Monday, March 01, 2010

Blood Ravens painting tips

Ugolino sent the following:

I'm trying to get into the Warhammer 40k tabletop hobby, and more specifically the Space Marines. I've been trying to paint a Blood Ravens army, but keep on making mistakes. I found your site when looking for a Blood Ravens guide, and I've been using your models as a guide in my attempts. 

How much do you water down each of the layers of red? What exactly constitutes a "thin" coat?

Also, can you tell me what method you used to paint this Raven, if it differs from the one listed on the wiki? ( He's a bit closer to the specific look I was hoping for with my Ravens than the "take cover" entry.

Thank you.


Hi Ugolino,

   Welcome to the hobby!  Thinning paints can differ based on personal style as long as the goal is kept in mind: put color on the mini without the dry paint having a rough or chunky texture.  I've read and number of guides that said "the consistency of milk" but I never really figured that one out.  Start with 50/50 paint water and get a controlled brush load to avoid the thinned paint wicking everywhere on the mini.  Touching the edge of the paint brush (about halfway between the tip and the ferrule) to a coffee filter will draw extra moisture away from the bristles so you can control application better.  If you are getting smooth results with 50/50 stick with that or try even thinner.

Red is tough to get solid in few coats.  I recommend GW's mechrite for a base coat, and then red gore built up to your desired shade (for Blood Ravens anyway.)  You can do a highlight with blood red, but be cautious because it's very orange compared red gore.  A little bleach bone / red gore makes a nice edge highlight and isn't too pink or orange.

One thing that helps me is a wet palette.  They are really cheap to make, and I posted a how-to here:

That fellow (my Blood Ravens test model from '05) was painted before the current wash range or foundation paints came out, so I most likely painted him all red gore (over black primer... it would have taken a few coats to get the color solid) and then gave him a wash in "Future" floor polish wash (50/50 water and Future + some GW brown ink.)  Nowadays a 50/50 diluted GW Devlan Mud wash might do the same thing.  The mechrite red gives a very good base red too... way easier to deal with than black.

Maybe this combo might work... just off the top of my head.  If I was going to try and recreate that model with the current range, this is what I would do.
1. basecoat mechrite red.  Total model coverage.
2. wash Badab Black.  Again total model coverage.
3. paint armor areas red gore.  Multiple coats until color is consistent.
4. Paint shoulder pads bleached bone (coat until consistent color)
5. wash enture model with 50/50 water/Devlan Mud wash.
6. Paint details like eyes

One of the important things about red gore is that it looks purple
when the coverage isn't good enough.  Just keep applying thin coats
and the color will even out to a nice, rich red over time.

Hope that helps,


  1. my only question for you I love this color setup seems easy enough. but what color would you suggest priming it before the base of mecharite.
    chaos black like I've seen a lot of people say or would primer grey be sufficient?

  2. @Amancue, I would suggest gray or black (I use gray) but the great coverage of the foundation paint lowers the importance of the primer color. I've put a basecoat down over white, and it's pretty close to the same color after the mechrite red is down.


  3. awesome thanks for the quick reply, I'll go grey since they can all be uniform that way

  4. one more quick question you say complete model coverage of the mecharite and the wash, does that include the area's that are getting the bleached bone?

  5. @Amancue, you don't have to cover those areas, but you don't have to be too careful about leaving them untouched either. You'll be going over them with other colors (graveyard earth, then khaki then bleached bone) so any Mechrite Red you get on there will be well covered.