Pre-shading with colour primers

A lot of people ask me how I achieve the deep red on my Blood Angels so I thought I’d do a little step-by-step. In the example below I use a Drop Pod door but the principle and method are the same for infantry. I use an airbrush to apply the primers and base colour.

The key to the deep colour is layering, so I use colour primers rather than monochrome pre-shading with black, white and grey.

Step 1

I coat the model with Vallejo German Red Brown primer and pre-shade with black…


Step 2

I mask off edges and pre-highlight with Vallejo German Dark Yellow primer. The primer is opaque so easily covers the red and black where you need it to…




Step 3

I spray the model all over with Vallejo Model Air Red RLM23. This is a bright and quite thin pure red colour, so the black makes it deep and dark in the shadows and the yellow makes it bright on the highlighted areas…


Step 4 [not pictured]

On infantry I would then do some edge highlights with Vallejo Model Color 130 Amarantha Red.

Hope you find this useful!

8 Replies on Pre-shading with colour primers

  • Mike says:

    This is an excellent and very informative tutorial. I purchased an airbrush a while ago and haven’t used it much. I’m going to break it out this week and try this myself. I have one question right now though. Do you do the edge highlights with the airbrush as well or a regular brush?

    • luther says:

      Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment!
      Everything you see in the pictures in this tutorial is done with the airbrush. There are no edge highlights as such, but you get that kind of effect by the stark contrast between the yellow and red primers (shown in the fourth pic down) before applying the final thin base coat.
      When I do this on infantry I will normally add an edge highlight in a brighter colour with a regular brush as a final step before weathering. For red I use Vallejo Model Color 130 Amarantha Red.

  • Schwerpunkt says:

    Great tutorial, the red is brilliant.

  • Danny says:

    Wow, great tutorial, and something I can use directly for smaller drop pod panels.

    Out of curiosity, would this work for greys? (30K Space Wolves)

    As grey is cold and red warm, would it be better to use a dark dark grey or a deep blue in place of brown and white in place of yellow?

    • Luther says:

      Thanks Danny, glad you the tutorial useful!

      For grey I probably wouldn’t pre-shade / highlight. I’d start with black undercoat and work up the highlights using progressively lighter greys. There are so many Vallejo greys with subtly different tones – do you have a reference pic of what you’re trying to achieve?

  • Christina says:

    Thank you for this tutorial and this really cool site! I just found it today while looking for tutorials on how to paint my Stout Hearted Heroes miniatures. I’m great at creating minis but not so great at painting them, lol. I was hoping to paint some up for our Kickstarter (over 200 stylized fantasy miniatures and creatures) but I don’t think I can get good enough to make it for this project. With you help, I’ll slay the next 😉


  • Sean says:

    Fantastic as always!
    When can we look forward to a Dark Angels painting guide?

    And maybe Alpha Legion and pre-heresy Luna Wolves?

    Love your work

    • Luther says:

      Thanks Sean! There will be a Dark Angels guide coming next month. I’m working my way through the ‘big nine’ Chapters, and beyond that, who knows?! 🙂

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