3 Simple Tricks For Painting Your Miniatures – Tutorial

By |2016-06-16T09:00:16+00:00June 16th, 2016|Categories: How To Tutorial, Space Marines, Warhammer 40k|


Wanna make your miniatures look even better? Checkout these three simple tricks for improving your miniature’s paint job!

After my article last week, a lot of you reached out with questions, feedback and comments. Always willing to please the fans, here’s my first (of many, let’s hope) simple tricks for a complex question : How to improve your miniatures.

Now obviously, I could do this case by case and pinpoint specific details on each miniatures. But considering the 60,000 plus of you on the Spikey Bits page and all The Long War veterans, this would be time consuming and slightly above my paygrade, despite how much I enjoy chatting about this.

So here’s one of the first technique I want to share with you. It’s lovingly called the rule of THREE!

The rule of 3, put simply, is to paint 3 colors on everything part of the model. No, I’m not talking about that 3 color minimum where you spray a model then add 2 colors wherever and call it done. That was covered before. I’m talking about 3 colors per color. Colorception if you will. I developed when I transitioned from painting single models to whole armies in a week. Because without this trick, it’s easy to get lost with the too few or the too many steps. This rule keeps you in check with whatever you’re painting in making it stand out enough without being too time consuming.


Whatever detail you paint, let’s say a scroll, you want to do it in 3 steps :

1- A basecoat, with zandri dust

2- A highlight with Ushabti bone

3- A shade with Seraphim Sepia

*Scroll to the end of this article for a full list of simple rule of 3s

The simple basecoat+highlight+shade is a catch-all term, but really, you can do 2 highlights, or 2 shades, it’s a matter of personal preference. The same goes for highlights and shading, both terms used loosely, as you can layer, blend, wash, glaze, drybrush, airbrush, edge, stripe, etc. Black and White are a perfect example of this, as you can’t shade black, and can’t highlight white.

What matters is that we’re creating contrast on everything. Contrast is what makes details pop and tricks the viewer into thinking that miniatures are actual size rather than 28mm tall ( Damn you Canada and your metric system! )  And also that you write down the colors you used!

A guide of rule of 3 colors for the neophyte that want to bring hobby back :


B is basecoat, H for highlight and S for shading.


Silver :

B: Leadbelcher

H: Runefang Steel

S: Nuln Oil

Gold :

B: Balthazar Gold

H: Rulelord Brass

B: Warplock Bronze

H: Runelord Brass

S: Nuln Oil

Pouches, boots, belts and leather :

B: Rhinox Hide

H: Skraag Brown

S: Nuln Oil


Space Marine Paint Schemes:

Dark Angels :

B: Caliban Green

H: Warpstone Glow

S: Nuln Oil

Ultramarines :

B: Macragge Blue

H: Hoeth Blue

S: Drakenoff Nightshade

Imperial Fists ( Drab )

B: Balor Brown

H: Ushabti Bone

S: Seraphim Sepia

Imperial Fists ( Blazing )

B: Averland Yellow

H: Flashgitz Yellow

S: Lamenter’s Yellow

Crimson Fists

B: Kantor Blue

H: Macragge Blue

S: Nuln Oil

Blood Angels

B: Mephiston Red

H: Wazdakka Red

S: Carrobourg Crimson

Salamanders :

B: Warpstone Glow

H: Waaagh Flesh

S: Waywatcher Green

This is once again a very short list to give you ideas and get you started. Feel free to hit me up if you are looking for a way to rule of 3 your army in a way I didn’t cover here.

You can also check out my evergrowing collection of 1 dollar amazon e-books below:

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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!