How to Paint Gandalf the White from GamesWorkshop by Miguel Angel Lopez Rodriguez

How to Paint Gandalf The White – Minas Tirith

Since I watched The Lord of the Rings films being a child, one of my favourite characters was Gandalf The White, so lately I wanted to learn how to paint Gandalf the White, finally I had the opportunity to try one of his Games Workshop miniatures at my highest level.

I will try to be as systematic as possible, but you know that any painting process has multitude corrections, so it is very difficult to create a lineal step by step that you can copy successfully, but let’s try it.


I usually prime my miniatures firstly with Tamiya Spray Grey, because it produces a thin granulated coat, and over that the next coats will be well adhered. Then I prime over that with Vallejo Prime Black (with the brush if the miniature is small), because I prefer to work from shadow to light, and finally I airbrush all the miniature with Vallejo Prime White to know where to place shadows and lights and to have a reference during the painting process.


Now that we have an idea about where light and shadows will go, it is time to think about colour. In my case I used as reference these photos:

How to Paint Gandalf the White

reference material

As you can see, it is a yellowish white, that could be difficult to achieve because Gandalf seems to be illuminated by a light halo that looks like to be irradiated from himself.

The cloak

I would always recommend you start painting the bigger volumes. In this case, the cloak is the biggest, so let`s go. After testing colours, finally I decided to use the following Vallejo: Black, Burnt Umber, Yellow, Sunny Skin, Ice Yellow and White.

I prefer a basecoat nearer to shadow, at least for me it is easier to generate richer middle tones by doing this. I applied as basecoat:

Burnt Umber (40%) + Yellow (50%) + Sunny Skin (10%)

In the following steps, I add more Sunny Skin, Ice Yellow and White, reducing drastically the amount of Burnt Umber.

How to Paint Gandalf the White

begin from a solid base coat

How to Paint Gandalf the White

reduce the amount of burnt umber

How to Paint Gandalf the White

strengthening the highlights

Some tips you have to take into account:

  • Until you don`t see in the process what you are seeking, don`t dilute too much the paintings. You should have the possibility to change quickly from one interpretation to another, and most of the times it is cleaner to work this way.
  • Play with different kind of underground layers. It is not the same to paint over black than over white. For instance, in the seventh pic of the process, you can see a strong black brushstroke in the shadow of the right arm. Colors painted over that will have less intensity.
  • Paint reducing the volume you cover in each layer and try not to lose the middle tone. The places where extreme lights and shadows should go are clearly given by the white prime, so in case of doubt, don’t paint with so much light over middle tone areas.

The chosen colours to paint the face were the following Vallejo: Burnt Umber, Bright Orange, Sunny Skin, Deep Yellow, Ice Yellow.

The colours used to paint the beard were the same as those used in the cloak, the idea is the same but adding more orange to create a flesh colour.

How to Paint Gandalf the White

basic steps to painting a realistic face in small scale

How to Paint Gandalf the White

the hair and beard frame the face

Again, I wanted a yellowish outcome, that’s why in the final step I tried to correct it.

Previous tips are also useful here, but I would add the next one:

-Take care not to lose the middle tone. Given that it is a very small area, it is better to highlight the main point to achieve definition such as cheeks, forehead, eyelid, eye bags and tip of the nose.

The Staff

The staff of Gandalf The White is also white, so I was in trouble, because I wanted to distinguish it from the clothes. I created a pale white, adding some grey and removing most of the yellow from the recipe.

In this step I glued Gandalf to the base and after that I glued the staff to the miniature. To paint properly the volumes of the staff, I had to check again the photos taken during the priming.

How to Paint Gandalf the White

the need to maintain harmony but some contrast to the other whites

The base

The base was made using scenography taken by the Games Workshop Giant Kit and completing the column and the ground using supersculpey. During the painting process I was looking for references and I saw a project whose creator had the same idea before me. This is the link if you want to see the project:

The colours used are the same chosen to paint the clothes but adding Blue and a little bit of Grey. The idea is to create colours with less intensity and a little lifeless compared to Gandalf.

How to Paint Gandalf the White

beginning the groundworks

How to Paint Gandalf the White

similar colour palette to the robes but with more blue and black

The rest of the ground was painted the same way but adding a little more of black and blue.

The red tie

I wanted to put some colour in the scene, because both Gandalf and Minas Tirith have no colour saturation, so I decide to use a powerful red in the tie that holds the chain.

I used the following: Black (Vallejo), Inktense Blue (Scale Color), Red (Vallejo), Yellow (Vallejo) and Sunny Skin.

How to Paint Gandalf the White

introducing some warmth and saturation

First, I painted the full tie with Red. Then I forced the shadows with Black + Inktense Blue. That defines completely the tie giving a strong shadow. Then, I highlight the tie using Red, Yellow and Sunny Skin. If you lose the power of the red, you can paint over it with a very dilute layer of red.

The rusty chain

Keeping in mind the need of colour saturation, the chain will be painted trying to imitate an orange rusty metal. The colours used were: Burnt Umber, Blue, Orange, Yellow, White, Black, Ice Yellow and Inktense Blue and Black for shadows.

How to Paint Gandalf the White

final details

Firstly, I applied a basecoat of Blue, Burnt Umber and Orange. Then I added more Orange and some Yellow in the light zones. After that, I create the rusty effect playing with the brush adding different kind of extreme highlights, mostly with Ice Yellow. Finally, I tried to recover the orange tone with controlled washes.

Final pics

Thanks for reading, there you have it, How to Paint Gandalf the White, I hope you can find it useful. If you want to ask me something or you would like to follow my works, I am @miguel_miniatures on Instagram.

How to Paint Gandalf the White

the finished project




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