This article is from the Miniatures Painting FAQ, by Brenda Klein email@example.com with numerous contributions by others.
Pick the colours you want for the major areas (skin, each piece of
clothing and armour, hair, shield) and paint them on in layers.
Think of dressing the miniature. Start with eyes, move on to face
and hands, then clothing, armour, hair, lastly weapons. You aren't
going for massive detail just now, you're only setting each area's
base colour. Make certain the paint goes on smoothly and remember
to paint from top to bottom.
Once you have this part done, it's time for detailing. This is
achieved by many different techniques such as drybrushing, washing,
shading, and highlighting.