Saturday, 27 October 2012

How I Paint: Word Bearers

Well, here it is, the first of my little "How I Paint" tutorials; though I use the word 'tutorial' loosely, it's much more of a "This is how I did it", rather than a sit-you-down-and-show-you-how-it's-done  kind of thing.

Word Bearer Chaos Space Marine Warpsmith

I'm also running under the assumption that you either have a copy of "How to Paint Citadel Miniatures" (preferable, and available here or at your local Games Workshop Hobby Centre), or are at least quite familiar with the terms used within this awesome tome of painting. More after the break!

I say that it's preferable to have a copy of the book firstly because it is an exceptional book that taught me a lot, and that's with seventeen years of hobby (two of which as a GW employee) behind me.  The DVD especially is useful for showing you in video format exactly how to do what we'll be doing. Secondly, I will occasionally reference direct pages and images from the book, so having a copy with you will be useful for flicking to it whilst you read.

So, why Word Bearers?

I love Chaos. I love the story behind Chaos, I love the tragedy and emotion, the image and the feel, and moreover, I love to play the bad guy or anti-hero. Word Bearers epitomise these values, as the first legion to fall to Chaos, and ultimately the ones who seeded it's words throughout the rest of the traitor legions, they orchestrated it all.

Word Bearer Chaos Space Marines

...and they're red.

When I worked in Games Workshop Kingston, I had a nickname, Mr. Mechrite, because every damn army I painted seemed to use a lot of Mechrite Red as a primary colour for the force. Interestingly enough, going with the closest equivalent (and the new most-used paint in my collection) this would now earn me the nickname Mr. Khorne, which I quite like.

I'd dabbled with the idea of building and painting them for quite some time, but it was only when Aaron Dembski-Bowden's "The First Heretic" hit the shelves that I finally cast my lot in with the Ruinous Powers and damned my eternal soul to the darkness that lays within the warp. Since then, with the "Word Bearers Trilogy" by Anthony Reynolds, and "Know No Fear" by Dan Abnett, I have worked hard on converting and painting up many units of the religious zealots and their tabletop prowess is slowly rising!

The unit pictured above, as an example, uses parts from the Chaos Space Marines box, the Space Marine Devastator Squad box, the Dark Angels Veterans box, MkIV "Maximus" Armour from Forge World, Phobos Pattern Boltguns from Forge World and parts from the Chaos Space Marines Possessed box. Just so you understand that this has been a labour of love... and healthy hatred for my wallet.

Without further ado, onto the painting!

The Helbrute from Dark Vengeance

Red Power Armour:
Basecoat: Khorne Red - Large Drybrush*
Wash: Carroburg Crimson - Wash Brush
Layer: Khorne Red - Basecoat Brush**
Layer: Wazzdakka Red - Detail Brush
Layer: Squig Orange - Fine Detail Brush***

*I actually drybrush the entire model from head to toe quite heavily with the large drybrush as this basecoats the entire model very quickly and leaves the crevaces nice and dark.
**The first layer is actually pretty much a "neaten up anywhere that has tidemarks from the wash" step.
***An extreme highlight, almost like a highlight of the highlights.

Silver Trimming:
Basecoat: Leadbelcher - Basecoat Brush
Wash: Nuln Oil - Wash Brush
Layer: Ironbreaker - Standard Brush

Bone and Horns:
Basecoat: Rakarth Flesh - Basecoat Brush
Wash: Agrax Earthshade - Wash Brush
Layer: Pallid Wych Flesh - Standard Brush
Layer: White Scar - Fine Detail Brush

Turquoise Details:
Basecoat: Incubi Darkness - Basecoat Brush
Layer: Sotek Green - Standard Brush
Layer: Temple Guard Blue - Standard Brush
Pick out any eye slits in a 50/50 mix of Incubi Darkness and Abaddon Black. Little dot of White Scar to finish the eyes.

Cream Robes:
Basecoat: Steel Legion Drab - Basecoat Brush
Wash: Agrax Earthshade - Wash Brush
Layer: Tallarn Sand - Standard Brush
Layer: Kazak Stone - Detail Brush
This follows the example on page 37 of "How to Paint Citadel Miniatures"

Word Bearer Chosen Champion

Basecoat: Bugmans Glow - Basecoat Brush
Wash: Reikland Fleshshade - Wash Brush
Layer: Cadian Fleshtone - Standard Brush
Layer: Kislev Flesh - Fine Detail Brush
Much the same as page 97 of "How to Paint Citadel Miniatures"

Capes and Tabards:
Basecoat: Caliban Green - Basecoat Brush
Shade: Nuln Oil - Wash Brush
Layer: Warpstone Glow - Detail Brush
Layer: Moot Green - Fine Detail Brush
Both layers are edge highlights as shown on page 35 and 36 of "How to Paint Citadel Miniatures"

Layer: Abaddon Black or White Scar - Fine Detail Brush

Converted Word Bearer Havocs
Parts from Chaos Space Marine Possessed, Space Marine Devastators, Dark Angels Veterans and Warriors of Chaos (horns clipped).

Black Robes:
Basecoat: Abaddon Black - Basecoat Brush
Layer: Dawnstone - Detail Brush
Layer Administratum Grey - Fine Detail Brush
Wash: Nuln Oil - Wash Brush

Word Bearer Cultists

The cultists are painted much in the same way, except the metal is highlighted with Leadbelcher again, rather than Ironbreaker; and they have two additional colours:

Grey Cloth:
Basecoat: Skavenblight Dinge - Basecoat Brush
Wash: Agrax Earthshade - Wash Brush
Layer: Stormvermin Fur - Fine Detail Brush

Basecoat: Dryad Bark - Basecoat Brush
Wash: Agrax Earthshade - Wash Brush
Layer: Gorthor Brown - Fine Detail Brush

The Cultist Champion Pictured also has brassy epaulettes which are painted as below. A few other models across the range use this too.

Basecoat: Brass Scorpion - Basecoat Brush
Wash: Agrax Earthshade - Wash Brush
Layer: Runelord Brass - Fine Detail Brush

Chaos Lord from Dark Vengeance

Warp-Tainted Weapons: 
(As seen on the Warpsmiths Axe and on the Chaos Lord, above, including his cape)

Basecoat: Incubi Darkness - Basecoat Brush
Wash: Coelia Greenshade - Wash Brush
Layer: Sotek Green - Detail Brush
Layer: Temple Guard Blue - Fine Detail Brush
Layer: Runefang Steel - Fine Detail Brush
The final two layers are extreme highlights, like highlights of a highlight. This means the Runefang Steel is a highlight of a highlights highlight...

Exactly the same as page 95 of "How To Paint Citadel Miniatures"

Daemonforge and Soulforge on Weapons and Neck:
As seen in White Dwarf (October '12)

Word Bearer Symbol Fire:
Basecoat: Averland Sunset - Standard Brush
Layer: Firedragon Bright - Detail Brush
Layer: Troll Slayer Orange - Detail Brush
Layer: Squig Orange - Fine Detail Brush
Glaze: Lamenters Yellow - Wash Brush
The fire starts by painting the flames, then working inwards leaving the previous layer showing towards the top of the flame.

Sand, painted with slightly thinned Incubi Darkness, then drybrushed Sotek Green, before a light drybrush of Templeguard Blue.

I think that just about covers it all! If you have any questions or comments, you can EMail me at: 
bkelly dot cs at gmail dot com
Or you can hit me up on Twitter: @BKellyCS
Or leave comments below and I'll try and get back to you!


  1. As someone going to play Word Bearers for much the same reasons you have (the fiction), and as someone coming from a long sabbatical of the hobby (what? new paint colours?), please let me thankyou for this interesting read! Your models are exceptional, and it's interesting to read how you got the red just right. Thanks heaps.

  2. Amazing guide,thanks a lot. I'm just starting the collection/playing side, will be referring to this guide a lot in the near future