Wargaming Tradecraft: Strange Magic - Part 1


Strange Magic - Part 1

Have you seen Doctor Strange yet? There's some cool effects in there and if you're wondering how to recreate them on your miniatures, then you're in luck. Between today's tutorial on floating magic and a followup on transparent weapons, I'll show you how.

I'm also going to preface this with a note that after creating the effects I've got a few thoughts on how to pull it off a little cleaner - I'll share those at the end of the article.

You can also view a 360 view here:

Painting the Miniature

Getting the miniature ready to wield some ancient magics, I used a Reaper Bones figure. As I covered in my Reaper Review, some primers will make your plastic tacky and gross, so I painted it with White Gesso, then primed it.

Painting her was actually super simple - Used some washes and thinned paints over the white and just left it at that.

If you want to see how I painted her glowing eyes, take a look at that tutorial.

Texturing the Base

I use Sculpting Gel all over the place to create unique effects. On this mage's base, I used a textured fiber gel, covered by a thick blue wash. As you can see, it creates a nice surface texture.

Transparent Supplies

As long as it's clear and flexible, you're good to go. Some suggestions are:
  • Transparency / Overhead Paper
  • Card Sleeves
You can see other uses for these kinds of transparent supplies in some of my other work and I've used the stronger clear plastic from recycling miniature containers to do things like create internal structures for miniatures like my Champion Hero.

Single Hovering Runes (Simple)

Of the effects I created, I really like how this one turned out.

1. Creating the Runes
  1. Cut a strip in your clear material.
    Use a ruler to keep it straight.
  2. Paint the runes.
    1. Start with a dark base.
    2. Wash a lighter colour over the runes
    3. Highlight with a light, then a white.
  3. Repeat for the other side. (If being 2-sided is important.)

Once the runes are painted, glue the strip into a circle.

2. Attaching the Runes

I mentioned gel above, but for transparency to make it look like the runes are hovering, I'll specifically use Heavy Sculpting Gel since it's just clear, no texture.

  1. Sculpt some gel on the miniature.
  2. Place the rune plastic over the gel.

Layered Hovering Runes (Complex)

Trying to recreate the original image from the movie, I've created a larger layered tier of runes. I really liked the effect, but there's a few things I'd do differently if I made them again. (Which I'll discuss at the end of this tutorial.)

1. Scale Your Effect

First I decided how large the effect would be, in this case using a paint bottle to figure out sizing.

2. Cut The Transparency

Same as above, I've used clear overhead paper. Pictured, I'm using a ruler with my cut to make sure it's straight.
3. Paint the Runes

You can go as heavy or light as you like and I chose to aim for the original photo.

I created 3 layers, starting with orange, moving lighter into yellows and some final white highlights.

On the outer areas I used a little yellow and white alone to create some outer glow effects.

Finally, note that I've weaved some of the lines under and over each other to intertwine them.

4. Mounting the Effects

Same as the smaller effect above, I've used sculpting gel to stack each layer together. Eventually this dries clear.

Alternate Approaches


I think the larger effect takes over a little too much. In the future when I use this technique, I'll probably limit it to smaller ones, such as these:


I ended up trimming the effects and I think in the future I'd stick to straight lines. So, in the case of those two diamonds I'd probably still cut around the diamonds. But for the circular areas, I think I'd keep the cuts around them cleaner - Either one large box or smaller uniform diamond cuts around them.


Finally, for a higher detailed figure, I probably would have painted both sides and used more whites and yellows to create a brighter magical effect.

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