Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tyranid Painting Question

by SandWyrm

Skarbrand has written in with a question about how to paint his Tyranids like the picture above.

I've been following 40k for 15 years as a reader (I have all the Codex, rulebooks, extensions, WD, etc.) but never as a player.
Indeed, I always considered painting as a major obstacle. I'm not very handy with a paintbrush and I don't have any particular artistic talent.

But these days come to an end. I've decided to overcome that fear and to start a Tyranid Army. I still consider painting as a forced passing but it doesn't mean I won't do it seriously. I don't want an ugly army which makes me cry tears of blood each time I play with it.

So here I am, as a new member of The Tyranid Hive, asking for some help. I've read the thread about color schemes and I've searched on the Internet to find a color scheme that I love. And I found it!

But as a newbie, I don't know how to reproduce it on my models. So I hope your 6th sense of great painters will help me to take a good direction form the start.

The color scheme I really like is this one:

So my question is: what would you do (colors, number of layers, order, etc.) to get as close as possible to what we see in the picture (skin, amour, tendons)?

I've already thought about it, and we clearly see some purple, some kind of bleached bone, chaos black, red gore (?) but it'd take me ages to figure it all out...

I apologize for my English, this is not my first language, I'm French.

Thank you very much."

SandWyrm's Reply:

Heh, here's my quick and dirty 6-step recipe for painting your Nids like that picture:
  1. Find an airbrush and paint the soft underside bits of the whole model with a 50/50 mixture of Dwarf Flesh and Bleached Bone. Save this color in an airbrush jar for use later.
  2. Next, paint all of the carapace areas with Bleached Bone. The borders don't have to be perfect.
  3. Paint all of the "tendon" bits with a mixture of 2 parts Blood Red and 1 part Warlock Purple.
  4. Paint the eyes yellow.
  5. Now, wash the entire model with some slightly thinned down Devlin Mud. When that dries, wash it again with a thinned down black wash. The 2 washes will imperfectly overlap each other, giving you the same look as the picture.
  6. Go back and use your original colors to touch up any raised areas of detail that look too dark.

I'd paint a Genestealer to demonstrate, but my wife would start asking why her Malifaux figures aren't assembled yet. :)


  1. Solid advice, but I'd be a bit concerned SandWyrm about asking a total novice to jump in with an airbrush?

    I'd maybe suggest..

    1. Base the whole model with scortched brown.
    2. Drybrush with bleached bone (proper drybrushing mind you, not wetbrush :) )
    4. wash with devlan (compulsory "make it look better juice")
    5. highlight the soft parts with beached again, then watered down bone,
    6. hit the edges of plates with a bleached bone edge highlight.

    it wouldnt look quite as good or smooth and Sandwyrms suggestion, but it'd be a good, quick tabletop army, using a few paints and teachniques that someone new should be able to get into.

    as you gain more confidence, start using more advanced techniques, so save your HQ and big models till last.

  2. I really like the idea of the 2 wash combo. I think that'll give great results.

    Rather than using GW washes though, the Vallejo ones might be a good option.
    Reason 1 is that they are much cheaper. They're thicker too so will last longer (can be diluted more).
    Reason 2 is that that they don't produce such an even finish. Normally that's a problem but for 'nids I think that's actually an advantage. You'd get an oiley/ichorish look to the areas where it pools (normally in the joints and recesses).

    Either way, post pics of the end result!

    Oh and if you don't want to buy an airbrush, Army Painter do really great primer sprays. Their skeleton one could be a good budget option.

  3. I have to agree with Karitas...having an admitted novice or worse use an airbrush will just frustrate him further and might even turn him off.

    Krylon makes a Satin Ivory that acts like a foundation paint works wonderfully with all washes and concides with Bleached Bone.

    Everything else I believe was spot on. The foundation spray, filler paints and then washing 2-3 times is the EASIEST way to get 2000 pts on the table in a week or less.

  4. Points taken, but once upon a time I was a teenager with a cheap-o badger airbrush and a few cans of propellent. Seriously, you don't have to be an expert to use the simpler/cheaper ones. The thing GW sells would do.

    I mean, I could tell him to hand-brush his army, but how crazy-long would that take? If you can find a spray can in the right color, sure. But if he wants the right colors to match that pic, he's going to have to mix them.


out dang bot!

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