[Video] Painting Scrolls, Seals and Books

Scrolls, seals and books are everywhere on our miniatures; spellbooks and scrolls of powerful wizards, purity seals on space marines or the various prophecies of fanatics and zealots.

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?
The video showcases two standard ways to do scrolls, using desert brown and bone tones to get the worn look in no time.  If you’re looking for something different or to master your technique, read on!


Unless the surface is very large, like the crotch scroll of the chaplain in the video ( yes, crotch scroll, it’s a technical term, trust me ) or the focus point of a miniature, I don’t really like to add writings on them. I think most ways either look dumb or take too much time for the visual impact they offer.
However, if you are to do them, here are a few guidelines :
1- Off black. Pick a color that’s dark, but not black.
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 ( moreso for medieval stuff ). 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 personnal favorite is Skavenblight Dinge from GW ( Vallejo German Grey is the closest I can think of ), but you an do it with any dark grey, and very dark green or blue, like P3 Coal Black.
2- KISS.
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.
3- Initial and Symbol.
If you want to add a strong visual impact, go for a simple initial at the beginning of the text- 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 spellbook.
Once again I turn to Skavenblight Dinge.
Mixed with bone and/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 fateweaver model.

What about white?

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 – nope, still not using straight black- is to do the writings and symbols right after your basecoat. When you add in the shadows and highlights, the text will fade in the completed look.
So there you have it, simple tricks to make painting scrolls, seals and pages.
If you have a go-to technique you’d like to share, drop it in the comments below!

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