I was asked the other day how I paint blood splatters. You see it on Pre-Heresy World Eater armies all the time. It's almost a requirement to painting a force in that color scheme. Painting blood can be tricky though. It's one of those things that can be hard to explain, but you just know what looks "right."
I'm going to show you how I do it and more importantly, the two things I think you should know above all others when it comes to applying this technique in particular.
If you take nothing else from this tutorial, it should be these two things.
1. Less is more.
2. Scale is everything.
Planning out your splatter
You wouldn't think you'd need to plan out your random blood splatter. Nothing could be further from the truth. A well placed blood spatter really draws attention, but not so much as to become the focus. You want emphasis here, not spotlight.
Get a test model and try out some different patterns. See what looks "best" or appropriate. We're talking about both the amount of blood and the actual pattern or design of the splatter. Remember, less is more here. It doesn't take much to show "splatter." It can be a fine line between that and rolling around in the stuff.
Getting the right color red
I'm going to limit myself to human blood here and keep away from Xenos effects. Once you go that route, all bets are off and the sky is the limit. I can't think of any times I've seen it done, but I'm sure it could make for some amazing effects if done well.
I use two paints to get the effect. A dark red (Americana Napa Red) and a bright red (Delta Ceramcoat Bright Red). You could substitute the Americana Napa Red with GW Red Gore if you wanted. It too is somewhat dark and transparent.
The dark is for the dried blood and the bright red is for the stuff that is still wet. Blood, when it splatters, will dry fairly quickly and since most of our "drops" are not that big, they will dry fast. So... most of the effect is done with the dark red.
In certain areas where there is a considerable amount of blood (similar to larger chipped paint battle damage where you go in and add silver over black) I will add the bright red over the dark stuff to show that it's still somewhat wet and has not dried yet.
Application of the "blood"
Hmmm... I bet there are a hundred different ways to do this. Dave G from N++ Wargaming uses this approach to get a nice blood splatter effect.
I start out with an older brush (not a big one though) that I use for drybrushing where the tip is completely destroyed and the bristles are going everywhere. I use this one to lay down the larger areas of blood by dabbing it on the surface where I want the blood to be.
After that, I'll go in with a super detail brush and add a few spots here and there until I get the look and pattern I want on the surface. Remember, less is more here! You don't need tons of blood to be gory.
So let's go back to my one and only example, you can see I have three little main areas in a line (moving at an angle outward opposite the marble striping on the rocks) with a few extra spots around those. I really worked at keeping the scale in mind and not overdoing it too.
It's no accident the three larger areas are somewhat lined up moving outward in the direction they are. That was the planning aspect. I went through about a half dozen different patterns until I found one that fit with the model and its pose.
Getting it right in the end
It comes down to personal preference at the end of the day. It's your army and they should look the way you want them too. Adding blood splatters to a few key models can create an amazing look and feel to a squad. Keep scale and volume in mind and you won't go wrong.
Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
Conversions live and die in the TINY details