Single Highlight Death Guard: Quick and Dirty

Hey guys Cavalier here, commission painter for Frontline Gaming and co-host of Splintermind the Dark Eldar podcast here today with a painting tutorial on painting your Death Guard quick and easy!

So I’ve painted Mortarion three or four times, yet never any proper Plague Marines. Luckily I got the chance to paint some for my most recent commission but only to a Tabletop Standard which means a single highlight. I actually find this quite challenging because finding a highlights that doesn’t look either wildly bright, or far too subtle can be a real challenge. However I’ve got a technique that works perfectly with Death Guard. So if you like the miniatures pictured above I’ll show you how to achieve that look with only a single highlight!

So for my example I’ll take you through how I painted the Champion step by step. To begin with I primed him Death Guard Green over a Chaos Black base.


Next I picked out the metal bits choosing metallics that I knew would look good with the kind of washes I’d be putting over the green bits of armor as well. For this job I went with Balthasar Gold (a real gem in the paint line) and good old Leadbelcher. Quick note I like to black out the base early on, it really helps me get a feel for the color balance on the model.

Next up I picked out the non-metallics using Rakarth Flesh on the horns and bone,  Screamer Pink on the eyes and tongues, and Naggaroth Night on the tabard and cloak. Again these are all colors that I know wont be ruined with the washes I intend on using. This is a real time saver.

I then hit the model with a Nuln Oil wash. I allow it to fully dry and apply an Agrax Earthshade. This really starts to take that bright chalky green back into a more rotten earthy green.

The next step is an awesome trick I picked up from the great StrikingScorpion82. I hit the whole model with Seraphim Sepia. This adds a sheen of yellow on the raised areas of green and brown in the recesses of the armor. While on the metallics it adds a rusty look to the Leadbelcher and a bit of luster back to the Balthasar Gold. I also put a little Carroburgh Crimson on the tongues, this gives a hideous wormy type look which I think is hilarious.

Now comes my secret technique! The base color of the model has drastically been changed by all those washes. A ton of yellow and brown has infused the greens, so I can actually go back and highlight everything with its original color. So Deathguard is highlighting Death Guard, Rakarth highlighting Rakarth, Leadbelcher highlighting Leadbelcher etc.

The only exception to that is the purple which needs a bit more love receiving a Xereus Purple highlight after a little clean-up with Naggaroth Night.

Here is how the technique looks applied to some of the other models and the entire squad.

This also serves as a great foundation for more advanced paint jobs on models that have that grimy gritty look. It allows you to have a lot of depth in the range of color without making the paint scheme too bright.

Anyway I hope you guys liked the tutorial and found it helpful. Being limited by the commission to only a certain number of highlights always pushes me to develop myself, or learn from others, techniques that make for a bold presentation but that fit within the budget of the client. I find these techniques are great time savers that help people who feel that getting an army painted to a good standard is a laborious and insurmountable task. It can feel that way when you are painting in a vacuum without any advice, so I hopefully these articles fill the void for people looking for practical tips. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more. If you have any requests on painting tutorials please hit me up, I’m always happy to help. Thanks!


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

17 Responses to “Single Highlight Death Guard: Quick and Dirty”

  1. Just asking questions June 1, 2018 1:41 am #

    Did you use a black spray paint for the 1st coat and then a death guard green spray paint for the 2nd coat?

    • Cavalier June 1, 2018 7:38 am #

      Yep thats exactly what I did. Some of them need to have an undercoat of primer. But regardless if they need it or not, I always do it as it makes for a richer color

      • Just asking questions June 1, 2018 8:14 am #

        Do you mean that you do that for everything? Even something very bright like Harlequins? Which would presumably be a white spray over a black.

        • Cavalier June 1, 2018 9:49 am #

          Sorry for the confusion. What I meant is, if I’m going to use any of the colored spray, like Mephiston, Incubi Darkness etc. I’ll always do a black undercoat first.

          But if I’m doing models white, I prime it Corax White and thats it. And just a tip on using Corax White, the matching color for it in the GW is Ulthuan Grey. My next painting tutorial is on painting white.

          I’ll also be doing a painting tutorial on Harlequins too as thats my next personal project and on going painting challenge on my podcast (Splintermind) and with our listeners and patreons 🙂

          Great questions btw!

          • Just asking questions June 1, 2018 10:12 am

            Thanks. I have more though.

            Would you also use black under a metallic like leadbelcher or retribution?

            When you do the second coat of spray how much coverage do you do? A light dusting, a full coat (like it was the only coat) or somewhere in between?

        • Cavalier June 2, 2018 3:17 am #

          Oh yeah I ALWAYS do black undercoat before leadbelcher and retributor (which I’ve used a lot of). I tried using white under retributor and didn’t like the results. So black undercoat every time.

          As for coverage, I usually go pretty strong with it. Almost just giving it a second full coat. Its one of those things you kinda have to just eyeball. Retributor goes on light, Deathguard Green goes on a bit heavy. But all in all the GW sprays go on light IMO, much lighter than say Army Painter which at times feels very heavy. So I wouldn’t worry too much. If you’ve got a spare mini laying around give it a try on that first.

          If you’ve got any more questions man fire away, I’m always happy to help!

          • Just asking questions June 2, 2018 2:38 pm

            Thank you for answering all of my questions. It is great to have info on good and quick effects.

            I am going to starting a Stormcast army soon and I am thinking of basing them retributor and then giving them a light dusting of gloss varnish. I hope that this will make the shade flow better into the recesses. Is that something that you would recommend? I assuming that it would have to be light so that subsequent layers of paint aren’t affected.

    • Cavalier June 3, 2018 3:53 am #

      Hey bud I’ve painted a TON of gold in my days. My Eldar are red and gold and I’ve got over 10,000 points fully painted in those colors… and I go through Retributor like its going out of style. If you check some of my old posts you can get some tips in my Dark Eldar painting tutorials…

      But real quick… You dont need to do anything to improve flow on the wash over the Retributor. But here are some crucial tips. Retributor Spray is NOT the same as the Pot. Its way more dull but using it will save you tons of time. However what you gotta do is brush paint a super quick, light coat of Retributor out of the pot after you spray it. It takes 5 seconds to do but makes a world of difference.

      Then just get a nice wash brush (the ones from GW are amazing. totally worth it if you are gonna paint a stormcast army trust me!) and use Reikland Flesh over the whole thing. Dab a bit of Agrax into the really deep recesses and textured bits but dont go crazy. Clean up the raised surfaces with Retributor and edge highlight with Retributor again and just a TOUCH of Liberator Gold. This approach makes a warm glowy gold that I love. Here is an example of a Stormcast commission I did for FLG:

      Hope that helps! Keep firing away if you need more tips 🙂

      • Just asking questions June 3, 2018 8:35 am #

        That is just about perfect. I we thinking of doing red as the secondary colour and that nails it. I think that is all the questions I have for now. Thanks for being so helpful.

  2. Reecius June 1, 2018 8:28 am #

    Looks great, Cavalier! Awesome looking Death Guard.

    • Cavalier June 1, 2018 9:50 am #

      Thanks Reece I really appreciate it. It was a lot of fun and I’m glad the client is likes it too!

  3. WestRider June 1, 2018 5:18 pm #

    Balthasar Gold is so fantastic. It was my first favourite of the new range when they were introduced. Such a great gold.

    This is actually pretty similar to how I usually work when I’m just knocking out rank and file Models. I often don’t even bother with a highlight, tho, just start with somewhat brighter colours than I want and let the washes/glazes do all the work. I’ve also found I generally prefer Army Painter’s ink washes to GW’s shades. I’ve gotten some odd results from the shades (patches coming out white in the deepest parts, splotchyness sometimes, etc.), but the Quickshade inks have always been really consistent for me.

    • Cavalier June 2, 2018 3:19 am #

      Balthasar Gold is AMAZING! Its one of those life-saving paints for a commission painter. Just incredible! Also yeah I know what you are talking about with GW shades. It usually means they just need a good shake-up or a little water added. It is annoying though for sure. I’ve not tried Army Painter stuff though. May give it a whirl at some point though I’m not sure if its stocked locally. Thanks for the advice though, because I’ve got a finnicky pot of Nuln Oil on my hands right now!

      • WestRider June 2, 2018 4:57 pm #

        Specifically, their Strong and Dark Tones are near-perfect matches for the old Devlan Mud and Badab Black, respectively. Those two and the Soft Tone are usually the easiest to find, as well. I had to go online to get the rest of them.

        • Cavalier June 3, 2018 3:54 am #

          Ok cool thanks Westrider. Really appreciate all the feedback and tips. I never talk painting with my gaming buds so I’m kind of in a vacuum! Thanks a lot I will definitely try it!

  4. Skip Tracer November 21, 2018 1:39 pm #

    For the first of the washes(nuln oil and agrax), were they all over like the sepia?

  5. shveyk January 5, 2019 8:27 am #

    How did you make these red lenses for the plague marines and drone? I liked your lens painting and I would like to do the same for my DG!

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