Paint Iron Hands Space Marines

Learn how to paint Iron Hands in this easy to follow step by step guide that would make Ferrus Manus proud!

Paint Iron Hands Space Marines

Iron Hands are an iconic chapter of space marines sporting a black armor and, you guessed it, iron hands.  The real challenge in this model is making the black look interesting enough, while still looking black.

The wrong highlights, be it color or intensity, leaves them looking dark grey.  We don’t want that.


“Flesh is weak” is sort of a theme for the Iron Hands, so we are starting this off with the airbrush to get a quick black coat, and some rough highlights.

There are multiple was to avoid our Iron Hands’ armor looking grey.  Because this technique is best for army painting, we will avoid using a mix of colors.  This saves time and helps with consistency if you’re not doing the whole army at once like a savage (or when you add reinforcements to your collection.)

We start on a Matt black base coat.  It’s one of those rare instances where the Matt Black can from army painter is superior to Chaos Black, because we need an even coat we can touch up.

Then we highlight this with Stegadon Scale Green with our airbrush.  This gives us a nice break between full black recesses and the Stegadon Scale Green on the top parts of the armor.  At this stage, the model will be lighter than the final result, don’t panic.

We highlight again, this time with Thunderhawk Blue.  I you are not a fan of bold edge highlights, you can do this stage with Stegadon Scale GReen.  It’s important to add highlights with your brush, as they help define the panels in the armor.  Otherwise, your model will look bland.

Next we add a layer of Nuln Oil across the whole armor.  We want an even layer across everything, not the classic  super-heavy-drown-your-model-in wash.  There is a time and place for this, and it’s not now.

This will tone down the blue in the armor so that it looks black, and add more definition to the panel lines.


The other iconic color for Iron Hands is Silver.  Our strategy for the rank and file is to do pretty much every metallic surface with silver.  We can reserve gold for characters to make them stand out.

Silver is 4 steps, and they make a vibrant color that goes from very dark to very light.

Start with a base coat of Leadbelcher, and highlight with Shinning Silver.  Remember our drown-in-nuln-oil strategy from earlier?  The time and place is now, on the silver.  Once that is dry, add another highlight of shining silver into the edges and corner to make them truly pop.

There’s some debate amongst purists as to which hands are silver depending on rank,  so either go down this rabbit hole of knowledge, or use my rule of thumb for such occasions:  Do whatever you think looks best.


Most of the Iron Hands iconography is white.   But pure white on models is usaully a big no-no.  It rarely looks great, and it pulls all of the attention from other parts of the miniature.

Instead we opt for Celestra Grey.  It’s a very light grey, but very opaque.  This way, we only need one coat to trace our markings.

Next we highlight this with Ulthuan Grey, an off-white.  Again, almost white, but very opaque as well.

The less brushstroke we can do here, the less chance we slip up.


A classic dark brown would look alright here, but instead, we will, as Bob Ross would say, pull a sneaky on it, and paint it light brown to match with the base and the purity seals.

Purity seals are tricky on dark models because you don’t want to draw to much attention on them.  So we will camouflage them with the same color for pouches and the base.

The base’s texture is Astrogranite that we’ll paint over.

We basecoat everything brown with Steel Legion Drab, then highlight with Skeleton Bone.  The seals and holster, this highlight is done with layers and stripes, and a drybrush for the base.

Then we wash this unceremoniously with Agrax Earthshade.  If you want more contrast on the base, you can drybrush Skeleton Bone again once the Agrax is dry.


The last step is perhaps the most important one:  the shiny details.  Because our model is an overall neutral tone, there’s a plethora of colors you can use for this.  We picked purple for this Iron Hands.

The key is to paint every deatil with this:  the lenses, gems, top of the purity seal, and in this case the plasma pistol.

Start with Naggaroth Night for the basecoat and highlight with Genestealer Purple.  To make it pop, we give every detail a thin coat of Volupous Pink contrast.  Becasue we’re only using a thin coat, it won’t turn the entire thing pink.

And we this guide, you are well on your way to paint an Iron Hands army!


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