Trying to remove paint from miniatures leaves you with many questions. So many options, and some risk to your models. Here’s how to do it.
Often called paint stripping, how to remove paint from miniatures is one of the question that comes up the most.
And for good reasons. There are countless options, a lot of old wives tale on what works and what doesn’t and more than a few chemicals that can destroy your miniatures.
So we made a guide to help you remove paint from your miniatures without having to risk it for the biscuit.
How to Remove Paint from Miniatures
My first attempt ever at stripping a miniature was dunking a Warhammer Fantasy empire cannon in Pinesol overnight. I woke up with a massive headache, a melted miniature, and a very angry mom.
I think it took 10 years before I attempted to strip a model again.
Do You Really Need to Strip
This is a little big counter intuitive way to start this tutorial, but perhaps the most important thing about stripping models is knowing when to strip, and when you can simply paint over.
Acrylic paints are very forgiving when it comes to repainting, and you have a lot of leeway before you cover up some details.
Ask yourself if you really need to remove paint from miniatures, more often than not you’ll save yourself the trouble. Paint stripping is best used as a last resort technique.
Trial & Error
With so many products and materials to strip, it’s important to make this process as safe for your models as possible. As such, it’s best to test out a product on a spare part whenever possible.
I like parts of sprues or resin casting residue with details on them like serial numbers to do a trial run. I leave then in my stripping solution for a little while and check to see how the details hold up.
Along those lines, try the solution for controlled periods of time. When figuring out new products, try in 30 minutes increments.
Leave your model in the solution for 30 minutes, brush it up with an old toothbrush to see what happens. Then try another 30 minutes, before moving on to another hour, and so on.
The goal here is really damage control. Unlike with paint, once you mess up stripping, you don’t get a second chance at rescuing that miniature.
Perhaps one of the most often forgotten step of paint stripping is to rinse off your miniature.
It’s easy to forget, because when you’re done, you are left with a squeaky clean model. But as clean as it looks, it is not ready for painting until it’s been rinsed off.
Your miniature is still covered in your stripping solution residue. And what it did to the previous coats of paint, it will do to the paint you’re about to layer on top of it.
So it’s important to rinse off the stripping solution before repainting. Warm water alone will usually do the trick, but you can add dish soap as well if your stripping solution was very potent.
One thing that’s common to most of the following products we recommend to remove paint from miniatures is that they are generic products and paint stripping is a collateral effect of its main purpose.
For example, Simple Green is an all purpose cleaning solution. It’s just a bonus that it also strips paint.
The rule of thumb when it comes to using these products is to take the generic kind. Avoid “Extra something” or ‘alternative scent’
At its core, paint stripping is a chemical process. The different concentration or chemicals used in the non-generic version of products can alter its stripping efficiency, or worst of all, improve the stripping product’s model destroying capabilities.
Scented versions are another ind of nightmare, as it tends to stick to your miniatures in a potent and permanent way. Lavender and apple are the worst in this regard according to many horror stories.
So when it comes to picking products, stick to the basics!