Want to find out how we painted the Primaris Space Marines from our Dark Imperium demo copy that you see in store? Look no further!

If you want more painting tips and tricks, be sure to come out to our monthly paint ‘n takes on the first Sunday of every month and our weekly Minis Monday nights!

Before I begin a painting project, I like to have a strategy for achieving my goal. Here, my goal was to paint the entire Primaris Marine force as quickly as possible while still achieving some natural looking gradients between the major colors. Meaning, I wanted to see a shift from the shadows, to mid tone, to highlights. I wanted Some depth.

My strategy to do this was to use bright base colors combined with Army Painter’s Quickshade. Quickshade creates great shadows, but also darkens everything it covers. Thus, if you use bright colors, it will really pop them out.

Using this to my advantage, I planned to apply some really bright highlights before using the Quickshade. To do this quickly, I planned to use a dry brushing technique, and to do it only for the primary color (blue, in this case). I decided to simply base coat each remaining color and forego additional dry brushing.

Note that each product used is Citadel unless otherwise indicated.

Step 1: I primed all of the marines using Macragge Blue spray primer. Begin your spray past the model, then sweep briskly but steadily over the model. Repeat with additional coats rather than holding the spray for too long on one spot. Make sure to check the instructions when using primer for similar guidance — and always watch the weather! You don’t want it to be too hot or too cold outside (don’t spray indoors, please! You don’t want to breathe this stuff!).

Step 2: I did a heavy dry brush of the model using Calgar Blue. Dry brushing means taking a brush with very little paint on it and brushing it gently over the model so that the paint only catches the raised areas. By heavy dry brush I mean that I used that typical dry brush technique, but went for a much larger amount of coverage. I pressed harder with my brush, and loaded it up with more paint than normal. This made it essentially a base coat, but left the deepest recess darker.

Step 3: I did a more traditional dry brush with Fenrisian Gray. This step was about highlighting the previous layer. I targeted the raised areas and edges, trying to leave some Calgar Blue beneath.

With these dry brushing steps, I’m trying to create a gradient shift that the Quickshade will tie together for me later. By going from Macragge Blue, to Calgar Blue, to Fenrisian Blue, I have a subtle, yet rewarding little transition that will let the highlights remain bold while appearing natural.

Step 4: I began the other base coat colors with Balthasar Gold. I covered the chest eagle, edges of the shoulder pads, and other details such as the winged skull on the gun. On the other models you’ll see other details such as errant skulls. Feel free to hit those with gold, too!


Step 5: Another base coat, this one is Mechanicus Standard Gray. I used this on all the non-metallic parts of the guns, the pouches, pistols (including grips), and the joints between armor (behind the knees and elbows). On the box art, the guns are all black. I decided for a gray paint because we’re going to use a very dark shade and i wanted to get the most out of that as possible. If we do black, we won’t get any shadowing out of that step and would need to add some highlights to the guns in order to give them any definition at all. With gray, our shade will add some depth without needing any more steps.

Step 6: The last major base coat step, this one was Leadbelcher. I hit the metallic areas of the guns, and the tubes running down the side of the helmets.

Step 6.5: Not included in the picture, but I went around and picked out some smaller details. Most notably the purity seals. I did the wax seal in Screamer Pink and the ribbon with Rakarth Flesh. I also picked out some skulls and bones to do with Ushabti Bone. The captain has a cloak, which I used Mephiston red on the back and Zandri Dust on the front. For white skulls (on the banner and Captain) I used Ulthuan Gray.

Step 7: The messy part! Do this outside, get some gloves, and newspaper or cardboard. You don’t want varnish over anything you don’t want stained. Once ready, I dipped all of the models in Army Painter’s Dark Tone Quickshade, using a pliers to hold them from the base, then gave them a good shake. I let them dry for 24 hours. You can see this has added some incredible shadowing to our model with minimal effort.

Step 8: I used Testor’s Dullcote Matte Varnish to eliminate the glossy sheen left over from the Quickshade.

The model is now complete! To tie it all together I used Citadel’s Agrellan Earth texture paint over the base, painted the edge of the base with Steel Legion Drab, then added a few tufts of Mordheim Turf once everything was dry.

Tips learned from the experience:

1. If you want to complete your set even faster but achieve a similar look, try skipping step 2 and go right to step 3. Meaning, instead of a heavy dry brush of Calgar blue, apply a heavy dry brush of Fenrisian Gray. Alternatively, if you have a bright blue spray primer you could use that and skip steps 2-3 entirely! Remember, the Quickshade darkens our colors in addition to providing shadows. Thus, by basing in a bright color, the Quickshade helps create some highlights for us without any effort!

2. Immediately after dipping each model in Quickshade, you may want to take the time to soak up any pools that accumulate. I did not do this and it left big black blobs in some areas such as in folds of cloth and in the corners of shoulder pads. All you need is a scrap of paper towel to dab those pools off, or an old brush.

3. If you want to make your models pop a little more, you might consider a highlighting step after applying the matte varnish. I would recommend either a light drybrush of Fenrisian Gray. Or, take your small layer brush, and with a steady hand paint some lines on the corners and edges of the blue parts of the model. This will really accentuate your details and help the color scheme pop. Furthermore, you can do this over the gold, gray, and metal with lighter versions of each respective base color.

4. When using Agrellan Earth, the paint will crack as it dries. As a result, it exposes the base beneath. It’s very subtle, but you might consider painting over your base with Mournfang Brown before applying the Agrellan Earth. This will make it look a lot more natural after it cracks.

5. Experiment! Try different colors, or move some steps around. For example, what if you did steps 2-3 after the dip and matte varnish? This would make your models a lot brighter in color, and give flashier highlights. If you prefer that to the darker effect achieved on my models, give it a try!

Hope you enjoyed, looking forward to seeing everyone’s painted armies on the table in this new edition! Share your results with us!