This is a tutorial explaining how to paint the classic Tau Sept scheme using the latest Games Workshop paints. The model above was painted in 18 steps. I break each step down with a high resolution picture and detailed instructions. Read the full tutorial after the jump.

I’ve designed this tutorial so established painters find it interesting but also so new comers to the hobby can learn some basic and advanced techniques. I will use terms such as glazing and washing, don’t worry if you don’t know what these mean because I will elaborate and explain during that step.

Paints you will need for this tutorial:

Black Undercoat spray (I use Vallejo Surface Primer)

Rhinox Hide (base)

Gorthor Brown (layer)

Baneblade Brown (layer)

Agrax Earthshade (shade)

Tau Light Ochre (layer)

Skrag Brown (layer)

Zemesi Desert (layer)

Screaming Skull (layer)

The Fang (base)

Russ Grey (layer)

Mephiston Red (base)

Jokaero Orange (base)

Flash Gitz Yellow (layer)

Ceramite White (base)

Eshin Grey (layer)

Dawnstone (layer)

Auric Armour Gold (layer)

Steel Legion Drab (base)

Armageddon Dust (texture)

In case you need to expand your paint collection, head over to Wayland Games or Slave to Painting, which both stock a huge selection of paints at competitive prices.

We jump straight into the tutorial with an assembled Fire Warrior who has been undercoated black. 

1. First step is to paint the trousers, sleeves, gloves and balaclava under the helmet faceplate with Rhinox Hide. This is a base paint so goes on with one coat with no need to water down.

2. Now we need to paint the highlights onto the previous layer. We do this by painting Gorthor Brown onto all the raised areas of the cloth leaving Rhinox Hide in the recesses.

3. Highlight the previous stage further using Baneblade Brown.

4. The highlights are a little too bright for military cloth which should be a bit duller and not shiny at all.  use Agrax Earthshade to wash over all the cloth areas. This is tone down the colour by tinting it brown. It also helps blend the colours a little.

5. Paint all the armour and the weapon’s body with Tau Light Ochre. This is a layer paint so has less pigment in it then a base paint. So you will need to paint three thin coats to achieve an even smooth coat. Do not paint on one thick coat it will cover detail and look lumpy. Each of the three coats should be watered down slightly to keep it smooth. Wait for each coat to be dry before painting the next coat.

6. We’re going to use Skrag Brown in two different ways for this step. Firstly line all the armour joints by painting slightly watered down Skrag Brown into all the lines between the armour. If you accidentally miss, you can usually wipe off a stray brush stroke with a finger if you’re quick.  Secondly you need to use Lahmian Medium to to turn Skrag Brown into a Glaze. The ratio should be 4 parts Lahmian Medium to 1 part Skrag Brown. Use this glaze mix to shade the flat armour plates. If you look at the close up you’ll see I’ve shaded the upper parts of the armour panels. 

7. Use 1 part Lahmian Medium to 1 part Zamesi Desert mix to highlight the lower quarter of the panels and the top of the helmet.

8. Paint all the upper edges with Screaming Skull. Edge highlighting is easiest when you use the side of the brush on an edge held at a 45º angle. Sometimes this isn’t possible because you’re trying to add a highlight to an armour gap edge in the middle of the shoulder, these tricky ones need to be painted with a steady hand. My advice is brace your wrists on your desk and use watered down paint. Thinned paint flows off the brush easier and means you don’t drag your bristles.

9. Tau skin should be painted with The Fang. One coat straight from the pot is fine.

10. Highlight the skin with Russ Grey. A few horizontal lines to represent creases work perfectly. 

11. OSL is an acronym for Object Source Lighting. It is a term used by painters to describe glow effects. Most people over do source lighting and it doesn’t look realistic for the simple fact the model has been painted and highlighted in a way to suggest daylight. If you’ve ever shined a flashlight onto something in daylight you’ll know that the torch doesn’t light up the area at all. So in my opinion OSL only works if the model has been painted in a low light conditions scheme. So for OSL to be convincing on a daylight model like above it need to be subtle and minimal. Start by painting the eye lenses and the weapons lenses with Mephiston Red. Then mix 3 parts Lahmian Medium to 1 part Mephiston Red and glaze the surrounding area around the lenses. Keep it minimal, don’t over do it. It should look lighter then the actual lens.

12. Paint the lenses completely with Jokaero Orange. 

13. Paint a dot of Flash Gitz Yellow within the Jokaero Orange leaving some Jokaero Orange showing on the edges. 

14. Dot the centre of the lenses with Ceramite White. While you have the white out we can paint the Sept Markings. Use the GW website, White Dwarf or the Codex for guides on painting the markings. use watered down paint and outline the shape with lines before filling it. Don’t be afraid to tidy up with some Tau Light Ochre to sharpen the edges. You will also need to paint White on the Tau symbol on the shoulder pad.

15. Paint some vertical lines of Eshin Grey onto the hooves. Mix 1 part Eshin Grey with 1 part Lahmian Medium and then use this mix to highlight the black gun areas. Lahmian Medium is used to soften and thin the paint in this regard helping to blend the grey into the black. 

16. Use Dawnstone to paint vertical lines on the hooves. Then use the same colour to edge highlight the black areas of the gun.

17. Paint the two semi circles on both sides of the gun with Auric Armour Gold. This might take two or three coats. 

18. Finally, base the model in a way which fits in with your own army or gaming table. I’ve used Steel Legion Drab for the rim, Armageddon Dust for the base top and then drybrushed with Screaming Skull. Drybrushing is a way of picking out raised detail quickly usually with a lighter colour. To dry brush you need load up your brush with paint and then wipe it off the bristles on a tissue until virtually no paint remains on the brush. Then rapidly and repeatedly drag the side of the brush back and forth over the area to be painted.


This extensive tutorial has been quite time consuming to produce. I like to think that the Tale of Painter’s tutorials are not only the easiest to follow but also of the highest quality on the web. We take great pride in our tutorials and get a massive buzz when people contact us with their completed models they’ve painted using the guides found on this blog. Remember, these high quality tutorials are free.

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