How to paint Dark Angels fast and dark

Most if not all of my previous Dark Angels work centered around Deathwing. This time though, I'm going to look at how to paint the power armoured troops in a Dark Angels force. Getting a nice, dark green doesn't have to be hard to do.

This is a very quick process but requires a steady hand in the later stages of the model. I painted this guy up in no time at all and if I hadn't stopped to snap pics along the way, he would have gone even quicker. The freehand work added some time, but that's easily shortened with the use of decals.

Expanding this out to a squad of models would be no problem at all.

Getting the basecoat down
This really is the biggest part of the model. I've never painted a "green" power armoured troop before, but this is definitely a workable method. I'd say that this technique would easily translate over to painting Salamander Space Marines with no trouble at all.

Step 1: I started by priming him black. Nothing fancy, just a quick coat of flat black making sure to get all the surfaces. Let this dry completely.

Step 2: Over that goes my base color. In this case, I tried painting the model using a zenithal type approach.

The reason I was able to do it with spray paint was two reasons.
First, the transition in values (light to dark) between black and green is not too much so the blending works well. If I were trying to go from black to say light grey, the range of vales I would have to transition through would be too much and the spray paint would not be able to make that transition very smooth... you'd see the tiny paint specs on the model.
Second, I found a shade of green that was perfect for this. It was slightly brighter than what I wanted in the end so I could selectively shade it to create my shadows and end up with a color that was very close to what I imagined in my head. It is the cheapest stuff I could find at Walmart.

It also happened to be a gloss spray paint, but that didn't matter since I was going to be washing the whole model anyway and that would take care of the gloss effect.

Step 3: After my basecoat dried, I gave the whole model a wash with the old Thraka Green (Biel-Tan Green). This darkened it down overall and killed the gloss effect of my spray paint.

Step 4: With my green wash dry, I went over the deepest recesses of the model with a Nuln Oil wash. I was careful not to get the black on the surfaces of the armour and cleaned up any stray marks with a damp brush before the wash dried. This gave me the contrast I wanted.

The whole basecoat process is insanely fast. It actually takes longer waiting for the washes to dry then it does anything else.

But what about the rest of the model
After you get the basecoat down, the rest is detail. Things like purity seals and such can be painted you your liking. I opted to go with the traditional scheme and tried to include as much red as I could in order to see if the overall scheme would hold up or fall to the dreaded "Christmas tree" look.

I think it holds up pretty well in the end. I'll say that this guy has none of the fancy weathering or powders either. Even though I absolutely love adding them my models, I wanted to see how this guy would look without the benefit of those techniques (and they can really bring a model to life).

Here's a quick look at how I painted some of the other aspects on my model.

1. Metallic areas. I either left them black and gave them a slight drybrush with GW Leadbelcher or painted them the standard route of Leadbelcher followed with a wash of Nuln Oil.

I did cheat a little bit and gave the whole model a quick and very light drybrush of GW Leadbelcher at the end. Giving the model a super light drybrush gives the armour a worn look and ties everything together.

2. The chest eagle was basecoated with GW Baneblade Brown, washed with Agrax Earthshade and then highlighted with GW Ushabti Bone.

3. The base. This is done to your match your own theme. I kept it a little more muted here with a rich, warm tone around the outer edge for contrast.

4. The red areas. They started off as GW Mephiston Red. Over that went a wash of Carroburg Crimson and then two passes with Agrax Earthshade in the recessed areas. In order to add some vibrancy to the red, I went in and highlighted the upper surface areas with Army Painter Pure Red. It's a gorgeous, bright red that is fairly transparent which makes it perfect for blending.

5. This is the same as number one. I either left them black and gave them a slight drybrush with GW Leadbelcher in the very end or painted them the standard route of Leadbelcher followed with a wash of Nuln Oil.

What brings the model together is the extra detail
Sure the basecoat is quick and the other details like the gun and chest eagle are there, but it's the extras you add to the model that really bring it to life. In this case, I went with some freehand. You could use decals and get the same effect if not a better one because of their sharpness and overall consistency.

I opted from freehand here for the fun of it and I enjoy the challenge. That and there is something slightly organic about freehand work on a model that I enjoy seeing.

I'm going to call this one a win. Because of the speed at which a model or even a squad could be finished and the fact that I was able to avoid the Christmas tree look, I think this one is worth keeping. I was worried at first that the green would not transition well into the black, but after a wash of Biel-Tan, my worries were gone. This is the same thing I do with painting Ultramarines... all I did was go from blue to green.

There are some drawbacks though to going this route
While this method is very quick and gets some nice results, you'll need a steady hand for painting once you get your basecoat down and complete. As you add your extra details on the model, you want to be careful not to get any stray marks on your armour. Since the color is made up two blended spray paints and two washes on top of that, it will be near impossible to match it if you had to fix a mistake.

It's just something you need to keep in mind if you choose this method. It shouldn't keep you from ever trying it, just know that this route leaves little room for error in the later stages. When it comes to speed though, it can't be beat.

Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
A look at zenithal highlighting on a model
How to paint Ultramarines using the same approach

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!