Painting Basics – Glass bottles

One of the things I’ve found myself painting an increasing amount of in the past few years, is glass bottles, be they on the waist of the Sanguinor, or a Frostgrave apothecary.

This has become even more apparent since I started getting scenery and miniatures ready for Dead Man’s Hand, a Wild West miniatures game. I bought a lot of scenery from TT Combat, and while the buildings are great with a lick of paint, the bottles are all pressed from the same mdf as the walls. If I wasn’t so anal about certain things, they’d be fine, I’ve painted up some of them in the way below, and they look fine – they’re not an integral part of the scenery, just there to make the place look better.


Trawling the internet for scenery stuff as I so often do – nine times out of fifty it’s window shopping – I came across Black Cat Bases, a small company from here in the UK who have a ridiculous amount of small pieces that you can use to bring life to your scenery, and they sell bottles. This post is going to be about painting said bottles, but you’ll be able to use the same techniques on any kind of small glass scenery.

This is how the bottles arrive, and I decided to paint them attached to the sprue – individually they’d be way too fiddly to hold, I have loads of them, and pinning them all would sap my will to use them:


As always, a black undercoat:


Here they differ, if only because of the colours, though the principle is the same. I wanted the square bottles to be old style brown whiskey bottles, so painted them with Vallejo Burnt Umber.3

Next, I added Vallejo Flat Earth on all four sides to show where the whiskey was up to on the bottle. The one which is furthest away will be on it’s side when painted, which is why the whiskey is up one side of the bottle.


I then added two highlights to the whiskey by adding increasing amounts of Vallejo White to the Flat Earth.


With the highlights on the corner of the fluids, I added a highlight to the bottle, using Burnt Umber with some White mixed in. Using White, I also highlighted the edges of the bottle, adding a thin line across the top of the fluid and a few spots for light reflecting.


With the highlights complete, it was time to Varnish the bottle. Citadel ‘Ardcoat Gloss Varnish is my favourite for things like this, as it does give them a brilliant shine. With the ‘Ardcoat on, I used Vallejo Gloss Black to paint the bottle tops, and then used Matt Varnish on them. I can’t say where the Matt Varnish is from as the label has worn away many moons ago. Any good recommendations, post them below this post!


The only thing remaining was the labels. I painted two white, two black, and used the opposite colour to paint the rough design on them. The design is a very rough version of the Jack Daniels bottles.


With the liquor bottles finished, it’s onto the wine bottles.

I decided on three colours over the four bottles, Vallejo Dark Blue – because water is blue, right? – two dark red, a mix of Vallejo Flat Red and a small spot of Citadel Abaddon Black like red wine, and one Flat Red, like… blood? As I wanted the bottles to be clear glass, I painted the non-red/blue parts Vallejo Dark Seagreen.


Just like the liquor bottles, I mixed a spot of White with each of the liquid colours, and added highlights to the bottom of the bottle, a couple of vertical highlights on each bottle, and a highlight below the upper line of the liquid. This includes highlighting the grey of the bottle.


With these highlights out of the way, I added Citadel Druchii Violet wash to the larger areas of unhighlighted Flat Red, and Flat Red/Abaddon Black, and added some Guilliman Blue Wash to the unhighlighted areas of Dark Blue. Black Shade was added to the larger areas of Dark Seagreen. I did this to give it a nice deep colour.

I then used ‘Ardcoat on the bottles, painted the cork stopper with Flat Earth, and used matte varnish on that.


With that done, the bottles are all done.

If you want to spend more time adding more layers and blending them together, it’s the same principle, and does look better, but as this is a Painting Basics – and as they’re for scenery, not a miniature – I’m happy with how they’ll look on the shelf behind the Wild West bar.

If you have any thoughts or questions, please comment below, and as always, thanks for reading.