Trained to Paint
Join us for a chat with Stefan, the creator of Trained To Paint. His platform aids miniature painters & gamers in balancing quality with efficiency.
With Stefan’s guidance, users can achieve high painting standards without compromising the playability of their miniatures. Read on to discover more about him and his channels, how he began painting and his top tips!
1. What started your interest in miniature painting?
Just like many of my fellow miniature painters and gamers out there, I started our shared hobby when I was a small kid. I was probably 10 or 12 years old. I don’t remember the exact age, but I do remember my first miniature. A classic Lizardman from one of the classic Warhammer Fantasy Battle paint sets (and as you can see from the photo, I wasn’t born with any particular painting talent…).
Except for a small break in high-school, I have been part of our hobby ever since.
Unfortunately, like most of us experience when we grow up, I saw more and more of my time being taken up by all the “adult” things I had to do. Work, exercise, friends, family, taxes…
And while I wouldn’t want to miss out on these things (maybe except for taxes…), it did mean that I had less and less time for painting and gaming (I think most of you out there can relate to this?).
I am certain that this life experience was what set me on the path to creating a painting philosophy and framework, which would allow me to paint high-quality, high-impact miniatures in a relatively short time, so that I could actually get to put a full army on the tabletop sooner rather than later.
I am now blessed to be at a point where I feel that I can share this painting philosophy and framework with our lovely community of painters and gamers.
2. What do you most enjoy about miniature painting?
To be honest, I love all aspects of our hobby. But there is one aspect that stands out among all the other amazing moments, and that is the feeling I get when I put a newly painted miniature, squad, or even whole army on the tabletop for the first time.
The sense of accomplishment when the miniature(s) first hit the tabletop is next level. Heck ye, I painted that!
For me, putting the miniature(s) on the tabletop is really the culmination of an enjoyable hobby process.
This is one of the main reasons why the Trained To Paint painting philosophy and framework revolves around painting high-quality, high-impact miniatures in a relatively short time.You should feel proud of your miniatures, but you should also be able to finish them as quickly as possible, so you can get them on the tabletop where they truly belong! In the crucible of battle!
3. How do you choose what models and techniques you make tutorials for?
Listening is a priority! The feedback from miniature painters, gamers, and readers has been invaluable. Suggestions for upcoming tutorials have been sourced from platforms like Instagram, Reddit, and friends who are passionate about painting and gaming.
However, as a little secret, I can tell you that I am planning a complete relaunch of my Patreon page. And in this relaunch, I also plan to have a voting system, where the Patreons directly suggest and vote on the tutorials they would like to see next.
As you can probably tell, I am super excited to have their suggestions and having them make direct decisions on the tutorials they would like to see next!
4. What is the miniature you have painted that you are the proudest of?
All the miniatures I paint have a special place in my heart. Even the older ones (from when I was a less proficient painter), because they remind me of the journey I have been on.
But the miniatures that really make me proud are the ones painted by my Patreons, where I can see that they have used my teachings to level up their miniature painting. The results some of them put out are amazing, and it really makes me feel proud and humbled at the same time, that I have been able to help guide them on their journey. Even in the slightest way.
Take my good friend @keroisen (on Instagram, check out his account, it is worth a follow!). He took the teachings from my How to paint World Eaters (30K) and Miniature basing – Lave base guides and adapted them to his own style. And really, I think his results speak for themselves!
Great work my friend!
But, if I had to pick one of my own miniatures, it would have to be my converted Iron Warriors Lord Discordant. I am really happy with how it turned out. But more importantly, I am sure that the miniature was a key factor in me winning the Best Painted Army award at the largest Warhammer tournament I have ever attended.
5. Where do you begin with a new miniature, is it more a technical or an instinctive choice?
For most of us, I think the initial choice to paint a miniature starts from the heart. We choose to buy, build, and paint a miniature because it speaks to us in some way. Maybe we love how the miniature looks, maybe we love the backstory of the miniature, maybe we are inspired by the way we can paint the miniature, or one of many other factors. But yes, I feel the initial decision most often comes from within us.
My starting approach is to understand the ‘story’ of the miniature. Where is the scene taking place? What time of day is it? What is the weather and season? And so on. This is fundamental, since it will guide every decision that needs to be made about the miniature including color selection, placement of highlights, base selection, etc. I like to envision the miniature in an 80s movie poster (like Predator or Rambo, etc.) and then adjust the scene in my head until I get something epic. This mental image is my miniature’s “story”.
6. Where do you paint, at your home or do you have a studio?
Like so many, I paint in my home. My girlfriend has graciously allowed me to have an office where I can live out all my painting dreams. It is not much, but it is more than what you need to paint awesome miniatures!
7. Do you set hobby goals for yourself at the start of the year?
Absolutely! While many folks might set goals annually, I do it multiple times a year. Naturally, there’s the usual ‘I want to complete this miniature or army before the next Warhammer event’. That’s a great push to finish projects.
But I go a step further. For each of my army paint schemes, I set two specific goals: the desired painting quality level and the amount of time I aim to spend on each miniature. Take my Iron Warriors Warhammer 40,000 army as an example. I aim for an 8 out of 10 paint quality, with 10 being something I see as beyond my current skill. And I set myself a limit of 2 hours per figure.
While painting, I compare my work against these benchmarks. If I find I’m spending too much time on a piece, I’ll tweak my painting approach or even adjust the army’s overall paint scheme. As I grow as a painter, these goals evolve too.
8. What is one miniature you have always wanted to paint?
You might expect me to name a specific miniature, but honestly, it’s not about a single dream piece for me. If there was one, I’d probably have painted it by now! What truly excites me is taking on the next request from our community. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that I’m making a difference by painting a miniature someone is eager to see brought to life. Turning that into a tutorial and sharing the process just adds to the joy.
9. When did you start painting at what you would consider a serious level? What do you think makes a ‘pro painter’?
To be honest, I’m not entirely on board with the label ‘pro painter’. I genuinely believe that with the right guidance and mindset, anyone can achieve a professional standard, regardless of their starting point. The moment I decided to aim for high-quality, impactful miniatures in a shorter timeframe was when I truly committed. I often refer to this as the ‘Best Painted Army’ standard. It’s the kind of quality that could earn you an award at a gaming event.
While it did take me years to master the techniques and philosophies behind that standard, the truth is, with the right guidance, anyone can grasp these methods in weeks, not decades.
10. What is the key tip you would give to a miniature painter who wants to improve?
It all boils down to learning from those who’ve already achieved what you aspire to. This principle is applicable in virtually every field. Think about it: why do aspiring plumbers or carpenters go through apprenticeships? It’s because hands-on guidance from a master speeds up the learning process.
Imagine having to choose between reading ten books on investing or getting a month’s mentoring from someone like Warren Buffet. Most would jump at the chance to learn directly from Buffet. Similarly, many invest in personal fitness coaches because direct guidance from an expert can fast-track results.
Miniature painting is no different. If you’re looking to enhance your skills, seek out someone who’s already where you want to be and absorb all you can from them.