Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Color Question: Tau II, Electric Bluegaloo

by SandWyrm

In my last Tau color post, CaulynDarr commented:
I'd like to know what you think of the color scheme I've chosen for my Tau.
I didn't use exact contrasting hues from the color wheel, and ultimately chose colors that I thought looked good together. I wanted to use a darker color for the base armor, and a contrasting lighter color for select portions. My fluff reasoning for this is that the lighter color would naturally draw fire from vital areas to better armored nonessential ones. I used white sept markings on both armor sections to link them together, and used green for specific details as it seemed to pop more than any other colors without being too distracting.

SandWyrm's Reply:

Your pics were a bit dark, but fortunately I was able to brighten them using my Photoshop-foo. :)

Overall, I like what you've done with the colors. So I'll talk about color isolation.

Above is your original mini. It's got a good complementary scheme, but the Orange is isolated in one big block. This draws a lot of attention to that area, but it also comes off as a bit simplistic and cartoony.

Here is your mini with some modifications I made. As you can see, I broke up that big block of color and distributed the orange around the mini a bit. I also reintroduced the Cyan into some parts of the gun that had all been orange before. I also introduced some desaturated orange into the base, which had all been a light Cyan.

The result is some additional visual complexity that reduces the cartoony feeling quite a bit and lifts the visual interest in the mini as a whole. I know this may compromise your fluff a bit, but don't ever let fluff get in the way of a good paint job (or army composition).

I've got similar "rules" for what gets painted green on my tanks. Basically all guns get green accents because on the barren world of Tallarn "Guns preserve life". But I'm not afraid to bend or break that rule if the model requires it.


  1. I like the shoulderpads, and think the kneepads could also be the orange color.

    I like the changes to the gun as well, I hadn't put my finger on it, but I like the more broken up appearance the gun has with the knob and top of the barrel still in the blue.

    If you don't like the visor orange for fluff reasons, you could try the antenna orange.

    I also agree about the mildly off-white orange to the base. It changes the feel of the model.

  2. Fantastic. Just a minor tweak and they look awesome. (They looked pretty good to start!)

  3. Thanks for the suggestions. Breaking up the colors does make the paint job look more dynamic. I'll have to keep that in mind when I paint the battle-suits and tanks.

  4. No problem! Not isolating your colors (without good reason) was one of the first things they taught me in school. :)

  5. The first thing they taught me in my CS classes was to keep things logically grouped together. I guess I developed a habit of it.

  6. Thanks for these posts. There are many many posts on the net about applying color theory to painting minis but these are the first ones I've seen which actually provide helpful examples. It makes a HUGE difference to see your "before and after" style shots and to see exactly what the effect is on the look of the whole mini rather than simply diagrams on a colour wheel or illustrations using adjacent squares of colour. Again - thanks.

  7. In others' defense, they don't have my digital imaging skills. :)

  8. Really helpful advice for my army painting



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