Painting: Grey Knights Part 1: Base coat and Wash  

Posted by Michael Hogan in , , ,

Hey there everyone, here is the first part to my lengthy tutorial on how to paint Grey Knights from a beginners point of view. I will be showing step-by-step painting on a Grey Knight in power armor.

(The finished product)

First things first, you are going to need some supplies for this part of the tutorial.

Chaos Black (Spray preferred)
Boltgun Metal
Badab Black

1 "Not too thin and not too thick paintbrush"
An old brush or a thicker one you aren't worried about ruining
Sprue cutters
Hobby knife of some sorts

So first thing you need to do is clean up your model. I personally won't write a tutorial up on this, but there is the basic and advanced version.
Basic is you cut off all "flash", which is those stringy things left from the mold process and file down any mold lines. I use sprue cutters to cut off any excess molding and then scrape down the mold lines with an x-acto knife. In order to clean mold lines, you want to be careful. You want to take your knife and hold it near perpendicular to the surface you are cleaning and very lightly scrape at it. Slightly tilt it towards the direction you are scraping to avoid the knife from skipping around. This might seem very difficult at first and you want to be very careful not to ruin your model, but it really makes the difference. Sadly, I didn't notice right away that I hadn't cleaned the model I was painting and I left some mold lines there. Just try to check before you begin painting.

If you want to be a bit fancier about it, you can file down the mini and use sand paper/steel wool to give you a nice painting surface.You don't want to scrape off details, just smoothen it to prepare it for painting. I won't go much more into it, but I'm sure you can find a nice tutorial online if you are dedicated. I will link one if I bump into one.

After doing this basic preparing, get an old toothbrushes (or one of your beloved's who won't notice) and drench it in warm water. Then begin scrubbing at the mini to remove any flash in the recesses/crevices. You might noticed you missed something, so be sure to be attentive to that.

Anyways, you have a nice, shining metal model ready to be painted. The first thing you want to do is spray it with Chaos Black or paint it on. A word on spraying vs. "pot" Chaos Black. The spray usually goes on with less of a sheen to it, and it generally will come out nicer like that. Plus, it is much easier to go thinner on the model and it is much quicker, so definitely pick some black spray primer up from somewhere, whether GW or other brands such as Army Painter or Armory.

So you have this pitch black miniature when you just had a nice metal-looking one, and this might seem like a step in the wrong direction. So first thing we need to do is add some metallic paint. For this, you'll need your not too thin, not too thick brush. Normally, I would advice a large brush for "base coats", but the Grey Knights have so many tight spaces and details that you really can't use the standard brush for getting paint where you need it. For this, I use the Army Painters Wargamer: Character brush. You can find it here: I'm not saying the Army Painter are the only good brushes out there or that they are the best, but they aren't too expensive and I find their quality above Game Workshop's. I hear a lot of good things about Reaper Kolinsky Sable brushes, but my local store happened to have this brush so I picked it up and I've loved it.

Anyways, so you have your weapon of choice selected, and you are ready to slap some paint on. First, I start out with Boltgun Metal. This is a dark shade that is nice to start with so you can highlight up from it. Make sure you shake your paints enough so the metallic pigments are nice and mixed up. You want to dip your brush into the paint slightly, but not too much. It is hard to explain but simple in concept, so here is a picture of how much paint is on my brush before I paint.
You can see there is a brush hair floating off away from the point. That isn't good. You should either use your fingers or mouth (a habit that probably isn't healthy) to reform the brush. Make sure there isn't paint on the brush first, you don't want to be swallowing that or covering your hands in paint. Because you want a clean brush when reshaping it, check to make sure it is fine tipped before dipping in for paint. This way, you don't waste any.

So now, you just want to neatly apply the paint to the mini, where it will be silver in color. Look at some pictures online of Grey Knights or even easier, in the codex. You get a nice idea where the color should be and shouldn't be. Don't worry if you do get paint between armor plates or on purity seals; you can easily go over them after without a worry. Make sure each area has about an equal thickness of paint, just apply one layer everywhere. If the paint starts going on kind of splotchy or without color, your practically out of paint and you should dip in for more, but make sure your brush doesn't have bristles off everywhere before you do. If the paint seems a bit thin on the model, apply another layer and when you're satisfied, stir your brush in a cup of water and rinse it out. My mini looked like this after the first layer.
Not too pretty as of yet. Needs a bit more shading and it doesn't have too many colors on it. Don't worry, it will look much better soon.

Now, you want to grab your pot of Badab Black and shake it. Grab that extra brush (you can really use your old one, you might wear it down quickly though) and get a nice thick blob of wash on it. Apply it to everywhere on the model, making sure it doesn't pool up anywhere that isn't a recess. It should naturally do that, but if it ends up getting lots of paint right in the middle of his chestplate, be sure to brush that around. Dip as you need and try to cover it evenly throughout. It should look a bit glossy and almost watery, but just let it dry. This is how mine looked just after coating it all.

Make sure you let it dry completely before you continue onto the next step, which will be highlighting. I hope you found this introductory tutorial useful and you come back to read the rest.

Next time I'll be using the same wash brush as a drybrush, Chainmail, Mithril Silver, and a thinner detail brush, just as a heads up. Again, I hope you find this tutorial useful and I'm sure the Emperor's finest will be ready to purge the Daemon in no time.

Any comments or criticism can go into the comments, and I do appreciate any words.

PS: Yes, I did somehow manage to miss his right boot in my hasty painting. Whoops! And yes, the purity seals came out terribly. I'll be sure to complain about it two posts from now.

This entry was posted on Monday, October 11, 2010 at Monday, October 11, 2010 and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


This looks very good. And as someone who has painted grey knights, I know they are not as easy to paint 'looking good' as they would seem.

Looking forward to the rest of the series.

October 11, 2010 at 10:23 PM

looks pretty neat!

July 12, 2011 at 8:34 PM

I'm thinking of going through and redoing the guide. It's a bit lengthy and I've improved a bit since making this.
But I've had a lot to do and not a lot of time to post. Hopefully soon.

July 12, 2011 at 9:00 PM

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