How to Paint Tau

Unleash the firepower of the greater good in style!  Here’s how to paint Tau fire warriors for your army.

How to Paint Tau

The Tau sept is perhaps the most iconic color scheme for your Tau army.  It is most assuredly the OG of schemes, and therefore, my favorite.

It is definitely a unique color palette, guaranteed to make your army stand out from all other factions.

As with most of these how-to guides, this scheme is design with army painting in mind, so easy to replicate on multiple models, fast and efficient.

Ochre Armor

The Tau armor is the most iconic color, as it is in no other faction in 40k. Ochre as it’s known is a mix of brown, beige and orange.  It’s worth noting that because of this, you can alter the color to your liking, from more orange to more sand.

Our technique is simple, and gives a vibrant look without turning our Tau orange.

Start with a base coat of Fur Brown or Doombull Brown.  I prefer the look of Doombull Brown, but Fur Brown comes in a shaker can, which makes it a strong contender if you’re painting your whole army.

Next, we highlight with Tau Ochre Light, leaving some of the brown in the shadowed parts of the model.  Next we highlight even further with a light coat of Skeleton Bone.  You can skip this highlight if you want a darker tone for the armor, or pick a color with more yellow if you want a more vibrant look.

Another optional stage, but one I’m quite fond of, is adding battle damage.  Using the same brown as the base coat, sponge it on some of the armor plate’s edges.  Less is more when it comes to battle damage.

Last, shade the armor with Reikland Fleshshade.  This will bring some of that vibrant color back to our Tau.


We use black for some of the Tau iconography, part of the guns and the hooves on our guys.  If you are doing crisis suits, you can do the exo-skeleton parts in black.

Start with a base coat of your favorite black, and highlight it with Dark Reaper.    You can always come back with a shade of Nuln Oil if you are too heavy handed with the highlight.

Purists may argue that the official armor details are actually dark brown.  I argue that it looks better in black.  If you really want to have these details brown for maximum lore accuracy, switch it to the brown from the cloth below and paint said clothing in this black method.


Start with a base coat of Rhinox Hide, then we will use our reddish brown from the armor to highlight.  This will give our army a cohesive color palette, as we end up using the same colors for different purposes.

Finish by shading the cloth with a generous layer of Nuln Oil.


For the skin, start with a base coat of Dark Reaper, that we will highlight with Lothern Blue.  Next we shade with a light coat of Drakenof Nightshade.

There are multiple other ways to do Tau skin, ranging from downright grey to colorful blue.  The method in this article are on the blue side, but you can check the Vior’la or the Farsight Enclave articles for different shades for how to paint tau skin.


Bases with this scheme can be pretty versatile.  The one we use for this model is grey rocks with snow, and I thing most muted colors will work great.  I would steer away from brown, because it’s already a dominant color on the model.

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