Painting Yellow, My Way

When I started my Imperial Fists some time ago, the prospect of doing a “yellow” army was seen as a challenge.  As a kid, I never would have tried it, with all those layers of mediocre paint to build up over a dark basecoat.  But hey, now I’m an adult with a big ol’ adult brain and I can figure this out!  Having two degrees in arts education certainly helps, but hey, I’m taking this one step at a time.  Here’s my process of gradually building up layers of glazes and washes to achieve a nice moderate-to-high tabletop standard:


Step 1: Base the Model

A white or bone-white spray is best, obviously, as we’re doing yellow.  I’ve used Army Painter brand “Skeleton Bone” spray for my entire army and it’s never given me a problem.  I swear by the brand, and really don’t see why people complain about it as often as they do.

Step 2: Get Filthy

Option A: Take a 1:1 mixture of Agrax Earthshade and Lahmian Medium (or water!) and get in all those nooks and crannies.  You want to shade the entire model.  Neatness counts, here!  The good news is that if you’re using Army Painter brand sprays, you can use the exact color-match paint bottle to make any minor corrections.  On some of my models I keep it loose and ‘messy’ for a more organic painterly feel.  It all depends where you want to fall on the spectrum of John Blanche / Duncan Rhodes spectrum.

Option B: I got tired of hand-painting wash on all my minis, because I’m a father of a toddler and time is a valuable commodity!  I bought a can of Army Painter brand Quickshade, which is really just a can of oil wash, and I put on some latex gloves and dunk the entire damn model inside, one after another, shading a squad of ten in about 25 seconds.  Be sure to shake off any excess shade, and have some paper towels handy in case you need to dab a corner at a particularly big pool of shade.  This isn’t the ideal way to win a painting competition, but it’s definitely good enough for a great tabletop standard.  Absolutely let this dry overnight!  You don’t want to proceed until it’s dry, so a little planning goes a long way here.

Option C: Buy an actual pot of oil wash, and paint it on.  This is a great compromise of options A and B, and is probably the best method overall.  Oil washes naturally run into the cracks and don’t discolor the initial white basecoat.

Step 3: Edge Highlight

For my Imperial Fists, I use the aptly named “Dorn Yellow” as my edge highlight color.  Run a fine line along the raised ridges of knee pads, fingers, shoulder pads, helmet edges, backpack corners, and generally any hard edge on the model.  You could use pure white as well, if you didn’t prime white.  If you did prime white, you’ll typically need to edge highlight after you glaze the mini.

Step 4: Glaze It!

Lamenter’s Yellow glaze. All over.  Just slather it on as liberally as you like!  Let it dry and add a second, even a third coat to really get the saturation nice and bold.  The edge highlights should blend down into the successive layers as you add them — you could even come back and add a finer, smaller white highlight on the sharpest of edges if you wished after this glaze is dry.

Step 5: Paint the Rest

Guns, eye lenses, metal, chest eagles, whatever.  Just paint it as you normally do then marvel at your handiwork!


So there it is, the method I used to knock out entire squads in an evening with very little fuss.  With this method and a couple days a night you could easily have a full army painted in a couple of weeks.  I hope this helps you get a nice rich yellow color on your minis, but it could even be adapted for other colors!  A little playing around with layers, washes, and glazes often yields a very natural looking “organic” model that has a warmth and lived-in appearance that I find appealing.

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