Painting the way to battle

How to Choose Your Colour Scheme

What to consider before painting

Probably the most important consideration when choosing to paint a model or army is the colour selection. One of the most important skills to learn to inform this decision is the relationship between colours. If you are just starting out in the hobby you are probably best served copying the paint scheme of others models you like and even for experienced painters seeing others creations can inspire different application of colour. The longer you paint and the more you practice you will naturall get a feel for what works well together which will enable you to design your own unique colour schemes on models with confidence.

As you spend longer with the modelling and painting part of the hobby you may begin to hear of the "colour wheel" which is the Red, Yellow, Blue wheel used by painters, artists and designers - which pretty much covers the creative aspect of painting miniatures!

The following article will look at how to make different colours from the 3 primary colours and colour harmonies - what works well together and why.

Primary, Secondary, Tertiary

One of the key skills of a miniature painter (or any painter!) is knowing how to mix the different colours that are needed. Whilst gaming painting collections contain hundreds of pre-mixed and shaded paints ready for use, the following colour "rules" still apply when mixing intermediate tones and blending colours together. You don't need to be an art academic (I'm not!) to make use of the theories.

Colour Harmonies

Great models look great for a reason - the colours have been carefully selected to work with each other and emphasise different parts of the model. The wheel below shows different types of colour harmony, which if used to help decide your armies colour scheme will ensure the theme harmonises - ultimately making the model look its best.

Monochromatic: Using any tint, tone or shade of just one colour. For a display piece or practicing highlighting, particularly NMM (Non Metallic Metal) a monochromatic look can be good for teaching light and shade and once mastered creates a really dramatic model.

Analogous (or harmonic): Using colours that are adjacent to each other on the colour wheel (e.g Red and Orange). You can combine more colours but they must all be from the same region of the colour wheel. The red and oranges discussed will create an autumnal feel to the model whereas with green and yellow you will end up with a warmer spring feel.

Accented Harmonic: This is the same as Analogous, however with the example we used it would be every colour from Red to Orange with blue taken as a complementary spot colour to add interest to the model.

Complementary: Two colours directly opposite each other. in this example Yellow and Purple. This is a great way to create a really striking look for your model and its due to the complementary colour containing none of the opposite (in the above example there is no yellow in purple).

Split-Complementary: using any colour each side of the complementary colour. In this example blue-purple and red-purple.

Triad: Using 3 equally spaced colours (blue, red and yellow in this example). This is probably the most common colour scheme choice for miniature painting.

Thinking of the example above, Ultramarines are a great example of a Triad colour scheme with yellow and red acting as spot colours for the blue armour.

Tetrad: A combination of four colours on the colour wheel that are two sets of complements. (orange, red, blue and green in the example wheel above).

Discord: Is the combination of a light tone with a dark tone of its complementary colour which provides a really vivid contrast. This method often works best with the warmer colour used as the lighter tone.

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