Painting metallic pre-Heresy Thousand Sons

This is my method for painting metallic pre-Heresy Thousand Sons, in seven easy steps. I’ve been assembling a force for a while and this is a test scheme I tried out; in the end I decided not to go for the metallic look on the force, although there was interest about how the look was achieved and so I created this tutorial.

I spent a while looking for metallic red paints but didn’t find anything which worked well for my purposes. If anyone does, though, please let me know! So this is all done with Games Workshop paints (regular, Foundation, and washes).

It is important that you let each layer dry fully before painting the next. This can take a few hours but if you don’t wait for them to dry then the paint can pool and mix in funny ways you don’t want. Aside from drying time it’s very fast, and could be sped up more by batch-painting and/or using an airbrush.

I built the model from regular Tactical Marine parts together with an Assault Marine Torso, de-horned Chaos Warrior helmet and High Elf archer crest. Bitz sites are a good source of components like these, if you don’t have them handy. I also upturned the vents on the backpack, which is a simple conversion (and works well with both de-vented Chaos and Imperial backpacks) that I think helps the models stand out.

So, here we go…

  1. Prime your model Chaos Black, and then paint the metal in Mithril Silver. I’d advise against drybrushing here as you want a good coverage. I have dabbed it on a bit; the very slightly uneven coating gives the finished model gives a bit of a weathered effect for not much effort.tutorial part 1
  2. Wash once with Badab Black and once with Baal Red, making sure each layer has dried fully. This gives a bit of shading and starts to lay down the red. Don’t worry that it looks pink at this point.
    tutorial part 2
  3. Lightly drybrush with Mithril Silver; not too much, just to bring out the edges of the armour.
    tutorial part 3
  4. Wash once with Baal Red and once with Gryphonne Sepia, again with plenty of drying time between the two layers. The model should be a nice ruddy tone by now. The red’s mostly done! You can add more Baal Red washes if you want it to be redder.
    tutorial part 4
  5. Now we paint some details. The remaining silvered metal is painted Boltgun Metal and highlighted Mithril Silver. The gold is Shining Gold highlighted with Mitrhil Silver. The off-white is Dheneb Stone highlighted with Skull White; I also did the Tactical and Legion symbols in these colours. The black is Chaos Black highlighted with Adeptus Battlegrey.
    tutorial part 5
  6. When dry, wash the model with thinned Devlan Mud. When dry, the purity seal/oath of moment/hexagrammic ward and gem were painted in blues (although greens, black, yellow or purple would probably also look good). I also added a little battle damage using Chaos Black, Scorched Brown and Boltgun Metal.
    tutorial part 6
  7. Base and you’re done! I used Calthan Brown, drybrushed with Dheneb Stone, then some static grass.tutorial part 7a
    tutorial part 7d

I hope some of you find this useful!

Magos Explorator

You may also like...

14 Responses

  1. Aaron says:

    Will you be doing a tutorial on a non-metallic version as well?

  2. Magos Explorator says:

    Quite possibly – am painting Scouts at the moment but when I get back to power armour I may do.

    The non-metallic red is a lot slower, but I think it looks better, which is why I chose it in the end.

  3. Derina says:

    Will you show how to make the helmet as well

  4. Magos Explorator says:

    You just glue the crest from the High Elf Archer sprue onto a Chaos Warrior helmet (chopping the horns off if necessary). There’s a couple of different bits on each of those sprues which work.

    Examples of the components are here:

    Alternatively MaxMini Steam Knights heads, as featured on this blog before, are great for pre-Heresy marines:

  5. Andy says:

    I really like the look of this scheme personally, I think I’m going to use it on my 1k Sons project and thanks for the great tip on the archer crest on the helmet, I’ll be borrowing that idea to! 🙂

  6. Dan says:

    I really dig this technique. Doing this, you could potentially create any metallic color you need. Brilliant work!

  7. Alex says:

    Awesome work – I feel like trying this out now. That’s a really good look for thousand sons.

  8. Martin says:

    Makes you want to start TS! Amazing Tutorial; I always wondered how Metallics would respond to Coloured Washing. There’s my answer; amazingly! Will show this to the Chaps at the Gaming Group for sure. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw some Thousand Sons appearing soon enough. Hey, I might even use this eventually! Thanks for the great Tutorial, mate!

  9. Isis says:

    This model stood out from the rest when I goggled Pre Heresy Thousand Sons looking for ideas. I am grateful for the painting guide, I absolutely love the way this model came! Epic work!

  10. Bob_Denard says:

    Tanks for this painting guide. Very interesting.
    I have a question:
    May i expect to obtain a similar effect with blue washes (drakenhof nightshade now) instead of baal red or equivalent ?
    What about step 4, if i use a blue washes, by which washes can i replace gryphone sepia ?
    Some purple like leviathan purple ?

    Thanks a lot and sorry for my frenchglish ^^ !

  11. Joshua says:

    Advice I got from one of the guys in a GW store was that you prime in black, base in leadbelcher, wash with nuln oil, panel up with ironbreaker or more leadbealcher then use a bloodletter glaze to make it red

  1. February 14, 2010

    […] Go here for a tutorial on painting metallic red Space Marines. […]

  2. March 20, 2010

    […] old inks before I'd got the current range of washes (this style of painting was what inspired the metallic Thousand Son which I previously posted), although I've painted a few more and you get the same effect with the […]

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *