(This article originally appeared on the Mining Co AD&D [now RPG] web site, as part of a series of painting articles on doing basic textures)
I'll be doing granite stone "grain" in this article. Painting grain in stone miniatures adds a much more realistic look than just the typical grey (dry-brushed with white look). Remember, incidental textures can enhance a diorama or miniature when done properly, and should not be overlooked. The graininess of granite comes from it's volcanic origins, where several types of minerals are melted together through intense heat and pressure. Granite isn't the only stone to look like this; you may want to experiment with basalt (as I did in my diorama in FORGE #3), or other igneous stones.
I've chosen one of the resin pieces from Grendel's Dungeon Windows set (F10043). It's a typical arched medieval window, good looking by itself, but with careful graining it can be made into something special. After it's been primered, I'm ready to start:
(As usual, I use only Ral Partha Paints, unless otherwise noted, and Citadel inks).
Step 1 -
I begin with a normal grey base coat (Grey and Dark Grey). Several light coats are used to give a firm foundation for the dry-brushing. (I find that heavy dry-brushing can wear through the paint on resin pieces, so a nice thick base coat helps prevent that).
Step 2 -
This is followed by a fairly heavy wash of Dark Grey and a dry-brushing of Grey mixed with White. I want the dry-brush to be more stark than normal, as I'm going to use the highlights as my guides for finishing details later one. If they don't stand out like this, the spattering will obscure them. I also memorize some of the more delicate highlights, to keep them in mind when I add them back at the final stage.
Step 3 -
What follows is the crucial step for creating naturalistic stone. I mix up 4 or 5 colors to "spatter" the miniature with. This will simulate the mix of minerals in granite. It's easiest to pick colors in the same family for consistency (in this case grey), again depending on the rock texture you desire. I choose White, Stone Grey, Grey, Dark Grey, and Citadel Black. Each will be spattered on in successive layers with an old toothbrush.
I add water to each color to make it almost like a wash; this helps it spray more readily and be slightly transparent, so the base coat underneath can show through. I find it handy to use an old cardboard box to as a "spray booth" to keep my painting area clean. I dip the toothbrush in the first color (white) and spray the excess paint on the bottom of the box. This assures that the paint is in an even, fine mist; too much paint could coat the miniature, which can totally obscure the base coloring.
When I spatter, I carefully add light layers of paint spray. Each successive layer is added, from light to dark. In that manner, the whites won't conceal the more dramatic dark spatters. If necessary, I go back in and re-spray more of a color if it doesn't look even enough.
Most importantly, when texturing the stone be careful not to overdo the splatter effect which gives it the characteristic grain. Too much can look fake and too little gives it an unfinished look. (To practice this, just pick a piece of cardboard, primer it with white paint and practice with the toothbrush until you get good results). The finished graininess should look something like this:
Step 4 -
The grain is all there now, but the miniature is messy and needs some definition for the details. In this next to last step, I pick out the seams of the rock with a thinned mix of Dark Grey and Black ink. Doing a wholesale wash over the piece would ruin the spattering, so I use a small paint brush and patience to fill the lines. When done, each rock will stand out as an individual.
Likewise, I use thinned Grey to detail the highlights of each rock, as well as where the highlights would fall on the stones of the window. I also do the edges of the miniature on all sides, just to keep up the overall look of the piece.
Finally, for fun, I paint in a trompe l'oeil shadow underneath the stones of the window, making them appear as if they project out from the wall, when they are actually flush with it.
Step 5 -
A little twilight-to-night sky finishes off the miniature.
That's it for the granite look. Next I'll be looking at marble, which really livens things up in a diorama.
Text and Photographs (c) 2002 Laszlo Jakusovszky