It is incredibly satisfying to have a well painted army. A fully painted army is very impressive when fielded. These instructions will walk you through the basic steps to paint a warhammer 40k model. While it is certainly possible to paint a model without instructions, by following this process, a lot of common mistakes can be avoided. Though no prior painting experience is needed, painting a model is a matter of practice. Your first model may not turn out exactly how you want it, but don't be discouraged and learn from the process to improve in the future.
Depending on the size of the model and the level of detail, painting a model can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.
1. A model to paint
This can be from any number of sources, but these instructions will focus on a Warhammer 40k model.
2. Water-Based paints
3. Primer (spray-on or paint-on)
4. Various paint brushes
The more sizes of paintbrushes you have, the better. However, at a minimum, you should have a large brush for the base coat, and a smaller brush from details.
Step 1: Assemble Your Model
If you have not already, assemble your model. While assembling your model, look for areas that may become difficult to paint if fully glued together. As you can see from the picture, had the arms been glued on prior to painting, it would be very difficult to paint the chest.
Step 2: Primer Coat
Paint by itself will often not stick to a plastic or metal model very well. By priming your model before painting, you cover the model with a surface to which paint can more easily adhere. Primers come in two varieties: spray-on or paint-on. Spray-on primers tend to get better coverage, and the aerosol gives a better surface to paint on, but both work.
Choose a primer color that complements the color you will be painting your model. If you are using primarily darker colors, use a dark grey or black primer. Conversely, if you are using light colors, use a light grey or white primer.
Caution: When using any sort of spray paint, only paint in a well ventilated space. Aerosol particles can be harmful if inhaled in large concentrations.
Step 3: Base Coat
Before painting, choose a color scheme for your model. Choose colors that are not too dark, and that compliment and contrast with one another. Focusing on colors that are too similar and dark results in a model that looks muddy and uninteresting.
The base coat involves large areas of your model that are a single color. Paint your model using the main colors you chose, using the large brush. Don't worry too much about painting over small details on your model, you will repaint these later to help them stand out.
With all steps, do not be discouraged if you get a particular color of paint into an area you don't want it. You can always go back over that area and fix your mistakes.
Step 4: Layer Coat
Look over your model and take note of major elements of your model that should a different color than your base coat. This includes things like leather traps or metal plates. Carefully paint over the base coat in these areas using a medium or small brush.
Step 5: Fine Details
Look over your model and find any fine details that need to be emphasized. This can include eyes, teeth, wires, and any small designs or emblems you wish to add. Use your smallest brush. When painting these very fine details, it is easy to make a mistake and paint over the lines. It is especially important during this step to take your time.
Step 6: Wash and Shade
A wash is a very thin paint that is designed to pool into crevices and folds in your model, giving them a darker appearance simulating natural shadows. A model that has been washed will look much better and more realistic. Using your large brush, liberally apply the wash to the area you want to shade. Match the color of your wash to the color you are painting over, brown over brown, green over green, etc.
Step 7: Final Assembly and Completion
Check over your model one last time for any discrepancies or places where the paint colors overlap. If you painted your model in pieces, assemble your model. Areas that have been painted cannot be conjoined using plastic cement. Either file off the paint in areas you wish to join, or use superglue.
Your model is now fully painted and ready for display or fielded against an opponent. Painting a model is a learning experience, and you can always improve. Apply your lessons you learn to the next model you paint, and it will be even better!