How to paint Raptors Space Marines

Since I posted my first unit of Raptors Intercessors, a few people asked for the colours and processes used. So, as requested, here is a step-by-step!

NOTE: There are some steps I’ve marked as optional. If you’re painting rank and file and want to speed things up you can skip these steps as the added effect is subtle, but I’ve included them in case you want to try them out on characters etc.

Step 1

Prime the model using Vallejo NATO Green (612).

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 1

Step 2

Apply shading using Vallejo Model Air Burnt Umber (71040).

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 2

Step 3

Apply the first highlight using Citadel Elysian Green Air.

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 3a

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 3b

Step 4

Apply the second highlight using Citadel Ogryn Camo Air.

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 4a

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 4b

Step 5

See separate tutorial on applying decals with Microset and Microsol.

Step 6

Apply Citadel Athonian Camoshade mixed 3:1 with Lahmian Medium. The wash is applied with a normal brush, not airbrush, allowing it to settle in the recesses. The Lahmian Medium helps it to not stain the raised areas and flat surfaces. You can do one or two coats, depending on how thickly or thinly you apply it, until you’re happy with the shading.

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 6a

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 6b

Step 7

Base coat the other areas of the model:

  • Leather and base: Vallejo Model Air Burnt Umber (71040)
  • Worn metal: Forge World Castellax Bronze followed by a light drybrush of Vallejo Model Air Gunmetal (71072)
  • Bolter metal areas: Vallejo Model Air Gunmetal (71072)
  • Bolter casing, under-suit, tubing and pistol grip: Vallejo Model Color Black Grey (70862)
  • Chest and bolter eagle: Andrea Color White Paint Set No. 1 followed by No. 2 Note: These colours are perhaps a bit obscure and not in everyone’s paint collection. Citadel Screaming Skull and Ushabti Bone look to be good substitutes.
  • Purity seal: Vallejo Model Color Hull Red (70985)
  • Parchment: Vallejo Model Color Iraqui Sand (70819)

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 7a

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 7b

Step 8

OPTIONAL: Before applying Nuln Oil to the black areas (e.g. Bolter casing, under-suit), I add some initial highlights / texture using Vallejo Model Color Dark Grey (70994), Dark Bluegrey (70867) and Basalt Grey (70869).

Apply Citadel Nuln Oil to all the leather, black and metal areas, and Agrax Earthshade mixed 3:1 with Lahmian Medium to the chest and Bolter eagles. Apply undiluted Agrax Earthshade to the parchment.

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 8a

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 8b

Step 9

OPTIONAL: Apply edge highlights to the armour using 1:1 Citadel Ogryn Camo and Andrea Color White Paint Set No. 1. If you want to speed things up you can skip straight to Andrea Color No. 1 (or Citadel Screaming Skull) without mixing with the Ogryn Camo.

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 9a

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 9b

Step 10

Apply edge highlights with Andrea Color White Paint Set No. 1, drawing them out into scratches here and there and adding dots where there will be chips to the armour.

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 10a

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 10b

Step 11

Apply Vallejo Game Color Smoky Ink (72068) over the top of the chips, leaving some of the white highlight colour visible at the bottom of the chip.

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 11a

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 11b

Step 12

Apply highlights to the other areas:

  • Metal areas: Vallejo Model Air Aluminium (71062)
  • Black areas: Vallejo Model Color Medium Sea Grey (70870)
  • Leather: 1:1 Vallejo Model Air Burnt Umber (71040) and Vallejo Model Color Amarantha Red (70829)
  • Purity seal: Vallejo Model Color Red (70926)
  • Parchment: Vallejo Model Color Pale Sand (70837)

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 11a

How to paint Raptors Space Marines - Step 11b

Step 13

See separate tutorial for painting the glowing eye lenses.

The finished model

I hope you find this tutorial useful – if you have any questions please post a comment!

18 Replies on How to paint Raptors Space Marines

  • Anonymous says:

    Amazing tutorial Luther! Thanks for this

  • Jean-Philippe says:

    Great Tutorial Luther! It inspired me to get back to painting my Raptors. I tried the armor step by step (adjusting with the colours I got and the fact that I don’t use an airbrush) and it came out really good. Now I have to finish my test model to see the end result, but I’ll definitely keep at it.

    Thank you for the inspiration and helpfull tutorial.



  • Charles Williams says:

    What an awesome tutorial and result!

    A couple of questions:
    – I assume steps 1-4 are using an airbrush?
    – Do you varnish at all before applying the wash in Step 6?


    • Luther says:

      Hi Charlie,

      Steps 1-4 are using an airbrush, yes.

      I don’t find it necessary to use varnish prior to washes with this scheme. With my Blood Angels I used a gloss varnish and gloss wash to maximise the flow of the wash into the recesses, and not stain the surfaces – because black over red is very high contrast. But here we’re using brown-green over brown-green and we want the wash to stain the surface somewhat, to tint the model and smooth the gradients. The Lahmian Medium mixed into the wash does enough for this purpose.

  • Alexander Bridges says:

    This is an amazing tutorial, really well explained and the photos are really helpful. How crucial do you think the airbrush in the early steps is? Would the effect be impossible with a brush or just very hard?

    • Luther says:

      Hi Alexander, thanks for your comments! Good question about the airbrush… it certainly would be possible without an airbrush but would require lots of layering / glazing and would take a lot longer. To put it in perspective, all of the airbrush stages take no longer than a few minutes – even across a whole five-man squad, but would probably take many hours by hand!

  • Thyge says:

    Great job, going from #4 (harsh highlights) to #5 (neatly blended armor). It was nice of you to clarify the process and reasoning in the answer to Charles.

  • Alex Davila says:

    As I approach painting roughly 5000 points worth of my own Primaris chapter, how do you recommend painting assembled models? More specifically the harder to reach crevices and spots that are hard to handle when using brushes? The thing that worries me is wether or not it’d be more practical to paint then assemble portions or if there are strategies for painting after assembly?

    • Luther says:

      Generally I find it’s quicker to assemble fully and then paint – certainly for infantry. That may result in a few hard to reach areas but 99% of the time if it can’t be reached, it can’t be seen. If you paint in bits, you end up spending time painting things that will never be seen – now times that by 5,000 points!

      Painting a fully assembled model also helps with composition. There have been times when I’ve painted parts separately and then realised the light direction is wrong, or there is a clash of colour when I come to bring the parts together, and I have to spend time correcting it.

      With bigger models it can save time to paint bits or sub-assemblies separately. For example it makes sense to separate the chassis from the bodywork of an Imperial Knight because those separate elements can be painted much more quickly apart.

      When it comes to Primaris infantry, the only part I’ve found hard to reach on a fully assembled model is the chest Aquila and the back of the rifle. The back of the rifle won’t be seen, so I get as far as I can with the base colour and wash and leave it at that. The Aquila can be done with a little care and patience, and it’s certainly quicker to take that care and patience than to keep the rifle, hands etc apart to paint separately.

      • Alex Davila says:

        Thanks for the advice Luther, helpful and insightful as always. Keep up your progress on those raptors because they’re beautiful as ever!

  • Greg says:

    Hi mate, love the scheme, and it’s really easy to follow. But I really want to know where you got the raptor decals from. Cheers

  • Nick says:

    Absolutely amazing scheme and very well painted! My raptors have not quite tuned out this great, would you consider making a video tutorial?

    • Luther says:

      Thanks Nick! Videos is something I’ve been thinking about but I’d need to figure out the equipment, setup, logistics etc of such an endeavor.

      Happy to help with advice though if you have specific questions, just shoot me a message via the contact form, or Facebook page.


  • Dave.js says:

    This is great!! I am definitely going to use an offshoot of this for a salamanders army. One question: is there a benefit to starting with NATO Green and then filling in shadows with Burnt umber instead of starting with Burnt umber (over black primer base), then spraying the NATO green over top leaving shadows?

    Thanks so much for posting this in such detail!

    • Luther says:

      Thanks for the comments, I’m glad you found the guide useful!

      You could do it the way you describe for sure. It would be an extra step (the black primer), and the Burnt Umber is somewhat transparent so you’d probably get darker shadows – but that might be a cool effect and what you’re looking for.

  • Leeroy says:

    These look amazing! I have been playing with an airbrush for basecoats recently and would love to give this a try, but do you use a fine detail airbrush for this kind of work? I think what i am using is a badger patriot, and it just seems like the highlights you do require a finer line than what i am able to get. Or more than likely i just need more practice hehe
    Anyways they look amazing and you tutorial style is fantastic 🙂

    • Luther says:

      Thanks for your kind words!

      The model in the tutorial was actually painted with a Badger Patriot!

      I have since bought an Iwata HP-C Plus, which makes fine detail easier, but it certainly can be done with a Patriot. Just needs more practice as you say, getting the right pressure and paint thinning – and most importantly trigger control

  • John says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial! I tried some termies https://i.imgur.com/0oBGHOA.jpg for my first airbrush project – I didn’t get the vibrance yours seem to have, maybe the airbrush coats didn’t have enough contrast, or my wash was too heavy and dulled it too much. Cheers!

  • Janek says:

    Great tutorial! I’m no longer afraid of the airbrush highlighting now so my forest Space Wolves can reborn in blood / jungle 🙂 Thanks!

  • Andreas says:

    U should consider adding the raptor chapter decals to your sortiment, cause i guess u inspire many people to try this scheme and its a pain in the ass to get those decals from chaptercustomizer.com in eu. Still waiting for a reply for 6 weeks after ordering my decals there. There is no other possibilty to get those decals of this chapter in the quality you offer in europe.

  • Russell says:

    Awesome tutorial, thanks so much! I just sold my Ad Mech army and I’m coming back to Primaris with a new army. I think I’ll be taking a lot of what you put down here and using it, maybe adding yellow as the shoulder guard rim color. I wanted to ask about Step 6, where you’re adding the Athonian Camoshade. Are you directly applying the wash to the recesses where you want it to settle, or are you applying it all over the painted areas, including raised areas, and just allowing it to naturally flow into the recesses? I can see the difference in the model between steps 6 and 7 in the washed recesses, but it also looks like the raised areas got some shading from this wash as well.

    • Luther says:

      Thanks Russel! The Athonian Camoshade wash is applied all over the model. The airbrushed colours are quite light (especially Ogryn Camo), so the washes tone everything down and tint the model overall, as well as deeply shading the recesses where is settles the most.

      For vehicles I airbrush the wash all over to achieve the same tinting effect, and then use oil washes for deep recess shading. This is because the acrylic washes tend to stain and be a bit patchy on large, flat areas – even when mixed with Lahmian Medium.

      • Russell says:

        Thanks so much for the detailed reply, I really appreciate you taking the time!

        I enjoy the “apply all over the model” method of washing since applying washes with a traditional brush is a weakspot for me. I found I also love airbrush spraying washes, as you said you do with vehicles. I sold a Knight army with my Ad Mech and I had sprayed all of the Knight’s metal parts with Nuln Oil, I think it gave it a really cool toned-down kinda used look.

        One last question and I’m off to my bench. I noticed on your IG account that you posted some Raptor troops with yellow shoulder pad borders. Do you recall which yellow or combo of yellows you used? I picked up some Yriel Yellow and plan on starting there.

  • Dave says:

    Starting a Raptors Army , what method do you use to get a 3:1 mix. Is it a dropper bottle?

  • Joe says:

    And do you happen to have an easy way to do that without paint going Everywhere…

    • Luther says:

      You could use a small funnel. But I use these 35ml mixing bottles from Vallejo for washes, which have a screw top lid and opening plenty big enough to just tip the pot into the bottle:

      Vallejo mixing bottle

  • Jonas pilar says:

    is there a vallejo color you can substitute for the andrea colors that you use ,Thank you

    • Luther says:

      Good question! I haven’t tried them myself, but looking at the swatch sheet I would say Vallejo Model Color Ivory 70.918 for the first highlight, and Off-white 70.820 for the second.

  • justin says:

    Awesome tutorial, very helpful?

    Just curious what yellow combination you used for the highlights on your command models?

    • Luther says:

      Hi Justin, thanks! For hand painting yellow trim etc I normally use:
      VMC Goldbrown
      VMC Flat Yellow
      VMC Golden Yellow
      VMC Offwhite edge highlight
      Reikland Fleshshade wash


  • Parker says:

    This is really great looking work man! Exactly how I want my stuff to be at some point. Thanks so much for taking the time to put this info out there to see!

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