This is because the cartoon green style and muscles are easy to make look good because they do not have to look ‘realistic’.
A cartoon style has the added benefit of helping you to cover your mistakes. In a Nurgle army you can, if you paint the right way, make a very sloppy paint job look good. You can fire on a lot of washes, blend them together in weird way and make it look like it is part of the theme (it is Chaos rot after all).
A Bonesplitter Savage Big boss painted with extremely ‘unrealistic’ green skin.
3. Newer plastic kits
If you have ever considered buying a second-hand army, stripping the paint and starting all over you should think twice about it. Not only will it take you very long to get to a stage where you are even starting to actually paint models, but the difference in ease of painting between new plastic models and some of the old kits is just staggering. On the old kits you need to spend a lot of time cleaning up mold lines and reposing stuff to make it look cooler. The new kits are just so much better in that sense.
Another thing that makes newer plastic kits easier is how much better they go together and GW has really improved on the assembling instructions overall. Some of the old ones where really not for the faint of mind…
4. Lots of armor
There is a reason that Stormcast Eternals and Space Marines are such popular armies (and are the poster boys for each gaming system). Armour is so easy for beginners. GW metal paints are solid, and some shade over that and a beginning painter will think they are Leonardo da Vinci (at least until they search for miniature pictures online). If you are not fond of metal paints, you can simply paint the armor a different colour.
What makes metal even more amazing for beginners is the amount of lovely looking easy techniques you can get to try out. Battle damage, chipping, rust effects and so on will make model ‘pop’ with only the slight effort.
Notice that both Stormcast and Space Marines tick all the boxes for things that can make an army easy to paint and avoid all the elements that can make it hard to paint. I doubt it is a coincidence…
5. Models where you can use the same quick technique over and over again
Things like ghosts are really easy to paint with some of GW’s technical paints. If you just apply that over and over again you can paint an army in no time.
Just make sure that the technique you end up using for you whole army actually looks good. If not, you might end up stripping your whole army because you regret it!
Also, to not make everything look a bit rubish, your probably have to break up the colour with something else as well.
6. Minis with a lot of elements that you can use contrast paint on
The contrast paints from Citadel are a real timesaver. Basically, they are a basecoat and a wash rolled into one.
But some colours work way better than others in the contrast range and some types of models work better with it than others.
Contrast paint works greats on the following surfaces and types, so keep an eye out for that if you want to paint primarily with contrast paints:
- Smaller broken up areas like fur, bone, scales, cloth, wood and skin (the paint really struggles with large fat areas).
- The lighter colours seem to work more easily with the one-coat approach of the contrast paints
- Skin is especially easy with contrast
What makes a Warhammer army hard to paint for beginners?
1. Horde armies
Painting a ton of models is just harder. It will take longer and you will get tired of painting the same colour and models again. Making sure you can finish your army will be a big factor in how enjoyable the process is.
Just find a friend and have them tell you a story about one of their failed hobby projects. That pain will last longer than you might think.
2. A lot of small bibs and bobs
Some miniatures will come with an astounding amount of intricate details on the miniatures. Granted, as a beginner, you can just skip that stuff over (but it can be really hard to let go). For your first army you will want something without too much going on on the model, so stick to simplish miniature types.
I am not saying that it must not contain any detail (every new GW miniature will have amazing detail) but just that too many scrolls, golden sigils and so on can keep you from landing your end goal of getting the army done.
3. A lot of faces and skin that needs to look realistic
Update: while skin can be an issue, I have found that the contrast skin tones work really well and will make it MUCH easier for a beginner to paint an army with a lot of skin.
The human eye is naturally drawn towards the face, the hands and the base of a model. The human brain is very good at recognizing human faces and human patterns and we will notice if something is off or ‘not natural’. This can give the viewer a feeling of unease.
This is why many people will hate to paint human faces and especially eyes. When we paint it (and do it wrong) we can just see that it does not look good.
In the other hand, painting the eyes of a daemon or an orc will be much more forgiving. The viewer’s brain will be more likely give your model the benefit of the doubt and think “sure, that could be how eyes of an orc look like”.
The same factors that hold true for eyes also come into effect on human skin. Trying to paint and highlight human skin can be a real pain for beginners. You might find that the skin starts to look too yellow or pink or that the contrast between the colours is too stark. This is your pattern recognition for human kicking in.
I still have nightmares from my first Fantasy army and all those faces and eyes I messed up…
4. Miniatures that contain a lot of areas that will be hard to reach after they have been assembled
For the first army you are painting, you are probably gonna want to assemble and play with it as you paint it up. Therefore it is probably best if you get an army that does not contain too many miniatures where details are gated by other pieces of the model. Some shields on older models will have that effect. Other than that it is mostly big models with something mounted on top you have to be careful about.
A good trick can be to sticky tack one of the pieces to the model while playing, so you can pull it apart for painting once you are ready.
5. Too many very big models and characters
Big models and crazy cool characters can be amazing for you as a beginner. They can be the driving force for picking your army and they can be such a great experience to paint and play with. But beware that you do not go overboard and get too many hard to paint models. One big monster in your first army to paint can be more than enough challenge for you. They are, after all, a bit more complicated to make look good.
6. A lot of resin and old metal models
Just as the new plastic kits are easier for you as a beginner, so are resin models and metal models really hard on you. Putting together these beasts is no easy task, so I would just recommend that you skip them if you want an easy army to paint. Resin will require quite the amount of work to clean out and the detail can be missing in spots.
The detail on metal models are just nowhere near as crisp as on new plastic, so it will take you much harder to figure out what different parts of the model are.
You might also notice that the paint will rub off much more quickly on metal models. When you paint, you should consider a painting handle. After you are done painting it can also be an idea to lay down a protective varnish on the model.
What Warhammer: Age of Sigmar armies would be easy to paint for beginners?
Note: I am only going to consider armies that have Battletome.
I might skip an army that you would like to paint or think would be good or easy for you to paint. Go ahead and start that army anyway. This list is only a list to get you thinking about what will be an easy or a hard army to handle painting.
The most important thing is that you feel excited about painting your army.
- The kits are all of the newer plastic type
- Loads of metal and armor makes for easy beginner models
- You only have to paint a few faces and eyes
- Biggish models will lower the model count and are easier to paint
- A low model count army
- It is quite easy to make the different tree miniatures look great with simple basecoats and washes
- No armor, but painting bark will be so much more forgiving than painting flesh.
- Browns and greens are generally easy colors to look good.
- Loads of metal and few faces
- Big models
- Only new kits
- An okay variety of different models
- Cartoon style colour schemes fit them very well
- Bright colors make for an easier painting time for beginners
- You can do a low model count army
- Watch out for the older models (plastic and metal)
- The blue colour should be easy for beginners to make look good
- Only a minor amount of models will need realistic skin and eyes, the rest should be more easy
- This can be a high model count army, so watch out!
- A beginner can have a field day with all that green goo. You can go crazy with shades and technical paints and they can still come out looking great.
- None of the models are small and fiddly, so overall it should take less time to paint
- Watch out: you can get lost in the amount of details on these guys!
- Could potentially be the quickest army to paint (and you have a chance of using the cool Nighthaunt Gloom paint)
- It has the potential to be painted purely by wet blending basecoat and washing it (yes, this can be a beginner technique).
A skeleton speed painted with the wet blending basecoat technique
- Has the potential of being the lowest model count army
- You can paint the skin a bit more fantasy style colour of the realistic skin is too hard
- Watch out for how the big minis as they can be a bit daunting
- Poor selection of different models can be boring
- Slap some green on, wash it and maybe do a drybrush. Now your army is nearly finished!
- You only really have two different kits to paint (on foot orruk and mounted orruk) maing this a real drag to paint.
- Your army is made up of a lot of foot dudes, making it a drag to paint.
- Loads of armor (can be painted metal or whatever colour you like)
- Green skin is easy to paint
- Bigger than usual models will make for a smoother learning experience
- Poor selection of different models can be boring
- A few models will have some bits that obscure other parts of the model
- The Ardboys kit is quite old and it is hard to make out where the armor starts and the cloth starts (making it a bit harder to paint).
- All models are new
- Bone for days!
- You can use some drybrush / contrast techniques to make things go very fast adadsads
What can you do to make it easier to paint your first Warhammer army?
1. Pick a colour scheme and some simple painting techniques and stick with them
You do not have to become the worlds best painter right now. So many
You can help yourself by picking a good looking colour scheme and a few painting techniques that you can overcome. I would recommend starting with a neat basecoat followed by a shade on all models. Pick up a few different pots of the Citadel Technical paints (Typhus Corrosion followed by Ryza Rust looks great for rust effect on weapons).
If you really want to you can also do highlights, but I really do not think it is the best way forward for
2. Write down a recipe for everything
One of my biggest downfalls as a painted is when I forget to write things down. Let us not hope this happens to you, but this is a distracting hobby. It is not uncommon for people to return to an army they started on years ago. The problem with that? They have no clue on how
My suggestion is to write down a recipe for each colour you use. How did you basecoat it? How did you wash it? How did you do that cool effect on it? Be as specific as possible. Future you will thank you big time!
3. Be consistent
One of the biggest keys in army painting is staying consistent throughout your army. Use the same colours and paint them the same way. If you do that
Over time you will get bored and you will want to try something new. Do not give in to the temptation of trying something new. Instead satisfy your urge by painting something else (right now I am painting some Endless Spells because I am so tired of painting my Endless Green Horde). If you give in and try some different colour
3. Do not start over
I see a lot of new hobbyist asking questions about how to strip paint from miniatures. Now, we can all make mistakes and if you really hate something start over. But remember this:
You will become a better painter over time. The last model you paint will look immensely better than the first one you painted, even if it it the exactly same paint scheme on the same type of model. Over time your basecoat will get neater because you will learn to
4. Do not buy too many models
Do not start out by buying a 5000 points army. Trust me, this might seem like a wise thing to do but the chances of you getting burnt out before finishing it is just too great. You risk losing resources and hating yourself for it. There is just no reason to do this.
5. Make sure too not focus too much on the details
When painting your first army, make sure you do not get lost in all the details. Sure, do something extra for those characters and monsters. But if you are painting something with a lot of small
6. Get help from your bases
Pretty bases can really help cover up a simple