How to Paint Realistic Stone for Miniatures
The first time I picked up a White Dwarf magazine back in 1991, drybrushing was still a very popular technique used by wargamers. It was an easy technique to follow and a majority of miniature painters like to utilize this technique of painting.
Of course today with more painting techniques becoming available, miniatures painters use less and less of drybrushing. Drybrushing however is still widely used in painting miniature terrain. From the looks of it, drybrushing as a painting technique is not going anywhere yet. All miniature painters at one time or another will have to use drybrushing to paint their groundwork.
What is drybrushing?
Drybrushing is a method to highlight the raised surfaces of a miniature by applying a very small amount of paint to your flat brush and then dragging the brush across the grain of the texture. Drybrushing is great painting method for creating textures on any material.
Painting From the Ground Up
To creature textures such as miniature stones and rocks, drybrushing is usually done with the darkest colours first. This is followed by the second layer of paint with a lighter colour. Successive layers would be a lighter color each time. The final color would be white or almost white. For example when a base colour is dark brown, a medium brown colour is used for drybrushing next. This is followed by a light brown or yellow color over the previous paint layer.
The key to creating realistic looking stones is by studying real scenes or photos of rock formations. Note down all the colours present from dark to light. Then you will need to apply all the darkest colours first followed by the lightest colors last. Use a thin and slow build up of different layers so that you can monitor the progress and not overdo it. Try not to accidentally cover up all the bottom paint layers on your miniature during the buildup or else you will get a flat texture and have to start all over again.
Once done, you will then lay the dead leaves, grass or paint algae on your rocks to complete your miniature masterpiece. Have fun!