Forge World have given out painting guides for most of the Horus Heresy legions (If you don’t have them email and ask) and a lot of them use a silver basecoat. Amongst these are the Iron Hands, Alpha Legion, Word Bearers and Thousand Sons to name a few.

Originally this was done by drybrushing rub n’ buff (a wax) pewter over black, but this can give an uneven coat. Later guides suggested airbrushing Tamiya silver paints over black. So this guide is a quick visual representation of how to do that. (These guys are going to be Iron Hands – I’ll post guides on that later)

Firstly you need to basecoat (prime to my American friends) the model in black. This is better than white as it will give natural shading. For this I used Vallejo Black Primer straight through the airbrush.

The next stage is to give a coat of Tamiya X-10 Gun Metal. I thinned this by about half, i.e. for 10 drops of Gun Metal I put in 5 drops of Tamiya thinner.

The trick with this is not to coat the whole model, but to get it from the side. This way when you look at the model the black is still at the bottom and provides a natural shade for the metals.

It might be easier to see this effect on individual models:

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Once this has dried you then need to do a zenith highlight in a lighter silver. The FW guides suggest Tamiya XF-16 Flat Aluminium and that’s what I’ve used here.

To get that zenith highlight and therefore a gradient of silver you need to airbrush this at about 45• angle:


And this is the end result. Remember you can use whichever silvers you like, and there are some good ones out there (particularly recommend the new Vallejo metal colours range).

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Thanks for reading!