How I paint Deathwing quick and dirty

I've gotten a couple requests for exactly how I painted my Deathwing squad and I thought it was about time I did a "proper" (read: incredibly long and detailed) tutorial on the process. The squad has since been moved from Space Hulk bases to 40mm round ones so I could fill out the army.

First, some notes:

Changing the color scheme
This is just my quick approach to what can be a extremely difficult army for some people to paint.
The process is written for how I wanted my guys to look in the end. For example, I have black guns, dark green chest eagles, etc. If you want something different, adjust your steps accordingly.

Basing and conversions
I've kept my basing simple, but if you want to go with something different, again, just modify this as needed. I decided to copy the AoBR look for my force. It was a deliberate choice since I wanted to keep this army as simple as possible and do as little work as possible.
We all have to have goals right?

All of my guys are attached to their bases a certain way to prevent them from looking like they're sinking into the ground. Here's that article.

I used GW sand for their bases. Nothing fancy, it's just glued down with white glue. All the models are cut from their sprue, cleaned of mold lines, assembled, attached to their base and the base is "sanded" before I start painting.

Paints and tools
Since there are only 11 guys in my force, I paint them one at a time.
In order to minimize handling of the models while painting them, I use this little trick here.

I do not prime my models either. I just use the base color as the "primer."

Here are the paints I used. Like I mentioned before, you can use something close and get similar results I'm sure.
They're listed by what I call them, actual brand name and then use

Light grey (Americana Slate Grey) Main armour base color and highlighting
Dark grey (Ceramcoat Slate Grey) Everything else base color
Medium grey (Apple Barrel Pewter Grey) For highlighting
Devlan Mud wash (GW) For weathering
Dark red (Americana Napa Red) Purity seals
Dark Angels Green (GW) For chest eagles
Shining Gold (GW) For bells and whistles
Dark silver (Folk Art Metallic Gunmetal Grey) For highlighting
Light Tan (American Fawn) For highlighting
Graveyard Earth (GW) For edge of base
Light green (Apple Barrel Aquamarine) For power weapons
Brown (Folk Art Nutmeg) For skin
Light Brown (Americana Mississippi Mud) For purity seals

And now the actual process:

Step 1: Painting light grey
I pretty much paint the entire model light grey. I don't worry about where I get it at this point, the idea is to cover the main armour areas. I want to make sure I have all of what would be called the "bone colored armour" painted with the light grey. Make sure you have a good, smooth finish too. It takes me two light coats to do this.

Step 2: Painting dark grey
If it's not going to be the "bone colored armour" when finished, it gets painted with dark grey. And I mean EVERYTHING. This includes the top of the base too. The base is done the dark color to contrast against the lighter colored armour and make the model stand out.

Step 3: Painting the Chapter icon
This might be added in with Step 2 but I made it into its own step so I could explain it better. Once I've got my light grey and dark grey areas set on the model, I go in and paint my Chapter icon. Here's how you can break down the icon into manageable shapes so you can paint it freehand.
I don't add any extra script (on places like greaves) but if you wanted to, I would do it at this point and use the dark grey paint.

Step 4: The wash
I wash the entire model (including the top of the base) with Devlan Mud. Let this dry completely before moving on. I go pretty heavy with my wash since I really like the grimy look.

Step 5: The highlights
Right, there is no more "painting" really, just line highlighting.
Seriously though, add some highlights and you're done. You can click on the picture above for a larger version. Just like you would line highlight something on a model, that's all I'm doing here.
If I break it down, it goes like this... in no specific order.

Armour gets highlighted with the Light Tan
Power cables, wires and breathing regulator with Dark Silver
Chest eagle with DA green and then washed again with Devlan Mud
Bells and whistles on armour with Shining Gold
Eyes, sensors, and wax part of purity seals with Dark Red
Paper part of purity seals with Light Brown
Chapter icon with Dark Red
Crux Terminatus with Medium Grey and then with Light Grey

Storm bolter casing highlighted with Medium Grey
Powerglove/Lightning Claw Gauntlets with Medium Grey
Gun barrels and mechanisms with Dark Silver
Weapon bells and whistles and ammunition with Shining Gold
Heavy Weapon muzzles are done like this (use Steps 5 and 6 only)
Any flesh gets highlighted with Brown
Power weapon blades are done like this (except no basecoat in step 1 and use Devlan Mud again for step 3)

First highlight with Medium Grey
Second highlight of Light Grey
Paint the edge with Graveyard Earth

And that's it, 5 Steps. Once you get the hang of it, you'll actually wait longer for your wash to dry than you will spend painting the entire model.

It won't win any Golden Daemon awards but it will give you a fully painted Deathwing in no time at all that looks like they've been through a couple of tough missions.
I've got two Dreadnoughts and a pair of Land Raiders to paint and I'm planning on using the exact same approach for them. I'll just be painting larger areas.

Next week I'll explain why this technique works and how I can paint Deathwing without really painting them.

Additional related links:
15mm walkers and tanks painted in this fashion by Vulture's Wargaming Blog
Similar technique used for Wolfwing by Sons of Thunder

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!


  1. Wow. That looks so good, and when you break it down like that... it also seems pretty do-able! I never would have guessed at the chapter icon was in dark grey with dark red over top.

  2. Thanks for the great tutorial Ron, most appreciated. It sounds easy enough...but then again so many things do until you try them! Anyhow, I'm putting together my first squad of 5 now and starting this technique tomorrow. Thanks again!

  3. Excellent and interesting article, Ron.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Wow, amazing results for such a KISS approach. (Better not show this to my wife LOL)

  6. Hudson: She has a "different" apprach, that's all.

  7. Ron, that's a fantastic technique!

    Thanks for another extremely useful post.


  8. That is a really great technique, thanks for laying out for us.

    I think the power weapons would have looked even better with the original pitch black basecoat though - it would really make them stand out.

    Then again though, if they're dust-friendly power blades, you're all good... :D

  9. Great idea. Used your idea of doing the wash over light grey for some 15mm walkers I've just finished building.



  10. I thought this is an awesome for first time painters & will help people who are even pro at painting but its a technique that everyone can learn so thats why its good & for a dark angel collector to say it actuary works

  11. Great. At last I can hack into my boyfriend's email account and discover all his infidelities.

    Whilst playing with toy soldiers.

    These spamming comments really guage their readership well don't they?

    - Drax

  12. Nicely done! Very similar to the style I use to paint my Wolfwing. Easy and still good looking in the end. Thanks for this article!

  13. Sgt.: No problem, glad it helped. I'm hoping to expand this technique in the future.

  14. Ron
    I'm still using your overall technique to go for the dirty/grimy battlefield look.

    Here's a recent 15mm tank I completed :) It's fair to say your approach has changed my painting technique completely ! :)



  15. I love your artwork dude.Thanks

  16. Tuxedos: Thanks, breaking the symbol down into manageable shapes is the trick.


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