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How to Paint Miniature Terrain

How to Paint Miniature Terrain


Painting miniature terrain is a great way to bring your tabletop gaming adventures to life. Whether you're creating a lush forest, a barren wasteland, or a bustling cityscape, adding color and detail to your terrain can enhance the overall gaming experience. In this article, we will guide you through the process of painting miniature terrain like a pro.

Materials You'll Need

  • Primer
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrushes of various sizes
  • Palette or disposable palette paper
  • Water container
  • Masking tape or painter's tape
  • Optional: Texture paints, flocking, or other terrain materials

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Prepare the Terrain

    Before you start painting, make sure the terrain is clean and free from any dust or debris. If needed, use a gentle brush or compressed air to remove any loose particles. If there is any stringy material, we recommend using a heat gun or blow dryer to heat the plastic bits and remove them. 

  2. Prime the Terrain

    Applying a primer is essential for creating a smooth and durable surface for your paints. We recommend using a normal spray primer such as "Rustoleom." You can get it from a hardware store. We have not found much benefit to the fancy miniature primers. We also recommend staying away from the 2 in 1 paint + primer and stick to the pure spray primers. One time saving tip, you can prime your terrain in the same color you want to use as a base color to save an extra step later on! 

  3. Choose Your Color Scheme

    Decide on the color scheme you want to use for your terrain. Consider the setting, atmosphere, and theme of your gaming world. For example, earthy tones are ideal for a natural landscape, while vibrant colors may work well for a magical realm.

  4. Base Coat

    Start by applying a base coat of your acrylic paints to cover the entire terrain. Use a large brush or an airbrush for larger surfaces and a smaller brush for intricate details. Apply thin layers and allow each layer to dry before adding another coat.

  5. Layering and Highlighting

    Once the base coat is dry, use smaller brushes to add layers of different colors to create texture and depth. Start with darker shades and gradually work your way up to lighter tones. Highlight raised areas with a lighter color to make them stand out.

  6. Details and Accents

    Add finer details to your terrain, such as cracks, textures, or patterns. Use smaller brushes or even a toothpick to create intricate designs. Don't forget to pay attention to smaller elements like doors, windows, or rocks.

  7. Shading and Washes

    Apply washes or diluted darker colors to create shading and enhance the realism of your terrain. This technique adds depth and brings out the details. Apply the washes selectively, focusing on recessed areas and crevices.

  8. Sealing the Terrain

    Once you are satisfied with the painting, seal your miniature terrain with a matte or satin varnish. This will protect the paint job and ensure its longevity. Follow the instructions on the varnish can and allow it to dry completely.


Painting miniature terrain is a rewarding and creative endeavor that can elevate your tabletop gaming experience. With the right materials, techniques, and a little patience, you can transform plain terrain into stunning landscapes that enhance the immersion of your games. So, grab your brushes, unleash your imagination, and bring your gaming worlds to life!

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