How To Paint Imperial Fists

The great thing about the Corehammer Facebook group is that there is no shortage of talented dudes willing to drop some knowledge, and share the wealth. Here’s Craig O’Reilly showing his amazing airbrush skills with the Imperial Fists


Paints you’ll need:
Vallejo Grey Primer
Vallejo Airbrush Thinner
AP (Army Painter) Desert Yellow
VMA (Vallejo Model Air) Burnt Umber
VMA White
VGA (Vallejo Game Air) Golden Yellow
Vallejo Satin Varnish
W&N (Windsor and Newton) Burnt Umber Oil Paint
W&N Black Oil Paint
White Spirit
VMA Sand (Paint, not actual sand)
AP Greedy Gold
VMA Chrome
VMA Black
VMA Gun Grey
Citadel Khorne Red
Citadel Mephiston Red
VGC (Vallejo Game Colour) Hot Orange
VGC Hawk Turquoise
P3 Arcane Blue

1: After undercoating with Vallejo Grey Primer, apply a basecoat of AP Desert Yellow


2: Apply shades with the airbrush using VMA Burnt Umber


3: Apply highlights with VMA White

4: Apply a ‘candy’ with VGA Golden Yellow. Candy is an airbrushing term for applying a thin layer using a semi transparent colour to show the shades and highlights underneath. At this point you can make a decision whether you are happy with the highlights, if you want to go a step further you can add white to the golden yellow and apply another quick highlight to the armour.


5. Basecoat the details, I used Citadel Khorne Red for the armour trim and purity seal wax, VMA sand for the rest of the purity seal, VMA Black and Gun Grey for the bolter, VMA Gun Grey for any other silver details, and AP Greedy Gold for any gold details such as the chest aquilla


7. Apply a coat of Vallejo Satin Varnish, let it dry, then apply an oil wash of 80% W&N Burnt Umber and 20% W&N Black. To mix to oil wash just mix the paints and add white spirit until you have the desired consistency, I go a similar consistency to the old GW inks, so quite thin. Apply the oil wash directly into the recesses and it should flow into all the recesses without having to brush it in, then clean up with a brush dipped in clean white spirit. This takes a bit of practice but once you get it right it’s such a useful technique (I actually messed up the oil wash on this model, I thinned the satin varnish too much so the oils didn’t flow as well as I would have liked, this was easily fixed in the next step though.)

8. Brush highlights, this is the stage that really makes the miniature pop. I edge highlight the armour first using VMA Sand and then VMA white, all gold and silver areas with VMA Chrome, the armour trim and purity seal with Citadel Mephiston Red and then VGC Hot Orange. I then paint the eyes with P3 Arcane Blue, shade the upper section with VGC Hawk Turquoise, highlight lower section with P3 Arcane Blue/VMA White 50/50, and then add a small white dot to the upper shaded section.


All that is left to complete after this is to apply any transfers and paint the base. I won’t go into details on this, as you can just base the miniature to match the rest of your army. If you do have any questions, feel free to email me on or PM me on Facebook


6 thoughts on “How To Paint Imperial Fists

  1. Such a nice final product for not much effort. I’m a bit of an airbrush noob and this looks like I could give this technique a go. The bit I’m worried about is applying the candy layer and putting it on too thick and ruining the pre shade/highlights. Good article mate.

    • Daniel, just apply the candy in a couple of thin layers, you’d have to go way over the top to lose the pre shading as yellow is so transparent

  2. I don’t have access to nor do I want to buy the AP Desert Yellow spray, which I presume is what you are talking about.

    Is there any color I can substitute? VMA Yellow Ochre maybe?

    Thanks for the awesome tutorial!

    • Hi mate, i actually used the desert yellow dropper bottle paint through an airbrush. But with my next batch I swapped the first 2 steps out for undercoating with vallejo desert tan surface primer. Much quicker!

  3. I’m extremely new to airbrushing and was wondering what psi you spray your models at? I’ve been using 20psi.

  4. So so sick. Great result and tutorial.

    I’d like to bump the PSI question – what would you generally use for a Game Air out the bottle with a little drop of Vallejo Flow Improver?

    Also how did you make your candy? Was it literally very thinned VGA Yellow or did you mix with gloss/glaze medium. Keen to hear the recipe because you got such a sick colour in the end.

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