how to paint black tutorial

I get quite a few emails from people asking how to paint black on miniatures. [pullquote_left]Less is more when it comes to black[/pullquote_left] Black is a tough colour to get to grips with. Trying to get it still look black after you have applied the highlights is a problem. This tutorial shows you one way to get a clean, crisp looking black colour. Once you know a good technique you can apply it to weapons, armour or anything you want! The trick is not to go overboard with the highlights or the section you are painting will look grey, rather than black.

Someone once told me less is more when it comes to black, there is only a small difference in shade between each stage so it may be quite hard to see an actual difference in the pictures but look closely and it is there.

There are plenty ways to go about painting black but this is how I paint it. Once you know the simple steps you should easily be able to paint the colour black.


  • Chaos Black
  • Codex Grey
  • Fortress Grey
  • Scorched Brown


  • Detail or Size 00
  • Fine Detail or Size 000

Step I.

how to paint black 1

I want to give this space marine a black melta combi weapon. Fig.1 shows the weapon with its undercoat of chaos black spray. Nothing has been done to it at this stage.

Step II.

how to paint black 2

I take a 70/30 mix of chaos black and codex grey and coat the whole area I want to be black. This sort of reinstates the colour black as the chaos black spray paint is a different shade to the chaos black pot of paint. So if you paint straight off the undercoat it will be harder to blend the layers.

Step III.

how to paint black 3

The next step is to add some subtle nuances. Lets face it a large black area with some highlighting around the edging is pretty boring to look at so next I take some watered down scorched brown and wash the whole are with it. Making sure is collects in the recesses and around any raised details like rivets. You can build this up as much as you like, the more washes you use the dirtier the black will look at the end. Leave to dry before moving on.

Step IV.

how to paint black 4

Once step III has completely dried (watch out for the recesses) make up a mix of 50/50 chaos black and codex grey. This is watered down quite a lot and applied around the edges of the panels and details. Keeping the paint thin should stop any definate lines forming .

Step V.

how to paint black 5

For the next step take pure fortress grey and apply it to the very edge of panels and details to create some definition.

Step VI.

how to paint black finished

All that is left now is to pick out the details in the colours you want. Here I’ve gone for a simple silver and gold metallics with a scab red grip.

Hope you have found this useful.