"In the grim darkness of of the 41st millennia, there is only. . . Paints and models?!"
I find modeling to be my favorite aspect of Warhammer 40,000 (Referred to as 40K). I started playing the game about 7 years ago and I have fond it to be a wonderful (if expensive) hobby. This guide is not designed for a specific army and should be universal enough any of the armies. I happened to have some Ork Boyz laying around so I used those as my examples. That said this guide is intended to work for the plastic infantry models. Citadel fine-cast, and vehicles are distinct enough that only the broadest principals will carry over. If you wish to model one of those two then I would suggest finding a guide more specific guide.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Spray Paint Primer
Fine paint brush
Water (with container)
Additional Materials (Optional)
Green Stuff (two part modeling putty)
Fine sand paper
Work lamp (Or other additional light source)
Step 2: Prepare Your Workspace
Bring your materials to a well-light space with good ventilation. You'll be working with small dark models, so good lighting is critical to being able to work effective as well as avoiding eye-strain. You will also be sitting for a far length of time so a comfortable seat is also suggested. Depending on your workspace you may want to put down a covering so you don't spill glue or paint on you work surface. If your workspace has insufficient lighting then you should consider moving, or bringing in additional lighting.
Step 3: Read the Manual!
Open up your box of models and take out the manual. Now read it. This is a very important step for a number of reasons. First, you now know how to put your shiny new model together. Second, some of the 40K products can be put together in different ways. For example, I can buy a product that allows me to make 5 orks with flamethrowers or 5 orks with machine-guns. If I wanted to make flamethrower orks, then I need to know what pieces to use and which ones to ignore.
Step 4: Remove Pieces From the "page"
Most Games Workshop products come in what we refer to as "pages". Remove the pieces you need from the page. You can cut them out, but they can also be removed by hand if needed. Do not remove unneeded pieces. They are small and easily lost. The pages are far harder to lose (though I've seen it happen). you can use the sand paper or exacto-blade to remove nubs
Official Tournament Rules use "What You See Is What You Get". This means a model MUST use ONLY the equipment that is actually on the model. Be aware of this as you select the parts for your model. The majority of players ignore this rule for non-tournament games.
Step 5: Arrange the Model
Arranging the model before gluing is to make sure you have the correct pieces with your model and that they are aligned correctly. I learned this lesson the hard way. I have one ork who has 2 left arms. I also have a large creature whose torso was put on backwards. My "friends" still mock me with the memory of Butt-head. Do not make the same mistakes as I.
Step 6: Glue the Model Together
My suggested order for gluing the model together this.
1. Glue the torso to the legs
2. Glue arms to torso. If the arms attach (such as the opes in the example) then glue the arm that is attached to first.
3.Glue head to torso
4. Glue model to its base.
This is a suggested order only. Some models have different proportions which means a different order may be optimal. Personally I have found that this order results in the best looking models, but if it is causing problems then try changing the order. If a piece falls of don't panic. Just put it back in place. If you need to reapply glue then do so. You may need to remove dried glue from a piece that has fallen off. You can take it off using fine sand paper, or a exacto-blade.
Do not use too much glue. A wise Games Workshop employee once told me that "if you think you have enough [glue] then you have too much." Putting too much glue will increase the time it takes for the glue to dry. Furthermore, the glue cam (and will) run. This makes the model look bad.
Step 7: Spray the Models With the Primer
Take your models into a well ventilated space or better yet outside. Spray your models, make sure you give them a full and even coat.
This is the first layer of paint, referred to as the primer. The primer layer helps the shading of the paint stand out. Black primer is the most widely used, as it helps your paints stand out better. I would suggest priming your models in batches.
Step 8: Paint Your Models
Get your paints out and ready. Get a bowl, glass, or some-kind of container with water. I used a tea cup. You'll also need something to wipe and dry your brush off with. Now before you start painting you will need to do one more thing. Start by painting the largest surfaces. this way you will minimize the amount of repainting you'll need to do. Work your way to the smallest areas. Wet and clean your brush when changing paint colors.
I would suggest playing this song as well.
Step 9: Additional Hints and Advice
This is a collection of random advice I think is helpful, but couldn't find a place for.
There are no mistakes, only happy accidents. If your just starting out you will make mistakes. Don't panic, it happens. Most of your mistakes will be fixable. Sometimes your mistakes will turn out for the better. For example, my orks have this garish yellow for their pants. This was a mistake when I ordered the wrong paint, but it grew on me and is now critical piece of my army's paint scheme.
What is green-stuff and what does it do? Its two part modeling putty which turns green when used. Green-stuff is used to fill gaps in models and is often molded to allow for more customization of models. People who do serious customizations often use plasticard and green-stuff to create custom additions to their models.
How do you make a customized model? The best way to customize a model it to kit-bash. Kit-bashing is the process of using parts from different models. Kit-bashing with green-stuff allows for a lot of possibilities. If you want to make a custom model the just grab a piece of kit that catches your eye and glue it on. Apply green-stuff if needed or desired.