Paint your Primarch: Horus Edition

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Paint your Primarch – Horus Edition

A step by step guide on painting the first amongst equals, by Max Dubois, that french douchebag from the untamed north.

One cool thing about this Horus is that with all the symbols and details in his armor, you can paint him in pretty much any scheme you’d like ( Luna Wolves White, Sons of Horus Grey, Justaerin Black, Classic McVey Red ) it will all look awesome.




To make good use of the airbrush, leave the base, the cloak and the head separated from the body. Also, make sure the cloak fits in the back, maybe mine was miscasted in some way, but it did not fit at all without serious pin-vice action.




After priming your badboy, time to start with the airbrushing.


Armor: Keep the colors neutral for the armor, as you want to wolf pelt sitting on top to contrast with it rather than blend in. Start with a basecoat of Dawnstone. You can then highlight with a mix of Dawnstone and White ( 50/50 ) and add a final highlight of pure white spraying from to top of the model.


Head: Starting with Rhinox Hide in the recesses, basecoat the head with Bugman’s Glow and highlight by adding white to that color.


If you’re into the classic look of Horus with the red glow coming from the armor, now’s a good time to do it. Spray Khorne Red lightly in the armor where the head is. Then lightly spray the back of the head with it. If you go lightly, this should create a red hue to the skin tone rather than turn the whole thing red. Finesse my brother!


** I know the face is in the armor on the picture, but don’t actually glue it to do this!  **

Cloak: To do the red cloak, start by airbrushing Rhinox Hide in the deep folds and where the claod will meet the armor as these areas will the the most shaded. Then basecoat the cloak with Mephiston Red, leaving brown in the recesses. If you have a steady hand, add a highlight with wazdakka red on top.  If you like painting black, I’m pretty sure it would lool awesome in black too contrasting the white armor.


Base: I used this method for painting the base. It’s quite straightwforward and fits with the other primarch the client already has. You can do this last, or match it with bases you have for your army if you’re rocking Sons of Horus!

Base 1Base 2Base 3Base 4

As you can see, a lot of these airbrush steps use the same colors. This serves 3 purposes.

1- You save time by doing these steps together

2- Some colors are harder to airbrush and work with, so try to use the friendlier ones.

3- Using the same colors keeps the model in the same tone. For some art-theory reason well beyond my writing skills to explain, this is a thing and makes cooler models. SCIENCE!


Actual Painting:


The Wolf: Step one is to google pictures of wolves, or take your hipster girlfriend’s wolves-howling-at-the-moon sweather as reference. Obvious upside to the later: your girlfrend is now topless, you have her sweather. No need to thank me.


This sounds lame, but a wolf looks like a dog or a fox or like some random furry mammel without a few disctinctive colors pplacement. The brown spot between the eyes, black nose, black ears and the grey crest, mostly.


I don’t have pictures of this process as I started over a couple of times before using a reference. The final method looked something like this:

Basecoat with Dawnstone,

Overbrush/drybrush with Celestra Grey and white in the relevant areas.

Wash with thinned down Adeptus BattleGrey and thinned down black the relevant areas

Wash the pelt with thinned down Dark Reaper, specialy where thepelt mets the armor.

Wolf WIP

You want to make these wash too thin and do more coats with them rather than one too thick and start over.

Paint the eyes and the nose black.


The cloak:


I would have no problem leaving the cloak as is with only the airbrush steps done to it, but since this is Horus, we’ll add some depth to it.

Cloak WIP

Start with highlighting again with Wazdakka Red, focus on some area where the airbriush might’ve missed. Then basecoat the detail in the claok ( the line and the Eye ) with Celstra Grey


Then wash the cloak with thinned down Rhinox Hide. This takes a while, as you need 5-6-7 coats to get right and you need them to dry completly between each coat, so feel free to start working on another step in between. Start each coat closer the the fold, so you cover less area as you go along.


This wash also provided our line and Eye of Horus with a crisp outline of brown. Clean up the details with celestra grey and highlight them white. Touchup the cloak with wazzdakka Red once more in areas where you want to cloak to pop.

Cloak Final


Work on the face is pretty straightforward:

Mix Bugman’s glow with white and highlight the cheekbones, nose, chin and lowerlip. Wash with thinned down Rhinox Hide. Yes, mastering the thinned down rhinox hide is 90% of my skills. Learn it. Live it. Earn it.


Armor ( and rest of the miniature for that matter )


Since I had no idea on what colors should go where, I started ou by blocking in all the basecoats and see how that would look. I do this on most of the stuff I paint when there’s no specific scheme to follow. By blocking out a color, I mean the basecoat to something and leave the shading/highlighting for later. The model looks weird with these flat colors, but you can usually tell if your choice of color is off and fix it before having spend all that time working the color. So Mephiston Red for all the ‘Eyes’ and the lenses, Black for the trims and the armor joints, Leadbelcher for the silver and Runelord Brass for the Gold. I want to keep gold to a minimum as gold over white requires a lot of work and deep shading to look good.

Blocking Colors

Once you blocked out everything and it’s to your liking here’s how you pimp up your pimp, so to speak.


Black: Mix black with Karak Stone or Screaming Skul and highlight, focus mostly on the rivets and raised edges. Dont use grey to shade black, it always looks wrong. And grey.


Red: pretty mich how we did the cloak. If you want more of a gem-like effect, you can add a touch of Orange after your highlight.


Silver: Start with highlighting Leadbelcher with Runefang Steel. Then wash with Nuln Oil. You can then re-highlight with runefang or sahde some more with thinned down black paint to your liking.


Gold: Shade with Agrax Earthshade and ahde some more with thinned down black paint if you want a darker look and a crisp outine next to the white armor. Once that’s done, highlight with Runefang steel.


Glue everything together, you are the proud owner of a pimp-tastic Horus, Primarch of the Luna Wolves, First Among Equals, Unparrallelled Bro-King and un bunch of other titles as you please.

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Until next time, have a good one!
Max Dubois

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About the Author:

Max Dubois is a hobby enthusiast from Quebec that runs most things named Hellfire Painting. Max produces a lot of hobby ressources that you can find on his own blog as well as well as on Spikey Bits. He is always ready to talk shop with other enthusiasts, whether it's about, painting, playing or drinking, no matter your skill level in either those activities. You can also find some of his work on amazon kindle, where he sells hobby e-books for a dollar!