Some background and why Black and White?
Welcome all to my Tyranids Hive Fleet Dragur painting tutorial – a black and white Tyranids scheme.
As some background, this scheme has been a long time in the making and subject to much experimentation but I finally feel that I have reached a point I’m happy with and want to share my thoughts and experiences.
My goal for the scheme was simple – I didn’t want to use a GW scheme (so basically can run these guys as any hive fleet + it’s easy to make your own fluff with nids and pull it off as ‘legit’) and I wanted to have a very high-contrast that really popped from a 1-2 metre range on the tabletop.
The first piece of advice I can give (and don’t let this put you off) – is if you are in a rush to paint your Tyranids don’t choose a black and white scheme if you expect any sort of quality at the end!
Love painting this scheme, hate how long it takes but not willing to compromise on quality (believe me, I’ve tried to shortcut and cut corners and hate the results).
Little did I know when I embarked on this project that painting white (and also black to a degree) is very unforgiving due to the stark contrast, requirement for a smooth finish and lack of synergy between other colours for both highlighting and shading.
Still interested? Well read on!
What quickly became apparent with a black and white scheme is that you can’t rely on dry brushing to do the heavy lifting – black carapace lacks lustre and white flesh looks powdery.
Here is an early example of the using drying brushing alone:
The second factor of what makes a black and white scheme problematic (and it may seem obvious) is that the palette is very monochrome by nature. Without a tertiary colour, the scheme is very dull and has nothing to compliment it.
Here is an early example of when I was lacking the significant use of a tertiary colour:
It was the following piece that made the breakthrough for me – using a light primer (GW Grey Seer Contrast spray), a Drucci Violet + Nuln Oil wash for the recesses to produce a deep purple and then a layered approach of basing with Rakarth Flesh, a layer of Pallid Wych Flesh followed by a highlight of Ceramite White, it really gave the skin pop and added vital colour into the joints and recesses:
Finally, I decided to include purple as a great complimenting colour to my palette generally and will (and have) used this throughout the scheme as my tertiary colour. This is shown on my decision to use it on all my ranged weapons – the model on the right is the one I decided to go with:
My final palette for the scheme is therefore as follows:
- Carapace – Abaddon Black
- Carapace Highlights / Feathering – Eshin Grey -> Dawnstone -> Administratrum Grey
- Skin – Rakarth Flesh -> Pallid Wych Flesh -> Ceramite White
- Recesses / Vents / Joints – Drucci Violet + Nuln Oil wash
- Auxiliary Colour (used very selectively) – Green (e.g. grass on base and may use this on toxin sacs etc… later)
If you would like to see more granular ideas behind my thought processes please have a look at the forum thread on the Tyranid Hive forums here:
Hive Fleet Dragur Black and White Tyranids – Tutorials
The sections below give specific examples to demonstrate step by step how to paint this scheme.
These sections will be updated as I paint and document my currently, fairly large :(, pile of shame.
Example 1 – a Tervigon Leg
Step 1 – Undercoat – Grey Seer contrast spray:
Step 2 – 1st Wash – Drucci Violet. Wash all over skin areas paying attention to recesses, edge of plates etc… Don’t dilute the wash but ensure you wick up any pooling to avoid filling in details:
Step 3 – 2nd Wash – Nuln Oil – repeat the process / same areas with Nuln Oil:
Step 4 – 1st skin layer – Rakarth Flesh. This base paint is excellent and very opaque making an excellent to mask off all the areas which are going to be white. Be very careful and neat on this stage. Thin with about 2.5 drops of water:
Step 5 – 2nd skin layer – Pallid Wych Flesh. When layered on top of the Rakarth Flesh, this makes a very vibrant white which isn’t the same if you skip the above step. This paint is a lot less opaque and the overall result is a great ‘off white’ like a clean bone colour. Be neat again – thin this paint a little less – 1.5 drops if water.
Step 6 – Skin edge highlight – Ceramite White. Target the outline of vents, raised skin areas, tops of bones, edges of creavaces etc… Seems minor and optional but makes skin pop nicely from a distance. Dillur with 1 drop of water:
Step 7 – Carapace and Claws x2 coats – Abanddon Black. This black is excellent and as you’d expect, has amazing coverage. Don’t try and do this in one coat – thin your paint well (3 drops of water) and apply a thin coat, wait for drying and reapply until the surface is a beautiful smooth black:
Step 8 – Talon blend – Abaddon Black -> Eshin Grey -> Dawnstone -> Administratrum Grey. On the large talon (and other similar ‘primary’ large talons) use these 4 colours with a 50:50 mix in between each to make 7 colours in total:
Step 9 – Paint a line of each of the 7 colours (each smaller than the last) going from dark to light towards the tip:
Step 10 – Go back to the hard lines and then apply the darker of the two adjacent colours from you pallet in a blurry pattern back and forth until the join disappears:
Step 11 – Edge Highlight 1 – Dawnstone. Edge Highlight the outer part of each plate claw, spike etc… with Dawnstone. Dilute 1-1.5 drops of water:
Tyranid Hive Fleet Dragur Black and White – Tervigon Tutorial 12
Step 12 – Carapace Feathering – Eshin Grey -> Dawnstone -> Administratrum Grey. Choose the lower half of each plate – leave the top black. First place lines of Eshin Grey – start just below the half way point towards the edge- slightly increase the pressure on your brush to make a cone shape (fatter side at the edge of the plate, spike pointing towards the centre). Leave small of black gaps between each. Repeat the process with a smaller brush on top of the same lines with Dawnstone. These lines should be 50% the size of the above to give a transition. Finally repeat the process with Administratrum Grey but much smaller – about 15-25% the size of the original size of the Eshin Grey. Finally add tiny lines of Administratrum Grey in the gaps between the lines:
Step 13 – Edge Highlight 2 – Administratrum Grey. Finally sparingly target corners, tips and peaks of edges on the Dawnstone edge highlight to add a 2nd brighter highlight to make the highlight pop: