How to paint Space Wolves part 1: Background

(or rather “How I paint Space Wolves”)

A while back I promised in the comments that I’d try to explain how I paint Space Wolves. Being me, I then got painter’s block (if there’s such a thing) regarding anything blue-grey! Anyway, better late than never, I guess. I’m breaking this up into two posts partly because it’s got a bit too long and partly because my camera seems to be on its way out and I’ve tried and failed to take the final set of pictures twice already in bright sunshine and with flash and every time they’ve come out far too dark. So by splitting the post up I have a chance to see if I can get a better result with my boyfriend’s camera! In this post I’ll go over what paints I use and a few of the tricks and in the next post I’ll go through how I paint the Space Wolves themselves.

I’m in the process of swapping across to the new Citadel paints, so in some cases I’m using old paints. Some of the new paints are not identical to the paints they replace (I’m still mourning the loss of Mechrite Red) so I’d check colours before you start.  Games Workshop have a conversion chart available as a PDF on their website. Where I’ve used the old Citadel Paints I’ve put the new name in brackets in the paint list below (and yes, I use far too many!). That said, this is how I paint Space Wolves, it’s not like there are any hard and fast rules, if anything this is intended to be a guide to creating your own paint scheme. I also mix some of my own paints. To save time, I’ve given these mixed paints names in the paint key.

The paints used are:

Blues and Blue Greys
Fenris Grey (The Fang)
Shadow Grey (The Fang)
SW Mix = 1:1 Shadow Grey to Space Wolves Grey
Space Wolves Grey (Fenrisian Grey)
Hawk Turquoise (Sotek Green)
Ice Blue (Lothern Blue)

Caliban Green
Warpstone Glow

Blacks to Whites
Chaos Black (Abaddon Black)
Eshin Grey
Codex Grey (Dawnstone)
Celestra Grey
Bleached Bone (Ushabti Bone)
Skull White (White Scar)
Ceramite White

Reds to Yellows
Mechrite Red (Mephiston Red)
Red Gore (Wazdakka Red)
BR+RG = 1:1 Blood Red to Red Gore
Blood Red (Evil Sunz Scarlet)
TSO+BR = 1:1 Troll Slayer Orange to Blood Red
Troll Slayer Orange
YY+TSO = 1:1 Yriel Yellow to Troll Slayer Orange
Iyanden Darksun (Averland Sunset)
Yriel Yellow
YY+W = 1:1 Yriel Yellow to Skull White

Browns and Flesh
Scorched Brown (Mournfang Brown)
Snakebite Leather (Balor Brown)
Tausept Ochre (XV-88 or Tau Light Ochre or Balor Brown)
Bugman’s Glow
Elf Flesh (Kislev Flesh)

Dwarf Bronze (Hashut Copper)
Shining Gold (Gehenna’s Gold)
Burnished Gold (Auric Armour Gold)
Boltgun Metal (Leadbelcher)
Chainmail (Ironbreaker)
Mithril Silver (Runefang Silver)

Badab Black
Deneb Mud (Agrax Earthshade)
Gryphonne Sepia (Seraphim Sepia)
Ogryn Flesh (Reikland Fleshshade)

Guilliman Blue
Lamenters Yellow

Mixing your own paints

I like to mix paints to get the particular colour that I want or build up highlights. For small quantities I mix paints directly on my palette, but for larger quantities I make up my own pots. I save my empty paint pots and use a syringe to measure out paint in the right ratio. I then make sure the lid is tightly closed and then skip round the house shaking the pot in order to mix them together.


I use line highlights a lot. My Space Wolves are probably not the best example on how to use them as they were originally started before I knew what line highlights actually were, so I have had to rein back my enthusiasm to try and keep the army vaguely consistent.

In general to line highlight, I start, after washing, with the original colour (Citadel shades and the old washes do change the base colour slightly), then I work through a series of colours starting with a 50:50 blend of the base colour and next lightest paint, followed by that paint. For more extreme highlights I then mix that colour with a lighter shade etc.

So, for instance with the Ultramarine here I started with Macragge Blue and washed him with Drakenhof Nightshade. I then line highlighted fairly heavily with Alaitoc Blue and put lines of colour where it looked like more light would fall on the model. For instance on the shoulder pad I added areas of lighter colour on the top and centre. I then highlighted again with Ice Blue on more prominent areas and then used Space Wolves Grey for extreme highlights such as on the very edges of the shoulder pad.

ultramarine highlight

For the Ranger’s coat I used Caliban Green as the base colour. I then washed it with Biel-Tan Green before highlighting it first with Caliban Green, then with a 1:1 blend of Caliban Green and Warpstone Glow, followed by Warpstone Glow and finally extreme highlights of Scorpion Green (Moot Green). I followed the folds of the cloak, starting with very broad strokes, reducing the thickness as I changed colour.

Ranger coat

For me, highlighting does two things. It defines edges, such as those on the Ultramarine’s armour, and adds to the “3D-ness” of the figure by defining upper surfaces caught by light and contrasting with shadier areas such as on the Ranger’s coat.


I don’t always undercoat, the blue-grey colour I use is fine on black as are the silvery metallics. I do undercoat for reds, yellows, brasses/golds and creams/whites as these colours sometimes require multiple coats in order to get an even colour, a base coat reduces the number of layers needed and helps give a flatter colour.


I’m currently using a Chaos Black undercoat on all my models.

Right, so those are the basics. Part 2, where I actually show some Space Wolves, will be up as soon as possible! Sorry for the long wait!



3 responses to “How to paint Space Wolves part 1: Background

  1. Pingback: Brother Agaric of the Brotherhood of the Mushroom | Lost on Fenris

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