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Painting a Space Marine

By Anthony Karl Erdelji


It seems all new people to the Warhammer 40k hobby begin playing and painting with space marines. Here is a quick guide to get you people started on a well painted army. This guide can also be used as  a speed painting guide if you wish. Simply skip the steps you don't want to do and it will speed up the painting process. However remember that for each step you skip your going to lose quality in you final results.


Step 1: Assemble the marine. Use a good quality plastic cement. Plastic cement melts the plastic creating a very strong bond between the pieces. Assemble the entire marine except leave the bolter off to the side. Let the glue cure for several hours then prime the marine with white primer. At the same time prime the bolter black. Most people paint marine weapons black or dark metal colors and the black primer will speed up the painting process. If you don't have black primer or are painting just a few marines, you can always prime the bolter white and then basecoat it black. If your going to paint the bolter a different color instead of black or metal, go ahead and prime it white while your priming the marine.

speedmarine1.JPG (31944 bytes)Step 2: Basecoat the marine. I'm painting a Ultramarine so I'm basecoating with Coat d'arms Wizard Blue. Thin the paint before brushing it on to prevent the paint from building up or filling in any details. Coat d'arms paint is fairly thin so a 3 to 1 paint to water ratio works best. Your paint may be thicker or thinner so you'll have to adjust your ratios. At the right consistency it should take 3 coats to cover up all of the white primer.

speedmarine2.jpg (34454 bytes)Step 3: Shade the marine. Inks are excellent for shading marines. The ink flows right into all of the crevasses of the armor. I used Blue ink and thinned it 1 to 5 parts water. This wash was brushed over the entire marine. Remember while we want to cover the entire marine with the ink mixture we don't want to flood the model. Flooding the model with ink can lead to pools of ink and when they dry your marine will look patchy. Load your brush with the ink mixture and then wipe it across a paper towel to remove excess ink from your brush. You want to be able to control how much ink your applying to the model. When the right amount of ink on your brush it should flow smoothing onto the model without forming any puddles. If your ink does pool on the model touch a dry brush to the pool and the excess ink will flow into the bristles of the brush.

speedmarine3.jpg (43648 bytes)Step 4: Now we add a dark shade to the deep recesses. After the first coat of ink has dried add a drop of black ink to your thinned blue ink. This new mixture is not washed over the entire model as with the previous ink. Instead its brushed directly into the deepest recesses of the marine, mainly wherever two pieces of armor meet.

speedmarine4.JPG (32227 bytes)Step 5: Time for some highlights. Drybrushing is the most common way to highlight marine models, yet drybrushing quickly builds up paint on the smooth surfaces of the marine and can look terrible. However by slightly thinning the paint before drybrushing the paint will go on smoother and the end results will be much better. With this in mind I mixed 1 part white to 3 parts blue and added a drop of water. From here on its just a simple matter of drybrushing the highlights. The first highlight is brushed over about 90% of the model, basically everything but the recesses where the ink has dried. 

After the first highlight was done, I highlighted again with 1 part white to 2 parts, once again adding a drop of water to the mix. This highlight brings out the top areas of the armor. Look at the marine directly form the top. Drybrush only what you can see from the position; i.e. the top of the shoulders, helm, top of the arms, top of the legs, and the backpack.

The final highlight is 1 part white to 1 part blue. Unlike the other two highlights this one is not thinned and only applied to sharp edges of the model; i.e. fingers, edges on the crest of the helm, tops of the lower leg armor.

marinechest1.jpg (34029 bytes)Step 6: On to the chest emblem. We start by undercoating the emblem in white to give us a even surface to work on. The basecoat is Coat d'arms Sun Yellow mixed with a little bit of Flame Orange. 

marinechest2.JPG (24332 bytes)Next I gave it a straight wash of Orange ink. After the ink dried the tips of the feather were gently drybrushed with a mix of Sun Yellow and white.

speedmarine5.JPG (41510 bytes)Step 7: Finish up by painting the extra details on the model. The flexible areas between the armor plates is painted black. The skulls are painted Bone, washed with Chestnut ink and highlighted with Bone and White. The eyes and helm sensor is painting Polly S metallic gold and them coated with Tamiya Clear Red. 

marinebolter.jpg (27650 bytes)Step 8: The bolter is drybrushed dark gray. The metal areas are drybrushed with Polly S Graphite. The wing and skull are painted as above. When done, glue the bolter into the hands of the marine.

marine.jpg (42074 bytes)   marine2.jpg (49626 bytes)Step 9: The final step is to paint or flock the base however you chose and spray the model with a dull protective lacquer. All done!