10 Steps: How to Paint Iron Hands with an Airbrush


This is an update to my previous ‘How to paint Iron hands’ article, I’ve adjusted my technique slightly now I use an Airbrush as part of my workflow! The method remains largely unchanged, but for some rejigging to get a zenith highlight in.

Painting Iron Hands – now with an Airbrush!

Step One: Base Coat

Unsurprisingly it’s black spray! Before spraying I always ensure my Iron Hands are based, I find that having the sand on before the basecoat gives an extra layer of protection and helps prevent any chunks of basing material flaking off. Nice simple, even coat and then touch up any missed areas with watered down Chaos Black.


After a zenith highlight

Step Two: Airbrush Highlight

This takes the plain black miniature and adds some highlights – this is the main area of divergence from my previous method. It’s a simple step but has really saved me time in churning out this scheme.

A simple blast of Vallejo Model German Grey from an approximate 45 degree angle grabs all the top edges of the armour and adds some real depth. This accomplishes much of what I used to use a Charadon Granite drybrush for – it adds a little warmth to the whole model.

Step Three: Basecoat Bionics


Step 3: Tin Bitz Bionics

At this stage I’ll put a base coat of Tin Bitz on any bionics the marines has, I make the distinction between metal and bionics with painting, so tend to leave any parts that I consider to be parts of the armour at this stage and just target bionic arms, legs, eyes etc

 Step Four: Armour Highlights and Depth

Give all the armour a traditional highlight with Adeptus Battle Grey, you all know how this is done – pick up edges that would naturally catch the light with a thin line of the Battle Grey.

Step Five: Bionics Wash & Highlights

Any bionics should be given a wash using Agrax Earthshade. Once dry it’s a simple series of dry brushes to get them up to the brassy metal I prefer. Dwarf Bronze, then Shining Gold, then finally a light Chainmail or whatever GW’s newest medium-silver is called.

Stage 5 Completed

Stage 5 Completed

Step Six: Paint Any Metal, Eyes and Whatnots

Any armour trims, grills, weapons, pipes etc should be given a coat of Boltgun Metal. At this stage I will also paint the eyes/lenses with White, and any pipes or insulated cables with Fenris Grey before tidying up any drybrush/basing overpaint.

Step Seven: Inks

Give the whole model save the bionics a wash with a 50/50 mix of Nuln Oil and Agrax Earthshade. Then leave to dry, it might take a while.

Step Eight: Bolter casings & Eyes

Bolters are painted Astronomican Grey followed by Ceremite White, leaving a small amount of the grey showing in the recesses.

Eyes at this stage are painted with Tamiya Acrylic Mini X-27 Clear Red which gives them a nice gem like feel, paint this over a white basecoat, and focus the clear red towards the top right, finish with a white dot here too.

Step Nine: Sealing & Transfers

Assuming the bases are finished the model now gets any transfers followed by a coat of GW Purity Seal. Once the first seal is dry I apply Mig Pigment 025 Standard Rust over the base and lower legs. Be careful with this stuff, it gets EVERYWHERE! Apply a little more than you think you will need because the final seal with knock the colour back a bit. Then the final seal is using Testors Dullcote making sure to cover the pigment powder.

Step Ten: Battle Damage

The battle damage is just Mithril Silver applied along edges and area where armour will wear. The trick is to apply in stops and starts so as to create a chipped effect.

Then You’re Done!


 A Final Note On Basing:

A quick run through of the basing scheme:

  • Bestial Brown
  • 50/50 Mix Bestial Brown & Mecharius Orange Drybrush
  • Mecharius Orange Drybrush
  • Light Vomit Brown Drybrush
  • Very Light Bleached Bone Drybrush
  • Paint any big stones with Charadon Granite, then highlight with Adeptus Battlegrey
  • Liberal dusting with the pigment powder
  • Black the rims.


By day a mild mannered Web Designer from Swindon, by night a horder and shaper of bits in his mad kit bash laboratory.

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