Your hobby area is a big part of your results and fun painting. The best part is that you can make one without spending a dime!
A big myth when it comes to miniature painting is that you need a complete Bat-Cave sized room dedicated to hobby to get anywhere. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, I’ve had much more success with a small and compact setup than when I expanded my painting operation to a full basement in the house I rented.
Hobby spaces really come down to two essential criteria: efficiency and permanency. The rest is simply bonus.
Efficiency in having access to everything you need. This goes both ways. Not having enough space because everything is laying everywhere is just as bad as having a hoarder situation of a room where everything you own hobby-wise is scattered across.
Permanent is the other big thing. You don’t want to set everything up every single time you want to sit down and hobby. It needs to be ready when you are.
Build a Hobby Area for 0 Dollars
Here’s what you’ll need: two large-ish boxes, with lids.
That is it.
When I started my painting business, that was the setup I had. It’s perfect if you are on a really tight budget, or a really tight space.
It combines the two most important features for your hobby area: it’s permanent enough and it’s incredibly efficient. There’s something to say about necessity being the mother of invention.
Of course you are going to need a few things to paint, like a palette and a water cup, but chances are you already have those.
An aluminium plate and an old coffee mug from the back of the cupboard are more than enough to get you started if you want to stay on the ‘free’
And of course, you are probably going to need something to sit on, and some light. Both of which you should already have in even the crappiest living quarters.
In terms of efficiency, this is as good as it gets. You are forced into having only what’s required, because that’s what space is available.
Where we compromise in on the permanent front. Instead of having it as a completely permanent fixture, we settle for very quick to setup and put away. This allows us to deal with having limited space.
Both of our boxes have pretty specific uses.
Box 1 is for storage only
Bits, sprues, and hobby accessories you don’t really need on the regular, like shaker cans or basing supplies.
You need those items for very specific purposes, so they don’t need to be around 24/7. There is no hidden purpose or secret technique here, you just need the store things away in one convenient area: not in your way.
Bits and plastic sprue are included on there because I know how much throwing those away is frowned upon by the painting community. Truth is, I don’t care that much about it. But if you want to grow your bits collection, this is the place to store them.
Box 2 is the hobby box
Starter sets from whatever games you play are usually perfect size and shape for this.
The box itself is our painting area. You can tape a bag on the bottom to use as a palette, it can store the 12 pots of paint you need for most projects and it can rest suitably well on your lap.
The lid of Box 2 is the assembly area.
Because assembly is a messy affair, it’s separate from the painting area. Having all your mold line and flash residue fall in a little box that you can then dump in the trash takes care of all the mess for you.
And because we’re using the lid, you can insert your painting area in it when you are not assembling.
Now when you are done painting, close or stack Box 2 on its lid and put it away. Under a bed, in a drawer, or at the top of a closet/fridge, wherever. Keep it next to your other box, ready to get on with painting at a moment’s notice.
Hobby smart, not hard.