Sunday, August 20, 2017

Tutorial: Painting Stonework

In this article I describe the way I paint stonework on my models. From cobblestone streets to the walls of medieval houses - they all are painted following this recipe.

First off, as with all artistic things there is not the one right way to do things. Stones come in endless variations of colour and shape and there are many ways to paint them. Over the years I have developed (or let's say, I got used to) a certain technique that creates results which I am quite happy with (even though "technique" makes it sound more complicated and elaborate than it actually is, as you will shortly see). Since questions about how I paint stones come up frequently, I decided to write this detailed tutorial for reference. I hope it can serve as a little inspiration or helper when painting your own stonework models. Let's start!

For this tutorial I chose two Town Square resin pieces from Tabletop World. Their terrain pieces have very detailed textures and paint up very nicely.

Step 1: Black Undercoat

I have been undercoating all my models with black Games Workshop spray paint since day one.

Step 2: Filling

The first actual paint step is applying a layer of pigments which represent the filling between the stones. I read about this in a tutorial by Elmar Fischer aka elladan. As of now his article is no longer available on his site; I hope he will upload it again some time. I use a 50/50 mix of Concrete and Dry Mud from MIG pigments. If you do not apply a medium for fixing the pigments, then they will become dusty again when dry and "fall" off the model. I use MIG's Pigment Fixer. Also, I apply a drop of rinsing agent to break the surface tension of the mix (which comes from the pigment fixer).

For the filling I use MIG pigments Concrete and Dry Mud and Pigment Fixer

What I find tricky about using pigments is that you really have no idea what the end result will look like as long as they are wet. After it's all dry, pigments create astounding effects such as rust, dust, smoke or similar effects which you could not achieve by simply applying paint.

Wet pigments - who can tell what they will look like eventually?

Left: The wet pigments. Right: The dried pigments

Step 3: Paint Grey Stones

After the pigments are completely dry, I paint the individual stones so that they have a proper base colour. Long ago I thought I could get away with simply drybrushing grey at this point. But no, they do need a proper colour as a base.

The town square piece on the left has been cleaned up, the one on the right not yet

Step 4: Paint Individual Stones

With the foundation being laid out it is time for the most important step: painting individual stones. I believe this to be the most important step because when the various stones look different and irregular it creates a more realistic and detailed impression. No matter whether it is a stone wall, cobblestone streets or the shingles of a roof: Tending to individual parts of the structure creates a much more interesting looks as a whole in the end. Of course, this also means a lot of work.

For stones, I paint individual ones with varying mixes of grey and brown. Also some are painted with washes and sometimes I throw the wash into the grey/brown mix. This really is an opportunity to experiment with different combinations. Depending on the ratio of the paints the stones will have all sorts of different shades of grey. You can create many different shades simply by lacing your mix with more and more water rather than "refreshing" the paints. With basically one brown and one grey you can have your stones look like they were painted with ten different colours.

My favourite mix is 50% brown and 50% gray

Individual stones painted with varying degrees of brown/gray

Green wash is always a nice touch for stonework and woodwork

Step 5: Highlight - Drybrush with light colour

Often times this is the finishing step. If the individual stones came out nice enough, a light dry brush with a "bone" white with bring out the details of the texture. When I was painting the town square pieces it was late and dark and I overdid the drybrushing so that it turned out whiter than I wanted it to be.

The stones after a heavy light drybrush

Step 6: Tone down with Washes

As I was unhappy with the bright appearance after the drybrush I painted every stone with Vallejo brown Wash. This tones down the colours again.

Vallejo Washes

The stones of the lower half with wash applied to them

I find these washes to be similarly unpredictable as pigments. When you apply them, they appear to be more intense than they eventually are. Especially the green wash, which is great for a weathering look (e.g. around the edges, near the ground) can look scarily green at first. Like pigments it's important to be brave and experiment and learn the behaviour of the medium.

Step 7: Final Highlights

As step 5 did not work as expected, let's try again: A delicate drybrush with a "bone" white to highlight the edges and textures. This time I was satisfied with the result.

The painted stones of the town square

I very much enjoy painting stones. Funnily, despite the steps described above I still find the results to be varying every time. The colour mixes turn out slightly different every time, the drybrush works out better sometimes and also a lot depends on the model at hand. This makes it interesting every time and you keep on learning new things about your paints. Hopefully, some of this was useful to you, dear reader.


Below are a few more examples of terrain pieces where I applied this technique.

The Mansion from Tabletop World (read more)

The Town House from Stronghold Terrain (read more)

The cobblestone streets on the Port of Gierburg board (read more)

The dock wall of the Port of Gierburg board. Note the green wash at the bottom.

Bonus Link

Video: "Bemalung: Fantasy-Dungeon (Modular Dungeon-Tutorial powered by TWS)"
Tutorial on painting dungeon walls

Last updated: January 2nd, 2018


  1. Interesting process and something I might have to adapt for my own models as I'm gearing up for painting my first building in decades.

  2. I love this tutorial! I literally have old houses in my area with this kind of old dusty stone walls and your final effect is spot on! That's by far the closest to the reality I've ever seen. Thanks for sharing your technique :D (PS: Love the green wash too)

  3. @Simon: I have seen your progress with the scratch-built houses on FB. Really look forward to seeing what you do with them.

    @Kibo: Thank you! I'm glad if this article can serve as some inspiration or motivation to try some things. But your current table project is already looking awesome anyway. :)

  4. Awesome tutorial, and the most realistic results I have seen so far. I'm about to start painint the Whightwood abbey church that has lots of stonework and will give your techniques a go!

  5. Hi,
    I'm happy to hear this. The Abbey is a truly beautiful model/set. I backed Infinite Dimensions latest Kickstarter project Torbridge Cull and now have a TON of beautiful terrain pieces... in theory, since I don't even have a printer (yet).

    I would love to see how your piece turns out. Make sure to let me know. Until then, happy painting!


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