Sons of Horus Paint­ing Tuto­r­ial

This is a tuto­r­ial on how to paint epic scale (6mm) Sons of Horus.

We’ll be using some basic paint­ing tech­niques like washes and dry brush­ing for most of the steps in this tuto­r­ial. There are a cou­ple of optional steps that include more advanced blend­ing that you are free to try or skip. We’ll also be using a mix of Games Work­shop paints and Vallejo paints through­out the tuto­r­ial. Lets get started!

Step One: Clean and Assemble

Start by clean­ing and assem­bling your mod­els. Once you’re ready prime the mod­els white. Some peo­ple pre­fer black or gray, but I find white to be best since acrylics are partly trans­par­ent when applied in thin lay­ers and the white under­tone helps to enhance the color.


01: Cleaned mod­els primed white

Step Two: Undercoat

We want to start the green­ish pri­mary color for the Sons of Horus scheme. To do this I used Vallejo Light Green Blue mixed with a touch of Snot Green from GW. Snot green is long out of pro­duc­tion so any very intense green will work. All we are doing is shift­ing the green blue to be more green than blue.

This will be applied over the entire model. No need to be care­ful, just make sure you have even cov­er­age. The result should be like in pic 02.


02: Fin­ished under­coat for the Sons of Horus pale green

Step Three: Shad­ing Washes

Now we need to build up con­trast by dark­en­ing the recesses. We’ll do this by using alter­nat­ing washes. The first is a wash of green and this helps to inten­sify the color as well as keep the shad­ows from being flat. The sec­ond wash is using black and this will build up the shad­ows. You may need to do sev­eral rounds of each one to get the result in the pic. Be care­ful as you apply it that the wash doesn’t miss any areas as it dries and uses tar­geted spot washes to hit any regions that got missed.

Shading Washes

03: washes fin­ished to add basic shad­ing to the models

Step Four: Highlights

This is the easy step. Using the paint mix you had in step two, quickly dry brush the mod­els to block in high­lights and increase con­trast. If your result feels too desat­u­rated, glaze the model using green to bring back some of the color. A glaze is sim­i­lar to a wash but doesn’t pool in recesses.


04: I added a layer of blend­ing to the dry brush high­lights to make them a bit smoother and defined areas the dry brush missed.

ADVANCED STEP: This is where I’ll also build up the smooth color tran­si­tions using a tech­nique called feath­er­ing. Using the same mix that we used to dry brush the model above, thin the paint until it’s fairly watery. Then using two brushes, one round and one flat, apply the paint to the top of a panel or edge and quickly use the other brush draw the paint to a smooth tran­si­tion. This will take some prac­tice to get right. The goal here is to keep the dark shade areas and build a smooth tran­si­tion to the edge color from the dry brush. Once you have things built up you might need to glaze the model to bring back the green. We’ll fur­ther enhance this later with the edge highlights.

Step Five: Black Accents

Next we’ll take black and care­fully paint in the areas that will be black in the color scheme as well as met­als. Here’s where I add in the stripes to the Preda­tor, how­ever you could just as eas­ily fill in the insets at the front and back if you don’t feel con­fi­dent doing stripes.

Black Accents

05: Here we’ve under­coated the met­als and accent stripes in black.

Step Six: Sil­ver Metals

Now it’s time to paint the met­als them­selves. I start out with Bolt­gun or Oily Steel. This coves the areas that I want to be metal. If I know there will be some breaks I try to not cover the recesses entirely as this will make build­ing con­trast eas­ier. Once under­coated, just start putting washes over the met­als to build up con­trast and color. I use pur­ple, blue, red, and finally black for these but you can use any­thing you want. Once that’s done take Mithril or another bright metal and care­fully high­light the bar­rels and other edges. Last of all give it a glaze of blue or pur­ple to bring back a touch of color.

Silver Metals

06: Metal ele­ments painted. Note the bronze bar­rel on the Predator.

For the bronze bar­rel on the Preda­tor, under­coat Dwarf Bronze or equiv­a­lent over white (this is impor­tant) and coat with Agrax Earth­shade. Touch up with a bit of bronze for highlights.

Step Seven: Accent Midtones

This step is a quick step to build up the mid tones for the black. It’s just a mix of a gray and enough blue to have a dis­tinct blue tint. Hit the edges of the black and build up high­lights on the top of the tur­ret. If you get too bright, just glaze with black until the effect feels right.

You might notices some of the paint is wear­ing off the treads. This hap­pens from han­dling the model. Don’t worry we’ll touch this up before we fin­ish the mud.

Accent Midtones

07: Mid­tones added to blacks. These are most vis­i­ble on the Preda­tor turret.

Step Eight: Gold and Windows

This step is to fin­ish out details on the model. For win­dows I decided that red would be best since it con­trasts nicely with green. Start out with an intense red, add in orange toward the cen­ter and end with a dot of yel­low in the cen­ter. This will give us the glow effect for the window.


08a: Reds added to make the win­dows on the Land Raider pop against the green­ish color.

The gold for the icon on the Land Raider door is more com­plex. We start with a mix of Balor Brown and Black to cre­ate a dark green­ish brown. This will under­coat the icon. Then we pick out areas where the light would hit in bur­nished gold. Don’t cover every­thing use the dark under­coat to cre­ate shadow where the metal isn’t. Fin­ish it off with a mix of gold and sil­ver for extreme highlights.


08b: Gold ele­ments painted. This is mostly the eye sym­bol on the Land Raider door for these models.

Step Nine: Edge Highlights

We’re almost done at this stage. What we’ll do is use pure white to cre­ate extreme edge high­lights on the model. I try to pick out lines that can define the model from a dis­tance to hit with white like the edge of the hatch on the tur­ret or the out­side edge of the hull. If there are riv­ets I’ll try to hit them with white as well.

Edge Highlights

09: Final white edge high­light added spar­ingly to define major shapes on the models.

Step Ten: Mud the Tracks

Last step. We are ready to add mud to the treads to fin­ish out the model. Not every­one wants mud on their vehi­cles and it might not be appro­pri­ate for emu­lat­ing desert envi­ron­ments so this step is optional though the tech­niques can be applied to most any type of tread.

Start off by using black to fix up the worn paint from han­dling the model as we painted it. Next we’ll take a dark brown like Scorched Brown and thin it out a bit. Using a piece of foam like from a pluck foam stor­age tray, build up the brown on the track by fill­ing the foam with paint and then dab­bing it off on a towel until you see a ran­dom pat­tern when you tap the towel. Then tap along the bot­tom edge of the tank. You’ll want this layer to extend the high­est on the lower part of the vehicle.

Next, use a color like Grave­yard Earth with the same tech­nique to build up a lighter shade on the treads. This shouldn’t extend quite so far up on the hull and doesn’t need to be uni­form. Mud doesn’t cover evenly and we’re aim­ing to cre­ate a chunky feel.

Last mix Bleached Bone with Grave­yard Earth and do a final layer on the hull. This will cre­ate the final dried bits and the effect should look like pic 10.

Mud and Finished

10: Fin­ished mod­els with muddy treads.

Next Steps

That’s it! You’re done! From here you should var­nish your mod­els to pro­tect them when play­ing so paint doesn’t wear off. I’d rec­om­mend hit­ting them with a com­bi­na­tion of gloss var­nish fol­lowed by a dull coat and brush on dull to kill any extra shine. This gives you the best pro­tec­tion but you can also just hit them quickly with dull­coat to seal the model.

Aaron Dickey
Author: Aaron Dickey

I’m a graphic designer from Greenville, South Car­olina. When I’m not work­ing, you can usu­ally find me read­ing about design, study­ing type, or paint­ing tiny war gam­ing minia­tures in my spare time. I try to keep up with this blog to record my thoughts on design, typog­ra­phy, or pro­vide tuto­ri­als for paint­ing miniatures.