Painting classic Genestealers. Quickly.

It’s now been 10 months since I agreed to paint up some classic metal ‘stealers and Termi’s to go with a full set of Space Hulk tiles obtained from eBay. 10 months and I’m still not finished, although getting tantalisingly close. I’m the first to admit that I’m a slow painter in general, but this delay has arisen more from a lack of general painting inspiration than any physical slowness. There is however a new box recently dropped that once again has the gaming community abuzz with excitement, or at least has gripped those who missed the last limited edition run; and there’s nothing like a bit of communal excitement to get motivated and gather supplies.


For me the key to painting quickly is all in the preparation, and specifically a shaded primer layer that I tend to refer to as ‘Dual Priming’. This probably goes by many other names like pre-shading or zenithal highlighting but amounts to exactly the same thing. Prime all over in black and then prime in white from a limited angle, usually above. This will immediately create natural highlight and shadow gradients that will show through a translucent layer of paint. Whilst an airbrush is preferable to get a smooth gradient in colour the same effect can be achieved just as easily with rattle cans if that’s your poison.

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For the ‘stealers I chose to spray this white layer from the front, and at about a 45 degree angle above the horizontal. This accentuates the ridges down the carapace and still gives the largest white area focused on the face, ensuring this will be the brightest area on the paint job.

The next steps all depend on the shading in the primer layer showing through the paint,  using translucent layers to tint the surface but balanced with enough pigment to only need a single pass for speed. Our friends here are inks and washes. Inks remain translucent despite a high pigment count so are good for covering larger, flatter areas. Washes have a lower pigment count than inks so will tint a surface less, however the pooling effect in recesses will also enhance any shadow contrast so are good for areas of dense detail.

With that in mind I’ll be painting the rest of the mini with:

  • Vallejo Game Ink – Blue
  • Games Workshop Wash – Leviathan Purple/Druchii Violet
  • Games Workshop Wash – Carroburg Crimson
  • Vallejo Model Colour – Yellow Green

Starting with the blue ink used directly from the bottle, no need mess around diluting anything just paint on a single coat. Whilst you can go pretty rapidly it’s well worth taking it steady to make sure you don’t splash any ink into what will be the purple areas. If you do end up going into the purple areas you have two choices. 1 – Grab a small brush and neaten things up with a light dry-brush of white to reinstate the highlights. Don’t worry about removing blue from shadows, it’ll just darken them. 2 – Paint the entire area blue which will deepen the purple and give a bit of variation to the group of models. You’ll notice in the following pic I got carried away and painted the back set of hands without thinking they’re meant to be purple.

1.5 hours to this point on 9 stealers

Now that we’re moving onto the purple there’s no need to be shy. Grab a big brush and slap it on as fast as you can. The wash will sit in recesses and increase the natural shadow, and at the same time recede from any high points creating a natural highlight. Keep a dry brush (as in one that’s not wet, not a dry-brush) to hand to wick away any over-spill in case you get any wash where you really don’t want it.

PhotoGrid_1411234342875Just the last bits of detail now to finish. Tongues get a quick wash with Carroburg Crimson, eyes are dotted in with VMC Yellow Green and then your basing medium of choice. I’m matching these to an existing squad so simple sand primed in black and dry-brushed with Mechanicus Standard Grey and patches of Leadbelcher.

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Finished – total painting time 3 hours

Now these guys are clearly not going to win any painting competitions, but that’s not the point. Total painting time for 9 Genestealers was 3 hours. That’s 20 minutes per model!




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About John

After growing up on a farm in North Lincs John was attracted by the bright lights of Manchester at the turn of the century. He attempted to play drums in a few discordant bands through school and college before realising he was a better listener and could have more fun in a mosh. A reader first and and self confessed Rule Geek who enjoys poring over codexes and spends far too long painting. John hates the taste of Badab Black.

2 thoughts on “Painting classic Genestealers. Quickly.

    • Cheers Fella.

      We are Legion…
      …with a fair presence in and around Manchester and the North West.

      Hit up the Facebook group if you haven’t already, say Hi and have a skim through the location thread

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