New Codex New Paint Jobs: Revamping my Dark Eldar Pt. 1

Hey guys Cavalier commission painter for Frontline Gaming and Cohost of Splintermind the Dark Eldar Podcast. Today’s I’ll be discussing my highly motivated re-vamp of my Dark Eldar (Drukhari) army.

So to begin with just a little bit of background on my army. Since the end of 5th edition  I’ve been developing a Corsair themed army drawing from every faction in the overall Aeldari family. Craftworld, Corsair, Drukhari and Harelquin all are represented in my army. It was the revamped model range of Dark Eldar that inspired me to make such a heavily kitbashed army in the first place. Yet as 6th and 7th wore on the Dark Eldar were pushed further and further into the recesses of my hobby hutch, seldom getting any time on the tabletop. Yet when 8th dropped, they became far more attractive with the Index alone. Now that their codex has been unveiled I’m in love all over again.

Corsair “Wyches”

Corsair “Incubi”

Corsair “Fire Dragons”

Lore Inspired Painting:

From a lore perspective my Corsair warband known as the Lions of Asuryan are led by Corsair Prince I’llyarion, a former Autarch of Craftworld Y’lduin. He was exiled from his Craftworld after after leading his warhost to aid a besieged Exodite world that lay in the path of Abaddon’s 13th Black Crusade against the commands of his Farseers. In an unprecedented move, his entire Warhost and several shrines of Aspect Warriors followed him into exile.

With a large warhost at his command, Prince I’llyarion quickly ascended to the elite upper echelons of Eldar outcasts even carving out a realm for himself in the webway. His warhost would expand greatly as the years went by, fueled by victory and a vision of restoring the ancient Aeldari empire the Lions of Asuryan drew many followers from the Drukhari Kabals, Craftworld outcasts, rival Corsair warhosts and even Harlequin masques.

When the Y’nnari rose to prominence, the Lions of Asuryan answered the call of Y’vraine as the shared vision of restoring the ancient Aeldari empire made them natural allies.

Lore Inspired Play

So as you can probably tell I’m definitely a lore driven player. From a tabletop perspective I try to draw units that match the theme of a realspace raiding force, with everything mechanized, on jetbikes or equipped with jump packs.

So to represent that on the tabletop I’ve gone hard in the direction of “speed kills” theme with a focus on Saim-Hann, the Flayed Skull and the Red Grief. Whats awesome about that is that they are all red themed armies. Even the Y’nnari are red, so as someone who definitely cares about representing the background of the game on the tabletop thats something I’m really happy about.

As a sidenote- One of the fun things about 8th edition for me is painting up detachments in different colors if I want to take advantage of different Craftworld Traits or Obsessions. The example being my Umbral Watchers who are Alaitoc themed.

New Codex, New Paint Jobs

While 90% of my collection is fully painted, if there is one area of my collection that desperately needs an upgrade in terms of paint its my Drukhari and a new Codex is always the perfect inspiration to remedy that situation.

Last week I wrote an article on the value of Kabalite Warriors mounted in Venoms as the core of an Aeldari army. So with renewed inspiration to get my Warriors involved in games I decided to paint up some fresh Kabalite Warriors to get me up to Battalion strength. Step one is painting up some fresh unpainted Warriors I had in my bits box and eventually repainting my now very dated looking paint jobs on the Warriors I first bought when the Drukhari were reborn in 5th edition.

So to begin with lets talk primer and base coat. For these models I started off with Chaos Black primer, followed by Mephiston Red spray primer. For years I used Khorne Red primer until it was sadly discontinued (WHY?). Yet to my surprise I discovered that a heavy Nuln Oil and Carroburgh Crimson wash over Mephiston Red spray primer on infantry models knocks the brighter Mephiston Red back down to Khorne Red instantly. After you apply the wash you can paint Khorne Red right out of the pot onto the models and its a perfect match.

I could easily just airbrush Khorne Red onto the models and with vehicles, monsters and larger models I will every time. Yet when it comes to infantry I need to do in large batches, if I can just blast them with a little primer and then get to work with my brushes that is always my preference.

So here is how the models look after Chaos Black Primer and Mephiston spray and a Nuln Oil + Carroburgh Crimson Wash.

As you can see I avoided applying a wash to the areas of the model which will not be red, but other than that I apply that wash fast and heavy to get a really dark look in the recesses.

After that I pick out the major non-red areas of the model painting them up with Retributor Gold and Ushabti Bone. A quick note on both of these colors: they are amazing! Retributor Gold is by far one of the most amazing paints in the entire GW line. Gold used to be one of the nightmare colors to try and implement across an entire army. You can effortlessly do massive areas of gold by brush with Retributor over even pure black primer and with two layers should have a totally opaque base coat over just about anything. Ushabti Bone while not quite as amazing is very, very solid. Normally with the whites I put down a coat of Celestra Grey just to get those whites to go on with minimal layering, but Ushabti Bone is up to the task all on its own. So I painted both of those straight on to the red no worries!

I do these important secondary colors before I clean up the wash on the red areas of the model simply because there is good chance with all the brush work for mistakes and to get gold or bone onto the red. If I was to clean up the red before I started doing these secondary colors, not only would I have to repaint the red, but I’d also have to re-apply the wash potentially getting Nuln Oil on the gold or bone which is the last thing I want. So I do all the dirty work first before I clean everything up.

Speaking of which you may have noticed that I applied washes to both the gold and bone. For the gold I ALWAYS use Reikland Fleshwash. There is a slighly reddish tinge to this brown wash that makes for a “Disney” like glowing treasure look that I just love. For the bone on the tabbard I went with a Agrax Earthshade to give a more weathered dirty look. I gave both of these areas a heavy wash for reasons I’ll explain in the next step.

The next step is to clean up the red areas of the model. For this I apply Khorne Red right out of the pot. As you can see its a natural fit and requires no blending even though I used Mephiston to base coat the model. I really let those dirty areas of the model where the wash is really heavy just sit there. I treat this stage as almost my first highlights. This gives my somewhat clean, classic GW style of painting just a tad bit of grit and weathering. While its a little hard to pick up in the photo I did the same process on the gold and bone. Using Retributor and Ushabati to highlight the heavily washed areas.

Next up is the real highlighting. For highlights on the red I go for Mephiston, to Evil Sunz Scarlet and then… my secret weapon Cadian Fleshtone! Yes I know it sounds weird but you can actually use Cadian Fleshtone to highlight red and it looks amazing. It tricks the eye into reading it a sort of sherbet orange type color when in reality jumps its a very neutral color. Yet it all combines to give some sharp definition to detailed areas with minimal application of that final highlight.

Next up is the fun part. Details! For this I hit the “poison vein” in the Splinter Rifle with Stegadon Scale with a Coeila Greenshade wash. I then highlight with Kabalite and Sybarite Green with just a tiny dot of white on either end to give a “glassy” appearance. They typically dont do this in the ‘Eavy Metal but I like the way it looks.

I then use Steagon Scale for the eyes highlighted with Sotek Green and then Temple Guard blue. I really like using Stegadon Scale as the base for both the “poison vein” and the eyes as it ties the colors together just a bit better than going with a more sky blue type colors.

I also picked out all the spikes with gold, painted the chain leadbelcher hit it with an Agrax wash. After that I painted the rim of the base black add a little green flock and called it a day!

Here is the results applied across an entire squad. This really took me very little time, most of which was done while I waited for my next commission to arrive!


So I hope you guys learned a couple of time saving tips and maybe gained some inspiration to revamp some dated areas of your collection. If you have any questions feel free to hit me up in the comments below. If you are interested in more Aeldari exclusive tactica, reviews, Black Library author interviews and a healthy amount of painting and hobby advice check out Splintermind the Dark Eldar podcast, where myself, Brian and Thor break it down for you. Thanks for reading and let me know your own thoughts and opinions down below. I’m always fascinated to see what other Aeldari players are up to!

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 “New Codex New Paint Jobs: Revamping my Dark Eldar Pt. 1”

  1. Avatar
    Ujayim April 20, 2018 4:10 am #

    Looks great, man.

    Keep it up!

    • Avatar
      Cavalier April 20, 2018 10:01 am #

      Thanks man! Glad you liked the models. Much appreciated!

  2. Avatar
    beau April 20, 2018 6:00 am #

    That counts as Yvraine is fantastic, any more pics of her? I often think people paint their Eldar faces with derp expressions, but yours have a lot of character!

    • Avatar
      Cavalier April 20, 2018 10:07 am #

      Hey Beau thanks man really glad you like her. I made a post for you on my 40k FB page where you can check out some highlights, hope you enjoy! Its the post right below the pinned post 😀

      • Avatar
        Sven December 18, 2020 10:15 am #

        Hey Cavalier,

        awesome guide. I really like the red and gold. I want to paint my eldar in your colour sheme. Only difference being that i will dragon red from army painter.

        One thing i want to know is, how you did your bases. Im an absolute beginner in the hobbie and im searching for an quick and easy solution.

        Can you tell what you did to achieve your bases.

        Im looking forward to hearing from you.


    • Avatar
      WestRider April 20, 2018 11:42 am #

      Lots of points off on the counts as for not having a cat, tho :3

      • Avatar
        Cavalier April 20, 2018 11:53 am #

        I know its TOTAL blasphemy. I’m gonna get Triumvirate set soon just to get the cat (and pin my count as Y’vraine to the big base) have a helmed version of the Visarch (which will be kitbashed with Deepkin helmet I’m thinking) and a pretty cool spin on the Y’ncarne to make her look more ghostly. Good call by you

  3. Avatar
    WestRider April 20, 2018 11:46 am #

    My go-to for gold is actually a very light purple wash. Not enough that it really reads as purple, but just enough that it triggers the chromatic opposite effect (since gold is basically a metallic yellow), making the gold pop even more from the contrast.

    • Avatar
      Cavalier April 20, 2018 11:54 am #

      Hmmmmm. I’ll need to try that! I’ve done a little bit of Carroburgh Crimson Wash and even Bloodletter Glaze and thats looked cool. I gotta try that though… I’m ALWAYS working with golds so I’m down to try anything to spice it up. Thanks for the tip and all your great feedback on my articles, I truly appreciate it!

      • Avatar
        WestRider April 21, 2018 8:00 am #

        Thinking about it more, it might not work as well here, with red as the dominant colour. The Shade you have on these complements that really well. But yeah, give it a try on some other project, I was really impressed by the effect when I first saw it.

        • Avatar
          Cavalier April 21, 2018 3:58 pm #

          Ok Westrider. I’ll bear that in mind… I’m working on some Vampire Counts/Flesh Eaters on commission next. Might be the right time to try it there!

  4. Reecius
    Reecius April 20, 2018 1:34 pm #

    That’s a sylvaneth head swap on your Autarch, right? So stealing that! Looks awesome.

    • Avatar
      Cavalier April 20, 2018 7:35 pm #

      Yes it is! Good eye. Yeah I had to make my guy look like an 80’s anime badass. Its a fairly easy swap and it’ll look good on the Autarch, Archon or Visarch model (and you can use it for all 3). Thanks Reece

      • Reecius
        Reecius April 21, 2018 7:24 am #

        Yeah, I did head swaps on a lot if my Eldar too with fantasy models. Looks great!

  5. Avatar
    Stimjam April 21, 2018 5:26 am #

    How did you achieve that effect on your swords?

    • Avatar
      Cavalier April 21, 2018 9:42 am #

      Hey bud. Yeah I just painted them white… then I used Lahmian Medium to water down Celestra Grey and make little chevrons like you see. Let that dry then do a super light Fenris Grey watered down with Lahmian medium as the darkest color inside that Celestra Grey. Its a delicate process but simple at the same time. I’d recommend trying it out a random model first just to get the consistency right, but I’m real happy with how it came out. Thanks!

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