Thursday, 30 November 2017

How do you paint your Blood Angels?

A few people have been asking how I paint my Blood Angels, including Willies who sent me a really nice email on the subject. Of course I didn't tell him. Instead I said I'd post my technique so you can all have my secrets.

The first thing to note is that you should always write down your paint recipes. It's an easy thing to skip, but it's so common to forget exactly which shades you've used in what order. Maintaining consistency over years is really only possible if you've got this information to hand. Here is my recipe for 'classic' Blood Angels (ie. your common-or-garden red ones):

Spray black, paying particular attention to getting the black onto the undersides of the mini
Zenith spray (ie spray from overhead, downwards) Mephiston Red (I use a rattle can for this).
Using an airbrush zenith spray with Evil Sunz mixed with Troll Slayer Orange.
Spray entire mini with gloss varnish. The benefits of this are outlined below.
This is what you'll end up with - some lovely shiny Marines with lots of colour gradation. And a dead Terminator.
Also, never accept Blood Angels if the seal is broken.

Apply decals at this stage as the gloss finish helps them to adhere.
Using a fine brush carefully run Nuln Oil into the recesses. The gloss finish helps confine the wash to the cracks. It will help the capillary action draw the wash along the panel lines and into the depressions.

After these steps you should have something like this. Still shiny, but with much more definition.

Using traditional brush blending, highlight with Evil Sunz mixed with Troll Slayer Orange up to pure Troll Slayer Orange. Skip this step if you want a quick result - I skipped it for my Heresy lads you see in this article. Adding these highlights will brighten the mini, which I really like for my Oldhammer Blood Angels.
I tend to block in any black areas at this stage. No reason really, just to know where I'm heading.

Wash all red areas with Yellow Glaze. GW Glazes and Washes are formulated with a 'medium' (the carrier fluid) which has a natural matting function that will get rid of the shine. If you want you can airbrush the glaze to save time and this can give a flatter result. The glaze not only mattes, but makes your red really pop.

As noted above, I airbrushed on the yellow glaze which matted the minis down.
From here on in there is no particular order to doing things so tackle these as you see fit...
For yellow areas:
Basecoat Averland Sunset
Wash with Casandora Yellow
Highlight with Averland and then add white
Glaze with Yellow Glaze

For skin: 
Basecoat Tallern Flesh, wash with Reikland Flesshade.
Highlight with Tallarn Flesh plus white

For hair:
Basecoat Averland Sunset
Shade with Skrag Brown
Highlight with Averland, then add white

For black areas:
Paint black, simply highlight by adding white

For grey areas:
Paint Mechanicus Standard Grey
Wash with Nuln Oil
Highlight with Mechanicus Standard Grey plus white

For brown ares (eg pouches):
Basecoat Dryad Bark
Wash with Nuln Oil
Highlight with Dryad plus white

For metal areas:
Paint black then heavy drybrush with Boltgun Metal
Wash with Nuln Oil Gloss. I love these gloss washes as they give a really 'oily' result which suits metals perfectly.

Base with Retributor Gold, wash with Gloss Reikland Fleshshade then selectively wash any deep areas with Gloss Nuln Oil

Basecoat Dryad Bark. Paint most of the area white but take care to leave the Dryad in the recesses, then wash with Riekland and then Nuln in the recesses. Highlight up with white. This gives a very high-contrast white.

Paint whole area with Caliban Green
Mix in increasing amounts of Moot Green up to pure Moot Green
Add a tiny dot of white in one dark corner

Basecoat with Caledor Sky. Highlight up with Calgar Blue

Buff (eg Scout trousers):
Spray white, wash with mix of Riekland, Yellow Glaze and Lahmian. Highlight by adding white.

Chip if you want using a the sponge technique. I chip first with black, then with silver.

For bases:
Before adding sand, paint the top of the base Dryad Bark
Glue the sand with PVA then, when dry, paint with Mournfang Brown mixed with black
Drybrush first with Skrag Brown then with Screaming Skull
At this point I tend to sand my base rims with fine emery paper so they're super-smooth. Then paint the rim with a couple of coats of Mournfang Brown.

 Here's a shot of the guys about 80% done without much in the way of highlighting

Here is a close-up of a fully finished guy. I rarely apply more than two or three highlights by brush for line troops.

So there you have it. Easy, right? Credit should go to the amazing Mark Bedford (of Forge World) who has been a great source of tips on painting. He often gives seminars at Forge World open days and Warhammer Fests and you should catch these if you can. He has lots of wonderful time-saving techniques, which is how I learnt about zenith spraying and using gloss to improve decal adhesion and wash definition. He also talks about the psychology of painting armies, which is fascinating.
I hope this has been helpful and please let me know in the comments if you want me to bore you with my Death Company painting technique.
PS - sorry if I've referred to some older paints in this article. Some have lasted me so well I've not had cause to replace these shades with their new versions. I don't really subscribe to the idea that older paints are better - I generally prefer the new ones.


  1. Very useful! The gloss coming in early is a fascinating innovation, and the yellow glaze all over really makes a huge improvement in color.

    Thanks for doing these.

    1. Thanks Lasgun - yes, the yellow glaze makes all the difference and gives a glow to the final result.

  2. Very interesting and useful! The main reason I started a blog myself was so I had somewhere to write down paint recipes... after re-starting a project some time later and being unable to replicate the colours... very frustrating!

    1. Thanks Kym. Yes, keeping those paint recipies is essential and sharing them is a nice way to give back to the community.

  3. I have the old hex pot yellow glaze - will that work do you think? It seems to add shine, not get rid of it