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Many painters struggle to acchieve good results when painting red, especially over a dark or black basecoat. In this tutorial I share some great, time-saving tips and my favourite recipes for various shades of red.

Painting bright red over a black basecoat

You need: GW Macharius Solar Orange, GW Blood Red, Vallejo Game Colour Red Ink.

When you want to apply a bright red like GW Blood Red over a black basecoat, you probably would start with laying down a medium red like Mechrite Red or even a medium brown. Then you would work up layer after layer of Blood Red until you get the even coverage. As Mechrite Red is still pretty dark and dull, this will take you at least 3 or 4 coats of Blood Red, and then you need a solid coat of Mechrite Red before as well!

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Now try this method I used with great success on my Eldar of Saim-Hann: Layer down an undercoat of Macharius Solar Orange – it covers well, you only need two thinned coats. Now take your Blood Red, but instead of water to thin the paint, use VGC Red Ink. Vallejo Inks are great as they dry matte. Adding Ink instead of water adds vibrancy and glaze like abilities while still making the paint thinner and flowing more evenly from your brush. You will find that one or two coats of this mix are sufficient for a great, vibrant red. This cuts down the work to only 3 to 4 layers!

The Army Painter Color Primers

I’m very fond of the coloured primers of the Army Painter. When you base your colour scheme around them, you can save lots of time! There are currently two shades of red: Pure Red matches GW Blood Red very well, Dragon Red I haven’t tried yet but I heard its more like Red Gore or like a more vibrant Scab Red. I use the Pure Red primer on most of my Eldar models. Just make sure you use the cans differently than you’re used to from your GW cans. Shake them for one minute minimum, then come more closely to the models (15 cm/6 inches) and use long, sweeping moves with the trigger pushed down instead of short bursts. One information though: I faced frosting (greyish-white staining) with multiple spray varnishes when applying the varnish on a bare coat of Pure Red primer. I apply a thin coat of Blood Red quickly all over to prevent this. I tried various other colours from the Army Painter primer range and this was the only one which had this problem.

Paint Recipes

Bright and striking Red

You need: GW Dark Flesh, GW Blood Red, GW Blazing Orange, VGC Filthy Brown/GW Vomit Brown.

This is a bright and striking red I used for the armour of my Saim-Hann Eldar. Start with a solid basecoat of Blood Red. For shading, I used a reddish dark brown, GW Dark Flesh, slightly thinned down painted directly in the recesses. Then appliedGW Blazing Orange on the edges and finally an extreme highlight GW Vomit Brown, which makes the armour very striking. Using a bright, reddish brown/cream as a final highlight is a great way to avoid making the red looking too orange.

Medium Red

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You need: GW Mechrite Red, GW Badab Black, GW Blood Red and GW Blazing Orange.

This is a medium red that is easy to paint because it relies on the well covering Mechrite Red. Put down your basecoat and then wash it with Badab Black. Take out your Mechrite Red again and apply a layer while leaving the recesses dark. Highlight with Blood Red and then Blazing Orange.

Muted dark Red

You need: GW Scab Red, VGC Black Ink, GW Mechrite Red and Formula P3 Khardic Flesh.

This is a dark, slighty washed out red that doesn’t steal the attention from the rest of the model. Apply a basecoat of Scab Red. Paint VGC Black Ink (you can also use thinned Chaos Black) directly in the recesses. Highlight with Mechrite Red and then with P3 Khardic Flesh. Using a salmon like colour for highlighting red is great when you don’t want to add an orange hue but want to avoid that pinkish look, too. You can also use Dwarf Flesh for this, but P3 Khardic Flesh is more reddish and less yellowish.

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