April 8, 2013

For the Greater Good

With the release of the new Warhammer 40k Tau Codex I felt inspired to try my hand at painting a few of the xenos and bought a box set of Fire Warriors. One thing I wanted to avoid was the need to painstakingly pick out every armored plate and edge highlight. I decided to give the Army Painter Quickshade another try. Most Tau armies seem to be painted in a pristine parade ground condition, but I wanted mine to battered from campaigning, so I felt like the Quickshade would be a... well, quick way of achieving this.

One of the problems I've had with Quickshade in the past is that though the results look pretty good, they don't look like mine. The contrast is simply not as pronounced as on my layered models. One way I decided to overcome this was to ensure I picked a color scheme with a high contrast. I like the various city camo schemes for Tau I've seen online, but I'm tired of painting grey (Red Scorpions and Death Korps of Krieg). I started by spraying the models with Army Painter's Skeleton Bone. The other colors were picked out with Games Workshop paints: the cloth with Rhinox Hide, the gun butts and various other bits and bobs with Mechanicus Standard Grey, the visor lights with Evil Sunz Scarlet, and the doohicky on the end of the pulse rifle with Gehenna's Gold. I picked out the leader's helmet and part of his shoulder pad in White Scar. Any mistakes were cleaned up with Ushabti Bone, which is a perfect match for the Skeleton Bone spray paint (almost as if Army Painter planned it). This took about an hour for the whole team.

Next I doused all of the models liberally in Army Painter Quickshade Soft Tone. I use a brush rather than dipping them in the tin. After all of the models were covered, I went back through them to make sure there were no puddles of standing varnish. This took all of fifteen minutes, but I left it to dry for 48 hours (the time was not wasted because I assembled and undercoated a second squad of identical composition over this period).

You will notice I repainted the team leader's helmet and shoulder pad with Evil Sunz Scarlet - the white didn't provide enough contrast to the rest of the armor after applying the Quickshade. The pic below shows the models after being coated in Army Painter Anti-Shine varnish. There have been mixed reviews on the net about this brand of matt varnish (a Google search will reveal these), but I've never had any trouble with it. It is absolutely vital to matt varnish the models after using Quickshade because the results are super shiny! I let this dry for most of the afternoon.

Finally I spent an hour or so adding Sept Markings with Evil Sunz Scarlet and battle damage in the same manner I described in my Ultramarines article a few weeks back. While underlighting the battle damage with Ushabti Bone, I also did minimal edge highlighting on the helmets and shoulder pads. Mud was added by drybrushing and stippling Mournfang Brown on the lower legs and lightly on random upper areas as well.

I'm wondering if I couldn't have achieved similar results with the Game Workshop washes and avoided the two-plus days of drying time. While it only took about two and a half hours to achieve these results, I could probably have done the same thing with the washes and finished the unit in a single day. Of course the Quickshade tin holds enough product to paint hundreds of models while the GW washes might manage twenty or thirty! This may call for another round of experimentation. I'm also wondering if I wouldn't rather have a a color scheme closer to the official GW studio version...

I don't know where this project is going. Certainly I want to paint up an HQ to give me a legal, if tiny, army. Two squads like the one above come in around 180 points. I should be able to easily fit in an HQ and another supporting unit of some sort for a five hundred point force.


  1. Don't realy like 40k, especially Tau aren't my cup of tea, though yours look amazing.

  2. I like them! Everyone will be following the GW schemes, chart your own course! This looks better than peach or white.