Dark Angels Tabletop Painting Tutorial

I’ve followed a straightforward and consistent method in painting the Dark Angels for my 40k Kill Team.  This produces a uniform look to my squad, even though the individual members have been painted over many months.  I’ve done my figures one-by-one, since they’re each kitbashed & converted to create a unique personality for each, but this painting process would work equally well for batch painting.  Moreover, the steps I employ can be applied to any Space Marine chapter, or indeed any 40k army.  In this process I paint full faces (yes, for my whole command roster) and carefully pick out the many details added through conversion, but much of the mini is painted quickly and easily in a very elementary manner.  I find that by drawing attention to the most important and interesting elements on the miniature, the lack of careful blending or other advanced techniques is easily forgiven, especially on the tabletop.  This approach also gives a great opportunity to practice important skills, like painting faces, before you tackle that Commander you really want to nail.  Kill Team, with its limited roster, offers a perfect opportunity to go nuts on conversion, detailing, and faces, without actually painting models to a display standard.

An enraged Dark Angels space marine charging with bolter raised.

Here I’ll paint up a Tactical Marine, demonstrating each step of the process.

Dark Angels space marine with basecoats of main colors applied.

1. Basecoat all major areas of the figure in pure, solid colors.  This includes the green, red, and black areas of the figure.  Metallics are painted using the TMM method, as this is much faster for achieving tabletop standard.  The ground and things like skulls, ropes, leather get basecoated in brown.

Space marine with washes applied over basecoats. He holds a gruesome daemon head in front of him.

2. Carefully wash the whole figure with Citadel Nuln Oil.  Some areas might only get a light glaze, while other areas might get dulled down to almost nothing.  Give a heavy wash, but don’t flood the figure or you find areas without a wash at all when it dries; this results from the wash drawing back from some areas of the surface as adjacent areas dry faster.  It can be touched up, but it won’t look as good. This wash stage is the big time saver, as this fast technique to generate heavy shadows will basically get us to the grimdark look we’re after in no time.

Colors lost when the figure was washed are reestablished, leaving dark shading in recesses and shadows.

3. Add back some of the color you’ve lost with the washes.  I start with the metallics.  Work mainly upon a few areas of visual focus.  I’m only ever highlighting the major volumes back up to a midtone, so the figure looks dark despite the presence of a very strong red color.  I am bringing the red back to an almost flat and uniform look, while ‘highlighting’ the green areas much more judiciously. I’m not into Space Marines in bright shiny armor that looks like the uniform of a sports team.

 All the details of the conversion are painted carefully, including purity seals, wargear, and relics.

4. Pick out all the tiny details!  I love to hide tiny blossoms of vivid color on a figure, using colors that totally contradict the overall tight scheme of the unit.  I do my best to create as many different textures as I can.  Some things receive close attention, while other areas are only hinted at.  I intend for some areas of these models to jump out in vivid detail, while other areas fade into nothing and provide a frame for the personalizing details.  This would be maddening to attempt on an entire 40k army, but Kill Team really bridges the gap between modelers & painters and gamers.The face of the space maring is painted with a grimdark color scheme.

5. Paint the faces.  I’ve been painting most of these Dark Angels with repulsive pallid skintones.  I decided to paint this one a sort of greasy yellow-green.  The daemon head ended up far darker than I had expected, but I like it.  I have a unit of Bloodthirsters ready to paint, so I may re-use the scheme.

The base is painted, completing the mini. He is ready for the tabletop!

6. Paint the base.  I used Tamiya clear for the blood effect.

We do not fear the monsters of the Warp!


2 thoughts on “Dark Angels Tabletop Painting Tutorial”

  1. Nice work and I totally agree that you can use details to carry a miniature. I once wrote an article about just picking something, one element on a model, and focusing on that. If you can make one element look great then the lack of work in other areas gets overlooked.

    Liked by 1 person

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