Wargaming Tradecraft: Supplies - Crystals (Amethyst)


Supplies - Crystals (Amethyst)

I'm a big believer in using realistic objects to create terrain and do basing. It adds this wonderful touch of realism to your projects. Almost adds a certain level of credibility to what you're painting - making them look like they "belong" in the world.

Rare stones can add a lot of flare to a project and are easily and cheaply available. You can usually find them at hippy stores in the mall and farmers markets, but also some hobby or speciality stores. Unlike hobby jewels, crystals are less "blingy" and more natural.

Quartz crystals all look roughly similar but come in different colours and/or smokey/cloudyness, while Amethyst is the purple variety. It's not considered an expensive crystal, but buying them on eBay can add up.

Crystal Forms

When you buy crystals, they'll be available in a few different forms...


These will usually have a stone base and the crystals are growing out from it.

Suitable for terrain and large bases.

Little large for our purposes, but you'll also see large rocks with hollow centers full of crystalline outcroppings. (aka: Geode)

Raw crystals are basically rough chunks that look like crystalline rocks or coloured broken glass. They're not pretty and won't be smooth or glossy.

Still great for terrain and bases, but getting small enough they can be added to larger models too.

If you want to smooth raw stones, look below and read about Tumbling. Dremel rotary tools with buffing wheels and some polish can also be used to shine larger rocks.

The process of smoothing out a precious stone is called "tumbling". That's using a rock tumbler to continually roll rocks in a liquid polish until they're smooth and shiny. In addition to art and hobby stores, you'll often find rock tumblers at toy stores if you want to shine them yourself.

Crystals this small, while still useful in terrain, will fit on small bases and most miniatures.


As you can see compared to the penny, these crystals get really small. Definitely useful as fangs, claws, spear tips, weapon blades, etc.


Amethyst can be a light pink. You can see that a bunch of these stones are clear or smokey. That makes them basically just low-quality quartz.


For the Crystalline Affliction project, I bought a whole bunch of different types of Amethyst off eBay. (Close-ups pictured above) Even had some cheap fake purple stones from the wedding section of a party supply store.

Shops at malls and farmer markets usually just sell the tumbled and formation types. Them and jewelry stores also sometimes sell these types of stones as trinkets cut into specific shapes like hearts, skulls, etc. eBay has lots of raw crystals.

If you have the money and are looking for something specific, you can also find stores that will cut a shape for you. Might have to do some hunting to find the right place.

Another option is to glue a bunch of crystals into your own formation.


When all the crystals came in, I sorted them out. The tiny ones went into a cylinder superglue comes in. The larger raw ones into a nice jar and the rest into my bitz boxes. I also separated the tumbled stones between clear / pink and purple.

Some examples of uses for each type of crystal...

Basing with a formation.

Terrain and Templates with raw.
Janessa's Wall

Growths from skin, spear tips, claws, fangs, etc using raw and tumbled.
Thagrosh of the Crystalline Affliction


  1. Great examples. Never thought of using actual crystals. Thanks for the ideas!


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