Inspiration can be found in lots of places; Magazines, Books, Museums, the Internet. I make it a point of collecting interesting examples of painted miniatures or real world objects so I can refer back to them at a later date. But I often also find myself thumbing through the model catalogues of various manufacturers, and I seldom resist buying a new catalogue when I come across one.
I should stress that the object of collecting catalogues isn't necessarily about copying the colour scheme for a particular model - although I have done that for challenging projects. The aim instead is to build up a database of images and ideas that can be reviewed when planning a new painting project.
Now I can't claim to paint as good as the examples inside the pages of these catalogues but the pictures certainly provide inspiration. More importantly they give you a chance to see which colour combinations work well for a given subject. I often find it hard to visualise what a given colour scheme will look like when completed so its always handy to have some reference material to refer to when working.
For example I painted half a dozen pirate models last year and needed some ideas to make each one stand out. I used pictures I downloaded from the Internet and from catalogues, pasted them to a large board and used it as a guide while I painted. I found this particularly helpful when painting striped trousers for the first time!
Miniatures painters are often presented with a multitude of options when starting a new project so its not surprising when inspiration runs dry. But many miniature manufacturers produce colour catalogues in a bid to secure their share of the market. Naturally these are painted to a very high standard and present the painter with an excellent resource that is often overlooked and undervalued.