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Understanding Paint Levels for Miniature War Games

Painting miniatures is an integral part of the wargaming hobby, particularly for games like Warhammer 40K. The level of detail and quality in painting can vary greatly, affecting both the aesthetic appeal and value of your miniatures. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you understand the different paint levels and what each standard entails.

Paint Standards

Mixed lot warhammer models

Mixed Lot/Unpainted

Definition: A collection of miniatures in varying conditions, often including unpainted, primed, partially painted, and fully painted figures.
Usage: Ideal for beginners or collectors looking to start a new project with a diverse range of miniatures.

  • No consistent paint quality.
  • Miniatures may require stripping, cleaning, or touch-ups.
  • Perfect for hobbyists who enjoy restoring and painting from scratch.
primed warhammer models


Definition: Miniatures that have been coated with a primer to prepare the surface for painting.
Usage: Ready for the application of base colors and further detailing.

  • Even layer of primer, typically in black, white, or gray.
  • Smooth surface to enhance paint adhesion and durability.
  • No additional paint layers or details applied.
partially painted warhammer model

Partially Painted

Definition: Miniatures that have some base colors and details applied but are not fully painted.
Usage: Suitable for hobbyists who want to complete the painting process themselves.

  • Basic color schemes laid out.
  • Some details and highlights might be applied.
  • Requires further painting to reach a complete standard.
battle ready warhammer models

Tournament Minimum

Definition: Miniatures painted to meet the minimum requirements for tournament play.
Usage: Ready for competitive play, adhering to tournament rules.

  • Base colors applied with some basic detailing.
  • Minimum three colors rule typically adhered to.
  • Basing usually includes at least a basic texture or paint.
tabletop standard warhammer models

Tabletop Standard

Definition: Miniatures painted to look good from a tabletop perspective, suitable for regular play.
Usage: Ideal for casual and regular gaming sessions.

  • Complete color scheme with highlights and shadows.
  • Basic to intermediate detailing.
  • Finished bases with texture, paint, and simple flocking or static grass.
advanced paint level warhammer models

Advanced Level

Definition: Miniatures painted with a higher level of detail and precision.
Usage: Suitable for enthusiasts who value detailed and visually striking miniatures.

  • Detailed highlights and shadows with smooth transitions.
  • Intermediate to advanced detailing, including freehand work.
  • Enhanced basing with multiple textures and effects.
competition level painted warhammer model

Competition Level

Definition: Miniatures painted to a standard suitable for competitive painting contests.
Usage: Aimed at serious hobbyists and competitive painters.

  • High level of detail with intricate highlights, shading, and blending.
  • Advanced techniques such as non-metallic metal (NMM) and object source lighting (OSL).
  • Detailed bases with realistic effects and multiple elements.
showcase level painted warhammer model

Showcase Level

Definition: Miniatures painted to the highest possible standard, often considered display pieces.
Usage: Perfect for display, competitions, and collectors.

  • Flawless execution with master-level techniques.
  • Extensive use of advanced painting techniques and freehand designs.
  • Highly detailed and thematic bases that complement the miniature.
    Photo credit Siege Studios