Thursday, June 14, 2012

How to paint Tyranids quickly and effectively

For me, the main criteria when painting a horde army was to use a simple but effective painting technique which would allow me to plough thorough tons of models quickly and end up with a decent looking army for the table top by the end of it all.

I decided to go with natural looking colours for my Tyranids as I wasn't a fan of the bright, garish colours of the main hive fleets. Anyway, I'll dive right in:

Colours: Ushabti Bone, Castellan Green, Elysian Green and Reikland Fleshshade. There are other colours that can be used for specific details and a few extra colours for those models with a little more variation in their design but these four are the main ones used to paint every single Tyranid model from the Ripper swarms up to the Trygons.

Step by step below:

Step One: Base coat the model with white.

Step Two: Drybrush the skin areas of the model with Ushabti Bone. Watering the paint down a little bit helps and prevents the detail being obscured. A couple of layers is required to get an even look. I use a large drybrush for this stage.

Step Three:  Using Castellan Green paint all the scaled areas. Again it will usually take a couple of layers to get an even appearance and using a little water helps. A basecoat brush is used for this step as it allows for a little extra control.

Step Four: Wash the entire model with Reikland Fleshshade.

Step Five: Using a fine detail brush apply Elysian Green in a feathering style to all edges of the carapace.

Step Six: Drybrush Ushabti Bone onto all the areas of the model that need highlighting. Usually this is for talons, teeth and claws but in this case also for the wings.

Step Seven: Re-wash the carapace with Reikland Fleshshade so as to dull down the intensity of the feathering and to add a mottled effect to the scales. In this specific case I re-washed the "fingers" of the wings in order to re-establish contrast between the segments and the talons.

Step Eight: Base the model as desired. In this case I have gone with a mud and grassland style as it matches the colours of the hive fleet.

A simple yet suprisingly effective way to paint Tyranids fast.


  1. They look pretty damn intimidating when you put them together like that.... the flesh tone is rather disturbing (in a good way)!

  2. Cheers! My camera isn't very good so the quality of the images is always a little rubbish but they look pretty good with the naked eye.

  3. Like em! Think you've done a great job. Esp like the trim to the carapaces. Think you could go back some time and add a highlight to these. Or a highlight in a different colour, which I always thinks looks interesting.

  4. Yeah, I know I can probably do more highlighting on them but god do I just hate the time it takes to do that and also the criteria for my Tyranids was a technique that was fast to most likely I won't be going back to these guys ever again haha!