Painting Imperial Fists is actually pretty easy. The secret is in the yellow, and this is exactly what this tutorial is all about!
Many painters shy away from Imperial Fists because they are yellow. But painting yellow doesn’t have to be hard. And once you figure that out, the rest is a piece of cake!
Easy Imperial Fists in Blazing Yellow
We’ve covered a very simple method for yellow before if you don’t want to use an airbrush. This tutorial showcases a different technique that does make good use of the airbrush.
The secret with this yellow is in the base coat, which is actually purple. In fact, anything between pink and purple will work. For this model, we started on Screamer Pink, a happy medium between light pink and dark purple.
If we were doing the entire army, starting with a primer of Alien Purple from Army Painter is probably the best option, as it will speed up the process tremendously, without affecting too much the final color.
Next we use one of the classic flaw of yellow to our advantage. Yellow is known for its overall poor coverage, which is what usually makes it a pain to deal with.
But with our airbrush, we get to abuse this poor coverage to easily blend it over the purple and create deep contrast over multiple light coats. We are using Yriel Yellow here, which is bright and not too light.
The goal here is that nothing should be purple when you’re done, but various shades of yellow; darker in the shades, lighter on the raised areas.
Once your purple base coat is barely visible, we can highlight even more, by adding white or bone in our yellow. White produces an even more vibrant final result, bone gives more of a natural look to the yellow. On this model, we used bone.
You can use this color to add edge highlights as well and crisp up the armor plates.
Lastly, we add a light coat of Cassandora Yellow on the armor. This will smooth out the transition between your base coat and highlights and add a hint of orange. You can be more generous with this coat if you like the orange shading.
The other main color for Imperial Fists is black. You want to be very careful with this, as touching up the yellow is not an enjoyable process at all. So take extra time with this step.
Our black is kept relatively simple, with a highlight of Dark Reaper, and a shade of Nuln Oil. Dark Reaper offers an interesting highlight, without turning the black too much into blue or green. The Nuln Oil is really just to crisp up the highlighting and make sure the final color is looking like black and not grey-ish.
Our Imperial Fists scheme is quite simple, as our goal is to showcase the yellow as much as possible, and keep all other colors dark and muted. This can conflict with some more classic schemes that uses red on details.
You can check out this tutorial’s red if you want to stick to the more old school scheme. But you really don’t need it to produce beautiful marines.
Much like the black, the silver is kept relatively straightforward and dark, starting on a base coat of Leadbelcher. Highlight some areas with Shininng Silver before giving all your metallics a generous coat of Nuln Oil.
Because of our focus on the yellow, try avoiding gold for metallics. If you want more bling that all silver for your characters, use bronze instead.
Pouches and belts could be kept black and still look good. But there is such a thing as too simple, so we are instead option for a dark brown. This is keep the model’s details interesting, without clashing too much with the limited palette.
Rhinox Hide as a base coat, highlighted with Gorthor Brown. This is also shades with Nuln Oil, which helps bring all the accent colors together, and darken the brown.
Lenses and Plasma
We use Screamer Pink to paint the lenses and the plasma gun’s reactor. Next, to get the glowy look, we add more and more white to it, focussing on the deepest parts rather than the traditional highlights.
Lastly, we glaze over with thinned down Volupus Pink to tint the white a little bit and blend the colors together.
Lenses and the plasma reactor were painted to match the base color under the yellow. If you start on a pink, I would paint these pink. If you start on Alien Purple, paint these purple instead.
This method keeps the overall look much more cohesive, even on colors that end up looking so different.
Keeping up with our strategy of showcasing the yellow, a darker and muted base will work much better. This one is plain sand, painted in the same browns as the model’s pouches. A mars-colored red, dark green or any grey would also work great here.
While it’s a muted tone, I would avoid sand, as the yellow or beige will take away from the model’s yellow.