View Full Version : Tyranids - Paint Scheme help?

15-01-2012, 22:13
Hi all,

I'm looking for some inspiration before I paint more of my Tyranids.

Here are a couple of examples of things I've tried in the past:



Presently, I'm dissatisfied with both paint schemes. (Painting skill and technique are aside the point.)

I'm trying to come up with an organic palate... as in, something that looks like it belongs in nature. I like neutral colors that don't shout out at you from across the table. Deep green colors don't seem right. I'm positive that I want to avoid using large amounts of black, white, and red. Those colors are too strong.
I'm also thinking it would be fun to cover the scything talons, hooves, teeth, and claws in a gloss finish when they're painted.

Any suggestions? :(

15-01-2012, 22:34
Have you considered purples? Or perhaps a more earth/sand sort of color? I personally find trying to make things look natural just ends up being a sort of monochrome blob of dirty colors that aren't fun to look at.

Optimus Anakin
15-01-2012, 23:02
Have you tried the Tyranid Army painter?

15-01-2012, 23:11
Hmmm. Tyranid army painter?

Edit: just found it. I'm poking around with colors.

Optimus Anakin
15-01-2012, 23:18
Good, forgot to make a link for you.

15-01-2012, 23:28
Purple? A lavender or mauve sort of color could work, but deep purple wouldn't be right.

I like the idea of an earth/sand style, thanks Notanoob. Maybe with a little bit of orange in the carapace. I don't want it to be completely overwhelming to look at though. I don't think I'd pair a purple with that, though.

16-01-2012, 05:26
What about some sort of blue, green and bone combination? Like a sea turtle or a lizardman.

16-01-2012, 08:03
Try bleached bone and light grey carapace.

It's a pretty boring scheme on one model, but on a horde it looks phenomenal. Just stay away from putting snow on the bases. You can have too many light colours.

16-01-2012, 09:54
I'd strongly suggest some sort of wash - I've found that, aside from highlighting detail, they make the model look a lot smoother and more natural.

16-01-2012, 10:41
Also try researching some images of insects/lizards etc for ideas on 'natural' colour combinations and also how patterns may appear on the carapace.

16-01-2012, 10:46
You could always use the scheme from IA 4 : Anphelion Project.

It's Deneb Stone skin, Knarloc Green carapaces, Devlan Mud the whole model.

We've nicknamed that scheme "the mud bug scheme".

16-01-2012, 16:09
I always liked something scarab beetle-like, so Black undercoat with purple/blue highlights.
Other option would be fleshy skin with bone carapace.

Both are very natural looking...(darn, now you made me think about starting a 'Nid army again!)

16-01-2012, 19:27
Look at bugs in real life. Google for images. I prefer mute colors, however I still used blues/greens on my nids. Pics below on my sig. THey are simple to do, very fast, and still come out great.

16-01-2012, 19:34
Tip on your painting as well :) thin your paint out some and get some smaller brushes. they'll make a huge difference.

16-01-2012, 20:16
I certainly hope these minis aren't indicative of my painting skill now! I feel I've made a lot of progress as a painter since doing these ones...

Thanks for the ideas everyone.

I think I'm going to go with a 1:1 rotting flesh to graveyard earth for the exoskeleton, and I'm still undecided on the carapace, but leaning towards dheneb stone. I'll use fleshy colors for the exposed joints, but I might make them a little more waxy in color by mixing in some off-white; probably a bleached bone color.

So that would be sort of an inverted IA4 look! A "gub dum" scheme. :p

Highlights and shading of course is something I will take care of, and I will make sure to thin my paints out a bit.

@Draconis: Your parasite of Mortrex looks awesome! The way it's posed, I can hear it shrieking when I look at it. Interesting choice on the liberal gloss.

16-01-2012, 20:34
Interior dark, exterior light. Joints, dark. Skin medium and carapace light, or skin light and carapace dark.

Oh, and the gloss is from army builder dip. I usually spray anti gloss on it after :)

17-01-2012, 02:02
A good paint scheme is important and you should spend a good amount of time deciding exactly what you want.

I find that there are two factors.

1) How it looks (seems obvious but yeah)

2) Ease of painting.

Basically I find it's best to find a balance between something I think really looks good but also wont take me a million years to paint a full army up, you can, in the long run find that painting 50+ gaunts really daunting and so having a simple yet effective colour scheme really pays off.

Also what colours do you like? I find that I like purple, blues and jade greens so that's the colours I use!

My own nids use a simple black base coat with detail only on the wings and carapace (and only then sparingly) I got the idea form this from Phil Kelly's Tyranid army, you may want to have a look at this yourself.

Other than that I break it down really simply, One colour for carapace, one for the other fleshy bit and spot colour for tongue, tentacles, spore sacs, eyes, etc

Also look at nature, nature uses bright colours to signify danger so having natural colours and then a really bright spot colour will make it really stand out.

Sorry I didn't have specific colours just a lot of random theories and ramblings but I hope this helps!

Your can also see my own nids on the link below.

Any painting advice for the colours you use I would be more than happy to help you with and if you wish to post pictures that would be awesome!

All the best mate.


17-01-2012, 02:30
one scheme i tried which was really good was goblin green for the armor/chitin (w/e u want to refer to it as) and snakeleather brown for the skin to give it a jungle look

17-01-2012, 04:52
I appreciate the advice Polo; and nice looking psychedelic 'nids. They remind me of a video game called Earthbound, which is a good thing.

I've actually used the paint scheme in picture 2 (Bleached bone, Several blues, Scorpion Green) to paint approximately 20 Hormagaunts and 10 Termagants, in addition to the warrior and a few ripper bases.

Mind, this was about 4 years ago. I'll paint over them if I run out of other things to paint. (yeah, right!) But for now, I'll just be happy to know that I paint what I like and I like what I paint, and having them all painted in some color will be better than having them unpainted, or painted in a scheme I don't care for.

The paint scheme in picture 1 has been used on 1 warrior, 1 carnifex, and 1/2 of a hive tyrant.

I'm working on a lot of projects right now (307 models left) and I have paint schemes in mind for about 200 of those models. So, fortunately, I'll have plenty of time to think about what I want to do with my bugs! (although I'm eager to get started on them.)

I'll make a random projects log soon, and I'll try to get a camera with a real white-balance setting; rather than my cell phone which took the two pictures above.

17-01-2012, 05:26
I would recommend that the large armor plates be off-black and the rest of the model relatively light. Every time I see that, in any color combination, it works nicely.

17-01-2012, 20:46
Cool mate I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Also looks like there is a Nid second wave coming soon so the bugs might just get even more tempting for ya :D

18-01-2012, 02:53
A "gub dum" scheme. :p

You, sir, are now the proud owner of that set of words..... :p