Table Top Standard: A Look Into The Spectrum Of Miniature Painting
May 21, 2020

Table Top Standard: A Look Into The Spectrum Of Miniature Painting

“You fuss too much over making the "right" choice Gaius. All we need do is make a good choice, see it through, and accept the consequences.” - Fulgrim, Primarch of the Emperor’s Children

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, and let us of course not forget the dear readers, welcome to The Gentleman’s Reserve. I am Vito from and today I wanted to discuss with you a topic that you may have heard at some point during your hobby journey, Table Top Standard. It’s a buzz word or phrase that is tossed around at tournaments, your local game store or even amongst your friends. But what exactly is it and what does it mean to you? 

As far as my own personal knowledge goes and the research I have done, Table Top Standard or TTS as it is often referred to in the miniature painting community was established by the tournament scene as a way to get its participants and attendees to have fully painted armies.

It often included a three colour minimum with basing elements that clarified and demonstrated the intention or roll of that miniature on the tabletop. This standard of painting lasted for many years and was the baseline that crept far beyond tournament play.

It entered our gaming clubs where we met new people and purchased products for our collections and even wiggled its way into our basements and dining room tables where we played with family and friends. Regardless of where it was, the concept of Table Top Standard was a fluid one as it soon changed definitions from person to person. 

For some it was based on the amount of time you took to complete each model. Somewhere between 60-120 minutes from the time the paint was first applied until the model was considered finished. During this movement the Speed Painters were born.

Getting models done quickly for the sake of the tabletop. There is a sense of negative connotation when people think of TTS for some reason, as if those who paint in this style are lazy or simply don’t care about their hobby. However those who painted for time did not but expectations on themselves.

They were not looking to win awards or accolades. For when you place expectations on yourself the hobby itself can become less enjoyable. So for speed painters or those who painted for time, there was a feeling of efficiency and productivity.

Who doesn’t love the feeling of getting something done? Additionally, we all live busy lives. From homework, the office, cooking for the family, kids, storytime, spending time with your significant other, where can you possibly find time to paint? Enter Table Top Standard. 

If you would like to learn a wide variety of painting techniques, such as glowing runes, make sure to check out the MiniWargaming Vault! To Watch How To Paint Glowing Runes Click Here  

For other folks, it was the colour choices and techniques used that defined TTS. Some hobbyists would apply basecoats, make sure the entire model was covered, slather on a wash, sand and green tufts for the base, and as Stevie Wonder once said “Signed Sealed Delivered, I’m Yours!”.

However, for others, they would take it once step further. Perhaps after all the previous techniques were applied they would go on to add a drybrush or a simple highlight technique to add a bit of depth. Eyes on the miniature were picked out but nothing special and perhaps a cork was added to the base to make it stand out a little more.

As for colour choice, one person might use only three to four colours because they have a unit of sixty goblins to paint. Whereas another individual who only needs to paint one miniature for their D&D campaign, might use ten paints. Both painters are still using the premise of TTS however there are still differences between the two artists.  

     The point being is that Table Top Standard consistently evolved from person to person based on their preferences in miniature painting. Additionally, as hobbyists got better at painting, so did their standards. So if you were to ask ten people to paint TTS and present their miniatures, no two people will ever have the same definition nor quality for TTS, as mentioned before dear reader, is fluid. 

For example, in the MiniWargaming Vault Kris shows a great Table Top Standard on how to paint a galaxy pattern. To some it might seem easy while others it might seem difficult. Regardless its an excellent resource and I highly recommend checking it out! To Watch How To Paint A Galaxy Patterned Coat Click Here 

This is a photo of where I first got into commission painting 10 years ago. This is what I considered Table Top Standard then. 

This is my work 10 years later. I'm not looking to win awards but I wound consider this to be my Table Top Standard now.


But I think that is one of the great things about it. It takes the burden off the painter from having to paint an amazing, awarding-winning paint job for if I am speaking honestly, the vast majority of us paint in this spectrum all the time. And there is nothing wrong with that. 

I would only hazard a guess that the top 2-5% of painters actually paint for display, competition or trying to learn new techniques and be better painters. This is by following artists on Patreon, looking for tutorials on Youtube, taking classes, etc. Most of those top 2-5% who paint for display or competition only really pain between 1-3 miniatures a year. Now, I must clarify, you can learn new techniques by not doing the aforementioned, however, you gain more by doing so. 

Consider this, the majority of hobbyists are painting miniatures to add a few new units to their armies, or a single figure to their warband for their RPG night. Whether you hold that single miniature at arm’s length or look at those units as a grouping, we are all just trying to get our hobby projects done so we can enjoy them with our friends, family and most importantly, ourselves.

We took the time and effort to buy, build and paint these minis so why shouldn’t we feel the satisfaction of having them completed and play with them? Table Top Standard gives us an opportunity to that enjoyment without having to be scrutinized by others.

Now, I will always recommend, dear reader, that wherever possible you try to always be the best that you can be. Always push yourself to explore and test the waters of new techniques within miniature painting because you can always apply these to TTS.  

In summation, Table Top Standard with regards to miniature painting is not on a fixed point but rather slides on an every changing spectrum. Its definition is so diverse from person to person that no one answer is correct yet all of them are.

Whether you paint on the low end or TTS or the high end, it really doesn’t matter because they are your miniatures. This is your hobby and you should paint them however you want and to what standard. I hope that you have found this introduction and history of painting Table Top Standard interesting and informative.

For your further enjoyment, I’ve provided links down below to the MiniWargaming Vault to painting tutorials I believe cover all sides of the Table Top Standard spectrum and can be very useful to have in a miniature painter’s utility belt. If you are not a Vault Member, you can still click here to get a free 7-day trial. Vault members are what drive MiniWarGaming, so consider joining to support us in making even more wargaming content for you. Till next time dear readers. Happy wargaming! 

- MWG Vito

To Watch How To Paint Desatursated Colours Click Here 

To Watch How To Paint A Basic Leather Belt Click Here

To Watch How To Paint Flayed Flesh Click Here

Game: Warhammer 40k

Show: MWG Draft Articles

Producers: Vito

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