Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tutorial Tuesday #2: The Color Wheel and You


Hey everyone,

So school’s back up in full force, and with that and the commissions I have lined up right now, I haven’t had a lot of time to get a major painting tutorial together. So this time, I want to touch on a fairly basic and very important aspect to painting: color.

This is going to sound a little like a beginners art class, which is kind of what I’m going for, so bear with me.


I’m going to start off with the Color Wheel. We’ve got the three basic color types:

  • Primary: Red, Yellow, and Blue
  • Secondary: Green, Purple, and Orange
  • Tertiary: Yellow-Green, Red-Orange, etc.

All these colors have different relationships to each other, and as such, work really nicely as a coherent scheme to an army.



Take these Nurglings, for example. By using the reds not only on the boils and wounds on them, but on the the Marine backpacks and bitz on the bases as well, the colors compliment, bringing the unit together with colors. Careful though, as the colors have been done to death, unless you have your Denver Broncos Marines or your Los Angeles Lakers Eldar, try to have one of the colors bright and the other toned down a little to avoid it. Something like a Red-Violet and Yellow, or a Yellow-Green and Red, work really nicely, especially when the Brighter color is used in smaller doses.


CSCFinished (1)

Analogous colors sit next to each other on the color wheel. This is the scheme a lot of my projects use, as they usually keep a very warm or cool scheme warm or cool. I’m using my Crisis Suit Commander for this one. A deep blue-grey for the base, highlighted up to a Light blue-grey. Finally, the white and, more importantly, the Ice Blue keeps the blue scheme nice and cool, while achieving a contrasting bright color.

A little bit of a departure from my usual post, but I hope this article helps some of you coming up with a new color scheme for your armies. Rather than painting all the wiring different colors, stick with a scheme that compliments the rest of the army, and stick with colors that work as a whole.



  1. Good post. I wish more people would follow basic color theory when coming up with paint schemes for their armies. Nothing upsets me more than a well painted army with a garish paint scheme.

  2. Good article. TY

    Harrower - If it isn't your army, then why are you upset?

    When it comes to other players and their armies, let them do their own thing.

    Nothing bothers me more then people who question my painting techniques and color schemes. Its not your army, don't worry about it.

  3. It pleases the eye more for both these styles than something that isn't quite right. Yes you can paint your army however you want but I don't have to like it.

    Nor should you care. However if you want to be a good painter and win awards or painting points for best army then this is very helpfull.

    Nice work. I'll keep this in mind when painting my Orcs.

  4. @Joe S.: You're right, its not your army, why should you care? But its always a shame, in my opinion, when a potentially nice paint scheme is ruined with a poor colour placement.
    Glad you guys liked the article, I'm sure I'll do another one like this.

  5. Thanks for the article. Color theory is always a good thing to bring to the fore.

  6. @Joe S. - Because I'm a professional artist and I hate to see wasted potential. Not to be rude, but there's nothing that bothers me more than people who read 3 sentences and take someone's comments completely out of context.

    Sorry if you don't like people who question your painting techniques and color schemes, but I'm not that guy. If you want people to respect your decisions, you should extend the same courtesy.