Sunday, December 18, 2011

Death Guard - Tutorial: Step-by-step Terminator

Some people asked me for the "recipe" of my Death Guard color scheme. So I decided to make a little step-by-step tutorial at the example of one of my terminators. You might have read already somewhere, that I imagine the Death Guard still wearing basically their original armors with the original pre-heresy colors on them. Only that since they embraced Nurgle, the stuff got really dirty, rusty and rotting. In addition, rather than demonic and mutatic Marines with all kind of weird extremeties, I imagine the Death Guard in a cold, industrial look. So that they look a little like rotten versions of their loyal colleagues.
The resulting color scheme is like a mix of  the  pre-heresy and the classical greenish Death Guard as shown by GW.  So much for the background.

First: sorry for the partly bad pics!

Second: This is not an optimized scheme, but just the result of some kind of "evolution" while painting Death Guard.

Third: This tutorial is not intended for total painting beginners, as I omitt explaining a lot of the basics. In case YOU are a "beginner" or don't understand what the hell I am talking about in some steps, just shoot me a comment, and I explain! 

Fourth: Let's get started! So, all together this color scheme takes me around 4 hours, and it is really easy-going. No fancy or exhausting paint steps, no super-details, just relaxed, fast&dirty painting!

These are the brushes I will use:

As you can see, most of them are really crappy old brushes, there is only on Da Vinci No. 2 which I will use for all steps where some precision is needed...

Just for your interest, this is how my wet palette looked like before I started, which is basically the same as after because before I painted already a Death Guard Terminator.
As you can see, it is a big mess! Very matching for the actual project!

Ok, before I started taking pictures, I converted a former loyalist terminator that I bought on ebay to become a nurgle-ish Death Guard. For this I just added some chaos parts, pipes, chains etc. I use some fine sand as structure for extreme rust and some little roundish seed for the plague-like blisters or eggs.
Then I did the basing, super-simple just some dirt, sand and little stones, and more of these little seeds (that are used to feed pet birds btw).
The model was base-coated in black and got a layer of codex gray ontop. The base was coated on Scorched brown and then brushed with snakebite, and then some grey.

BTW: In every picture, I display the paints (and the brush in most) that I used for the displayed step...

So this is our starting point:

1.step: Fortress grey in thin layers with concentration on the top parts: The light source is above and the model should become brightest at the parts closest to the light source. In addition the attention should be drawn to the face (head) so this should become the brightest.

2. Step:
Adding some bleached bone into the grey to make the brightest parts a little more interesting. WARNING: be careful and rather apply to less bleached bone in the beginning than too much!
This is how it looks in the wet palette:

I mark some of the spots in the picture below. Similar to blending: Always move the brush towards the regions where most of the paint should end up! In this case at the top of each part:

4. Step: Final highlight with white. Again start with very few paint on the brush and mix with the colors used before. Because I am a quite lazy bastard, I don't do proper blending but rather use some kind of dry brush for this step...

Just to show you that in the end, from the top it looks quite bright in the end :

5.Step: Everything so far was quite rough and I used big crappy brushes. Now it is time for the good one: The task darken the areas in the shadow more: For this I mix some dark sea blue and black into the codex grey and thin it with water. I apply it with very few color on the brush in the dark areas with moving the brush towards the deepest shadows...

6.Step: Ok, now it is time to apply some pre-heresy markings to the armor. For this I use goblin green and randomly paint some parts or make some lines. And of course the Death Guard Legion symbol: the Death Skull in a green circle with 3 spikes on each side.

7.Step: After we are satisfied with the green markings, we just mix a little brown, black and dark sea blue into the green in order to make it a little darker and DIRTY.  This mix is thinned with water and applied to the bottom area of each armor part (marked in the picture below) and just adds some more color and deepness to the model.

8. Step: This is an experimental step, that I started to include only with the terminators. Initially it comes from vehicle painting and should imitate chipped paint at the edges and rims: Using on of the blister sponges to dap a mix of black and some scorched brown onto the armor. WARNING: the paint should not be thinned but rather thick and apply the sponge first to some sheet of paper to see its effect, then start carefully on the model with few paint.  I concentrate on the "most-used" areas of the armor.

9. Step: enough for the armor platting (at the moment). Let's turn to the "metal" parts, weapons etc. First one or 2 layers of bestial brown.

10.Step: After finishing with the covering layer of brown, it improves the model a lot if one applies some very thinned brown into the edges and around the other brownish parts. Again, careful, only very few paint and very thinned!

11. Step: The rust effect continues with blazing orange. I use 2 very old brushes that do not have proper tips any more (see picture below). I apply them with some of the thick paint in the cap of the painting can and dab it onto the brownish areas in a random order but concentrating on areas where the rust would be strongest (i.e. NOT at the edges and rims). As always, start with few paint and try it out. It takes some experience to find the right way to do it. From time to time I wet the brush a little which gives some diffuse orange spots, kind of opposite to the discrete dabbing with the dryish paint.

Unfortunately, especially with this step the camera had the most problems! The orange shines out a lot from the brown in reality! You will have to try it yourself...

12. Step: I was talking about "metal" parts, so we also need some metal effect: I use some boltgun metal what I apply in a dabbing/drybrushing manner onto the edges of the metal parts.

13. Step: You will see that the orange and boltgun stand out a lot on the brown. To draw all the paints together in an harmonic effect of rusted metal, I apply a mix of thinned chestnut ink with some scorched brown onto these areas. This step adds a lot of depth and for the first time it looks like real rust.

DETAIL WORK - starts here...

14. Step: While the "rust" is drying, I paint the skulls meanwhile. As I have included them into my grey/bleached bone/white painting steps, now I only do some blending with snakebite and another layer at the bottom with a little scorched brown. I move the brush with very few and thin paint towards the bottom of the skulls. This I repeat in multiple layers until I am satisfied with the color gradient.

15. Step: Still waiting for the rust to dry, I now turn to this plague bobbles, blisters,eggs or whatever you would call them. The get a layer of rotting flesh (how could one paint a Nurgle miniature without using this colot?! ;-))

16. Step: Finally the rust is dry and now looks quite dull. So, just to put some highlights, I repeat the blazing orange step but concentrating only on areas that would receive light from our imaginary light source ontop of the model...

17.Step: And also the boltgun step is repeated with the same rules as the previous step...

18. Step: Details: A layer of white for: the eyes, the top of the skulls, the plague thingies...

19.Step: The eyes get a thinned layer with red gore to make them shine!

20.Step: Finishing the plague thingies: A mix of clear red, red gore, 'ardcoat and a little black thinned with water washed over these...

21. Step: Want gore?! Some real blood? Sure! Here, I use pure clear red that has dried a little already, so that it became sticky. One could also add some glue, or black to make larger effects...

22. Step: I got the habbit to do some finaly fine-lining with black ink at almost the end of every miniature. With this I intend to darken little holes, scratches and define individual parts of the miniature (i.e. application to the corners). I am not always completely satisfied with this step, it might be better to actually use thinned chaos black. But usually, my hands are to shaky (or I am too lazy) for the necessary accurate application...

23.Step: No nurgle without slime! But remember: Less is more! So don't overdue it. True also for blood effects most of the time btw. For the slimy toxic outflows, I use first a layer of 'ardcoat and before it is dry I apply a dip scorpion green and afterward another dip of bad moon yellow. This usually results in a fluid mess that after drying still looks like fluid! As with most other things, you might need some training before it works properly...
To make it more shiny, I apply one or 2 more layers of  'ardcoat.


And this is the result: Coud it be more Nurgle?

Surely, there is lots of space for improvements here, so let me know!
If anything is unclear (e.g., because of my crappy English), you have better suggestions, or whatever is on your mind, just let me know! This is the first time I am trying to do a "serious" step-by-step...

Cheers, and happy painting!

P.S.: If you apply this scheme, I would be happy to see the result!


  1. Hmm, Nurgle-tastic!

    Great work on this fellow!

  2. An incredible looking mini and a great tutorial. Thanks for taking the time to put this all down. I'll be book-marking this one for sure!

  3. Replies
    1. Hi, ich versuche grade das von Dir genutzte Schema bei mir umzusetzen. Leider bin ich ein Krückenmaler und irgendwie sehen die Minis bei mir anders aus. Den Rost bekomme ich so halbwegs hin, danke :)
      Würde Dir gerne mal nen Bild schicken, wie kann ich mit dir in Kontakt treten?

      viele Grüße

    2. Hi, Du kannst mich am besten unter supermassivebeast(at) erreichen.

      Viele Grüße,


  4. Knaller die Nurgle-Termis von dir! Dank dir bin ich am überlegen auch welche zu basteln. Habe noch ein paar Chaos-Termis aus Metall rumliegen, die ich wohl umbauen werde.
    Danke für die tolle Arbeit!

    Viele Grüße