Painting Ancient Ruins

By: Kitbasha Jay

Yesterday on Terrain Tuesday I showed you how I built my Celtic Temple terrain set. Today we’re going to paint these puppies. If you didn’t read yesterday’s article just go to the bottom of this blog and there should be a link to yesterday’s blog. This was a fun project and I’m happy to share it with you. So let’s get started.

First step after we’ve glued the basing sand onto the pieces is to paint them fully brown. I generally use a Burnt Umber. In the case of these pieces I painted them with a brush and a large tub of school paint I got at the art store. Lately, however, I’ve been using an Espresso coloured spray paint. It’s six of one but the spray is quicker and more durable.

After the entire piece is brown we go on to dry brushing. For these pieces I used a craft acrylic called Westport Grey. It’s the equivalent of what Citadel calls Dawnstone. This will provide a nice grey base for our stone walls. Once the stones are all painted grey, I hit the pieces with a series of washes.

The stones after washes

These washes I created by simply watering down various craft paints. I started by washing all the stones with a black wash. Once that’s dry I washed the lower half of the walls and stone circle with a Hunter Green. This creates the appearance of moss build up in the crevices of the stones. Only doing the lower half of the piece not only adds variance and detail but more accurately creates the illusion of water stains close to the earth.

The next wash is made from a Cinnamon Brown. This one is only applied in patches. This just adds another level of detail to the stones so that they don’t appear so monotonous. Real stone blocks have a variance of minerals and this colour is to simulate that. Plus it makes the pieces a little more interesting for the onlooker.

Once the washes are dry I do another dry brush of the grey. This blends the stones back to a uniform colour. The washes remain in the crevices to create subtle colour variations in the final product. You won’t be able to see the washes unless you look close. This makes it hard to see in photos but if anyone is to examine the piece it makes it look that much more professional.

Since some of the dry brush from the stones naturally gets onto the dirt we want to go around and touch up the Burnt Umber anywhere we see grey. It makes sense for there to be some dirt on the rocks. It doesn’t make sense for there to be rock colour on the dirt.

Once the burnt umber is dry we can begin our final drybrush stages. We’ll start by just drybrushing the sand areas with our cinnamon brown. This creates a middle colour between our Burnt Umber basecoat and our final drybrush layer. That being a “bleached bone”. The colour I actually used is called Unbleached Titanium. It’s the equivalent of what Citadel refers to as Ushabti Bone. Instead of just dry brushing the sand areas we are going to drybrush the entire piece with the bone colour. Sand, Stones and all. This adds a final highlight to the pieces and ties all the colours together unifying the entire set.

final drybrush highlight

The areas you see here that are still brown are the areas where I didn’t put any sand. These areas are going to be covered in static grass and foliage. In case you haven’t guessed, that’s our next step.

I start by painting the areas I want the grass with PVA glue. For this project I was going for an element of realism and so decided to use three colour tones of static grass. Once the PVA layer is down I start by sprinkling the dark grass in small spots. After this a medium shade in larger spots. Finally, the vibrant green shade on the remainder of the glue.

This creates a random variance in the colour of the grass. If you’ve ever walked through a field you may have noticed not all the grass is not one colour, nor is it all the same type of grass. Doing this three tone technique simply creates a more ralistic feel to the grass and makes it less boring for the eye as well.

The very final step is to glue on some plastic plants. I simply took some plastic plants I purchased at the Dollarama and cut them into small pieces about an inch at the longest. This makes them feel more appropriate for a 28 mm scale. These were glued on using a 5 minute epoxy. I’d definitely recommend this glue for stuff like this where you don’t have a large contact point. It will dry in 5 minutes and dries clear so if you use a large glob to hold on your plants it won’t mess up your entire piece.

The finished product

The very last touch are some small flower patches that I also purchased at the dollar store. These were actually strips of little pink styrofoam balls that I just cut into small pieces and glued onto the static grass with PVA. This just adds a little colour to the pieces so that they’re not just grey and green. As with any miniatures we want to have more than a couple colours to create interest. This just adds the final touch that really makes the pieces pop.

I also managed to find some moss at the dollar store. This is used to create the vines you see growing up the stone circle in the back right of the above pic. This was also glued on with PVA glue. Once that was dry I simply watered down some PVA and painted the moss vines with it to make sure that they don’t peel off in the future.

We want to not only make these pieces look nice but we also want them to be durable. The layer of watered down PVA should be good enough for the vines but static grass has a tendency to flake off as the terrain gets used. This can be prevented by giving the entire piece a nice coat of clear matte lacquer to finish it off.

And it literally is that simple. I hope you’ve enjoyed this two part series. Hopefully all of you out there are attempting some stone ruins of your own. I also do commissions so if you like these pieces and feel you don’t have the skills to do them yourself you can always shoot me an email and I’ll hook you up.

Also like I said yesterday, I donated these pieces to the gaming room at The Sword and Board here in Toronto. Head on over to their store and have a game with my terrain. Also check out their website at the link below.

The Sword and Board Toronto

Now that the shameless promotion is over I’d also like to see what terrain projects you’ve been working on. What cool techniques have you discovered that have changed the way you do terrain? What awesome pieces have you created that you want everyone to see? Please post pics and comments below, on our Facebook or Instagram feeds. Also feel free to email me at

Until our next Encounter!

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