(Re)Starting 40k: Paint up!
(Re)Starting 40k: Paint up! avatar

Up until now, I’ve focused on some gaming aspects of 40k: picking an army, learning to write lists, etc.  But once you’ve got 500 points planned out, it’s time to pull some plastic and paint them up!  As a result, I’ll be showing you how I’m going to paint up my Imperial Guard army.  Some people prefer to come up with their army’s background (sometimes called fluff) before coming up with a paint scheme.  After all, having an identity and story in mind makes it easier to build, convert, and paint the characters and units of your army.  I prefer to work opposite: I paint up something I know will look respectable on the table, and come up with background from there!

Keep in mind that if you’re painting a very numerous army, such as the Imperial Guard, you can expect to do a lot of painting.  Speed may be your priority here.  The important thing isn’t necessarily that you have Golden Demon skills, but that you have the patience and planning to get a lot done.  Pick simple schemes, plan on using washes if possible, and don’t worry if each model isn’t perfect.  By nature of playing a horde army, you’re going to take a lot of casualties, so they won’t spend much time on the table!

For my IG, I really wanted to do an urban, sort of arctic camouflage pattern.  Here’s an overview of what we’ll be making:

For this, you’ll need these paints (I use GW, use what you prefer):

  • Regal blue
  • Scorched brown
  • Dwarf flesh
  • Shadow grey
  • Space Wolves grey
  • Boltgun/Chainmail/Mithril (your choice)

Step 1: Basecoat

Your first goal is to get a base of regal blue down.  If you have a spray paint that’s a dark blue, that’ll work wonders and save you oodles of time.  If not, just prime black and thin out some of the Regal Blue and cover the entire model in it.  I’m a big fan of gluing down a sand or something before painting, that way the primer helps get it, but to each his own.  You should have something like this now:

Step 2: Skin and Accessories

Do a coat of Scorched Brown over the heads and hands of your guardsmen.  I’d also advise using it to hit any canteens, sheathes, etc.  If you’re painting a sergeant with no helmet, get the whole head!  I like the color of Scorched Brown for hair, so no worries there:

Step 3: Armor, Helmets, Camo

Now the easy part.  Paint up some Shadow Grey (the darker, bluer one) and paint the armor.  Get the shoulder straps, and under the arms.  Also get the ankle cuffs and helmet.  Next, start dabbling on the camo spots!  The Shadow Grey should show up just fine on the Regal Blue, so you shouldn’t need to worry about doing multiple coats, and you can thin it a bit.  Make different shapes and sizes, and make sure to go in different directions.  I personally like the look of a blob that stretches across folds and in creases, as it adds a bit of depth.  Finally, take a tiny bit of paint on your brush and lightly drag the side of the brush on the top edges of the lasgun.  This will keep the gun from looking like a blue blob in the model’s hand, and should get you familiar with edging (which we’ll need soon).  Here’s a few shots of how I do the blobbing and camo:

Step 4: Finish the Skin

I’m a big proponent of painting from the inside out, because I’m pretty sloppy and tend to mess things up when I try and get in close…especially when you’ve got a hundred of these guys to whip up!  So I’d recommend doing the skin now.  Take some dwarf flesh and hit the face and hands.  I’m not great at staying in the lines, and I don’t advise trying to paint the eyes.  After you’ve painted your best of the fingers, hands, and face do a wash with some really watered down Scorched Brown.

Step 5: Edging and Camo

Now you’re going to need to crack open the Space Wolves Grey (the one that’s almost white).  Hopefully you’re more comfortable with edging, because we’re going to be doing a lot of it.  The same way you did on the lasgun, paint the edges on the armor.  This includes the hard edges on the back, the shoulder pads, the straps between the shoulders/head, and the pad things on the side of the helmets.  Also make sure to throw some paint on the Imperial Eagles you see on the chest/helmet/lasgun.  Finally, the same way you did with the Shadow Grey, do some camo dabbles.  Mix it up a bit…make sure you’re not just making vertical or horizontal streaks.  Let some blobs overlap, but not others.  Allow some blobs to have tiny holes in them through which you can see the Regal Blue or Shadow Grey underneath.

Step 6: Metal

Whip out whichever metallic paint you decided to go with and start painting.  Make sure to get bayonets, lasgun barrels, the little rods on top of the lasguns (takes a bit longer but adds a lot more color to the gun).  When you’ve done all that, take a bigger brush you don’t mind drybrushing with, and drybrush the metal over your sand on the ground.  Most people stick with a gray/white highlight combo but I personally feel like a futuristic theme should have more metallic rubble.  Plus it complements the small amount of metal on the model quite nicely.

Step 7: Accessories

If you feel like it, go ahead and paint a lighter brown (snakebite leather or such) over the leather accessories to give them a bit more color.  I personally don’t think it adds much and takes too much time to worry about now, so I put that all off for later.  Also, grab some Dark Angels Green if you wish and put a few coats on the grenades.  Lightly take your metallic color and paint the pin and primer devices on the grenades.  If you do it carefully and well, it looks really slick.

Step 8: Touchups

Now’s the time to go back over and fix any little slip-ups you may have had with the brush.  If you messed up the edging on the armor or painting the face, go back with Shadow Grey.  If you splotched a bit on the lasgun, go back and cover it up with Regal Blue.  The nice thing is that for the most part, the only touchups you’ll need to do is with those colors.

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