Miniatures Painting, Other
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Portable Paint Station or other travelling/painting issues

My trip is almost over. 6 months of travel in few countries of Central America. Time to go home. At this moment I’m in Cancun – having some concluding thoughts of my journey. Cancun is my last stop on American soil – Sunday I’m heading Europe – first Madrid, Spain and a week later – Warsaw, Poland.

cancun-mapIt was fun for sure –  exiting, adventurous time, but I’m happy I’m going back – it’s little bit tiring to change places constantly, moving from hotel to hotel – and what most important (at least when it comes to the topic of this blog) being depended on limited palette, old brushes and not being able to buy new minis. Sometimes it’s even frustrating. In one week, I’m going to be in Poland – land of unlimited resources!

My portable workstation during my stay in Central America.

My portable workstation during my stay in Central America.

For the last 6 months – that was my workstation. Gosh, it was hard to organize everything – paints, brushes, miniatures – but, I think I made it right (even it was trails & errors)v. I had only few “painting/travelling” crises during past half year, and I managed to survived them all. So, if my portable painting station did me right in places with no possibility of resupply brushes, paints or minis – I was wonder – maybe I should in few words explain, how exactly I prepared the painting set for travel.

Ok, not many of you are in the same situation like I am right now – collecting miniatures and being in the move for longer period of time not exactly are going hand in hand, but I’m certain this could happen to everyone – like holiday time for example. I’m also sure – there are lots of people who travel because of work, or they change their place of living, no matter they want or not. After all, you don’t want to skip the painting even if you are far from your hobby room. So, this is for people like you. Hope it’s useful.

Sha la la la, painting Skavens in Cancun...

Sha la la la, painting Skavens in Cancun…

1. Paints and brushes selection

My set of paints.

My set of paints.

Most important part. Depending on length of the travel of holiday – adequate choice set of paints and brushes is crucial. Of course, if the break is not long, it’s not difficult. All you need in that case is the set which is perfect for you need to paint. Let’s face it – if you going to 3 weeks vacations, you are not going to paint miniatures all  the time (unless you are addict to your hobby;). Few minis, and paints chosen exactly for them. Easy.

  • The problem starts, when you are out for longer time – and you really want to paint hard. To be honest, I haven’t planed this well. I took definitely way to little miniatures with me. My set of Citadel Paints were chosen more randomly than well-considered. My set has right now 26 paints. I took with me only one shade of blue – Altdorf Guard, and no purple, if I have different shade of blue, I could make purple – but no – I have only Altdorf Guard Blue. No way – mixing it with red – it’s going out dirty grey or something..
  • Other thing. Remember to take fairly new paints, just in case any run out or go dry. It happened to me with my only flesh paint – Kislev. Because it was old and half finished jar – I was forced to water it few times, but it makes painting so difficult, especially on small detailed surfaces (like faces). It dries instantly and does not look good. If only I have taken brand new Kislev Flesh, I would have not such problems, like when I was painting pretty face of Lady Ellendeanne from Wolsung Skirmish Game. Such a lovely gal and no way I could paint her…
  • and finally third problem – brushes. You need to plan your brushes usage in same way like with the paints. They eventually are going to use off and if you didn’t brought for holidays enough different sized brushes, it will end with disaster, like in my case. You know, I need to learn from my own mistakes finally – I took way to little brushes with me, and even when I had the chance to buy new ones in some art supplies shops, I have bought not enough of them. After few weeks my new brushes were starting to wore off, and it started all over again. Brushes are  crucial matter on the road. If you out of brushes – it means – no painting at all.  The biggest problem is with fine brushes – if they are out – you’re doomed. So remember – to take enough brushes. What I learn from my travel right now – if I think 5 brushes will be enough – bring 10! They will  be useful for sure. And do not forget to use plastic covers for brushes – they tend to do lose very often and in house conditions are not essential, but on the road they are very needed and give actual protection for brushes.
Set of brushes at very end of my travel. Used off as hell!

Set of brushes at very end of my travel. Used off as hell!

2. Proper box for paints

I packed all my paints, brushes and minis into 2 plastic lunch boxes. One for miniatures, and there one as a portable workstation. I chose boxes with walls thick enough, that I was sure they won’t get damaged during transport in my backpack.

  • In the first box I managed to fit 26 Citadel Paints and brushes. There is some space left for miniature I paint in the moment and little polystyrene foam tray I use as painting pad. What is good about lunch boxes, they are available in different sizes – so if you need more paints (and other modelling/painting accessories) you can use bigger one or even two. The boxes are very easy to fist almost to any luggage. One word of caution: wrap the box up with duct tape, just in case – you don’t want the box to open by accident. It could mean – paint all over your clothes.
  • As for painting pad – I use polystyrene tray from pack of fruits or almonds. You can get this in any almost any country in any super market – and it’s super useful. You don’t have to worry its’ going to be damaged or it has too much paint on it. If something happen – you buy some fruits, eat them (healthy:) and you have new painting pad.
  • During my travel, I had small issues with box for miniatures. I forgot as soon I paint a model, it has to be wrapped with some toilet paper or tissue for protection and its gets  bulky. There’s no way to all wrapped minis will get into the box. The volume too big. So, obviously, I next time I will need to get bigger box for miniatures (or just two), to storage my finished minis. Speaking the protecting miniatures – I discovered tissue paper sometimes stick to painted miniature and it’s very difficult to remove  later remaining of the paper from miniature’s surface. So, I put the model first to plastic string bag and then wrap it with the paper – mini is protected with plastic and paper. Double safety.
Polyesteryne tray = perfect painting pad.

Polyesteryne tray = perfect painting pad.

3. Miniatures

Now, the matter of miniature collection on the road. It’s hard. Depend on the time you are about to travel – it’s necessary to get right number of minis. For me, it was 6 months in Central America – it’s a quite a long time – and, wow, I also made similar mistakes like with planning my paints and brushes.

  • First of all, I took not enough minis with me. It wasn’t very big problem –  I knew I will be able to buy some new in case if I run out, but didn’t plan this well. If I take more with me (and I could have done that – I had more space in my backpack), I will not have to look for wargaming store so desperately. In one moment in February I was almost ran out of miniatures – nothing to paint anymore and I was about 2500 km from the nearest hobby shop. Of course, I knew, I will get there eventually and buy new but maybe if I had more miniatures, I could speed up the pace of painting.
  • So, it’s like with brushes exactly – if you think 5 miniatures in the box is ok – pack 10, just in case (of course if there’s the space in your baggage). Worst could happen – you will bring few unpainted models back home (I have only 3 miniatures untouched so far, but I hope I will finish them in Madrid – so I’ll have everything fully or at least partially painted before I got to Poland).
  • Second thing – variety of miniatures. This could be really annoying – in my case, I packed too many Skavens. Of course, this supposed to be all according to plan – I wanted to finish my Skaven army to have it fully painted in May/June 2015, but eventually I got bored with monotony of painting only rats. I should take some other stuff to paint them in turns – Skaven/something else/Skaven and so on. In that way, I could keep on with my Skaven army and make the painting more diversified.

So, word of advice – diversify your travelling batch of miniatures – so you won’t get bored with painting the same type of minis all the time. Of course, this applies only to people who travel for longer period of time – when you are only for 2-3 week holiday, no need to panic – you can handle this:)

4. Plan your journey

This might sound obvious – but you need to made a research about the place you’re arriving. Is there any wargaming shop around, just in case there will be necessity to buy new accessories or even new models to paint.

In my case – I was totally depended from hobby shops in Mexico City. I found out – there are only shops on my way, where I could buy models, paints and brushes. So, I needed to plan my whole trip accordingly. I knew I was going to be in Mexico City only twice – so during my second visit I’ve bought some additional minis and paints, just to be secure for remaining months in America. There would be no other option for resupply (and still I haven’t bought Kislev Flesh, damn!). Necessity of planning ahead, especially if the travel or holiday is longer than usual, is very important.

I also discovered how useful could be art supplies or craft stores. During this travel – I underestimated the number of brushes I will be needing. I also was sure I have more brushed with me – no I haven’t. What I thought was bunch of new unused brushes, was actually pile of old ones, that I should throw away long time ago. So, I was in a big need, or even despair to get new brushes after 3 months of travelling. I was left with only one thin fine brush and few quite used off medium sized. Lucky for me I was staying for a while in San Jose, capital of Costa Rica – and there are few of art stores, with huge range of different sized brushes. Land of plenty for me:) I was saved – I bought few new brushes, and I thought it’s going to be enough till the end of my journey. Unfortunately I was wrong – two weeks ago my brushes already looked like shit – and I have serious problem with painting details. I should have bought much more.

My point is – if there is no hobby shop around, look for art supplies shop. They have brushes for sure, and sometimes they also have paints suitable for miniatures.

When I was in South East Asia, far, far away from wargaming civilisation – I found out (with little help of my wife, who is  children illustrator, and knows a lot about paints) I could use some acrylic paint for artists instead of my usual Citadel. The consistency sometimes is not good, but with little water, it might be suitable. Anyway, in time of need, acrylic paints could be lifesaver.

5. Unpredictable difficulties

Exactly. New places, new conditions, and you will never know what may happen. What bothers me most – I don’t have proper source of light. I’m used to paint earlyin the morning or in the evening until late night. In Central America – sun goes down about 6-7 pm, and that’s it – darkness until 6 am. And usually in hotels I’ve stayed – the light was really poor. No way, I could paint in  such conditions. So I was forced to change my routine – and paint during the day. But it’s not all. Sometimes I had rooms without any window – I couldn’t paint at all. Once I was painting in the bathroom – only there I had some nice lamp. Other time, I was painting while sitting on the floor, near to the window – the only source of light. My advice: take some small lamp with strong light. You might needed anywhere. I know for my next trip, I will.

Sitting on the floor near to the only source of light ( the window) and painting:)

Sitting on the floor near to the only source of light ( the window) and painting:)

My point is – prepare for unexpected. Lack of source of light is one of many things you may encounter. You will never know what might happen – one day, for example, I spilled almost half of Nuln Oil. Lucky for me I was sitting on the floor, and I stained only myself (and not sheet or pillow).

My trip is almost over – tomorrow I’ll be in Madrid. There will be lots of stores, I could buy miniatures, paints and brushes. After that – Poland and more settled life ( for next 6 months). I will not have to worry my brushes are used off or my paint dry out. Easy life.

Anyway, I hope my few tips are useful for someone who want to paint some minis while travelling. I know – some might be obvious – but I wasn’t thinking about any of these until I started to travel, so maybe they will be helpful after all. If so, please leave a comment – I’ll be more than happy to know it:)

PS. I’m finishing this post while waiting for the plane to Madrid in Cancun Airport, so technically when I’ll post this tomorrow – I’ll be already in Madrid. So generally it’s little bit outdated, but it’s doesn’t change  its content. Next post – my visit in Gamer’s Den – only one hobby shop in Cancun. Cheers!


  1. Safe travels dude – I hope the end of your adventure doesn’t mean the end of your blog!


    • thanks! and it is not the end. 5 and half months in Poland , but with few trips to other countries for sure, and after that Australia and New Zealand (ticket already bought!) and SE Asia for another 6 months. blog will go on! cheers!


  2. I really admire your dedication – it would be so easy to give up and not do any hobby whilst you are traveling!


    • wow! this is so cool – I messed up, and I haven’t brought with me any lamp. next time I will take something like this for sure. looks very handy. thanks for the tip


  3. Good tips. I remember one time, about a year ago when I wanted to paint at a convention. I took some brushes but forgot to put the plastic caps on them, which was really rough on my brushes.


  4. Pingback: Getting Painting Work done at Work. | Azazel's Bitz Box.

  5. Pingback: Hobby on the road (again) – arranging my miniatures | Game of Travel

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