Painting Scrolls, Seals and Books

Painting scrolls, seals and books is mandatory, because they are everywhere on our miniatures.  From a wizard’s spell book to a Marine’s purity seal, here’s how to make them great.

The problem with this is that you could fill pages upon pages of ways to paint them. Get it? Pages…Scrolls… Please don’t kick me off the internet…

So what’s a wargamer to do?

Here are a couple of tricks to make your life easier when you are painting scrolls, seals and books.


Unless you want to spell out every word, don’t bother with writing.

It’s perfectly fine to add the illusion of text, but you should not bother with capitalization, spacing and these details.  The size our models are, it would be impossible to read anything if it was at the same distance.

So, unless it’s a big bold word that’s fully visible, mimicking writing is a time sink more than anything else.

Off black

Pick a color that’s dark, but not black.  This is a trick we also use on tattoos.

This adds a lot of realism to your writing, as worn out scrolls will have worn off writing, not fresh black ink drawn from a sharpie.

Also, because letters are small lines on a lighter background, text seen from far will blend with the background color, muting the original color.

My personal favorite is Skavenblight Dinge from GW.  You an do it with many off blacks, like Hardened Scales from The Army Painter, or P3 Coal Black.


Unless your are writing a real word, for a nameplate perhaps, keep it simple.

Don’t try to mimic characters, spaces, caps or lower cases.

There’s nothing wrong with writing a name, warcry or whatever, but for the scale we are painting, «normal» size writing would not really be visible.

Not only do you save time, you also keep the visual impact stronger because the viewer is not trying to figure out what’s going on or if he should read something out of those funky characters.

Initial and Symbol

If you want to add a strong visual impact, go for a simple initial at the beginning of the text.  An Initial is that one big letter at the beginning of paragraphs thats typical of medieval imagery.

This works well for human-like models, what about demons and other fancy creatures?

This is where symbols work great. The mark of a chaos god, an elvish looking rune, a twisted spiral, simple designs that tie-in with the theme of the model work best.

The symbol can also be placed anywhere through the text, so it can break off large areas, like the pages of a book.

Beige on Beige

Another problem that many encounter when painting scrolls is what to do if your model is already bone-clored. Deathwing Terminators with scrolls or necromancer with a skeletal whatever and a spell book.
Once again I turn to Skavenblight Dinge.

Mixed with bone or white, this greenish grey will break off from your bone color while still looking worn out. An example of this color scheme if the book on this old Fateweaver model.


What about fresh scrolls or books.

Not everything needs to look like it’s a gazillion years old.

One simple way to blend in the text over a white page is to do the writings and symbols right after your base coat.

When you add in the shadows and highlights, the text will fade in the completed look.

Share your thoughts