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I have a friend with which we share a hobby, miniature painting. We both purchase what we need and sometimes get together to paint for the sake of just hanging out.

The miniatures I purchase suit a game we play and 90% of his do not, he knows this and has no issue with it (neither do I) as he uses his for another game outside our group. As of late he is requesting to paint some I purchased, the translated phrasing would suitably be "Hey, if you want I could paint some of yours to help you out" which is nice, but I don't like the way he paints them. He brings some of his painted miniatures and we use them in the game which I have no problem at all as they do look good, but I just don't like the way he paints my miniatures as that's not how I would paint them.

I've tried explaining and showing references of what I'd like the result to be and asking him to use specific colours but he doesn't entirely listen and the outcome is not what I wanted and it just feels like I wasted money as I don't want to keep the ones he painted for me.

I'd like him to stop asking, but I'm afraid he might get offended or hurt and I don't know how to tell him. For now I keep pushing off by saying I don't need anything painted, but I don't think I can keep that up as he keeps asking.

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    So you lied yourself into a corner, it kind of sounds like you want to lie yourself out of it again. Is there a reason why you can't tell him the truth? You want to paint your own stuff, and if he asks because you like the end result better. Is he very fragile, perhaps because of a mental illness? Have there been incidents in the past that suggest this is not straightforward and simple? Please elaborate – Raditz_35 Aug 11 at 6:48
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I've had friends who wanted to help me in similar ways with projects. Sometimes it's tough to accept that help when you know the quality in the results won't live up to your personal expectations1.

It sounds like he's genuinely trying to be helpful, so let him know you appreciate the offer. Then explain how you enjoy getting the little details on your figurines just right. While it is awesome he wants to take some of the burden off and share the load, you can tell them you want to "handle it yourself." You can even qualify that by focusing on these specific figurines if you want to leave the window open for collaboration on other figurines later.

Another option is to compromise and meet half-way. If you know there's a part of the work they do that is acceptable, have them do that part instead of the whole figurine.

However, If you know you'll never be able to be satisfied with the results when they paint figurines in general, try redirecting their desire to help out. In the case of my friends who had other interests I let them take the lead on a project I had where I knew they were the expert2.


  1. A friend offered to help repair and repaint my car after an accident. I had seen the level of care and skill in the paint work he had done on his own cars in the past and it was tough to say no, but I knew he didn't have the skill or equipment to do it right.
  2. When I needed some electrical work done on my motorhome, I called up the very same friend. He had done restorations for several RV's and he had done the same work before, whereas it was my first RV.
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You should tell him that you buy miniatures because you enjoy painting them yourself.

You can say something like...

Listen, I know that you have painted some of my miniatures in the past. I realize now that the main reason I buy miniatures is not to have them, but rather to paint them. I enjoy painting them. I feel disappointed if I buy 10 miniatures but only get to paint 8 of them.

I can show you where to buy a set if you would also like to paint some of them for your own collection.

There's no need to say that you prefer your painting style, or that you don't like the way he paints, or anything else.

It's like buying a Lego set and having your friend offer to help put it together. That's no help at all, because the entire reason many people buy Legos is for the fun of assembly.

NOTE: I have no personal experience saying this to someone, but I think the Lego analogy should help to convey your message.

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    This covers the what, but not really the how to tell him. Can you elaborate on that? In particular the OP seems concerned because they have accepted his help in the past, does that affect how to say things, why or why not? Please check out our post on citation expectations too, answers here need to include supporting backup (whether that's personal experience, or external sources). – Em C Aug 12 at 20:28

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