Today I’m going to show you how to do the silver basecoat that Forge World use for many of their Horus Heresy Space Marine Legion colour schemes.

(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. If you have an airbrush it can be easier, and later guides suggested airbrushing Tamiya silver paints over a black primer. So this guide is a quick visual representation of how to do that. (You can also drybrush these colours if you lack an airbrush.)

(These guys are going to be Iron Hands – I’ll post guides on that later)

Firstly you need to basecoat (or prime) the model in black. This is better than white as it will provide a natural shading for the silver. For this I used Vallejo Black Primer straight through the airbrush, but thinned with Vallejo thinner (one drop of thinner to two primer).

The next stage is to give a coat of Tamiya X-10 Gun Metal. I thinned this by half (Again, two drops of Gun Metal for every drop of 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. As you can see below:

I’ve added some characters to show the effect on different miniatures, but also to show how with an airbrush you can avoid areas you don’t want to paint.

Once this has dried, you will then need to do a zenith highlight in a lighter silver. The Forge World guides suggest using 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 45º angle, to leave the darker silver around the middle, and the black at the bottom. This provides a highlight gradient, which looks great when it’s covered with a clear paint:

Zenith Highlight with an Airbrush

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):

Once that’s done you can go over the basecoat with a clear paint of your choice to represent your legion. The Tamiya clear colours are really good for this. As you will see in a future post, I use Tamiya Smoke for my Iron Hands. You can use washes/shades for this, but you will want to make sure that they colour consistently, and clear paints are often better at this.

Thanks for reading:

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