Quick and Stylish: Paint it Black

Hey guys Cavalier here, commission painter for Frontline Gaming and co-host of the Splintermind Podcast back again this time with a painting tutorial.

So are you looking for a quick and stylish paint scheme for you army? Paint it black. All you need is primer, 2 highlights in key spots on the model and some snazzy splash colors and you’ll be done.

Back towards the tail end of 7th edition I started separating my Eldar collection into 2 different warhosts my Y’nnari Lions of Asuryan in red and gold and my Umbral Watchers in all black. At first it started off with my Rangers but when I took the plunge and converted my counts-as Striking Scorpions/Ghost Walkers I started to fall in love with the all black color scheme.

No shading, no base coating. Just straight primer and highlights. I fell in love. So often I’ve seen all these elaborate tutorials on painting black, but I’m hear to tell you that none of that is necessary to get a good looking army in black.


Lets break it down. So start off by priming your model Chaos Black. Then let me introduce you to a paint that should be a go-to in your arsenal: Eshin Grey. This color is absolutely amazing! Its very close to black, goes on like a dream and is very easy to correct should your highlights get messy.

The final step is just hitting the model with Dawnstone Grey at only the most extreme edges or high profile details and you are done with your highlighting!

So often I see people over do it with highlights on all black armies and whether it be individual units or an entire army, when you look at them the highlights stand out more than the intimidating jet black which should dominate the model.

The key is to only highlight the areas of interest that lend shape to the model. You dont even need to hit Eshin Grey on every edge. Just do it where you feel it needs it and call it a day! Again its important not to over do it with the highlights because the model will end up looking more grey than black and thats the last thing you want.


After that just hit the details with a limited range of accent colors. For my Dark Angels on the other hand its Celestra Grey (another MUST have in your painting aresnal), Ushbatii Bone for the purity seals  and simple Leadbelcher.

As you can see I added a little bit of weathering just by dry brushing a little Leadbelcher on the powerfist to show he’s not just been sittin’ pretty in the Thunderhawk, but smashing stuff like a proper Astartes. Here are some examples where I took the detailing a little further but still maintained the restricted array of splash colors and weathering. This approach is very simple and will get your army on the tabletop very quickly and it’ll look great too.

When all is said and done you can go back and lavish details onto the models at some point down the road. Since my time to paint my own models is so limited with all my commission works, this is the approach I’ve taken with my Dark Angels.

As you can see the approach is very similar on my Umbral Watchers Eldar with the accent color are still predominately Khorne Red and Balthasar Gold.


They key is to keep it minimalist and let the bold color choices do the work for you. Remember you can give a lot of attention to the details but keep those color choices extremely limited because you don’t want the colors on the detailed areas to overwhelm the sleek and stylish black.

So guys I hope you find this article of use. Doing all black army is a great way to get a new army painted up quick and stylish. its also very easy to go back and give some more love to as you develop gem painting techniques, glow effects and weathering techniques. If you have any questions feel free to hit me up in the comments section and I’ll be happy to answer your questions. If you like this content, stay tuned as I’ll be writing weekly here for Frontline Gaming and if you want more check out Splintermind the Dark Eldar Podcast where I co-host and talk all things Eldar!


And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



About Cavalier

Commission Painter for Frontline Gaming + Co-Host of the Splintermind: The Dark Eldar Podcast

16 Responses to “Quick and Stylish: Paint it Black”

  1. Faitherun March 26, 2018 8:27 am #

    Hey Cav,
    Just wanna say been a real treat reading over these. Between your articles here, and chatting on the forum, been able to grow my painting and add to my collection. Seeing as I love a fully painted army (who doesn’t?), but have so little time, these tips and tricks are very helpful.

    • Cavalier March 26, 2018 9:40 am #

      Hey bud thanks so much! Really appreciate you reading the articles my man. Really glad these tips are helping you. I know it seems a daunting process but with just a few secrets you can really crank through an army very quickly. Thanks again man I appreciate it!

  2. gvcolor March 26, 2018 9:24 am #

    Nice hobby piece!

    I would add that for the metallic black look like Iron Hands or 30K Dark Angels, doing the dry brushing of Leadbelcher but then following with a wash of Secret Weapon Soft Black Wash REALLY adds a lot of richness.

    • Cavalier March 26, 2018 9:42 am #

      Thanks man! Yes the dry brushing of Leadbelcher is a great technique. You can even put Nuln Oil over the whole model when its just primed black to dull down that satiny black, then do some Leadbelcher dry brush for a similar effect if you dont have the Secret Weapon Soft Black. Thanks bud glad you enjoyed the article!

  3. Looshkin March 26, 2018 12:20 pm #

    Great article Cav, I’ve also really enjoyed reading these. You know how much I dislike painting black, but I think this article will be the basis of anything I do when I get round to digging out my Death Watch.

    Super article, cheers Cav!

    • Cavalier March 27, 2018 2:55 am #

      Loosh!!!!! Thanks for stopping by man. Seriously high praise, thanks so much brother. Deathwatch??? You’ve been keeping secrets… Sick! Can’t wait to see it. Thanks man!

  4. AngryPanda March 26, 2018 2:57 pm #

    That is just super helpful thank you so much. I’m actually gonna try that classic black and red Sisters look after this.

    • Cavalier March 27, 2018 2:57 am #

      Hell yeah man! Seriously great to hear. Trust me this is such a fast technique. This technique has allowed me to get so much stuff done with what little time I have to paint my own stuff between commission. This technique is PERFECT for Sisters. I’m sure they are gonna look great. Thanks man!

  5. Reecius March 26, 2018 7:19 pm #

    Great pictures, well written and very helpful. Nice article!

    • Cavalier March 27, 2018 2:58 am #

      Super appreciated thanks Reece!

  6. Casey H March 27, 2018 9:46 am #


    Nice article. These high lights are easy on T-armor and the rangers’ lines, but what about a non-clothed, no armor model?

    I am working on jet-black Bloodletters (HQ Blood Masters, actually) and though the high light colors you pointed out do work … I’m unsure *where* to put the highlight lines. So far, it doesn’t look right.

    For example, on top of the bulging muscles? On the under curve, before the deeper recesses between, say the bicep and the arm, before the triceps on the arm’s underside?

    Dry brush the body ‘bumps/warts”?

    Knuckles? Whole ridge lines of taunt tendons and shallow boned (skulls).

    Team BeerHammer

    • Cavalier March 27, 2018 3:43 pm #

      Hey bud thanks for your comment, its a great question. I love the all black bloodletter models and wish I did it for my World Eaters. But yes! the technique works just the same on them. I personally recommend just doing Eshin Grey on the little bumps, but on the knobby party like the knees, elbows hit with a just a bit of Dawnstone on the most prominent points. Also on the long pronounced muscles like the forearms, quads, biceps etc do a good strong eshin highlight with a slender Dawnstone highlight on the middle of the muscle mass.

      Also hit those knuckles with Dawnstone, but leave the warts Eshin. As for the faces, I’d do standard eshin highlights on the most prominent features and Dawnstone just on the chin and cheekbones. Thats my theoretical approach. Just remember less is more especially with the grey highlights. Also remember strong splash colors like yellow or red eyes will carry you.

      If you want to send me some pictures at facebook.com/eldarcorsair I’d be happy to try and walk you through it as best I can. As I want to do the same now that I’ve sat here and typed it out! Please feel free to hit me up, I’m always game to talk painting!

  7. ecstasy_in_service March 27, 2018 4:58 pm #

    Nice simple stuff, I wonder does this work well for doing white in the same way?

    • Cavalier March 28, 2018 9:16 am #

      Thanks man. I wish painting white was as easy. Sadly it does require shading. However you can make your life a lot easier and airbrush your model Celestra Grey, black wash it or (blue wash) and highlight with white. Celestra Grey is one of the best paints GW produces. You can paint it straight over black and get excellent coverage. As a commission painter I go through TONS of the stuff. Its so good

  8. Xorce March 29, 2018 7:41 pm #

    Your eldars are absolutely perfect but I disagree with the color schemes on your angels.
    The moment you put in celestra grey and yellow eyes, the intimidating black is diminished.
    I think the crest and skull should be done with lead belcher washed with nuln oil and the eyes should be in red. The rest of the head should be left in black with your marvelous highlight.

    • Cavalier March 31, 2018 3:31 am #

      Hey thanks Xorce. Real glad you like my Eldar. As for my DA the reason I wanted the yellow eyes is to make them a bit more heroic. I knew I was sacrificing the intimidation factor but like I said I wanted something that read a little bit more noble. Also the red crest is actually the original Dark Angels scheme so I had to keep it! Anyway glad you like my Eldar and thanks for the feedback on my Angels. I’m happy with my decision but painting it your way was something I did consider 🙂

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