Wednesday, 19 January 2011

TUTORIAL - Tyranid Carapace

Hi everyone,
I have been getting a few emails about how I painted my Tyranid commission especially the Carapace.
I thought I would share my technique for doing it.

Now the thing with Tyranids is there is usually a bucket load of them and you don't really want to spend a huge amount of time detailing them, this technique is pretty fast and looks great when the Hive Swarm is all together on the table.

You will need:
A fine brush (I use a W&N 00)
A range of colours going from dark to light (Hormagaunt Purple, Liche Purple, Warlock Purple, Tentacle Pink)
A suitable dark wash (Bhadab Black)

After basecoating the carapace in Hormagaunt Purple I apply a wash of Bhadab Black and make sure it is pooled in the reccesses, you can drag the wash into the nooks and crannies to be sure, this is done quite heavily.

Next paint a layer of Liche Purple from about 3/4 of the way on each ridge to the edge of the ridge, This is the actual Purple colour which will stand out, the Hormagaunt Purple was just a quick basecolour.

Next with Warlock Purple apply streaks starting about 1/2 of the way down each ridge to the edge of the ridge, make these line thin and different lengths (sounds hard but you will get the hang of it very fast, there are tonnes to do!)

Next apply Tentacle Pink in the same fashion but do it from around 1/3 to 1/4 of the ridge to the tip, once again vary the length of your brush strokes, this is what gives the "perceived" texture.

One thing I must add is I thin my paints about 1 drop of water to 2 drops of paint to help get a smooth line.


  1. Really sharp. I like this look and the color fits well with my own interests in gribbly savages. Cheers for this.

  2. Cool I am actually so enamoured with the red Swarmlord that I think I may steal that colour scheme for my future revisit to my Tyranids.

    That and the above carapace scheme.

  3. Could I ask how the the Zoanthrope flesh was painted? Is that a white base coat with seraphim sepia shade/wash? Or did you base coat black then drybrush or paint some colour over it while avoiding the recesses? I really like the dark effect in the recesses and I can't seem to get that with the seraphim sepia wash on a white base.

  4. Hi sorry for the late reply, I started with Bleached Bone and made a wash from 2 parts Sepia and 1 part Devlan Mud.

    A little trick I picked up from the Guys on the Forgeworld Masterclass is to add a drop of varnish to the wash this really helps to pool it in the recesses.

    I hope that helps, I'm unsure how those colours work with the new paints.