Blood Angels guide to completed model

Welcome! In this tutorial we are painting a Blood Angel. The Blood Angels are a popular chapter of space marine from the Warhammer 40k universe. However, as mentioned before, red is a tricky color. Shading it and highlighting it can be difficult. So read on our blog post ” how to paint Blood Angels ”  and learn some quick tips so you can paint your own army of Baal!

Table of Contents

How to paint Blood Angels: GETTING STARTED

How To paint Blood Angel space marine zenithal priming part
Zenithal Prime stage.

Step one, I assembled the mini with plastic cement. I also drilled the gun barrel with a small pin vise and filed off some mould lines. Next I spray primed the model. You can prime your models with a brush, like the RGG brush size 2. However I prefer to spray prime wherever possible as it is far speedier and easier. I would recommend a gray or white primer for bold color schemes, like red armor. On a Blood Angel, there is a lot of red armor usually!

Undercoating 101

underpainting green for red How To paint Blood Angel space marine
Green? For Red? Trust me, it will make sense...

Next, and this stage is optional, I sprayed the model from below with a dark green. This simulates where all the shadows would be on the armor. In hindsight, I would recommend you pick an even darker green, to really boost the contrast later.

This is a bit like the technique being called ‘Zenithal Priming’, and it can be really useful. Rather than use white & black for working out volumes and lightfall here, however, it is for pre-shading the red. Green is opposite red on the color wheel, and so makes a good shadow color for red. However if you add too much green to red in a mix you may get a sludgy brown. Therefore we shall layer a thinned red over a dark green to get some natural modulation to the armor.

The effect can be quite subtle, and is by no means mandatory, but I like the affect. There will be other ways to shade and highlight red armor later in the guide, too!


Blood Angels guide to completed model

On any painting project, it is good to think conciously beforehand about end goals. Here it is not about winning a painting competition. With this, I want to paint a squad or army consistently and to a good standard without burning out. Red is tricky too, so I want methods that are effective whilst giving a striking finish. Have manageable goals, that are realistic, and stick to them! You can always come back to miniatures at a later date to improve them further. But right now, the goal is getting them battle ready.

Unless they are a space marine hero without a helmet on, faces are less important here. On schemes that revolve around one predominant color, highlights and details matter. I made sure that my Blood Angel would have details that would help stand out and break up all that red armor. Lenses, weapons, and relics are good places to do that!

How to paint Blood Angels: Red Armor

red base coat for armor How To paint Blood Angel space marine
Inks or airbrush paints work especially well for this method.

I chose a dark red as the base color for the armor here. Red can be hard to highlight without turning it orange or pink. So it is often a good idea to just use red tones wherever possible. With a dark red I can subsequently highlight it with a lighter red more easily.

As you can see, especially on the pauldron, a nice gradient or modulation has been created. This is because the dark green in the shadow areas underneath has done its job! If you didn’t underpaint in green, try a green oil filter or green acrylic recess shade, instead.

I find the RGG size 2 brush is a solid ‘workhorse’ brush for most paintjobs. It can basecoat, wash, or layer! That is because it has a big belly that can hold lots of paint, but also a fine tip for precision work. And a Redgrass Games wet palette is invaluable to keep that acrylic paint workable whilst out of the pot! I always recommend not painting straight from the pot as the paint needs thinning and mixing.


blocking basecolors How To paint Blood Angel space marine
Red and black are a potent combo in any paint scheme.

All that red armor needs breaking up a little. Especially across whole squads it will run the risk of looking flat and uninteresting. Now the main feature is done (the armor) it remains to base color the other features. I chose a dark blue-gray for the aquila, joints, and weapon cases. I had twofold reasons for this. Firstly, this cloesly follows the scheme for standard Blood Angel space marines. Secondly, an off-black is easier to shade & highlight, and cool blue tint will go nicely with the warm red.

I used warm gold for the relic on his belt, and a dark metallic steel for the bare metal. For example on the chainsword teeth, or the helmet hoses. Although not visible here, I used a red-brown for the leather of the gun holster on his back. For fine details like the lenses, I used the Redgrass size 00, as I wanted more control. It is a really useful brush for fine precision work.

...Secondly, an off-black is easier to shade & highlight, and cool blue tint will go nicely with the warm red.

How to paint Blood Angels: Using Oils 

oil washes stage How To paint Blood Angel space marine
The RGG glass palette was very helpful for the oil stage!

I really like working with oil paints. More and more, I think about how to incorporate them into my miniature painting. When used as something like an oil wash or panel liner over standard acrylics, they can be quite fast, aswell! Oils have a reputation for slow drying, but thinned with mineral spirits can greatly speed this up. I would definitely recommend using them on an RGG Glass Palette as it is a great surface for oil paints and mixes.

Space marine armor has lots of panels and recesses ideal for panel lining. Tank modellers use this a lot with enamel or oil paints. Thinned with spirits to a wash consistency, the capillary action will do all the hard work for you! Just ‘dot’ your loaded brush into corners and watch the oil flow along lines and add definition. So easy and less messy compared to acrylic washes that can pool or streak. For the Blood Angel, I used a blue-black for the panel lining, and I think it has ‘popped’ quite well.

Edge Highlights & Finishing Details

Lastly is the key details that need highlights. I used my 00 for all the sharpest edge highlights on the armor fluting. A hot orange-red on pauldron trims, kneepads, and gauntlets for example. Use the side of the brush, and thin the paint, for maximum consistency and control.

For the green helmet lenses, I did small white dot at the back and a lime green dot at the front. This suggests a 3D, reflective surface. Gloss varnish would also work here. The black parts I highlighted with a pale blue-gray on all the highest points and sharp corners. Again, I used the side of my brush for those. The steel parts were given a shiny silver highlight for maximum shine. The brown leather was ‘weathered’ with a drybrush of tan brown to suggest wearing.

finishing touches How To paint Blood Angel space marine

I used my 00 for all the sharpest edge highlights on the armor fluting. A hot orange-red on pauldron trims, kneepads, and gauntlets for example. Use the side of the brush, and thin the paint, for maximum consistency and control.

How to paint Blood Angels: COMPLETED PIECE!

Blood Angels guide to completed model
The finished son of Sanguinius!

And there you have it! A son of Sanguinius ready to rumble. If you like using decals, now is the time to apply those to areas like the shoulder and kneepad. Once you have painted a full squad, you may also wish to give them more elaborate basing. I prefer to do my basing in batches, that way I can ensure a uniform theme for the squad. Otherwise with this guide I can have a lot of Blood Angels painted quickly for the tabletop! – James.

James is using the following RedgrassGames Painting tools

Wet palettes, brushes...

  • RGG-brush-2/0-00-miniature-painting-kolinsky

    Brush: Size 2/0

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  • v

    Brush: Size 2

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  • best dry palette miniature painting

    RGG Glass Palette – Studio XL

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