Sunday, 19 February 2017

How do you paint your EPIC infantry?

My first two infantry stands. They are pdf bases originally cut for 288mm figures. I used blu-tak to even out the surfaces before adding the sand texture. 
Well here's a first! Painted space marines on my blog. And painted EPIC space marines from the 1989 box game to boot. These are just test pieces mind you, and represent me just fiddling around with the concept of painting tiny little plastic men, as opposed to not so tiny little metal men. A few posts back I was waxing not so lyrical about my love for the first edition of Space Marine, and these figures are the symptom of those thoughts. 

However, though I can hold my own when working on 28mm figures, I am a complete amateur with figures of this scale - and I think that that shows! Usually, when approaching something more challenging than normal I would spend a few hours reading through as many forums, blogs and articles as I could unearth on the subject - looking for inspiration. Perhaps it was just me, but I wasn't really able to find much on the subject with the best information coming from the original Space Marine rulebook (thank you for that Steve Casey) so I was left pretty much to my own devices. 

The appalling sight of crushed infantry stands. These days I stick to the rule of NEVER placing models on the floor. 
Having picked up a couple of lots of marines on eBay, and having received a few extras from Ian Wood (see above), one thing that struck me was how generic the stands look when assembled. With every figure positioned in the same X pattern, the forces on display didn't really look like the rushing mass of lethal warriors as the artwork portrays. Rather squads of static monopose troopers lining up on the parade ground. 

Loose marines. Sounds like a dodgy US army amateur rock band.
Having got a number of loose models, I stuck them rather randomly on a selection of pdf bases in an attempt to vary this look. My remaining bases have already been glued down, though snipping them from the original bases won't be particularly demanding if I like the effect. 

These stands were already stuck down when I bought them. If I am going to stick withe pdf idea, I will need to come up with a way of removing them.
Following the advice of Jervis Johnson in the original Space Marine rulebook, I choose to represent the forces of the Ultramarines and the Thousand Sons on the table top, based largely on the fantastic photographs of red and blue epic scale infantry on the original photographs published in White Dwarf. Johnson, if it was he who wrote the painting section, recommended drybrushing to help bring out the detail and I followed the advice to the letter having found nothing else to go on. The finished result was very underwhelming, so I endeavoured to have a second crack at both bases. 

My first attempts at chapter markings.
This time I used my preferred technique of layering and washes and the results are far more pleasing to my eye. The general method I used was simple really. A dark base coat with suitable ink wash. I used blue/black ink for the Ultramarines and black/brown ink for the Thousand Sons. Once dry, I quickly painted over all of the raised services with the original base colour and added a few highlights to the armour, most notably the shoulderpads, helmet and legs. Black ink was then added to the chest and weapon area to create additional depth. Being an amateur working with this scale, I quickly realised that you needed to create far deeper depth effects and brighter highlights to bring out the best of these models. 

Adding yellow to the red and white to the blue, I added additional highlights here and there and used the same method to colour the bolter in each marine's hands. Still, the models looked pretty bland, even with the bases completed. I decided to add further detail and add squad markings as best I could to the figures. The Ultramarines were pretty straightforwards, with me simply painting a white U on each shoulder pad and copying the two, reflecting triangle symbols that represent tactical squads on the other. My freehand painting was a little off the mark here, though I think with practise it will improve. 

The Thousand Sons had the same attention. I added the tactical squad markings (which look better on the second attempt) and added a yellow sun with a black M on the other pad. You can just make these out on the top picture. 

In conclusion, there are several things I will try and rectify on my second attempt. 

1) Stronger highlights on the red Thousand Sons. I shall start with a darker base colour and work up, completing the final highlight in orange. 
2) I shall paint the entire shoulder pad yellow for the Thousand Sons before adding the M in black. This should help define the letter more strongly. 
3) Select a brighter more vibrant blue for the Ultramarine basecoat. My first choice was too pale. 
4) Use black as a base for the white chapter detail on the Ultramarines to give further definition. 

But before I do that, I shall ponder my technique a little more and have a look at what other painters and gamers have done with epic scale infantry over the years. If you know of a blog or other article that you think is worth reading, please share the link in the comments section below. 

If you have your own method or technique for getting to grips with epic scale infantry please comment on that too. I would love to know!! 

Thanks in advance. 



  1. Looking good,when the first version came out,I spent time building missile launchers,hv bolters and flamers on them from plastic card and sprue,Im glad the next lot came with them,I still have one of the five pound vouchers as I won two,I think they came through the post,but I could be wrong,great post as always,and look forward to see what your doing.

  2. Looking good,when the first version came out,I spent time building missile launchers,hv bolters and flamers on them from plastic card and sprue,Im glad the next lot came with them,I still have one of the five pound vouchers as I won two,I think they came through the post,but I could be wrong,great post as always,and look forward to see what your doing.

    1. You mention the lack of heavy weapon models for the first edition, but figures of this type are clearly present in the photographs for Space Marine and Adeptus Mechanicus - I have long wondered why they didn't get a wider release. I can recall buying a titan in blister at the time and found a single marine in metal along with the titan's parts. I stuck him to the base as a scale thing.

  3. I saw these Imperial Fists on the Blog from Tears of Envy some weeks ago.

  4. Just reading about these old minis, I remember putting the marines into the holes of the bases by pressing them down with the nail of my thumb. After doing that for a whole army my thumb hurt really bad.

    Good memories :)

    1. Yes, I will be doing the opposite with mine. Snipping them down and adding them to pdf bases. I feel your pain already!

  5. Oh Space Marine, that was the game that got me hooked on Citadel Miniatures. I too thought I was getting masses of 28mm figures, only to discover my folly when I got home and impatiently ripped open the box. I still loved it dearly though.

    As to painting guides, the venerable Mike McVey wrote a fantastic article on painting the 3rd company of the Blood Angels (it even included a wonderful tutorial on painting a beautiful Titan): It was a companion piece to an article by Tim Prow, who had painted the 28mm equivalent of the same BA company in issue 139.

    Sadly I can't recall which issue of WD, though I remember reading it around November / December of 91. Also, the very first Citadel Painting Guide (this one: has a section on painting Epic armies.

    Hope that helps!

    1. I have been studying the Space Marine painting guide for ideas, but the hersey schemes linked to 1st Edition Space Marines are very different. I guess IS hall just have to keep experimenting until I create something I like.

    2. The Mike McVey article was in WD #142, if it helps.

  6. At that scale, you need to have bright contrasts and highlights. I usually go with a first coat of a mid-tone colour, paler than darker, so that the darker wash really brings out the details. After the wash (blue on blue, purple on purple, etc.), I then drybrush the figures with a paler tone, a bright one. Then I pick up the details. I don't do layers with infantry at that scale. And I use AP washes, much better than GW ones.

    I'm working on a Epic Emperor's Children army at the moment, if you are interested :

    1. Some good advice here that I hope to put into practise soon. Though for my washes I much prefer proper W&S inks (much like the original EM boyz) as I feel you get that deeper feel to the shade.

  7. Nice work. I think increasing the contrast is the way to go. Darker wash and brighter than usual highlights. I will try this when I paint some 6mm scale Mechs. cheers

  8. I've been painting mine as Crimson Fists based on the original Rogue Trader colour scheme. Their little red hands make them easy to identify!

  9. Oh, I have hordes of epic orks somewhere. I don't think I've ever photographed them. It would be worth a blog post or two. I don't remember how I painted them. As others painted out, I think using more contrast between layers than 28's would be a start. Now where did I put those guys?

  10. I've got quite a few Epic Orks and Marines running around on my painting log at WargamerAU, although you might have to trawl through a few pages of Battlefleet Gothic and the world's least exciting terrain updates (oh look, another hill) to find them:

    Mine are for Epic 40,000 (the infamous 3rd edition), which is, uh, neither Oldhammer nor popular, but Epic minis are Epic minis whatever they're used for :)

    My painting skills are modest compared to yours, but you might find an idea or two in there. I agree that placing the minis in varied positions on each base looks better (at least for horde armies like Orks--I don't mind the parade-ground look for Marines). And I very quickly decided not to bother with squad markings for the sake of my sanity!

  11. At 6mm you really really really need to emphasize the edges and contrasts. Almost to silly levels (in comparison to what you do and are confident with in 28mm). Also moving away from acrylic washes and into enamels and oils is becoming a very common thing in the higher echelons of 6mm painters. They work very differently as filters and shades and have long application times to allow you time to play with them.

    You might want to join up over at Tactical Command which is pretty much the epicenter of epic and 6mm. Plenty of people to pick their brains.