Miniatures paintings are attractive handmade paintings, which are quite multi-coloured but miniature in size. The highlight of these paintings is the elaborate and delicate brushwork, which lends them an exceptional distinctiveness. The colors are handmade, from minerals, vegetables, precious stones, indigo, conch shells, pure gold and silver. The most common theme of the Miniature painting of India comprises of the Ragas i.e., the musical codes of Indian classical music. There were a number of miniature schools in the country, including those of Mughals, Rajputs and the Deccan.
Paintings are executed in the traditional tempera technique. After mixing colours in water along with a binding medium they are applied on the drawing. First, the sketch are freely drawn then the surface is thoroughly burnished till the outline is shown clearly through it. Then a second outline is drawn with a fine brush. First the background is coloured and then the sky, buildings and trees, etc. Figures are painted last of all after which a final outline is drawn. When copies are made from perforated sketches by rubbing- charcoal powder, the dotted outline takes the place of the first drawing.
The traditional Indian painting started deteriorating after the first half of the 18th century and by the end of the century it lost most of its vitality and charm. However, in the Pahari region the art of painting maintained its quality till the end of the first quarter of the 19th century. Under the impact of the Western colours and technique of painting the traditional styles of Indian painting finally died out in the second half of the 19th century.
Learning Miniature painting can be complex and thus requires great emphasis on style. Beginners can benefit from professional trainers who can impart lessons that include strong pure colours, stylish figures of ladies, heavy gold outlines, diminution of dress to angular segments, enlarged eyes and square-shaped hands.