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HOBBY 40K: Painting Space Bugs 101

3 Minute Read
Jun 1 2011

Fritz here– while I consider myself more on the tactical side of the hobby, the crew here at BoLS has been posting up some great hobby articles about getting your army built and painted on the table, and I thought I would offer my paint perspective regarding Tyranids…

One of the most challenging things about starting a new army, especially a horde heavy build like Tyranids is the overwhelming amount of space bugs that you have to paint over a more traditional/mainstream army like Space Marines.

How long should it take to get your army to a tabletop or better presentation? Months? Weeks? What about a day? Get your models built and primed and you can easily field a 2K point army the next day. Technically this is an “unpainted army” since everything is done with washes and inks…

Step One:

Of course is to build and prime your models. Priming is the most important step of the entire process. You need to use a smooth non glossy white primer covering all of the surfaces/angles of your models evenly. Give it a good two coats and make sure you use the same primer for all the models- color and texture of the primer will affect the outcome, so you need to do it all in one shot, or at least save a can or two for when you add more models to your army later.

Ok, Step Number Two…

Primer is dry and now we are going to apply Gryphonne Sepia Citadel Wash over everything but the armored plates. Keep in mind that the wash will go on very light, but darken as it dries. The nice thing about the wash is that it is quick to apply and will fill in all the details/crevices in the model highlighting and contrasting them in one shot. Don’t worry about any overflow on the bases for now.

Step Three…

You don’t have to wait for the wash to dry if you handle the model by the base, so the next step is to hit up the armored plates with Leviathan Purple Citadel Wash. Same thing, it will go on a little light and then dry out so one pass is more than enough. (Keep in mind the color on the plates is what gives the army a uniform look and you could go with any other color wash for your own hive fleet.)

Now Onto the Details…


For this part I like to let the models fully dry since you are going to have to get in close, and if you are painting them assembly line style, by the time you reach the end of the line the models at the front will be good to go.

Grab some red, green, and yellow ink. Bio hoses on the buggies and guns get inked red along with the implant tongues, etc., bio ribbing on the legs and arms gets hit with green, and finally the base of the feet and teeth get hit with yellow.

Let it dry and we are

Onto Basing…

Horde armies soak up lots of basing materials so I wanted to go with something simple which I could later remove as I switched over batches of the army to some resin Jawabases, which get painted in the same manner as the models I might add, prime, wash, ink, and done.

Being the middle of winter at the time, with lots of rock salt being dumped on the roads (natural salt I may add) I scooped up lots of crystals and washed them with some homemade blue ink, and then set them out to dry. Add some bits of rock and rubble, paint the base black, and then flock with some snow basing and add a few “rock crystals”, done and done.

If anything I hope this offers some encouragement to the new painter out there to show that it is possible to get a decent looking army out on the table in an efficient manner so you can enjoy playing the game with a fully built and painted army.


Fritz out.

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