Dungeon Tiles Painting Guide: Old Stone Effect

Posted by Annabelle Collins on

Hello all! I'm back with another painting guide!

cracked stone terrain arranged to make a little magnetic bridge with a mini standing on top looking all boss with a grumpy earth elemental below

We're going to paint up a cracked stone dungeon tiles set to make them look all old and dungeon-y.

I would rate this painting guide as easy-peasy - seriously, you don't even need a brush!

It's kid friendly and doesn't take much time either whilst giving a realistic, textured stony effect perfect for dungeons.

image of a 3x3 dungeon tile painted in a stony effect with mottled grey colors and the 1 inch grid in darker black to stand out

Materials Needed:

  1. Modular Realms terrain (It's magnetic, double-sided and super cool!)
  2. Sponge - I used these
  3. Black Primer - I used this one but any hobbyist primer should work.
  4. Grey paint - I used "Dungeon Base" by The Army Painter
  5. Paler grey paint - I used "Dungeon Highlights" by The Army Painter
  6. Brown-grey paint - I used "Cauldron Grey" by The Army Painter
  7. Varnish to seal the paint (optional but highly recommended) I use this one.


Step 1

Prime your terrain back


Me priming terrain black, standing it up against some card. Not a very interesting picture to be honest but it is instructive

Cover the edges and let them dry. Then prime the front of the terrain, taking care to let the primer cover the inside of the edges.

I like to stand my terrain up vertically (leant against some old cardboard) and spray with the can parallel to the terrain surface.

I find that gives me the best, most even coverage.

If you're working with kids to paint the terrain it might be an idea to prime the terrain for them.

Otherwise, make sure you teach them to use proper PPE and to spray prime in an open space (preferably outdoors) - gotta protect their lungs!

watercolor image of some goggles and a respirator to wear whilst priming your dungeon tiles. Don't want unhappy lungs here! Modular Realms terrain painting guide

Once you have covered the tiles, give them at least a couple of hours to dry.

If you want to be safe from chipping, let them dry for 24 hours.


Step 2

Sponging on the base coat


Use a damp sponge to add grey paint to the dungeon tiles with a gentle top-down dabbing motion.

Image of Dungeon Base paint from The Army Painter and a sponge for adding a base layer to the terrain

I used a car wax sponge for this one, but a washing up sponge also works well. I prefer the car wax sponge as it doesn't absorb so much paint so you don't feel you're wasting it, but both work just fine!

I use a sponge instead of a brush because it's really easy, really quick and it adds texture along with the paint that works great for stone effects.

The start of a base coat, showing how the grey can be put on blotchily and still shows up the texture on the dungeon tile

The reason I use a damp sponge rather than a dry one is that it helps give a more uneven, blended texture. The paint is a little translucent when it's diluted, allowing you to see the texture below.

It's also really easy to go back over bits with a sponge and to layer them up without the grey becoming completely overpowering. 

A finished base coat of grey over the terrain. I looks a bit blotchy and honestly not that exciting yet ... but it will!

You don't want a soaking wet sponge though, if that happens you'll find paint slipping into all the cracks. It's not the end of the world if that happens, but try to avoid it if you can!

Once you've covered your terrain with grey sponging let it dry.

If you want to, you can always go back and add another layer. That tends to give you a more blended look. It's especially useful to do this if you diluted your paint a little too much the first time around and you want to get more grey on there. 


Step 3

Sponging on some highlights


Once your dungeon tiles have dried off after the previous step, we're going to repeat it again with a lighter grey.

Image of me holding the dungeon highlights paint to show the label and colour with a background of half-painted dungeon tiles

Remember to use a damp (but not soaking wet!) sponge for this.

It helps give a slight translucence to the grey you're dabbing on which adds to the mottled effect. 

Remember - if you make marks you don't like you can always go back over it with more sponging. :) The more you layer up the paint the more blended it gets. I've definitely had people compliment me on how nice my layering is when I really just kept going over it because I was making mistakes!


Step 4

Adding some colour to the stone


If you go look at stone slabs, most of the time they're not just grey. There's a bit of colour in there, be it brown or blue or even rusty reds and mossy greens. 

Showing a bottle of cauldron grey that I'm using to give a dusty, muddy effect to my terrain.

You can add whatever colours work for you and your games, here though I've used "Cauldron Grey" by The Army Painter.

It's a grey-brown colour that works well as both colouring of the stone, and as mud or dust tracked through the dungeon.

I use the same technique as before - a damp sponge layered up. This time however, I don't cover all of the tiles with it. I do dabs here, dabs there, making sure it is uneven. 

Something like this is about right:

Showing how I used a damp sponge to add a brown grey to the stone. My sponge was a little wet so some of it goes into the cracks but that's ok, we don't mind that much

I'm going to stop here, because I want to keep this tutorial simple. You are more than welcome to try other colours and to keep adding texture and depth to your stone! Play around and have fun!


Finished, dry terrain that looks good despite all the little mistakes along the way. It looks sort of mottle stone with different shades of grey and a little brown

Step 5

Varnishing your terrain


So you have your dungeon tiles all beautiful and painted and now you need to varnish it! Ok, varnishing your terrain isn't technically necessary but it will make a big difference to the lifetime of your paint job, preventing chipping. 

I like to use a gloss varnish, followed by a matt varnish but you can just stick to one layer. I use two as I'm pretty clumbsy and tend to drop my terrain a lot! 

the army painter matt varnish, my personal favourite matt varnish to use on terrain to seal the paint job

The matt varnish I use is this one by The Army Painter.

I am sponsored by The Army Painter (thanks guys!) but I have used this varnish for a long time before that, just because it's the best matt varnish I've personally found. You do you though!

I do recommend you steer clear of super cheap matt varnishes though. At best they end up being glossy or at worst cause a strange misting effect. 

And again, if you're painting with kids either do the varnishing yourself or teach them how to be safe! 

Once your terrain is varnished, leave it a good 24-48 hours to dry before you stack the surfaces together. Nothing more disheartening than doing a lovely paint job and then getting the tiles stuck together because the varnish wasn't quite as dry as you thought it was!


Bob's your Badger! 


Come back once they're dry and Bob's your badger! A set of beautiful stony terrain made with very little effort or skill! 

A closer look at some cracked stone terrain showing the texture from the sponge and different mottled colours to give the stone a more natural look.


I hope you have fun painting your dungeon tiles! If you want to show off your paint jobs or to ask questions and advice, come on over to our Discord! Everyone's very friendly and supportive and we love sharing ideas! 

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