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Painting Space Marines: Imperial Fists Done Quick & Easy


Today we’re going to be running through a quick and easy method of getting Imperial Fists painted in a quick and easy way that will get the Sons of Dorn onto the tabletop nice and quickly. This method can be done with an airbrush or a paintbrush and shouldn’t be used when you’re trying to make a display army or a centerpiece miniature, in the future we will also be looking at the Imperial Fist Second Founding Chapter, the Crimson Fists.

For our example miniature in this piece, we’ll be using Brother Dolor from the first series of Space Marine Heroes while replacing his Ultramarine Color Scheme with that of the Imperial Fists. I’ll be painting this miniature in sub assemblies purely for my own entertainment, but you won’t need to do that. For the unaware, the sub-assembly method involves painting each piece individually then putting the miniature together opposed to building the miniature and painting it.

This method is a tried and tested way of bringing your miniatures to a tabletop ready level with minimal effort while retaining a sharp aesthetic. We do this by relying on, and maintaining, a crisp contrast over a zenithal-esque base coat while only painting what can be seen, that means no edge highlighting on the underside of armor, no additional details on the underside of wargear and equipment and a lot of blocked in black panel lines to give the miniature more definition when viewed at a distance. We’ll also be avoiding the use of blending techniques for the most part as the strength of this quick and easy method lies in the use of block colors. This trick was used a lot in older editions of Warhammer 40,000 when super saturated colors were more common. We start, as usual, with a nice solid base coat of your chosen color. Given as how we’re painting an Imperial Fist, I primed my model a light grey and put down a base coat of Citadel’s Yriel Yellow.

On top of this, we add our first faux shade. This approximated shading is easiest applied with an airbrush, can be also be accomplished by taking a dry brush and only brushing upwards on the model from the feet up, this builds up a darker tone on any area that is hidden from our faux light source which we assume is above. If you’re airbrushing, hold the miniature so that the head faces away from you and spray at a 45° angle to build up the impression of shading.

Now that the lower legs, crotch, lower chest and the underside of the helmet have a darker shade of yellow on them, I went with a 2:1 mix of Citadel’s Averland Sunset and The Army Painter’s Pure Red, we can apply another top down brushing of Yriel Yellow to the model so that the gradient is smoother. Once you’ve done this, we’ll start picking out the colors that will be our primary accent. For this model, we’ll be sticking with The Army Painter’s Pure Red.

Using our Army Painter’s Pure Red, block in the chest motif (if one is present on your miniature) and the lenses of the helmet, don’t forget to get any purity seals while your at it. At this point, we’ll also be blocking in the rim of the Pauldrons (not pictured just yet) while taking great care to not mess up the yellow we’ve laid down. Make sure you have a nearby mixture of the paints you used for your base coat in case you need to correct mistakes.

While our newly painted red pieces are drying, we can move on to our bold panel lining. A far cry from what many of you may have been taught, the purpose here isn’t to add subtle detail, but to draw the detail out and make it visible from a distance. Start by blocking out any visible pieces of the undersuit, typically found around the hips and the back of the knees. Four our panel lines, we don’t use a wash or an ink, we take a black paint and thin it down a little bit more than usual. Then, with a steady hand and a fine brush, we paint the recessed areas black while making sure none of the under coat comes through. I personally like to run a black stripe down the back of each lower leg armor plate, but you don’t need to do this if it’s not visually appealing to you.

You should also use this opportunity to block out the bolter in black.

Next up, we block in our metallics and additional detail pieces, like pouches, grenades, knives and sidearms. Our Imperial Fist has an augmetic eye and an auspex in his left hand, so along with his belt, we block these pieces in too. I used Army Painters Shining Silver and Plate Metal to ensure that our bright basecoat doesn’t show through and I used Vallejo’s Model Color Flat Earth for the pouches.

With all of our blocked colors complete, we can assemble the miniature now to finish it off properly.

As you can see, Brother Dolor is taking shape, but he’s still looking rather plain. From here, you can either take a heavily thinned black paint, an accent wash of your choosing or one of Citadel’s many washes and use it to darken down your metallics and add some definition to them without needing to spend much time on them yourself. The one thing I do advise however is taking a sepia wash and running it along your pauldrons to add some definition to the inside line. Paint up your base, put the miniature under some good lighting to admire your work and you’re done!

Quick, easy and wholly recognizable as an Imperial Fist, using block colors and a base coat that suggests shading is a simple but effective way of quickly painting miniatures, you could knock out an entire Tactical Squad in a few hours if you were batch building them with this technique and I suggest you give it a spin yourself!