Archive for Painting Tutorial

Army Color Scheme Design

Posted in Miniatures with tags , on September 5, 2014 by Sean

A common question I’ve gotten is how to decide on color schemes for miniatures. For single miniatures, this can be difficult. For whole armies, it creates additional problems. Here I’d like to discuss how to choose the color scheme for an army. The colors are broken down into categories.

Primary- The overall color of the miniature, or at least the most prominent.

Secondary- Next in prominence. This color often acts as a visual contrast to the Primary.

Tertiary/Contrast- Usually this color is a strong contrast to the Primary and Secondary colors, or breaks up a miniature’s lines and shapes.

Detail- This is the unified color for the less prominent or smaller details. Often this is a collection of colors.

The examples below give some idea of color schemes and the breakdown of color choices.

For instance, the Imperial Fist Marine’s Primary color is yellow, with a strong red for the secondary. The whole army features the yellow power armor, with red shoulder pad rims, chest eagles, and assorted decoration. The Contrast color is white, used on some armor plates, either as part of squad insignia, helmets, or shoulder pads. Detail colors for the army include black (for bolters and most weapons), parchment (for purity seals and litany pages), and grey metal (weapon and backpack parts, armor joints). Red returns as a detail color for eyes, purity seals, and scanners.

Another example is a Dark Elf. His Primary color is a cool grey metal for his armor plates and chain coat. Purple acts as the Secondary color, used for the body cloak. The Contrast color is a warm yellow (a good complement to the purple). Finally Detail colors include gold for weapons and jewelry, white metal for weapons, and turquoise for bags.  Skin is usually not included in color scheme choices unless it either features prominently on the miniature, or is a color that would contrast strongly with any of the major colors. In the case of the Dark Elf, the pale blue skin is pretty low key so wouldn’t interfere with the other colors. On a unit of Witch Elves from the same army, it might influence other color choices. On the other hand, the Orc’s green skin is bold, creating a substantial distinction with the black and white Primary and Secondary colors.

When choosing the colors, one should take into account basic color theory. If necessary, consult a color wheel to determine color harmonics with analogous and complementary colors. A scheme that follows these suggested rules will ultimately have a better appearance to the eye, whereas colors chosen poorly can lead to garish or ugly looking miniatures.

Horus, the Warmaster

Posted in Miniatures with tags , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2014 by Sean

My next big project is the Warmaster, arch-traitor and all-around nice guy, Horus.

Like Feruss Manus before him, this model is huge. He’s smaller than Manus, but still towers over Marine Terminators, even without the statuary he’s standing on. The pics show him ready to prime and paint, on his own and inside his scenic base. The base has a small component that inserts on the back to hide the join of his base to the scenic staircase (need to magnetize it like for Manus’ base).

Updates as I do them!

Feruss Manus: Iron Hands Primarch

Posted in Miniatures with tags , , , , , , on August 11, 2014 by Sean


Feruss Manus, Primarch of the Iron Hands, comes to an end. This miniature was a beast to paint, but very fun.

Continuing from the last posts, I finished the techno-harness on his back, vambraces (forearm guards), and his hammer in the same fashion as the rest of his armor. The harness got a few spots of color, with the Plasma Gun’s reaction chamber done in P3 Cygnar Blue Base and highlighted with a few layers of Blue/White, with a final layer of Pure White. The hose for the chainsaw arm was P3 Moldy Ochre and black. The ‘industrial’ pattern is a nice echo of his rival techno-mechanical brother, Perturabo, Primarch of the Iron Warriors.

The hammer got the only gold on the model, with the eagle making up part of the hammer’s head getting GW Gehenna Gold, followed by a wash of Agrax Earthshade and Nuln Oil. This got a highlight of Genna Gold and Mithril Silver, with a little Bronze to soften the highlights. The hammer head and various other parts were done with Pig Iron and Nuln Oil, while the shaft and counterweight spike were Tinny Tin and Nuln Oil/Agrax Earthshade, followed by a light highlight of Tin and Silver.

The numeral X (for 10th Legion) was highlighted with white/grey, then pure white. I kept the white a bit subdued, to keep it from being too flashy and standing out too much from the gleaming metal and black of the armor.

I am quite happy of my choices for the model. The skin in particular stands out so well compared to the armor. The face, red with exertion and anger, pops from between his cool white metal collar and shoulder pads, with the halo/gear above his head echoing the warm color like a nimbus. I hope I did justice to this great sculpt.

Next: Horus!

Feruss Manus- Stage 5: Torso and Shoulder Armor

Posted in Miniatures with tags , , , , , , on August 9, 2014 by Sean


Feruss Manus is almost done. Here are some details for the torso and pauldron armor. The process for painting them was the same as for the previous post on leg armor.

1. Highlight with Dawnstone and Underbelly Blue.

2. Pig Iron and Tinny Tin on the armor details, plate edges, and decoration. This stage is before the wash of Nuln Oil and Agrax Earthshade and subsequent highlights. The X numeral got a coat of Administratum Grey.

The final pics will be coming soon!

Feruss Manus- Stage 4: Leg Armor

Posted in Miniatures with tags , , , , , , , on August 2, 2014 by Sean

More Feruss Manus!

I’m working on the power armor now. However, due to the complexity of the armor’s exposed mechanisms, I am doing Feruss’ armor in pieces, starting here with the legs. The size of the miniature meant the sculpt has plenty of room for detail, which the standard 28mm sized Marines don’t have. Painting all the model at once risks missing parts or wasting paint mixes. Like previous posts, I’ll describe the steps and paints used.

1. Base coat. I cleaned up the armor with Craftsmart Black. This is the same color I used for the standard Iron Hands Marines (including the dead ones on his base). This black is a sooty matte color which conveys age and industry.

2. Highlight. A mix of Craftsmart Black and GW Dawnstone was applied to the edges of the power armor plates. A second highlight added P3 Underbelly Blue to Dawnstone to add a touch of cool blue to the highlights. These were placed at key points of the armor.

3. Metal details. The edges of the armor plates, decorative gear designs, studs, baltea (the groin guard), and exposed mechanisms (wires, hoses, pistons) got a coat of P3 Pig Iron. A few details like the kneepads and the aquila on the baltea’s chains were picked out with Vallejo Tinny Tin.

4. Metal highlights. The Pig Iron was washed with GW Nuln Oil, with a few key points also washed with GW Agrax Earthshade. These were then highlighted with Pig Iron, followed by a mix of Pig Iron and GW Mithril Silver. The brown metal got a mix of Tinny Tin and Mithril Silver.

The final pic is the progression of all the steps on one angle of the legs.

Next, torso and shoulders.

Ferrus Manus- Stage 3: Skin

Posted in Miniatures with tags , , , , , , , on July 24, 2014 by Sean

The laborious task of Ferrus Manus continues. Befitting such an important (and quite large) miniature, I’m taking my time with him. This stage is his skin and of course, Ferrus Manus’ iron hands.

1. The arms and face got a base of GW Rhinox Hide. This is a nice dark brown, with just a little red. I usually use it for the base of most human skin tones. (left pic)

Then those portions got a blending of Rhinox Hide with Vallejo Flat Brown, then a mix of Flat Brown and GW Steel Legion Drab (to dull down the reddish tint), The face got an extra mix with some Mephiston Red to give his cheeks, forehead, and lips life. (middle pic)

Finally, the skin got a blend of Flat Brown, Steel Legion Drab, and GW Cadian Fleshtone. I made sure to keep the muscles defined, and left plenty of deep lines on his face to emphasize his exertion; he’s depicted in the middle of a duel, swinging a giant hammer. The smaller pics show the final stage from different angles. The armor and base are cool, dull colors like grey and black, so his warm skin will really pop against all that. (right pic)

2. I start on the hands and forearms. This had several stages. The hands get a base of Vallejo German Grey over black. I blended the grey into the skin up to past his elbows. (top pics)

Next a mix of German Grey and GW Leadbelcher on high points like his knuckles and the tightened sinews of his arms. (bottom pics)

3. The hands got a wash of GW Asurmen Blue to tone down the metal highlights and give them a richness. (top pics)

Next the hands got another pass of Leadbelcher. (bottom pics)

4. The final highlights on the hands and running up the arms. This was a mix of Leadbelcher and GW Mithril Silver, followed by a pass of pure Mithril Silver on key points. This will make his hands really stand out, especially to the duller white metal of his armor. The blue undertone helps make the silver gleam.

At this stage I also blacked in his hair and facial features. The eyes got whites and pupils, his teeth were suggested by a line of dulled white, and his black hair got a highlight of grey, with a little extra at the temples.

Next, his armor!


Ferrus Manus- Stage 2: Figure Base

Posted in Miniatures with tags , , , , , , on July 6, 2014 by Sean



Ferrus Manus continues…

Now that the scenic base is out of the way, I can start on the miniature of Manus himself. But first, his own base.

I usually do the bases of miniatures first. This is done to set the color tone for the rest of the model if needed, but mostly for ease of painting. It allows me to to drybrush and highlight the ground, debris, stones, whatever without fear of messing up the feet or legs of the miniature. This is especially good for 15mm or smaller miniatures (like from Flames of War or Epic).

So the base:

1. The base coat. Black like the scenic base.

2. 3 shots of the first highlight. It was done in the same fashion as the scenic base. In addition the pic has the skulls and metal debris I picked out with a base of Battlefield Brown. The discarded bolter was later blacked in.

3. 3 shots of the finished base. Skulls got their highlights of white/Gorthor Brown/Hammerfall Khaki, while the girders got the same highlights with a final light wetbrush of Red Leather for rust. The bolter’s case was highlighted with Dawnstone, and the metal parts Pig Iron; both parts were then washed with Nuln Oil to tone them down.

4. The base within the scenic base. Seamless, hopefully.