Slaves to Darkness Painting Guide

Hey folks,

As promised, here’s a guide for how I paint my Slaves to Darkness. Because I’m basing my army for a desert board, I wanted to avoid the cool blue highlights that the studio uses, and employ a more neutral scheme for the armour. The detail colours will introduce some warmth into the palette, and tie the models into their environment.

Start with a black undercoat, touching up any missed areas with Abaddon Black. For brush reference, I’m doing pretty much this whole model with a Windsor and Newton Series 7 Size 0.



Step 1. I chose to do the cloaks first as there’s a tendency to make a mess trying to get the brush in behind all the armour plates, so we’ll get this out of the way before anything else is painted. Zandri Dust is applied in five or six thin layers to build up a smooth, even coat.


Step 2. Seraphim Sepia is mixed 1:1 with Lahmian Medium and painted into the recesses. For lightly coloured fabrics, less is more, and you really only want it going into the creases. TIP: If your wash comes out shiny, paint some undiluted Lahmian Medium over it and it should tone it right down.


Step 3. Paint a highlight of Karak Stone onto the outer and raised edges, and around the bigger holes. Again, don’t go overboard, and stick just to the highest peaks in the cloth.


Step 4. Paint a second thinner highlight with Ushabti Bone. Scratches can also be painted on to break up the flat areas using watered down Ushabti Bone.



Step 1. Now we’ll move onto the largest area on the model, the armour and shield. Start by giving all the edges a thick highlight of Skavenblight Dinge.


Step 2. And follow that up with a thin highlight of Administratum Grey. I tend to put a dot of the same on all the sharp corners.



Fur, Leather, Weapons and Gold

Step 1. We’ll do the next few colours all at the same time, as they’ll all be getting some of the same shades, so if it seems like it jumps around a bit, it’s just so that we don’t have to keep coming back and applying the same wash to lots of separate little bits. Red cloth gets a base coat of Mephiston Red, the leather boots and straps are Rhinox Hide, the fur is painted Celestra Grey, and the steel gets a layer of Leadbelcher. At this stage I also carefully drybrush Leadbelcher over the chainmail.


Step 2. Wash all the areas from the last step (apart from the chainmail) with Nuln Oil. Try not to let it pool too much, especially in the fur.


Step 3. Paint all the gold areas with Retributor Armour.


Step 4. Wash the gold areas and the fur with Agrax Earthshade. In contrast to the other washes, I do like to let it pool a bit around the rivets, so as to deepen the colour.


Step 5 (forgot the photo) and 6. Highlight the leather first with Gorthor Brown, and then a thinner highlight with Baneblade Brown.


Step 7. Apply a first highlight of Evil Suns Scarlet to the red wrappings (this applies to any other red areas your models might have).


Step 8. Apply a second thinner highlight of Wild Rider Red to the red bits.


Step 9. Highlight the fur first with Celestra Grey.


Step 10. And then a second with Grey Seer.


Step 11. Apply a layer of Liberator Gold to the gold bits, leaving the shaded colour in the recesses. You could think of this layer as a very thick highlight.


Step 12. And finally, highlight the gold and steel with Runefang Steel.



We’ll do both his weird mutant skin and the flayed skin on his cloak as part of this step. I wanted to paint his skin a slightly off-shade to represent the effects of the Mark of Chaos, but still maintain skin-like tones.

Step 1. Give the face a basecoat of Bugman’s Glow. You’ll want to build this up in a couple of thin layers as these heads are very detailed and it can be easy to obscure that detail with paint that’s too thick.


Step 2. Wash the face with Agrax Earthshade. You don’t need to worry about shading the smooth back half of the head, just the ears and around the features.


Step 3 (and 4 and 5 – I got carried away and forgot I was taking photos). For the next layer I’m using a 1:1 mix of Bugman’s Glow and Rakarth Flesh. You’ll want to paint this on very carefully around the features, trying your best to leave the previously shaded areas showing.

Highlight this with pure Rakarth Flesh.

Paint in the whites of the eyes and the teeth with Celestra Grey.


Step 6. Paint in the pupils with Abaddon Black. The tongue is painted with Screamer Pink and highlighted with Pink Horror. The gold earring is painted the same as the rest of the gold.


Step 7. Moving on to the tanned skin, I started with a base coat of Steel Legion Drab.


Step 8. This gets a shade of Agrax Earthshade.


Step 9. Follow up with a first highlight of Baneblade Brown.


Step 10. And a finer highlight of Karak Stone. The stitches also got a further highlight of Ushabti Bone to pick them out.



Step 1. The rocks on his base as well as the talisman hanging from his belt get a base coat of Dawnstone. I also painted the bag on his belt this way.


Step 2. These parts get shaded with Nuln Oil.


Step 3. A first highlight of Administratum Grey is applied.


Step 4. Followed by a finer highlight of Ulthuan Grey.



Following the old refrain, you should base the model to match the rest of your army. My army is on desert bases, and I wanted quite light coloured sand, so I started with a base coat of Karak Stone (you’ll need a few layers), followed by a drybrush of Screaming Skull, and a lighter one of Pallid Wych Flesh. The skull is painted this way too, with a shade of Seraphim Sepia. The sand texture itself is Vallejo Red Oxide Paste, painted on in a thick layer.


And that’s it! Turned out to be a slightly longer guide than I anticipated, but hey, if we’re all social distancing ourselves from coronavirus we’ve got plenty of time to paint toy soldiers.

You can see five more of the Warrior I painted here.

Till next time,


12 thoughts on “Slaves to Darkness Painting Guide

  1. Thank you for putting this step by step tutorial together! I’m pretty new to painting and having just bought the Slaves to Darkness Start Collecting box this is invaluble advice.


    1. You’re very welcome, Markus. Glad it was useful to you! The Slaves to Darkness models are lovely, and while my tutorial is pretty detailed, with good brushes and control it should be manageable.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The great detail is what I like best about it! It’s extremely helpful to have every single step explained, something that’s often missing or just glanced over in other tutorials.

        Also, sorry about the double-post. 🙂


  2. Ross, quick question about Cloak, Step 4: how do you paint those super thin scratches? Are you using a very thin brush or a different tool?


    1. No, same brush, Markus. The Size 0 is pretty thin as it is. You’ll find that if you’ve got a good quality brush, no matter the size, that the point will be super thin anyway. Just keep the paint very thin (the consistency of milk is what I aim for) and just on the very tip of the brush, and build it up with a few light strokes. Takes a bit of practice, but the thing with scratches is to keep them as small as you can, or the scale looks off.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for the tutorial! I followed it when I painted Khagra’s Ravagers; the beige looks killer with red and black! Cheers.


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