How to paint black armor using airbrush

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In this article we will see how we can paint a black armor using airbrush,when we want to generate a high contrast and not just a flat black color. To do this, we will use as an example a Space Marine Reiverof the Warhammer 40k game.

This tutorial about how to paint black armor,will allow us for example, to paint any of the following chapters or factions of Space Marines:

  • Black Templars
  • Raven Guard
  • Deathwatch
  • Iron Hands
  • Black Legion
  • Ravenwing (2nd Company of the Dark Angels)
  • Black Dragons
  • Black Consuls
  • Consecrators
  • Black Inculpators

And having said that… Let’s start with this tutorial about how to paint black using airbrush.

Choosing the contrast of the armor

Before I started preparing this tutorial, I launched a survey on Instagram, so that you could decide the type of black armor you wanted me to show in the tutorial. On the one hand we had the option of a black armor, with less contrast, and on the other hand a high contrast black armor.

After the survey and more than 230 votes,the winner, by a big difference, was the black armor with high contrast:

So as you’ve chosen, we’ll see how to paint a black armor with high contrast.

On the other side, if you prefer painting a black armor with a lower contrast (and that will look darker), it is very simple, you will only have to skip a few steps of this tutorial (not painting the lighter colors), and painting over a smaller surface with the airbrush.


As you could imagine, we will print the miniature using black. I recommend using the Black Vallejo Surface Primer if we use airbrush, otherwise, I recommend using Vallejo’s Hobby Paint black spray.

Step 1 – Black Model Air

We will start by applying Black Model Air all over the Space Marine Reiver, because sometimes the primer does not reach all the nooks and crannies. With this step we make sure to have a uniform black throughout the figure

Step 2 – Grey Model Air

We’ll start applying different shades of gray,and we will start with Gray Model Air. You can see in the photos the places where I have been applying this color to the miniature.

Step 3 – Neutral Grey Model Air

We’ll raise the brightness of our grays a little bit. To do this, we will use Neutral Grey Model Air.

This time we will we will apply the color in a smaller area (in each new step, we will paint less surface, to generate a gradient)

Step 4 – Stone Wall Grey Game Air

To end with the armor and the airbrush, we will apply a lighter gray, in this case Stone Wall Grey Game Air.

We will take special care in this step, where we will apply it in a very controlled way at very specific points (where we want to generate the strongest points of light) and painting on a very small area.

Step 5 – Optional: Shoulder Pad

This step is completely optional and will depend on the miniature or chapter of the Space Marines you want to paint. As in this case will be a Black Templars Space Marine,I will paint the shoulder pad white. To do this I have used the airbrush to paint the left shoulder pad using White Model Air. As you can see, I have applied more paint over the top of the shoulder pad, to achieve a slight gradient.

Step 6 – Edge Highlighting

But we’re not done yet! To finish this black armor, we’ll highlight the edges of the miniature.

To do this, I recommend using a wet palette, in my case I have used the RedGrassGames wet palette. Thanks to it we will be able to keep our painting always in a perfect dilution, in addition to being able to mix colors and tones for those highlights.

In addition, I also recommend using a good brush. For this edge highlighting I used the 00 brush from RedGrassGames.

To highlight this armor,we will first use Neutral Grey Model Color. Later, in the wet palette we can mix this Neutral Grey with a little White Model Color,on areas where we want to give it a stronger tone of light. And finally, you can use pure White, in all the corners of the armor to generate even more contrast.

Here we see the result after applying these highlights.

Final result

Here I leave you with some final photos with the armor finished.

In the next tutorial, we will see how to paint Black Templars.

If you want to support me to continue creating free content for the community, you can do it here!

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