Home Forums Terrain and Scenery Painting thatched roofs

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    Avatar photogreg954

    Hi all,

    Just started going into 15mm fantasy and I have just realised. I’ve never painted anything along these lines before. So a bit of a learning curve me thinks.

    Any advice on how to paint a thatched roof? I’m torn between a gold colour or grey.  Real straw thatch is straw coloured when it first goes on, but tends to turn pale grey after a while. I suppose it always depends on what materials are used.

    I’m guessing a lot of dry brushing? Maybe no need for a wash,  I’m not sure. I’m not after a spectacular realistic finish. Just an effective basic finish. As that should suit my abilities.

    Anyway what do you peeps think?

    Avatar photoMike

    I have subscribed to this topic, as of yet, I have not painted thatch/straw to my satisfaction..

    I await an excellent how to with many images!


    Avatar photoRhoderic

    I’m torn between a gold colour or grey. Real straw thatch is straw coloured when it first goes on, but tends to turn pale grey after a while.

    Split the difference, maybe.

    Realism would dictate pale grey, but of course, for settings like this where realism is only optional, it also depends on the mood you’re going for. Idyllic, doom-and-gloom, or somewhere in between? Consider the mood conveyed by the colours of the rest of your terrain and figures, too.

    Avatar photoGaz045

    In a wet and damp climate the thatch will turn grey quickly looking quite dark underneath…….in warmer climes it games dry and can retain more of its original tones for longer……..Palm thatch will turn pale brown with grey ends in several months.
    I recently tried a ‘ new’ thatch look but it is back in the painting queue for a do-over………..it didn’t fit with the rest of my izbas in the collective………….dark grey base with two lighter shades over the top……….my tropical thatch tends to be over a brown base with grey and sand highlighting……..

    "Even dry tree bark is not bitter to the hungry squirrel"

    Avatar photoMcKinstry

    I wouldn’t claim expertise but I painted some buildings that can be seen on the Novus Design Studio website. For Russian thatch, a wetter darker climate, as I recall a light gray-brown, a wash with the ever popular GW Agrax Earthshade, a then a drybrush with a lightened version of the base coat.


    If I was doing newish thatch I’d go with a golden brown but the same general approach. If the model has any real texture on the roof, a base/wash/drybrush will work pretty well.


    The tree of Life is self pruning.

    Avatar photoMartinR

    For my Russian houses I went with grey brown, a dark ink wash and a dry brush. Looks good enough.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Avatar photoNorthern Monkey

    I start with a mustard yellow and progressively dry brush lighter ending with a bone colour then a light wash with sepia, some examples here(of 15mm fantasy stuff): https://ablogofwar.blogspot.com/2018/03/15mm-fantasyv-more-scenery.html

    My attempt at a Blog: http://ablogofwar.blogspot.co.uk/

    Avatar photocmnash

    I just do a straw colour with a black wash … looks good enough to me


    Avatar photogreg954

    Thanks peeps, you’ve all given me something to think about. I’m currently in the process of replacing my paint stock. The vast majority of my Coats De Arms paint are now depleted. So looking to try Vallejo for a change. I want  to make sure I have all the colours/washes/primers etc….at hand.

    Northen Monkey; Those Alternative Armies buildings are the ones I’m looking to paint. I agree with you, they are nice buildings but a touch small. But in a way that suits me because it saves a tiny bit on the storage monster.

    PS; I hope that helps you too Mike 

    Avatar photoRadar

    Thatch is a real tricky one. Once it has seen a winter it goes the colour of a chestnut mushroom, but with a grey touch.


    Here’s my recipe:

    Basecoat: RailMatch ‘worn tarmac’ a mid to dark grey. Once applied it looks just wrong, and I understand why many people turn to the yellow and brown palettes.
    Next up was a very heavy drybrush with Foundry Moss 29B. A green brown,  it toned the grey down considerably but seemed much brighter than I hoped for.

    Final step was a glaze of Windsor and Newton nutbrown ink WHILST the Foundry moss was still a bit tacky.

    (You might need to do a black ink wash on top too – see my link for fuller explanation)

    Picture doesn’t do it justice, zoom into the thatch to see the actual colour(s)


    Avatar photoCerdic

    I regularly drive past a thatched cottage.

    A few years ago it was re-thatched. The new roof was initially a yellowy straw colour, not unlike cmnash’s photo above but a bit darker. Within about three months it had turned a darkish brown, and after about eight or nine months it was dark grey.

    It is still the same dark grey now.

    Given that a thatched roof will last many years before it needs replacing, the realistic option is to do them dark grey!

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