Painting Horus the Warmaster

Painting Horus, the Warmaster himself, might sound like a daunting task.  Fear not, this article has got you covered every step of the way!

One cool thing about this Horus is that with all the symbols and details in his armor, you can paint him in pretty much any scheme you’d like.  Luna Wolves White, Sons of Horus Grey, Justaerin Black, Classic McVey Red, they all look awesome.

Ours will be white for 2 very simple reasons

  1. It’s Eric’s favorite scheme
  2. It’s his model.

Painting Horus – How To Primarch Edition

The real secret to most Primarch models is knowing where to keep assembly separated.  Painting Horus is no different, so let’s cover assembly first.



To make good use of the airbrush, leave the base, the cloak and the head separated from the body.

Also, make sure the cloak fits in the back, and the base with the insert as well.  Those are tricky areas and you don’t want to dabble with them once they’re painted.


After priming, time to start with the airbrushing.


Keep the colors neutral for the armor, as you want to wolf pelt sitting on top to contrast with it rather than blend in. Start with a basecoat of Dawnstone. You can then highlight with a mix of Dawnstone and White ( 50/50 ) and add a final highlight of pure white spraying from to top of the model.


Starting with Rhinox Hide in the recesses, basecoat the head with Bugman’s Glow and highlight by adding white to that color.

If you’re into the classic look of Horus with the red glow coming from the armor, now’s a good time to do it.

Spray Khorne Red lightly in the armor where the head is. Then lightly spray the back of the head with it.

Go lightly with thinned down paint to create a red hue on the skin, rather than turn the whole thing red. Finesse my brother!


To do the red cloak, start by airbrushing Rhinox Hide in the deep folds and where the claok will meet the armor as these areas will the the most shaded.

Then base coat the cloak with Mephiston Red, leaving brown in the recesses.

If you have a steady hand, add a highlight with Evil Sunz Scarlet on top.  If you like painting black, I’m pretty sure it would look awesome in black too, contrasting the white armor.


Just like with Horus’ paint scheme, the base is another area where you can go a million different ways.

Because we’re painting Eric’s model, Horus’ base has to match his other Primarchs.  The method is covered in this dollar e-book that you can get on Kindle.


The bulk of the work is done, now it’s time to bring everything to life.

The Wolf Pelt

Step one is to google pictures of wolves, or take your hipster girlfriend’s wolves-howling-at-the-moon sweather as reference.

This sounds lame, but a wolf looks a lot like a dog, or a fox, or some random furry canine without a few disctinctive colors placement.

The brown spot between the eyes, black nose, black ears and the grey crest, I feel are the areas that make the most wolfy features.

Sadly, I don’t have pictures of this process as I started over a couple of times before being smart and using a reference. The final method looked something like this:

Basecoat with Dawnstone,

Overbrush/drybrush with Celestra Grey and white in the relevant areas.

Wash with thinned down Adeptus Battlegrey and thinned down black the relevant areas

Wash the pelt with thinned down Dark Reaper, specialy where thepelt mets the armor.

You want to make these wash too thin and do more coats with them rather than one too thick and start over.

Lastly, paint the eyes and the nose black.

The cloak

I would have no problem leaving the cloak as is with only the airbrush steps done to it, but since this is Horus, we’ll add some depth to it.

Start with highlighting again with Evl Sunz Scarlet Red, focus on some area where the airbrush might’ve missed.

Basecoat the detail in the claok (the line and the Eye) with Celstra Grey

Then, wash the cloak with thinned down Rhinox Hide.

This takes a while, as you need 5-6-7 coats to get right and you need them to dry completely between each coat, so feel free to start working on another step in between.

Start each coat closer the the fold, so you cover less area as you go along.

These washes also provided our line and Eye of Horus with a crisp outline of brown. Clean up the details with celestra grey and highlight them white.

Touchup the cloak with Evil Sunz Scarlet once more in areas where you want to cloak to pop.


The work on the face is pretty straightforward, airbrush takes care of most of it.

Mix Bugman’s Glow with white and highlight the cheekbones, nose, chin and lower lip.

Wash with thinned down Rhinox Hide.

Mastering the thinned down Rhinox Hide is an art by itself, but it unlocks so many doors.


Since I had no idea on what colors should go where while painting Horus, I started out by blocking in all the base coats and see how that would look.

I do this on most of the stuff I paint when there’s no specific scheme to follow.

By blocking out a color, I mean the base coat to something and leave the shading/highlighting for later.

So Mephiston Red for all the ‘Eyes’ and the lenses.  Black for the trims and the armor joints. Leadbelcher for the silver, and Runelord Brass for the Gold.

I want to keep gold to a minimum as gold over white requires a lot of work and deep shading to look good.

The model looks kinda weird with only these flat colors.

But you can tell if your choice of color is off and fix it before having spend all that time working on the wrong color.  So now is a perfect time to switch things around if they don’t look right to you.

Once you blocked out everything and it’s to your liking, you can move forward to shading and highlighting.


Mix black with Karak Stone or Screaming Skull and highlight.  Focus mostly on the rivets and raised edges.

Don’t use grey to shade black, it always looks wrong, because it ends up looking grey, not black.


Pretty much how we did the cloak.

If you want more of a gem-like effect, you can add a touch of Orange after your highlight.


Start with highlighting Leadbelcher with Runefang Steel. Then wash with Nuln Oil. You can then re-highlight with runefang or shade some more with thinned down black paint.

The additional black shading goes a long way when your silver is right next to the white armor.


Shade with Agrax Earthshade and shade some more with thinned down black paint if you want a darker look and a crisp outline next to the white armor. Once that’s done, highlight with Runefang steel.

Glue everything together, you are the proud owner of a pimp-tastic Horus, Primarch of the Luna Wolves, First Among Equals, and Holder of a bunch of other titles no doubt.

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