Saturday, 21 May 2016

Red Dawn of the Thousand Sons

Good evening all. I have returned with an update, or more precisely a resolution, on my XV legion project.

I've always enjoyed painting red, I feel it's quite a forgiving colour. With the release of Forge World's metallic Thousand Sons it posed a bit of a problem for me, their minis look amazing in a metallic scheme but if I did do them metallic I knew that my less shiny legions would feel, well less shiny. Long story short I decided to do a non-metallic Thousand Sons force which would slot seemlesy into lists alongside my Mechanicum, Knights, Imperial Fists and Night Lords.

Tonight I bring you the labours of some experimentation into painting the red and balancing out the colours on the prospective units. Now please bear in mind I'm using old models (of questionable mould quality) and daubing at speed - so the quality of what I post is not representative of what the final army will be.

Firstly I started with red. Mephiston Red now being available in a can seemed the logical place to start...

The next consideration was shading, do I tone it all down and re-layer the base red or doing something else?

Initially I tried a Seraphim Sepia wash

Which just wasn't potent enough so I decided to use a technique I've never tried before (which would ultimately lead to more experiments) so I turned to a Burnt Umber pin wash.

This is a technique used by many painters but something I've admired but not tried until now. The idea being you base paint the model, seal with varnish then flood the model with an oil paint in a thinners solution, once dry(ish) the oil pigment is wiped from the top surface leaving the tone in the recesses.

I had an initial go using the pin wash on an unvarnished model...

You can see the pigment toning the recesses and slightly tinting the red colour too - a massive difference to the Sepia wash from earlier...

Next up was testing the pin wash on a model that is coated in purity seal.

As you can see I wanted a clearer indication of what the pin wash would also do to the gold and whites of the army. The gold I've used is Vallejo Polished Gold - which is a lovely bright gold, I used Ceramite White for the detailing.

Here is the first 4 testers L-R; sepia wash, burnt umber pin wash on to colour and burnt umber pin wash applied after sealing with purity seal.

It was at this point that I felt the red was too dark and verging on a Word Bearers crimson, however the gold was spot on for me so it was clear I had to revisit my base red.

Having painted some Mechanicum priests I knew a good highlight for Mephiston Red is Evil Sunz Scarlet, so my next job was a heavy wet brush over the Mephiston on another tester...

Much brighter and vivid (which would be toned down by the oil) - now time to repeat the steps I used before..

The red was delivering now on depth and vibrancy but there was a little hint of Blood Angel about the colour (which we all know from opening pots of Blood Angels red is that BAs have a tint of orange - or at least they used to back in the day) - so now to lose the orange tint. Drake offered some tips from past Thousand Sons schemes so I turned to Carroburg Crimson.

I washed the model after the Evil Sunz layer with Carroburg Crimson - unfortunately photos don't really capture it but to the naked eye it's a cleaner red with no orange once applied.

And that ladies and gentlemen is my finished scheme, it's been a long journey (as you can see)

But I have arrived at an easy to reproduce, quick and effective method to get my Thousand Sons on a tabletop.

Here's a run down of the steps;

Spray grey
Spray Mrphiston Red
Airbrush (or wet brush) Evil Sunz Scarlet
Wash with Carroburg Crimson
Paint gold with Vallejo Polished Gold
Paint metals with Leadbelcher
Wash metals with Agrax Earthshade
Dry brush metals with Necron Compound
Paint whites with Ceramite White (2 coats)
Apply transfers
Spray with Purity Seal
Apply Burnt Umber pin wash
Wipe clean once thinners evaporate and was looks 'dry'
Apply weathering powders
Spray with purity seal again

(More for my benefit but if it's useful to others - brilliant)

And do there we have it - I'm now poised to build and paint the first couple of units for my army once Forge World releases those delicious transfers that we saw at Warhammer Fest 2016.

Thanks for sharing the journey with me and remember Pteranadons never disturb others when they urinate.



  1. Great update mate well done :)

  2. I'd love to see a shot of the final scheme with base done, in focus and perhaps how well it transfers over to vehicles? Great post and a step by step to your thinking. Cheers

    1. Yeah sorry - this was very quick and dirty. Once the transfers are released you'll be seeing some finished stuff. Initial plan is 10 man tactical, 5 man tactical support, rhino, contemptor and Praetor. Plenty of variation to test out the robustness of the scheme

  3. Nice to see such a thorough breakdown of your thought process. Mine would simply be; nah that's not right. Nope don't like that and so on.
    Look forward to seeing a finished unit.

  4. Thanks for sharing. I've been coming round to the idea of using a pin wash at the end for recess details rather than either washing very neatly at the start or having to repaint a lot of the base colour.