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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’ve gotten numerous requests for a tutorial on how to paint flesh so I thought I would take the time tonight to oblige those who have seen my Imperial Guardsmen and have inquired. Hopefully even those that don’t play IG can take something away from this. Faces can be scary to the beginning painter and I will attempt to show that this shouldn’t be the case at all. With just a little practice, patience and THINNED paint, anyone can make great faces for their armies which will make the model “pop” even more on the tabletop.

Just a quick disclaimer: My photography set-up is not really that great. I use a piece of poster board and the same lamp I use to paint with for a make-shift studio. Since I had to set up and tear down for every step, you’ll notice some variations in the photos (most obviously in the backgrounds). I’ve done my best to make each photograph as representative as possible of each step in the process, nonetheless. I think for the purposes of this tutorial we should be OK and I’ll describe as much as I can for each picture.
Now, onto to FUN.
Here is what you’ll need:

I forgot to get my paint brushes in the shot, but for this project I used the same brushes I always use for faces. American Painter sizes 18/0 (for the extremely fine details) and 3/0 for the rest. I paid $1.69 each for these brushes at a local craft store. Take that, GW! (Also, not pictured: CODEX GREY… doh!)

How To Paint Imperial Guard - Step #1

For the first step, I just painted the soon-to-be-flesh areas of the model in GW’s amazing Codex Grey. I love the hell out of this color because it covers black instantly and lighter colors can be painted right over it with very minimal effort. Trying to paint flesh colors straight over black is just a pain, so break out that Codex Grey and get to it!
Note for newbies: Do NOT use your paints right out of the pot… thin the paint to approximately the consistency of skim milk.

How To Paint Imperial Guard - Step #2

Now, take Reaper Master Series “Tanned Shadow” and cover all of the Codex Grey. Since you’ve thinned your paints (right?), it will probably take two quick passes for full coverage, but these will go on relatively easy.

How To Paint Imperial Guard - Step #3

GW’s Brown Ink is awesome. Whenever you buy a pot of ink, the moment you get it home, take a drop or two of dishwashing liquid and put it right into the pot. Be sure to shake the pot before each use! For those who don’t know: The liquid soap will break the surface tension of the ink when you apply it to the model and will let it flow into the deepest recesses.
With a mix of 1:1 Brown ink/water, strategically apply the ink so the majority of it goes into the deepest cracks of the model. You’ll notice I was quite liberal with the application treating it almost as a wash and at some points, I went full ink (no water) and put it on the parts that would be the most dark such as between the helmet and the face, and around the eyes.

How To Paint Imperial Guard - Step #4

Now, this part is actually two steps in one… After the ink has dried, use “Tanned Shadow” (again) to go over the parts of the flesh that would stand out from the shadows, such as fingers, cheeks, eye brows, nose, knuckles, etc.. just imagine the light hitting the model and paint the things that would naturally stand out, relegating the inked sections (from last step) to the shadowy parts of the model.
Now, with “Tanned Skin” hit those “light” parts again, but now paint the parts that would be even lighter. Parts such as finger tips, tip of the nose, cheekbones, bones on the hand, etc…
Here is where you should take your time and go for as much realism and grit as you like… want a more dirty looking face/hands? Leave more of that ink showing! Want a pretty boy? Use more “Tanned Shadow” and hide more of that ink.

How To Paint Imperial Guard - Step #5

Finally, use “Fair Shadow” sparingly to hit the most extreme of highlights. Ends of fingers, end of nose, highest points of the knuckles, etc. If you find the color is too bright for your liking, you can paint over it with “Tanned Skin” to turn it down a little, or just mix it with “Tanned Skin” to begin with.
You’re done!

Next tutorial we’ll take this Guardsman and give him a uniform!
Hope this helps!

Part 2

I have returned with the next Imperial Guard painting tutorial leaving exactly where my face painting tutorial left off.
Even if you don’t play Guard, newbies should be able to pick up a thing or two from this, since highlighting plays a VERY important role in the painting style for my guard. There is no blending or complicated technique involved at all, so anyone with the right brushes and colors can do this.
Did you hear me? NO COLORS WERE BLENDED IN THE MAKING OF THIS TUTORIAL. Blending is for people who win Golden Demons, not us mere mortals and certainly not for people painting up an entire ARMY. Of course exceptions can be made for important models in your force, but generally your average troop isn’t going to need it, which is why these tutorials feature a simple Guardsman.
Now, here is what I use for my Guard:

Reaper Paint

Feel free to substitute colors as you like. The important thing is to have a triad of colors that sit very closely to one another. You’ll want a dark, medium, and lighter version of whatever your scheme might be. Any shades that you require that sit inbetween your 3 main colors can (and will) be created by mixing.
Now then on with the tutorial:
NOTE: Again, I have to apologize for some of these photos… Since moving, I do not yet have a dedicated space for photographing miniatures and in order to take pictures I had to stop what I was doing, bring my lamp into another room and try to get the best pic I could. Some pictures turned out better than others, but I tried to pick the photo that best represents the step. The machine spirits are fickle, so consistency is out of the question for now. Once I do get set up, I will replace the photos in this tutorial with a more consistent set. Nonetheless for the time being, these will be more than enough to illustrate the step described, so let’s get out those brushes!

How To Paint Imperial Guard - Step #6

Now that you have a brand new Guardsman with a pretty face, it’s time to dress him! That’s Codex Grey on ALL cloth parts and a 1:1 mix of “Grey Liner” and “Muddy Olive” for the ALL the armor. A “Liner” is a series of paints from Reaper that is thicker than ink, but much thinner than paint. It’s absolutely perfect for things like ‘black-lining’ and mixing with colors to knock the shade down a peg.
Dont spend too much time dodging the details. If you get paint onto the Emblems or gun bits, that’s fine. You can always paint over them in black and they’ll be ready to paint when you get to that step.
The Codex Grey is simply a quick basecoat which will make your actual cloth color easier to paint on.

How To Paint Imperial Guard - Step #7

Here’s an easy step. For now, we’re going to leave the armor alone. It’s time to work on the cloth!
Cover all of the Codex Grey with “Bone Shadow”. That’s it for this step.

How To Paint Imperial Guard - Step #8

For this stage, I took a 2:3 mix of “Bone Shadow” and “Grey Liner” and watered it down a quite a bit. We’re going to give the cloth an inking here, making sure the folds and creases and shadowy areas get the majority of paint to create depth in the cloth. Don’t worry about being sloppy here, just realize that the sloppier you are, the more “touch up” work you’ll have to do in a couple of steps! Get to painting those folds!

How To Paint Imperial Guard - Step #9

Time for some linework! Take “Grey Liner” and water it down to the consistency of ink. Taking a very fine brush, hit only the deepest folds with this mix. This is as dark as it gets for our cloth, so think about where there would be the least amount of light being reflected and hit these areas. Now is a good time to do some black-lining, such as the grooves around the pockets and shirt and anywhere else you’d like to seperate bits of the cloth. (You can see here I took the opportunity at this point to get a nice bold line to seperate my Guardsman’s hand from his cuff and also bewteen the cuff and sleeve.)

How To Paint Imperial Guard - Step #10

Now that we’ve created our depth, it’s time to work our way back up the cloth and touch up at the same time. In this step, I used more “Bone Shadow” and cleaned up the ink that got into places I didn’t want it a couple steps back. “Bone Shadow” is our “main” cloth color so at this point you can make the cloth as dingy or bright as you like. The more of the ink you touch up, the brighter your cloth is going to look in the end. If it helps, look at the model from the perspective of playing a game of 40k. The parts you can’t see are those parts you can leave alone at this point. This is a good way to paint and I also take into consideration photographing the models from eye level when determining what is left in the shadows and what gets more color.

How To Paint Imperial Guard - Step #11

We’re almost done with the cloth and it’s time for the final highlight! This step is pretty easy. Take a 1:1 mix of “Bone Shadow” and “Aged Bone”, consider the parts of the cloth you most want to stand out and hit them. I painted the top of the folds on the arms and legs, especially where they where bending. Also, I lightly brushed the front of the thigh and knee of the model’s left leg to make it look like the light was hitting that part of the material. Take your time here and make sure your paints are very thin and the highlights as clean as possible. This is what people will notice about your cloth overall when they see the model since this is the part that “pops”!
With that step, you’re done with the cloth!
A word about cloth: Painting cloth SUCKS. It’s by far my least favorite part of painting Guard. The only positive thing I can say about it is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. The different colors you use don’t even have to be that smooth! As long as your creases are dark and the tops of the folds are lighter, you can call it a day and no one will give you any lip. However, If you take the time to do your best, it can definitely make a fine impression so that is why I’ve taken pains here to outline those steps.
With that said, it’s time to move onto my favorite part! ARMOR!

How To Paint Imperial Guard - Step #12

Paint the armor with “Muddy Olive” making sure to avoid the shadowy parts of the model which will show the darker basecoat. This is your armor’s primary color so the shoulder pads and anything exposed should be this color. If you look closely at the model here, you’ll see that I’ve left some of that darker base coat at the top of the leggings, as well as in the middle of the gun (around the emblem).

How To Paint Imperial Guard - Step #13

Next up is a 1:1 mix of “Muddy Olive” and “Olive Green”. This is going to act like a first highlight. This isn’t the same as edging, but a precursor to it, like a thick highlight. Again, you can see the gun and how i’ve left a bit of the previous 2 coats showing as well as the leggings. For the shoulder pads, I’ve used this color to paint the parts that will start to reflect the light most; around the edges and on the dome of the helmet. Also, paint the edges of the helmet and you’ll start to see how highlighting can really make those areas stand out!

How To Paint Imperial Guard - Step #14

Ok, here is where we start edging those highlights! Thin, thin lines on the edges of the armor in “Olive Green” all by itself. Remember to KEEP YOUR PAINTS THIN so it goes on nice and smooth and doesn’t chunk up! I love how the helmet and shoulder pads are starting to look quite dramatic with the shading and these new highlights. I shouldn’t need to say more here as I think the model speaks for itself! We’re getting close to the end here.

How To Paint Imperial Guard - Step #15 Done

Ok, at this point in my painting, the steps became way too small to photograph since now we’re doing details. Besides, at this point you probably don’t need my help! For those interested, I’ll walk you through what I did:
For the emblems, I took a fine brush (size 18/
and painted “Codex Grey” onto the wings/feathers, making sure to leave black in between each feather. I then added little “Fortress Grey” and highlighted those same areas. For a finishing touch, I used “Polished Bone” and dabbed a little on the tips of the wings and the top of the skull.
For the metal bits, it’s just “Boltgun Metal”, the greatest metallic paint EVER! To make it look a little dirtier though, I took a 1:1 mix of Brown and Blue Ink (When you mix these, you get the color of motor oil!) and washed those parts. Once the ink dried, a went back with a little more “Boltgun Metal” and cleaned up.

Seal model with TESTOR’S DULLCOTE and that’s one more Guardsman ready to fight for the Glory of the EMPEROR!



Thanks for taking the time to read my How To Paint Imperial Guard guide! I hope it helps you in your hobby and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to PM me!

Check out our other how to paint guides.
How to paint Tyranids - Genestealers
How to paint Ultramarines
How to Paint Dark Angels Space Marines
How to Paint Space Wolves
How to Paint Blood Angels Space Marines
How To Paint Imperial Guard

Porn King!!!
8,137 Posts
Nicely done, very informative tut. Rep to you.

3,063 Posts
This is one hell of a first post! Welcome to Heresy Online Undeadair!

Great tutorial, informative and clear!
Have a reward, and enjoy your time here :)

67 Posts
nice man, it seems a little inconsistent with the pictures but is still very good, well deserving of some rep

4 Posts
Great stuff! You make it look incredibly easy, which is a skill in itself. I just wish it was. ;) Brilliant work, thanks for the tutorial.
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