How to Paint Everything: Simply Painted Dungeon Stone

Honestly? Basing miniatures sucks. Mini production is hella sophisticated: they are modelled in complex 3D software, produced by a plastic injection molding industry that spans the planet or by a seemingly sci-fi-esque 3D printer that creates them from goo. And the first thing you’re supposed to do when you get your hands on these tiny marvels of engineering is glue a bunch of dirt and rocks to them like a cave man.

ugg, ugg! me am paint miniatures

I kid, dirt is a perfectly fine way to base a miniature, but it is kind of limited to being a generic texture. It’s also messy and an extra step between you and painting the miniature. What I propose is painting directly on the base, no basing materials required; with a bit of practice, its remarkably easy and fast to get some dungeon flagstones. Eye catching and time saving!

Of course, you COULD get 3d printed flagstone bases, but there are some pitfalls. Printed bases can be expensive if you don’t own a 3d printer, or a hassle to print if you do. No resin base will match the near indestructible strength of a plastic mini attached to a plastic base with plastic cement.

So, let’s paint some bases!

A rock-solid foundation for any dungeon delving mini.

You have a lot of freedom of color for painting flagstones. Seriously, check out this hero quest board, its practically a rainbow! If the mini has a muted color scheme, then you can go brighter on the stones. If you have a colorful mini, tend toward desaturated colors for your stones. If you’re not sure what colors to use, you simply can’t go wrong with gray.

How dark the lines between the stones should be is a function of how thin you can make them. The thinner the lines between the stones, the darker the lines. When you’re starting out, it may be tough to get hairline division lines. This is okay, just keep the contrast down by using a color that’s only a bit dark than your base coat. As you get better at making nice crisp lines, you can use darker lines.

I always prime black.

Base coat. In this one, I’m using a dark blue gray.

Paint a T-shape with thinned dark paint. They don’t have to be perfectly thin or straight yet. Don’t worry about being messy at this stage, we’re just mapping out where the stones will be.

Add a few extra lines to break the base up a bit further.

Tidy up the lines with some of the base coat. Here’s where the lines get thinner and straighter. If you mess up big time, simply rebase and start again.

Start layering up with lighter paint. Mix the layer color with the base color for smoother transition.

Add more layers. Use thinned paint! Err on the side of wetter than drier. If the paint is too wet, you can just wait for it to dry and go again.

You thought you were done layering? WRONG

Add some edge highlights. Notice how the highlight is applied to the same two sides of each stone.

Tidy up the rim. I like to leave a sliver of the stonework on the sides, but it will look excellent if you cover the whole rim.

Let’s do an example with a miniature. I’ve built a wizard from the Frostgrave Wizards kit. He likes knives.

Typically, I paint the miniature before the base. When starting out, maybe do the base first to gain some confidence.

Base coat. I’m using a brown gray this time.

Draw the T shape. I’m using a dark gray, not black. Notice how imperfect the lines are? Chill, we’ll fix ’em later.

Add some extra divisions.

Clean up the brickwork with the basecoat.

Start layering up. Mix the base coat with a mid-tone.

Keep on layering.

Now add the edge highlights. I’m using a fleshy pink.

Clean up. I’ve added some extra details, like cracks and pebbles.

Let’s look at some more examples:

Mimic from Reaper. Note the inverted shading on one of the tiles. This gives it a sunken appearance.

A rat from Greenstuff World. You can highlight the edge of the base to further improve its look.

GW goblin from the Battle for Skull Pass box set. You know these fellas love dungeons.

Frostgrave Knight. Once you’re comfortable with basic flagstones, you can move on to other shapes, like these round cobblestones.

GW Nighthaunt. If you’re into OSL, you can add the effect to the flag stones to really pump it up.

And that’s all there is to it. One of the nice thing about painted on bases is that they are inexpensive and very easy to practice on. Try your hand at a few blank bases and become comfortable with them. You can also combine painted bases with static basing elements like grass or the dreaded, aforementioned dirt. As you get better, you can add stippling, cracks, pebbles, grates, wood planks, etc. You could do uniform brick patterns, or shapes beyond squares. The dungeon floor is the limit!