Miniature Painting Techniques



The beautiful art of miniature painting is a delight to behold, and it is not surprising that its creation requires a great deal of skill, diligence and imagination.

A master miniature painter has years of patience and practice behind him, and it is possible to say that his art is brilliant because he has perfected the miniature painting techniques.

Process of Miniature Painting

  • The first step is the preparation of the sketch. The painter makes a primary sketch of the figure outlines on a piece of paper. These are then corrected and made bolder and more accurate.
  • Thereafter, the sketch is traced on to tracing paper, and the outlines are lightly punctured.
  • This stencil of sorts is placed over a fresh piece of paper, and rubbed with a black pigment, such that the ink gets transferred to the paper through the pinholes.
  • The dotted outline on the paper is then darkened with a paintbrush.

  • The next stage is the application of color. First the human figures are painted. This is followed by the painting of animals and other components of the picture. The background is painted last. Once the colors are applied, the embellishment begins. Floors, carpets, human figure are beautifully adorned with intricate detailing.
  • Then, the outlines of the figures are highlighted with a darker pigment.
  • The penultimate step is the application of gold highlights, to give an appearance of richness.
  • Burnishing is the last stage. The miniature painting is laid face down on a hard surface, and an agate stone is used to stroke it firmly. This gives the painting a uniform texture.

Miniature Painting Techniques and Tips

Choosing a Paint :

The question that artists are often faced with is the paint to choose. Acrylics or oil-based? It is necessary to understand the unique features of both these mediums before making a decision. Pick the paint that suits your subject and the effect you wish to achieve. Oil or solvent based paints are slightly thicker than acrylics and require the use of a thinner. On the other hand, acrylics are water-based and are easier to apply. However, on drying there is a possibility that the acrylic paint will become grainy, and unless this effect is desired, it is not the ideal choice.

Understand techniques:

It is vital to be familiar with various painting techniques, so as to enhance the appeal of a miniature painting.

Shading and highlighting:

These give a brilliant light effect. While shading is used to detail shadows, highlighting emphasizes the brighter areas.


This technique is used to separate various parts of the painting, by hardening the outlines of objects and figures with black or another dark hue.


As the name suggests, this miniature painting technique involves accentuating certain parts of the painting with a brush that has barely any color on it. The color used for dry-brushing is lighter than the base color.


Blending is an advanced miniature painting technique that is used to merge colors in one area with surrounding areas, to give the impression of a smooth and natural movement.


This is a miniature painting technique wherein extremely diluted paint is deposited in the folds and low points of the painting.


In this technique of miniature painting, a diluted paint is applied over a light basecoat, such that it flows freely over the surface. The aim is to highlight and shade at the same time.


In this technique, paint is applied progressively over dried layers. The first layer is the darkest shade of the basic color, and the last is the lightest. It must be kept in mind that the painting is done such that the initial layers show beneath the top layers.

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