How I paint tabletop level metallic gold


I was asked the other day how I painted the gold on the crozius for the Dark Vengeance Chaplain I posted. I've actually got a couple different ways I paint gold. This is the method I use for quick, tabletop results.

There are tons of ways to paint any metallic, but this is my "go to" method for quick and basic gold. It's worth noting that this method yields a warm, bright gold in the end. While it might look like a bunch of steps, they are super easy and the biggest problem you'll have is waiting for your washes to dry.


What you'll need to do this
You aren't going to need much and I'm almost certain you have the four colors/washes already in your collection. For the base, I use GW Shining Gold. I believe it's Gehenna's Gold now in the new range. Other than that, you'll need a dark brown and two washes, Seraphim Sepia and Agrax Earthsahde.

Here's the step by step
Priming can be any color based on the predominant color your model is. This is not a worry for us because we're going to go over our gold areas with our dark brown anyway before we start applying any metallics.


Once we have our model primed and we've come to the point where we are going to work on the gold sections, I base those with a dark brown color. Any brown will do and depending on what shade you choose, it has the potential to affect your final gold color.

I've used light browns, reddish-browns, greens, blacks... all kinds of colors under gold for different effects. Each has their own pros and cons and creates and slightly different look in the end.

Once we have our gold areas based with brown, it's time to add the gold. I don't worry about getting perfect coverage since my dark brown can act as my shadow color in the recessed areas if I miss a small spot.

Once the gold dries, I go over it with two washes. The first one is Seraphim Sepia and I cover the whole gold area liberally. Once that dries, I apply Agrax Earthshade to the deeper recessed areas only. In this case, it was right around the skull.

Make sure you give your washes plenty of time to dry. When they're dry, it's one last step of a light drybrush using our original gold color to give the gold some contrast and make it pop.

It's a simple method that get's pretty good resutls quickly. Those are my favorite techniques. You can expand on this one to include any number of additional steps, but if I had to add one more, it would be a second (very light) drybrush of silver over the most prominent edges only. This will make the gold look even brighter.


And for those folks wondering how this technique scales up from an icon to a whole infantry model (say you were doing a Custodes force)... it works perfectly.

Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
Creating various metal effect with washes
How to paint bronze (Minotaurs Space Marines)


Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!

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How to paint Word Bearers quick and easy


I got a request on how I would paint Word Bearers using the same "quick and dark" method I used on my Dark Angel and Ultramarine. It really was a question of could I use the same approach with red spray paint and black like I did with the other two models.

In the end, I think I came close to producing a decent model, but missed the mark slightly. Not because the technique failed, but because my weathering was a bit too heavy handed overall and the finished look suffers because of that. I wanted a truly battered and war torn look, but I should have used a variety of techniques instead of relying on just one to carry the look.

That being said, let's look at what I did to get here.


I started off by priming him black and then giving him a zenith spray coat of the red spray paint I had on hand. It wasn't so much red as it was brown, but I figured it would work just the same. I should note that you could use any shade of red really, it comes down to personal taste in the end.

Here's the step by step for the zenith spray painting technique.


After that, I gave the model a few passes with GW Carroburg Crimson to blend everything together and give it more of a red look than brown. I considered using other colors, but opted to keep adding red to see just how much I could alter the original color.

Once I had my armour done, I cut in everything with black paint to see how he would look before I added the final details.


At this point, I noticed something I'd missed before and that was the wonderful change in color from the basecoat to the newly shaded areas. In some places, I'd simply forgotten add a layer of wash and because of that, they retained their original lighter shade of brownish-red. The best example is the top of the backpack.

It might have been an accident here, but it's something I'm going to actually try and do next time I have a model to paint. I really like the variation and I'm going to see if it's something I can push next time around.

Once I had my silver areas painted in over the black, I set about weathering him. I used a combination of powders and a pencil to really distress his armour. This is where I went a bit too far. I comes down to a combination of things for me. I should have paid attention to my highlights when was shading so I had the smooth transitions and I should have gone a little lighter on the weathering overall.

I have to admit, Word Bearers are fairly straight forward to paint. Red armour and silver for everything else. There aren't many steps there.

That being said, he does look war torn... just a bit muddy as well.
Here's the finished model.



I'm certain this technique would work for any "red" model. Simply adjust your spray paint color accordingly. Next time I'll focus on controlling my shading and then watching how I apply my weathering across the model.

The Word Bearer's chapter symbol
After looking at the Word Bearers iconography, I can tell you I would be seriously tempted to go either the sculpted shoulderpad or decal route. Freehanding this thing is going to be very time consuming. It's not impossible, it's just going to eat up a good bit of time. You're going to need a really nice brush and a steady hand in order to be able to get the fine detail.

That being said, here's how I would break it down into manageable shapes in order to paint it. This might help those folks looking to add the image to a banner or the side of a vehicle where you only need to paint one or two of them. I'll add that it's well worth thinning your paints slightly so that you don't leave any surface texture when you paint. It might take an additional layer or two, but the smooth finish is worth it.


First thing is to get your yellow flames down. There's no magic to the shape or size, it's just what works in the area you have. I kept mine kind of square as it mimics the shape of the skull inside it.

Second we block out the overall shape of the skull with a rectangle. The overall rectangle should be slightly smaller than the flames and what you want your final skull to be. As we flesh out the image, we will be adding to the outside of the rectangle and want to make sure we still have some yellow surrounding it when done.

Third we add the top part of the skull and upper jaw. Just make the top edge of the rectangle rounded and add a few teeth on the upper inside edge of the rectangle.

Fourth we add the horns and sides of the upper jaw. The horns are the harder part to add since you need to keep them symmetrical. The sides of the upper jaw are nothing more than small protrusions on each side of the rectangle even with the upper teeth.

Fifth we finish out the lower jaw. This includes some teeth along the bottom and filling out the lower jaw by extending it down slightly and adding similar protrusions on the sides like we just did for the upper jaw.

Sixth is the eyes. Since there was no need to try and add them in the beginning and having to work around them the whole time, we can add them now quite easily. Going back in with your yellow, you can lay in the basic shape for each eye. You don't have to be perfect since you can use your black to correct the shape as needed until you have exactly what you like.

And there you have it, a perfect Word Bearer icon broken down into a rectangle and built back up.

Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
A look at some ways to paint red in all of it's different shades
How to apply an overhead spray paint basecoat


Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!

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Dark Vengeance Chaplain painted


I recent got the chance to paint up the Limited Edition Chaplain that comes with the super special boxed set. I've actually got the Librarian to paint as well, but I figured I'd share some pics of the Chaplain now that I have him painted up.

He's been painted to a pretty basic level to match the existing army he's going to be a part of. He's another model for a friend of mine and his huge DIY Space Marine Chapter.


This model was a blast to paint with all of the detail on him. I was a bit worried at first about how I was going to get into the tight areas, but found myself leaving the arms off until I painted the inside of the cloak and then gluing them in place. I don't do much work using a sub-assembly approach and it can throw me off my game sometimes.


I didn't do anything fancy with this guy. There is no conversion work or modifications. Just a simple paint job. The one thing that did catch me off guard was the smoke coming from his backpack. At first, I wasn't sure how I was going to paint it so that it read as smoke and not some kind of nondescript blob.

I ended up painting it black and then dabbing a dark grey followed by a slightly lighter grey over the prominent protrusions. That created a mottled look I hoped I could pass off as "smoke." Over that went a heavy wash of Nuln Oil and Agrax Earthshade which worked perfectly in pulling it all together.


When it came to painting the robes, I knew I had to use purple since that was one of the main colors in the army. I wanted to keep the model somewhat dark since he's a Chaplain as well. That's when I figured I would highlight his armour a basic grey color and use P3 Coal Black for the other side of his robes to give it a dark blue look. I think it contrasts nicely against the purple and does well as another dark element on the model at the same time.

My friend doesn't usually run a Chaplain in his force, but this should give a decent model to use when he does decide to try one out.

Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
A look at some of the ways I use to paint black
How to make your own Chaplain skull helmets


Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!

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Do you paint using only one color at a time?


The other day when I posted my Nurgle Cultist troop, I mentioned mixing the washes when I shaded him. I wanted to expand on that idea today and talk more about breaking out of the one color at a time mindset.

I'm willing to bet you, like me, paint using one color at a time. In fact, I'm willing to bet it's what 99 percent of us do. It's probably how we were taught and it's certainly how GW explains the painting process to us with the new Base, Shade and Layer paints.

I even do it myself. I work with one color for the base and then move to a darker shade of that same color for the shadows and then a lighter version of that very same color for the highlight. What makes this weird for me is that I'm used to using multiple colors or mixes of multiple colors at a time instead of sticking to shades of just one color. I did it all the time in art school. My oil painting palette was a sea of colors that you could never get by painting one color at a time.


The variety of shades and hues is endless once you start using multiple colors instead of shades/tints of one particular color. This is what we are missing on our models. This is what you see on some of the higher end model painting out there. The subtle blending of numerous colors to give a wonderful look to a model.

You can see it (additional techniques to introduce a variety of colors into our models) starting to work their way into our painting today. Folks are starting to use different primer colors on models (and by that, I mean something other than black or white), zenithal highlighting creates wonderful value changes to show light and dark surfaces on a model and people are starting to learn that Agrax Earthshade for all it's great qualities is not the best wash on the planet.

Try using green or blue to shade red armour, the effect can be quite nice and it doesn't turn out as flat looking as it would if you'd used just black.

His left arm is another good example. If you look at it in the pic above, it's green, but has a pink hue at the top, a green tint in the middle and is somewhat brown at his hand.


My Nurgle Cultist model is my best example of this to date. Had I just used one wash for the shading, he would have never turned out like this. If I'd painted his shirt the same base color and then washed it with just Agrax Earthshade or just Nuln Oil, the final effect would not be anywhere near the same.


Now I'm not saying that you need to use multiple colors/washes/layers/whatever and if you don't, your model is junk. I'm saying that it's worth trying. Try shading your base colors with more than just one shade. Try painting a red helmet with something other than bright red for the highlight and Carroburg Crimson for the shading.


This is what a "red" helmet looks like when you shade it with Agrax Earthshade, Carroburg Crimson and then highlight with a bright red and give it a final line highlight using Ushabti Bone. It's not a big step, but it's a little change that makes a big difference in the final look.

It's still red, but the use of a tan color for the final line highlight gives the helmet a completely different look than if I'd just used another shade of red. You don't have to go far with paint to get an improvement. Try a slightly different color for a final highlight to see what the effect is on your next model. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
Highlighting with a different hue
I only paint what I can see on a model
Success and failure when it comes to painting


Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!

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A look at some basing color concepts


When it comes to basing, we usually think about what kind of theme we want, but often forget about taking that theme and applying color to it as it relates to our model.

I got this very question the other day and thought I might go into the things I consider when basing a model. Most of the time, I know what theme I want from the beginning. We all have our favorites. Mine is the urban look as though your force is pushing through a destroyed city. But then there is the question of what color to use.

I have two major approaches
I have two basic approaches when it comes to picking colors (or values at least) for my bases. Both of them play on contrast and are designed to make the model stand out from the base and pop on the table.


Here's a closer look at this guy.

The first approach is the dark model on a light base
If my model has a dark color scheme as this Iron Hands marine does, I will usually go with a light colored base to make him stand out. The weathering on the lower portion of the model is designed to tie both the model and the base together, but he still stands out as a dark shape on a light base.


The second approach is the light model on a dark base
The very same thing as the first approach except you flip the light and dark. In this case, I have a light colored model I want to make stand out so I do the base a dark color.

Beyond value, using color to separate model and base
You can also use contrasting colors (blue model on an orange base from example) to help make your model stand out.


By taking a little bit of the contrasting color (compared to the predominant color on your model) and incorporating that into your base, you can help set the model apart from the base. And don't feel like it has to be obvious. Just because your Blood Angel is red doesn't mean your base has to be green. You can add a slight hint of green to help get the effect.

What about making your model blend into your base?
Not everyone wants to stand out on the battlefield. While marines may not use camouflage extensively, other armies do. In the case where you want your model to match your base, it's as simple as using similar if not the same colors on both the model and the base.


Since this guy is wearing camouflage painted armour, it wouldn't make any sense if the pattern on his armour was different than the base he was standing on. I used the same colors on the base as I did on the armour so he would "blend in."

You can do something similar by putting a dark model on a dark base or a light model on a light base. Instead of standing out due to a value contrast, your model will blend into his environment a little more.


This means I could take my Iron Hand marine up there and put him on a both a light or dark colored base. Both would work just fine. The light base (since he is dark) would make him stand out. Putting him on a dark base would make him blend in a little more.

There are other ways to tie your model and base together
Looking back at the Iron Hands marine, the weathering on the lower portion of the model is designed to tie both the model and the base together. Whether you do it with powders, washes or drybrushing, taking the few extra minutes to tie your model to the base can really change the look of your army overall.

It doesn't have to be over the top either. You don't have to do crazy mud caked up on the lower half of the model or enough dust to cover the original paint scheme. A subtle shading/highlighting effect can do wonders to bring both parts together as one piece.


In this case here, I used the basecoat of this model to tie the whole thing together. If you look carefully, you can see both the model and base are basecoated with a reddish-brown color. Having the reddish-brown color show through on the model and the edge of the base ties the whole thing together as one.

Putting it all together
Let's look at an example to show how it all comes together. We'll use my pretend Ultramarine model here as our test subject.


Since he's sporting dark blue armour and I want to do an urban style theme, let's look at some of my options. Across the top row, we have the light and dark options going with a basic grey color. The light grey color offers a little more contrast than the dark grey color. Since I like dark colored models, I'm going to opt for the dark grey though.

Across the bottom row, we have our same Ultramarine on a contrasting color base (orangish-brown color). We have two options of light and dark again as well depending on how much we want our figure to stand out.

Sticking with my dark look, I'm going to take the features I like from both rows of base options and go with a dark orangish-grey color base. The dark color of the base will tie in with the model and give me the overall dark look I like and the addition of the orangish-brown color will give me just a bit of contrast and separate the mode from the base.

Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
Basing with free materials found around your home
How to apply static grass so it stands upright


Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!

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Shoulder slung bolter on Space Marine Sergeant


A while ago, I ended up with the task of converting the Sergeant model from the Black Reach boxed set (At least I think that's where he's from). Not a terribly difficult conversion I thought, but one that proved trickier than I imagined. The task was simple, sling a bolter over his shoulder so he is WYSIWYG.

And so I set about positioning the bolter and creating a sling out of plasticard. My first attempt (shown above) was not bad, but the sling lacked a little bit of life to it and looked a little stiff readers thought.

For my second attempt, I wanted to see if I could add a little more life into the sling and make it appear as though it were holding the weight of the bolter as it conformed to the shape of the armour underneath. It's the one aspect I did not capture all that well on the first model.


The first thing did was position the bolter again and I opted to use a thinner (in terms of thickness) piece of plasticard for the sling. This allowed me to better "form" it on the model.

Looking at the picture now, I can see that the front does not show the form of the sling as well as the back portion does. Just being able to add a slight twist here and there as the sling moves over his torso does wonders for making it look as though it was meant to be there and is actually supporting the weight of the bolter.

All in all, it's not a tough conversion to do, it just requires some patience in working the plasticard over the surface of the model. You don't see many slung weapons in the game and it makes for a nice change to see it on a model. Getting the plasticard to attach to the weapon can be tricky and results in a some fragile connections, but nothing game ending that would keep you away from using him to play with.

And for the keen eye, you can see where I've repositioned his chainsword arm a bit more forward and placed him up on spacers so he won't look as though he sinking when he is based.

Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
How to reposition Space Marine arms


Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!

20 comments: Read more >>

Converting your own DKOK Grenadiers


I know I promised to share how I converted my Death Korps of Krieg Grenadier model way back when and now that I have a test model painted, it's time to do just that. The longest and most time consuming part of this whole project is the conversion work. Believe me, it's not terribly tough, just time consuming since so much is done to each model.

This is a big post folks since it covers the complete construction!



Painting takes about 15 minutes a guy and it actually takes longer for the washes to dry than it does any other part of this. The paint scheme is super simple using 5 colors and a few washes. The idea being to get a nice looking tabletop quality finish so this guy can get on the battlefield.

I'll be covering the painting aspect once I get the squad complete in the next few weeks. For now, I'm going to talk about how I built these guys.

The construction process
This guy is not so much an exact copy of a Grenadier as much as he is a loose representation of one. There are things that are obviously wrong with him when you look at the originals, but I think he captures the feel of the DKOK models and that was the real goal here.

A quick note on cost. After looking up what a squad of these guys would cost from Forge World and then what it would cost to build these on your own, they are pretty close to the same. Where a Guard player would save money is if they already had the Cadian bits they needed lying around.

Specific supplies you will need
This conversion requires a few key pieces to work. Aside from greenstuff and plasticard, you're going to need gas mask heads and greatcoat style legs from Secret Weapon Miniatures. Another tool you should have for this project is the SAW-020 Tentacle Maker from Green Stuff Industries. While this tool in not absolutely essential, I can't imagine trying to make the gas mask hoses without it.

Initial prep work before assembly
There are a few things you'll need to do to the model before you can start building him. There is no particular order to these, but they all need to get done before you start gluing things together.

1. Trim away the belt buckle area on the legs and upper torso bits.
The material folds over right there and we want to trim it down on both the legs and the upper torso (under the chest armour plate) so our abdominal armour plate lies flush against the body.

2. Build your abdominal armour plates.
This is nothing more than a square piece of plasticard with the bottom corners cut off at angles. Make it as wide as the chest armour already on the torso.

3. Clean the Imperial Eagle off the chest armour
This is easy enough to do with a hobby knife and a few quick strokes. These guys don't sport the eagle on their chest so we want to take it off.

4. Cut the gas mask canister off the head
We are going to be adding our own hose so we don't need the canister that comes on the gas mask. Carefully cut it away just behind the canister.

5. Build or buy your backpack
I made mine in this case (because I'm cheap). I used a Space Marine Scout pouch (or at least that's what I think it is). I cast up enough of them for the whole squad. On top of that, I glued a short length of plastic rod that I added little greenstuff caps to each end for some dimension. The last bit of detail was a set of rivets added with plasticard rod to give the piece some texture.

You could use anything for the backpack that resembles the gas mask canister they would need. The options are out there so it's just a matter of finding something that looks good to you.

Assembling the model
In order to make the process as quick as possible, it's best to do things in a certain order. You can do them in any order, but I've found this sequence to be the most pain free.



1. Add armour plates to lower legs. (G)
Sculpting these before you attach the legs to the base or begin working on the torso is essential for being able to get in there and sculpt. It's nothing more than a blob of greenstuff pressed into place and flattened out across the front of the leg. Go from the top of their foot to their knee or somewhere close.

Once you have it flattened out, trim away the sides into a somewhat rectangle shape. I added an indentation across the knee area to make it look like two armour pieces and then used the tip of my X-Acto blade to make two small indentations to represent rivets on each side.

Let these cure before going on.

2. Attach your legs to your base.
In this case, I'm using Blasted Wetlands bases from Secret Weapon minis for the completely destroyed battlefield look. I wanted the tree stumps and muddy field look for these guys. I pinned the legs in place and filled any gaps under their feet as needed for stability.

3. Add the upper torso and glue the abdominal armour plate in place. (F)
Figure out the pose you want your soldier to have and attach his upper torso in place along with his abdominal armour plate. Test fit first to make sure you've cleaned away enough of the surfaces so the armour plate lies flat on the model.

4. Attach both arms and then his head.
Once the torso is in place, you can add his arms and then his head in the correct positions.

5. Attach his backpack.
Depending on what you're using for the backpack, this may be as simple as gluing it in place or making whatever modifications are needed.

6. Sculpt arm armour (H) and sleeve cuffs (E).
These are deceptively simple to do. Both start out as blobs of greenstuff that are pressed into place and flattened out. The shoulder armour is made to look as though it is an extension of the shoulder armour and extends down slightly further. Trim it to the shape you like with your X-Acto blade.

The cuffs are done in a similar fashion and are a tiny roll of greenstuff that is pressed into place over his wrist and flattened out. Tuck the loose ends in between his arm and his torso so you don't see the connection. Flatten it out until you have the size cuff you want on your coat. All we're trying to do is bulk it out to look like the coat is folded back at the end of his sleeve.

7. Sculpt the high coat collar (D).
This is perhaps the toughest part since so many other things are already done. The reason we wait until this point though is because the collar can be hidden in some cases and you may not need to sculpt both sides of his collar.

Taking a tiny sausage of greenstuff, we add it to the existing collar to bulk it out. Using your sculpting tool, you can press what looks like folds into it so that it blends in with the existing clothes. You don't have to be exact here, just the suggestion of a high collar will work.

8. Add the gas mask hose (C).
The hose is created with the Tentacle Maker tool. Attaching it can be tricky at first, but once you get the hang of if, they go fast. The key is being delicate when handling the hose. You don't want to damage the fine surface detail on the hose.

Once I have a hose made, I add a tiny drop of superglue to the gas mask where we cut off the canister. I take one end of the tube and gently hold it up to the gas mask for a few seconds. It will bond quickly. Once it is secured, I carefully drape the gas mask hose over his shoulder and let it fall over his back. I cut off any excess leaving enough to tuck the end of the hose in behind his backpack somewhere. It doesn't have to be exact, we're just looking for a representation remember.

9. Sculpt the helmet Imperial Eagle (B).
Yet another sculpting bit that looks tough, but since we're going to use paint to help us describe the object, we only need to create the suggestion of the item. Pressing a blob of greenstuff onto his helmet, make sure you create a small area on the front that is fairly thin and flat.

From there, cut out a square shape for the overall size of the eagle emblem. After this, it's a series of indentions around the square to represent certain parts of the eagle. One indention in the top middle for the two heads. Two small indentions on the bottom for the tail and three indentions one each side for the wings.

10. Adding his equipment on his belt (I).
The last part is to look at your model and see where you have any free space along his waist that you can add your extra equipment. Each trooper carries a bayonet, canteen and extra magazine pouch. Depending on the pose and the space you have on his waist, you can cut the items apart and glue them in the free space you have.

And that's all there is to it. Ten steps to building this guy. I know it looks daunting, but it really is a simple conversion. Depending on what IG parts you may already have, this could certainly be a viable option to adding a very cool looking squad of Death Korps to your force.

Once I get the whole unit done and painted, I'll go over the painting process in depth as well.

Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
Conversions live and die by the details


Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!

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What do you use for black and white?


I've often wondered what is the preferred paint choice when it comes to the two basic colors, black and white. Being the mercenary painter that I am, I'll use any brand that works and I have no loyalty to any one particular paint.

What I started out with
When I first started painting, I used craft paints. The cheap stuff. I had no issues with them either. It wasn't until I had a chance to try some other brands that I realized what I was using was not the "best" stuff out there.


I eventually picked up some Skull White and found that to be much better than the previous craft paint I was using. I still have not bought the official GW black paint. To be honest, I don't even know what it's called in the new paint range.

What I use these days
I haven't changed my paints (at least black and white) for the longest time. It wasn't until recently that I had the opportunity to pick up both a black and white from Army Painter. Even though I'm not a big fan of the dropper bottles, I wanted to see what else was out there.


Compared to the black craft paint I've been using for years which has worked perfectly for me to date, I really like the Army Painter black. Despite the fact that is has an almost satin look to it sometimes, it's got wonderful coverage and the paint is super smooth. When I add a tiny bit of water, I can paint super-fine details and black line things without worry. It's made working with black a real pleasure now. I mean it wasn't bad before, but this is such an improvement. And even though it looks satin under some light, it still blends perfectly with my black spray primer.

When it comes to the white, I like the Army Painter white a little better than the GW version. Again it's for the smoothness. It seems to cover slightly better as well and not break up as bad when I thin it with water.

And so I'm left wondering, what are the "best" black and white out there? I was happy with my craft paints for the longest time. Then I moved up to GW Skull White and found it to be an improvement. Now I have the pair of paints from Army Painter and I love them. I'm looking for a paint that is super smooth, covers well and holds together when thinned with water. The Army Painter colors do that very well, but I'm not against trying something else.

Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
Some of my techniques for painting black and white
Thoughts on the new GW paint line
How I replaced Devlan Mud and Badab Black


Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!

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Why some colors are harder to paint than others


I get lots of questions about how to paint this color or that color on a model. In my reply, I always end up trying to explain why a particular color is "easy" or "hard" to paint in the process. I've decided to try and explain why some colors are harder to paint than others in the way that I think about it.

Now I'm not sure that harder is the word either. It might be more of a case of certain colors requiring a different approach. One that is not often done and that is seen as being "harder" to do.

So let's get into the explanation then.
I chose my Pre-Heresy World Eater model there because he includes colors that are perceived as both hard to paint and easy to paint. He's got white which can be tough and requires a particular approach and blue which is often seen as easy and uses another approach.


From here on out though, we are going to remove the hue (red, yellow, green, blue, etc.) and only be dealing with values (the degree of light or dark as compared to something else). Every color, if you remove the hue, has a value. Here's what I mean. No matter what color you take, you can remove the hue and look at it as a shade of grey and determine what it's value is.

Once we know that all colors have a value relative to what's around them, let's look at why some values are harder to paint and make them appear as though they have dimension and aren't just flat.


We'll use this box as our example. If we paint it our base color (B) on all of the sides, it appears flat. We need to add some shading and a highlight in order to make it look like it's a shape (box) and it has dimension.


And here's our dimensional box. Our base color (B), our shade (S) and our highlight (H) all work together to give us the impression that the object in front of us is under a light source and actually has a shape to it. Our base is one value, our highlight is slightly lighter than that and our shade value is slightly darker than our original base color.

Ultimately you can do more than one highlight or shade, but we're going to keep it simple for the discussion today.

So why are some colors harder to paint?
Because of their value. Depending on where a color falls on the scale when you convert it to a value will determine what other values you have to work with for your shading and highlighting.


Look at our middle base (B) example. Since it falls in the middle of the value range, we have room on both sides for a shade and a highlight value. It's very easy to make this value (color) appear to have dimension.


If we look at our far right base example (black), we have no room to shade it. We are going to have to rely on highlighting alone to give the piece dimension. This can be tough because highlighting can be done by drybrushing (which can often be messy) or line highlighting which can be tedious and time consuming.

So how do people solve painting black? Sometimes they use a very dark grey for the base and move back towards the middle of the grey scale slightly so they now have room for a shadow to help define the shape in addition to the highlight.

If we look at our far left base example (white), we have no room to highlight it. We are going to have to rely on shading alone to give the piece dimension. This can be tough since most of our shading is done with washes and such and unless we are very careful in their application, they can quickly darken down the whole piece and we no longer have the light base color we want.

And how do folks solve painting white? Sometimes they use a very light grey for the base and move towards the middle of the grey scale slightly so they now have room for a highlight to help define the shape in addition to the shadow they already have.

Figure out the value and see where you can go
Next time you look at a color, think about its value. Do you have room on both sides of it for your highlights and shading? The answer will almost always be yes. It's not until you get closer to the ends of the spectrum that your options start to dwindle down and you need to start looking around for solutions.

Colors (values) at the ends of the spectrum aren't impossible to paint, you just need to think about them first. Now there are a few other factors to consider as well like the transparency of your color and how many coats it's going to take to get a consistent finished coat (remember Foundation paints?). Another thing to keep in mind is primer color. Try and match it's value to your base color value so it doesn't alter your base color or make it so you need to do a million coats to cover it.

Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
The trick to painting black is in the details
There are only two ways I paint white


Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your thoughts on why some colors are harder to paint than others in the comments below!

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