Friday, 17 April 2015

Painting red – with the help of an airbrush


I’ve changed the way I’m doing a lot of this batch painting and most of it is because I wanted to use the airbrush more .

I am quite adept with it, and use it a lot for vehicles, hardly touching a brush now for them, but when it comes to minis I’m still really only using it for basecoats. this strikes me as a bit daft as when I'm doing 10 marines at once whoa re largely a single colour it strikes me i could be more efficient than just slapping down 1 colour then reaching for a brush.. so here goes.


What you see above here is a batch of assault marines in blood angels livery about to be panted, and my test fig for the paint technique outlined below.

DSC_9398 DSC_9399 DSC_9400

The paints used – the blood tried from reaper master series, two of the secret weapon washes and a white – using reaper cos its the one i have and good old iraqui sand, its my goto “bone” colour.

the models have already had a basecoat of bloodstain red, then a nadiral (opposite of zenithal) spray with bloodstain mixed with black to give some shadow from below.


I then highlight the areas that are catching the light with a mix of white and iraqui sand


this gets an overspray of a semi transluscent layer of carnage red allowing the underpainting to lighten the red.


Seal with Klear (or any other gloss coat) for an easier time with the..


First wash – these two mixed 50/50




The just the black in the key areas like grils, vents etc.. and voilla – you’re ready to paint details and other colours.


Here he is next to the test fig – who is a tad bluer, this is for two reasons, firstly his highlights were pure white, no bone, secondly he has a mattecoat on so I could gauge the true colour of a finished min without the shine of the klear and washes showing.. and mattecoats are always a bit blue, vallejos especially so. I'll use dullcoat for the rest (and give him a blast once done)

I don't know if anyone else would bother with the rigmarole of this , rather than just paint mephiston, wash with agrax, highlight by drybrushing, but it pleases me, and I stand by the results. this lot were done in about 2 hours so its fast too once you get the hang of swapping colours in the airbrush.

Anyway, feedback always welcome, I’ll get to work with the brush on these chaps when opportunity presents, and show results once I have them :)


  1. Thats an incredible red you've achieved, and I'd definitely say worth the slight extra effort. It has a look subtly different from the standard that you mention, and is such a close match to what you've already done with the brush that as long as you don't mind the few extra steps then it would be a no brainer.

    1. Totally, and the airbrush sped things up so that all of these guys are on the table now having their other colours blocked in. :)

  2. Brilliant red. Thanks so much for the guide. Do you prefer to do the shade from beneath instead of the highlight from above? Is that so you have more control?

    1. Thanks Greg..

      Good question, I think yes partly its about control, in the sense of placement, but it's more about control in the sense of the colour. I was always taught, and prefer even with digital or traditional 2D painting to start from my mid-tones. That gives me a sense of the overall effect from the first application, then by applying first shadow, then highlight i can controll the overall effect and final colour. wheras with an approach that builds up from darkest psychologically you have a process you are working on with many layers, my way has a colour right from the get go that you are adjusting with subsequent layers.

      Mechanically and technically i think the two techniques are too similar to matter, but when it comes to approach the thinking is quite different.

    2. Thanks so much for the great reply. It's good to know both the technique, and the thought process as to why an artist chooses a particular method or technique. Helps when breaking out and forming your own techniques on the shoulders of others :)

  3. And here was thinking I was doing well just getting the airbrush to work....


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