How to Paint Concrete Scenery

I received several emails related to the repainting of the Cliffs of Insanity article that was recently posted requesting more details on how to paint this type of concrete scenery.

21-whitecoat-mineThe painting method I use comes from patient instructions I received from Chris Walas. Chris is a master Hollywood special effects and makeup artist who is also an avid model train buff. Chris’ method calls for first painting the concrete with white latex exterior house paint before coloring the piece.


There are other methods to be sure, for example, you can mix color into the concrete when you mix it, you can stain the concrete after it starts to set up, and there are different painting methods using different types of paint. I have only used Chris’ methodology so I can’t really address all the other ways to do this.

Here’s how I do it.

Once the concrete has been given it’s coat of UV protective white latex exterior grade house paint, you are ready to start laying down the colors you want. Rocks and mountains come in all types of colors but in this example I’m going for look that’s between Disney’s Big Thunder Mountain and the red rock formations of Sedona Arizona. The colors I used are wild rice, golden yellow, black cherry (a reddish purple) and nutmeg brown.


Here you can see a piece I started. Colors are applied starting with the lightest to the darkest. I’m using acrylic hobby paints and I started this rock with a wash using lightest color, wild rice. A wash is thin solution of your color. Just add water until you get the look you want.



Here is the piece with the first color (wild rice) wash complete.






For the next two colors, golden yellow, and black cherry, I did not paint the entire piece evenly with the wash. Here I only applied the golden yellow in a few areas.




I did the same with the black cherry, just highlighting different areas. I was fairly conservative with the yellow and black cherry. As I became more confident in the technique I used highlight colors a bit more boldly with good results.




To finish this piece I applied the base color, the nutmeg brown, as a wash over the entire piece. Here you see the piece with two “coats” of wash applied.





I continued applying the thin wash coats of the nutmeg brown, letting each dry before considering if another was required to get to the final look I wanted. Patience is important because paint is darker when dry than when you apply it. This pictures shows the final look after five applications of the nutmeg brown wash.


If you are considering undertaking a painting project like this for the first time it can be very intimidating. But you can’t really go wrong as you can always just paint it white again and start over.

If you have any tips on painting scenery I’d love to hear them. Post a comment or drop me a note using the Contact TJ form (see the menu at the top of each page). –TJ

(Originally posted 7/15/2011, revised 4/12/2013)

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One Response to How to Paint Concrete Scenery

  1. ThePigTailedGirl says:

    Must be harder than it looks?

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