Monday, February 2, 2015

Wood Grain Technique

Howdy all,

Yes...I am alive...I've just fought through a week long flu which has had me completely debilitated (boo hoo...poor me).  I'm finally getting back on my feet and actually did some painting last night for the first time in many days.

Anyway, after I posted pictures of the Dragon Bait Miniatures Executioner set that I painted up recently I received a couple of requests for information about how I did the wood graining on the chopping block.

Luckily I took a series of pictures of this figure while I was painting it in hopes writing up a longer "how-to" post.  That post never materialized...but now I can use some of those pics for this quick demo.

My technique for wood graining is all about contrasting colors and texture...and applying these colors with short quick motions....and this is true for large surfaces like this block as well as narrow spaces like along a bow stave or weapon haft.

Here we go.  I started with coating the entire block with Vallejo Model Color 872 Chocolate Brown.  Nothing fancy here...just lay it on thick enough to cover the Dark Gray primer.

Next I apply long, thin, "wiggly" lines vertically along the block, leaving a bit of space in between, using an ancient pot of Citadel Bestial Brown.

Here you can see the first few lines on the Right side of the block.

and here they are covering the entire block

Make sure to cover the surface thoroughly but with some spaces left between.  With Bestial Brown the color difference is quite subtle, but the "texture" difference is very effective.

The final step uses a higher contrast paint color to really make the wood grain stand out...subtly.

Here again I'm using a historic paint...a pot of PolyS Canine Yellow...I don't know what I'm going to do when this runs out...its like 20+ years old...but have been searching for modern equivalents...

Anyway...I digress...

The Canine Yellow is applied in very thin vertical lines like the Bestial Brown...but these are even thinner and more randomly spaced.

I apply this color is a somewhat interesting way.  I use a Size 1 brush (Rosemary and Co.) which I wet and then gently pinch the point into a "flat".  This gives you a wide brush but one that is very thin...almost blade-like. 

The "pinched" point of a Size 1 Brush (lookin' a little rough!  time for a new one...)
Side view showing how thin the "blade" is.

Apply a small amount of paint to the edge of that "knife" and, holding it vertically apply the paint to the surface with quick downward brush strokes.  You can adjust the "thickness" of your line by moving the brush slightly closer (thicker) or further (thinner) from the target surface.  Space these lines out randomly and don't be too worried about them being straight or crossing over other lines.  Wood Grain is pretty random stuff...and in 28mm you have a little leeway.  :)

If you screw up...or add too much of the lightest color...just go back to your other, darker browns, and add some more of those colors applied with the same technique until you reach a level you are happy with.

Here is what the final block looks like.


I feel it worked fairly well on this block...but it is hard to get right on such a large smooth surface.  You will find it much easier on a piece of wood that actually has the wood grain texture carved into the casting.  I think it worked quite well on these weapon hafts and banner pole

Well...thats about it for now...I hope that this was helpful to those who asked.

I should be back fairly soon with some new figures for ya'll.




  1. Cool technique, I do nearly the same unless I had never thoght about flattening a bigger brush for the matter, I like it as it must provide a better quantity of paint in the brush for a consistent width and tone but you get to keep the thin line... well done. I'll try that ASAP.

    1. Exactly...the blade allows you to get a fairly heavy "charge" of paint on the brush while still making very thin lines.

  2. Nice tutorial! Thanks for sharing it! Might give this a try as I haven't really been happy with the outcome of my previous way of doing wood grain.

  3. Thanks, Blue, I have always had problems painting "flat cast" wood; I'll give this a go.

  4. I'll use this guide when I do the backs of my shields. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Interesting little turorial, great effect.

  6. Wow, this is great, I appreciate the guidance, and look forward to trying it out.

  7. That's really very helpful. Cheers Blue!