Using a Drybrush Texture Palette

why use a drybrush texture palette

Level-up your Miniature Painting with a Drybrush Texture Palette

When it comes to miniature painting and scenery or terrain painting, achieving the perfect drybrushed effect can significantly enhance the detail and realism of your models. While many hobbyists traditionally use paper towels for drybrushing, a drybrush texture palette offers superior and more consistent results. Let’s explore why you might consider this essential tool, what you can use as a dry palette, and the best technique for drybrushing.

texture palettes animated
An example of a texture palette set with storage rack

Why Use a Texture Palette for Dry Brushing?

Consistency and Control – A drybrush texture palette provides a consistent and controlled surface for removing excess paint from your brush. You can even get specifically themed texture palettes to match your project, for example when painting fantasy themed scenery you could use a texture palette with stone walls or brick-work on it . Unlike paper towels, which can vary in texture and absorbency, a texture palette ensures uniformity, helping you achieve more predictable and high-quality results.

Durability – Paper towels tear, become moist easily and degrade quickly, often necessitating frequent replacements. In contrast, a drybrush texture palette is made from durable materials designed to withstand repeated use. This durability makes it a more reliable tool, saving you money and time in the long run.

Texture Simulation – One of the key advantages of a drybrush texture palette is its ability to mimic the textures you might encounter on miniatures or terrain, such as rough stone or wood. Practicing on a similar texture helps you better control the final effect on your model, ensuring a more natural and realistic finish.

Paint Conservation – Traditional paper towels can absorb a lot of paint, leading to unnecessary wastage. A texture palette allows for better control of paint removal, meaning you conserve more paint. This efficiency is particularly beneficial when working with expensive or limited-edition colors.

Reduced Lint – Paper towels can leave behind fibers or lint, which may stick to your miniatures or terrain, compromising the final look. A texture palette eliminates this issue, providing a cleaner finish without unwanted debris.

Ease of Cleaning A drybrush texture palette is easier to clean and reuse. Paint can often be wiped off or washed away, making it a more convenient and cost-effective solution compared to continuously using and disposing of paper towels.

What Can I Use as a Dry Palette?

When looking for a suitable dry palette, several options can serve as effective substitutes but we’ve found that 3D printed texture palettes are the most cost-effective and durable solutions.

3D Printed texture palettes stl
3D printed Texture Palettes – Multiple designs available!

    What is the Best Technique for Dry Brushing?

    Mastering the technique of drybrushing can take your painting skills to new levels without the scratchy inconsistency of rushed or poor technique. You can bring out intricate details and create realistic effects with basic improvements. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the best drybrushing technique:

    1. Load the Brush: Dip your brush lightly into the paint. It’s essential to use a minimal amount of paint for drybrushing.
    2. Remove Excess Paint: Wipe off most of the paint onto your drybrush texture palette until only a small amount remains on the bristles. The goal is to have the brush appear almost dry.
    3. Apply the Paint: Gently brush over the raised surfaces of your miniature or terrain piece. Use light, quick strokes to gradually build up the color. The technique works best when applied in layers.
    4. Layering and Blending: Start with darker shades and progress to lighter ones to achieve depth and highlight the details.
    5. Clean the Brush: After each use, clean your brush thoroughly to maintain its shape and functionality.

    Where to buy Texture Palette STL files?

    Saucermen Studios have a range of 3D printable accessories such as STL files for texture palettes. Check out the range below:


    Switching from traditional paper towels to a drybrush texture palette can significantly improve your miniature and terrain painting results. By providing consistency, durability, and better control, a texture palette helps you achieve more realistic and detailed effects. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced painter, integrating this tool into your workflow can make a noticeable difference in your work.

    So, why use a texture palette for dry brushing? It’s simple – for superior results, better control, and a cleaner finish. Consider exploring different materials to find what works best for you and elevate your painting technique to new heights. Happy painting!

    How to Paint 3D Printed Sci-fi Terrain

    How to paint 3D printed scifi terrain

    Creating immersive and visually striking wargaming terrain doesn’t need to take forever and isn’t locked in to a single technique. The process of painting incredible looking 3D printed terrain can be done with both regular brushes or an airbrush. In this article, we’ll explore tips and techniques to master the art of painting 3D printed sci-fi terrain for wargaming.

    The goal: Create great looking terrain in a short time and minimal cost

    1 – Preparation is Key

    Before you start painting, ensure that your 3D printed terrain is properly prepared – If printing in PLA on an FDM printer, aim to use support-free designs such as those from Saucermen Studios, this will mean even less cleanup.

    Clean off any stray bits of filament, sand any rough surfaces, and fill in any gaps or imperfections with putty. A smooth and clean surface will result in a more professional-looking paint job.

    It’s a very good idea to prep your work area for a big and potentially messy job. Also consider that if using rattle cans or airbrushes, you will need suitable ventilation.

    2 – Color Scheme Planning

    Consider the theme and atmosphere you want to achieve for your sci-fi terrain. Are you aiming for a sleek futuristic cityscape or a weathered and battle-worn outpost? Plan your color scheme accordingly. Research sci-fi artwork or movie scenes for inspiration and use a color palette that complements the overall aesthetic. As an example, we have some great inspiration posts for futuristic cities here.

    3 – Priming

    Once the model’s surface is ready, prime the terrain with a primer of your choice. A rrattle can of auto primer/filler is cost effective and helps reduce print lines, but regular miniature primer such as Vallejo’s surface primer is also good but more expensive.

    Priming the terrain creates a suitable surface for paint adherence. Use a light-colored primer to enhance the vibrancy of your paint colors. This step also helps to prevent issues like paint peeling or chipping and ensures that subsequent layers of paint adhere evenly.

    4 – Base Coating

    For the base coat, we recommend using cheap craft acrylics rather than more expensive miniature paints – This is purely based reducing the cost of materials whilst still achieving excellent results. Acrylic paints are used for this step due to their versatility and quick drying time.

    Begin by applying a base coat of paint to cover the entire surface of your terrain. Use a brush or an airbrush for larger pieces. This layer sets the foundation for the subsequent details and effects.

    Base Coating Tips & Considerations

    • Masking – Use masking tape to isolate or hide certain areas. This will give yo cleaner lines
    • Dark to light – Build up from dark colours

    At this point it’s also when you need to decide if you will be airbrushing or drybrushing your terrain. there are pros and cons to each which we’ve pointed out below:

    Airbrushing vs Drybrushing Terrain

    Airbrushing Terrain:


    • Gets paint onto the model fast
    • Smooth and even coverage
    • Easy to create gradient effects
    • Very efficient way of painting
    • Control of fine details


    • Airbrush costs
    • Mixing paints to the right consistency
    • Learning curve
    • More equipment (the compressor) to store
    • Requires ventilation

    Drybrushing Terrain:


    • Very cost effective
    • Beginner friendly technique
    • Emphasizes texture and detail
    • No specialized equipment or material


    • Limited coverage
    • Time consuming
    • Less control over transitions
    • Big projects can trash brushes

    5 – Layering Colours

    Expanding the process from the base coating phase, you should now build up you highlights to bring out the details of your 3D printed terrain by layering on additional colors. This is where your chosen color scheme really comes into play. Use smaller brushes for fine details and gradually build up the layers. Consider dry brushing to highlight raised surfaces and edges, giving your terrain a more realistic and textured appearance.

    6 – Fine Brush Details

    Now you have all the base coat and layers down, it’s time to take a smaller brush, similar to those you’d use for painting miniatures, and brush on the small details. This often includes piping, wires/cables, terminals, lights, buttons, signs, etc. You can also switch over to your regular miniature paints for this step as the pigments are better suited for finer detail.

    7 – Weathering and Aging Effects

    For a battle-hardened or lived-in look, add weathering effects such as rust, dirt, or scorch marks. Dry-brushing with metallic paints can simulate a worn metal appearance, while washes and pigments can create a dirty or weathered effect. Experiment with different techniques to achieve the desired level of realism.

    8 – Final Details

    At this stage, your terrain is looking pretty good, but a few final touches could push it that extra mile. Consider adding the following to give it some extra realism and theme.

    • Posters – Grab some free printable posters and glue them onto the terrain. Get free posters here!
    • Stencils – Use stencils to add some quick and easy decals to surfaces. Get stencils here.
    • Moss & Mud – Similar to basing a miniature, you could glue strategically placed grass, moss, mud or other effects.
    • LEDs – No-wire LEDs can easily be placed inside buildings for extra immersion during games. See how to add LEDS here.
    • Wet Areas – Using gloss paints, water effects, resin, or even glues, you can create sludge or pooled water.
    • Snow – There are many snow effects available from mini paint suppliers.

    What supplies for Painting Wargaming Terrain?

    Painting wargaming terrain

    There are certain items that every terrain painter needs to have in their arsenal to help paint terrain quicker and with a wider range of details and effects. Below are our top tools for painting tabletop terrain.

    Brushes for tabletop terrain

    You’ll need a range of brushes for painting tabletop terrain. As scenery is a lot bigger than miniatures, you’ll need some larger brushes in additional to fine detail brushes. You can also get away with a lot cheaper brushes for painting scenery.

    We recommend:

    • Fine detail miniature brushes
    • Cheap Makeup brushes for drybrushing
    • Cheap(ish) brushes for painting terrain features – Check out something like the ‘Golden Maple’ brush set
    • Old brushed for oil paint washes and streaks

    Acrylic Paints for scenery

    Small bottles and pots of miniature paints such as Citadel, Vallejo or Army Painter won’t go far on terrain projects, so it’s worth grabbing a selection of cheap craft paints in squeezy tubes. These can be diluted for extra coverage and even mixed into large dropper bottles to suit your needs. Some p;eopel also recommend using sample pots of indoor, waterbased house paint for painting terrain.

    Airbrush for tabletop gaming

    An airbrush is a great tool for painting terrain quickly and efficiently. Airbrushing allows you to create smooth gradients and textures on large surfaces, making it ideal for painting large terrain pieces – You can even use airbrush stencils to add details. It is also useful for creating weathering effects and adding subtle details to your terrain. While an airbrush can be expensive, it is a worthwhile investment if you plan to create a lot of terrain.

    Spray Bottle

    A small spray bottle can be used for several handy things such as flushing out an airbrush in-between colour changes, filling with paint / PVA water mixes to prime basic terrain projects, and of course, cleaning up!

    Sponges for weathering

    The foam that often comes in blister packs or model kits… keep that! It’s great for ripping up and using to stipple grime, rust or paint flakes onto the edges of terrain.

    Washes for adding grime

    You can use pre-mixed pots of inks or washes such as Agrax Earthsade or Vallejo Model wash, but mixing oil paints and a solvent thinner such as artist turps is a great way to weather your terrain, add dirt to the recesses and add nasty streaks.

    Recommended colours:

    • Black
    • Brown / Umber
    • Rust
    • Green

    3D Printer for accessories and extra terrain

    3D printers are an incredibly useful tool to have around for terrain projects.

    How can 3D printers help your terrain painting projects?

    • 3D print accessories for your paint set-up or studio
    • 3D print greebles or terrain parts
    improve mdf terrain with 3d printed greebles

    Pigments for rust and grime

    Artist pastels, pigments and comemrcial rust mixtures are usually set with solvent such as isoproply alchohol and are great for adding grime, rust or other weathering. It can be applied as-is, or set and painted over for added texture.

    Spray Paint for base coating

    Rattle cans are quick and easy ways to lay down paint if you don’t have access to an airbrush. You can apply base coats or spray from above or 45 degrees to apply zenithal highlights and surface colours.

    Airbrush Stencils for tabletop gaming

    Airbrush stencils are an easy way to add decals, lettering and other marking to your projects.

    Think about using stencils to add:

    • Hazard marking
    • Chevrons
    • Icons or logos
    • Words
    • Lines and shapes
    • Arrows
    • Thematic symbols
    how to use airbrush stencils

    Masking Tape

    For protecting certain areas from paint or colour, you can use masking tape. It also allows you to mask simple straight lines for crisp edges and stripes.

    Hobby Knife

    A good sharp knife is always good to have around for cutting off unwanted parts of your terrain project or even adding damage such as cuts, missing chunks or scratches.

    Paint Pallete & Mixing Pots

    We’ve mentioned various paints, glues, pigments and oils above, so so’ll want to make sure you’ve got a selection of (ideally reusable) mixing surfaces and containers.

    Glue for tabletop gaming

    PVA glue and superglue are another essential item to have close at hand. Use the right glue on the right material to repair, add stuff or apply texturing.

    Flock, Sand & Static Grass

    Organic textures can be added to your terrain sets with any number of grass flocks, sand, modelling flock or even sawdust! It’s worth trying different mixtures of these and getting an understanding of what can be painted over. EG, sand and PVA, when set looks great when drybrushed

    Turntable (Lazy Suzan)

    A spinning platform or turntable means you can have your terrain piece in front of you, at the right height and be able to spin it around without having to touch it! It’s a simple thought but an absolute game-changer!

    Painting 3D printed Terrain: Spaceship Graveyard

    Painting a 3d printed spaceship graveyard

    This terrain painting tutorial explains our process for painting 3D printed spaceships and starship wreckage terrain. We will use the Lost Colony: Spaceship Graveyard Set to demonstrate.

    We used an airbrush and airbrush stencils but similar effects could be achieved with brushes or rattlecans.

    Which paint to use?

    Painting 3D printed terrain? Which paint should you use? After going through buckets of Citadel Paints, Vallejo and Army Painter on previous terrain projects, we came to the conclusion that cheap craft paints are defiantly the way to go! Just follow these steps to mix your own airbrush paint:

    1. Grab a few empty paint bottles – Remember that terrain uses a LOT of paint
    2. Squeeze some craft paint into the bottle
    3. Add some de-ionised / distilled water – This helps it going stinky in a few weeks
    4. Add some airbrush thinner (aim for the consistency of melted ice-cream)
    5. Throw in a glass bead and shake (don’t use metal… it may rust)
    Which paint for terrain

    1 – Good quality 3D prints

    Terrain is best printed on FDM printers such as the Ender 3 or Prusa i3 due to the size and amount of materials used – Resin prints would look great but it’d use a lot of resin and require larger resin printers. If using Cura, we recommend printing on standard settings with 5% infill. None of the Saucermen Studios terrain in this set requires supports.

    3D printed spaceship

    2 – Priming

    We’ve tried a few primers for 3D printed terrain and found that Primer / Filler for cars works great for filling in any print lines. it’s important to take your time, spray multiple thin coats and keep a good distance between the spray and model – This will avoid pooling or thick areas of paint. Drying time is under 10 minutes too!

    Primer filler for 3D models
    Primng 3D printed models

    3 – Panel Lines & Dark Areas

    Using A dark grey / black paint, spray across the panel lines and dark areas of the terrain such as metal areas or deep recesses.

    4 panel lines

    4 – Add Highlights to Panels

    Using a white or light colour to paint highlights onto the main areas of the panels, this cleans up any messy panel lines and adds contrast to the model.

    5 lighter

    5 – Stipple Rust & Dirt

    Using an old, thick bristled brush with brown / umber paint to jab or stipple grunge onto dark areas of the terrain. Don’t worry about being too messy here as it will be dry brushed later.

    6 stipple brown

    6 – Drybrush Metal & Silver Areas

    Using a large dry and silver paint, drybrush areas of metal. On these example, we used two different brushes for smaller and larger areas. A cheap house painting brush works great!

    Drybrush terrain
    Drybrushing terrain

    7 – Adding More Colours

    Repeating the steps above or applying base colours, then highlighting each panel with a lighter colour, you can add variety to the panels. Using masking tape or a carefully held masking board here is essential to isolate individual parts of the model.

    Painting 3D printed terrain

    8 – Applying Airbrush Stencils

    We used adhesive vinyl airbrush stencils here to add decals and detail to the models. Stencils are a great, clean and effective way to easily boost the aesthetic of a model.

    Using Airbrush Stencils
    8 panels
    how to use airbrush stencils

    9 – Edge Highlights (with a pencil)

    Using a white artist pencil you can quickly and cleanly apply edge highlights to terrain. Just use the side of the pencil and rub it on the edges!

    Using Pencils for Edge Highlights

    10 – Sponge on Some Damage!

    Using a contrasting colour paint, use a torn sponge to add damage, dirt and grime to the edges. Aim for areas that see some usage or would get scratched up easily. Think about doorway edges and corners, etc.

    9 stipple

    All done – Add Some Brush Detail!

    Grab a small, good quality miniature brush and paint on some of the fine detail for panels, wires and lights, etc.

    Crashed Spaceship Wreckage 3D printed terrain
    Star Wars Legion Zombei Stormtrooper
    spaceship wreckage 3D printable terrain stl

    Want this Terrain?

    Using & Airbrush Stencils

    How to use airbrush stencils

    What Are Airbrush Stencils?

    Airbrush stencils make painting scenery, miniatures, props, robots, vehicles and other painting projects much easier. They are used by hobbyists and studio painters across the world and allow you to achieve limitless customisation by offering complex shapes and thematic patterns, all of which can be quickly and easily applied will very little skill.

    How to use Airbrush Stencils

    1. Ensure your hands are clean before use
    2. If using adhesive stencil, delicately remove your stencil from the backing sheet
    3. Position your stencil onto the clean & dry painting surface
    4. Firmly hold or stick the stencil onto the surface to avoid paint leakage
    5. Apply your paint onto the project
    6. Carefully remove the stencil from the painting surface
    7. For re-use, carefully place the stencil onto the backing sheet

    Materials: Adhesive Vinyl vs. Durable Flex

    Adhesive Vinyl

    flex stencil 2 of 3


    Low tack adhesive vinyl material that allows super-sharp lines but limited re-usability.

    Use When:

    • Your painting surface is uneven or varied in shape
    • You need an adhesive material to stick to your surface
    • You need super sharp paint lines
    • Re-usability isn’t too important

    Durable Flex

    flex stencil scifi camo 2


    Strong, re-usable and flexible film material that is quick and easy to use.

    Use When:

    • You have a flat painting surface
    • You need a durable stencil
    • You want your stencil to last for a long time


    Airbrush stencils come in a variety of designs, with each stencil offering a range if icons, decals and shapes that share a common theme.



    Flex stencil rolled up 1

    Airbrush stencils are great to use on a variety of surfaces and can flex, wrap and bend around most shapes. Vinyl stencils provide the best versatility as they can be manipulated to fit into the tightest of places and even heated with a hair dryer for extra moldability. Flex stencils are still able to wrap around larger organic shapes.

    How Are Stencils Made?

    Good quality airbrush stencils are machine cut with precision hardware.

    Do I Need An Airbrush?

    Air brushes will give the best results for stencils but you can also use rattle-cans, brushes ands even sponges to dab on worn or ‘chipped’ paintwork and distressed surfaces.

    Custom Airbrush Stencils

    These are the general guidelines we suggest for custom stencils:
    – Your design must be provided as a single colour vector (.ai / .eps / .svg)
    – Our machines cut around each shape in your artwork, so merging overlapped objects is required
    – Consider how stencils work, you need gaps for certain shapes (otherwise they just fall out the stencil)
    – Avoid thin connecting lines as these may to break
    – You must own rights to use the design. We will not cut images that infringe copyright

    Buying Airbrush Stencils