How to Paint Everything: Craftworld Saim-Hann

In our How to Paint Everything series, we take a look at different armies of the Warhammer universe, examine their history and heraldry, and look at several different methods for painting them. Today we take a look at the Craftworld Saim-Hann. If you think “red ones go fasta” but want something more refined than filthy greenskins, then read on to learn how to paint the Wilder Riders of the Aeldari!

Saim-Hann Credit: Games Workshop
Saim-Hann Credit: Games Workshop

Known as the Wild Host, the Aeldari of Craftworld Saim-Hann are among the most impetuous and unpredictable of the Asuryani, with a strong predilection for jetbikes and going fast. Among the first Craftworlds to abandon what would become the Eye of Terror before the Fall, they seem more care-free than many of their brethren, unburdened from the rage that consumes Biel-Tan and far less concerned with the fate of the galaxy than the seers of Ulthwe.

The culture of Saim-Hann is one of distinct clans that vie for status in a ritualistic warrior culture, with most disputes settled from the saddle of a jetbike rather than through discourse. Often seen by fellow Craftworlds as the most savage and barbaric of their kin, they are nonetheless bound by strong traditions of honor and kinship and will often ally with other Craftworlds as well as Exodites and Harlequins.

Saim-Hann Credit: Games Workshop
Saim-Hann Credit: Games Workshop

Like most of the Asuryani, the rise of the Ynnari has created rifts within their society, with some pledging themselves to the newly born God of the Dead while others see Ynnead as a portent of their people’s doom. Already fiercely independent, Saim-Hann have become ever more fractured in a galaxy split by the Cicatrix Maledictum.

Where to Read More

There’s not a ton of Eldar fiction and what does exist isn’t great, but there’s a few nuggets here and there. Gav Thorpe writes most Eldar novels, but he’s a mediocre at best author. The most recent Ynnari novel, Rise of the Ynnari: Wild Rider, features Craftworld Saim-Hann heavily and provides some insights into the various clans and their rivalries and traditions. It’s not a particularly good book but it isn’t terrible.

There’s a short story called First to Hunt that was a tie-in for Deathwatch: Overkill, which focuses on a White Scar Sergeant and features the Aeldari of Saim-Hann. The White Scars aren’t really that different Saim-Hann, they’re both tribal cultures that revolve around bikes, and putting them together in a story is pretty interesting. It’s a quick read so you have little to lose.

Painting Saim-Hann

A Note on Heraldry

The primary colors for Saim-Hann are red and white, as shown on the Guardian above. Additionally, black or white is often used as a secondary color to add stripes and other linear patterns to vehicles or armour, which we’ll see in our examples below. Black stripes can be used as a way to show squad designation for Jetbikes or Vypers for example and add a fun way to break up large areas of red.

Saim-Hann Credit: Games Workshop
Saim-Hann Credit: Games Workshop

Additionally, Saim-Hann still maintain their ancient clan structures and this is represented via tribal markings on armour or vehicles. These are another way to add visual interest to bikes or tanks but they can also be used as a way to tie in your Aspect Warriors. Aspect Warriors all have their own color schemes, independent of the Craftworlds, and so integrating them into your army visually is always an interesting challenge. Adding some white tribal markings to the blue armour of a Dire Avenger will clearly designate them as Saim-Hann and will help them cohere with the rest of the army while maintaining their distinctive colors.

Alfredo’s Usual Method – A Bike Autarch

Saim-Hann Bike Autarch WIP Credit: Alfredo Ramirez
Saim-Hann Bike Autarch WIP Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

What is more iconic Saim-Hann than an Autarch charging into battle on a screaming jetbike? Sadly, this particular loadout is now Legends status so perhaps it’s not that iconic after all. Still, it makes for a fun project to build and paint.

  1. I primed the model in black so I could build up my red as desired. I painted the bike and the rider separately. For one, this allowed me to do a separate red work-up on them and create contrast between the two, and secondly it just makes painting way easier. I took different approaches to the bike and rider. For the bike I painted my mid-tone first, Scale75 Blood Red, and then sprayed shadows and highlight (Deep Red and Aldebaran Red respectively). For the rider I basically took a zenithal approach using the Reaper Gory Red Triad and going from dark to light.
  2. I knew I wanted some striping on the bike so I masked off a big chevron shape with Tamiya Masking Tape and sprayed black, highlighting with VMA Blue Grey. I masked off the side fins as well and painted some stripes there too. They’re not 100% symmetrical but close enough.
  3. There’s not a ton of other base colors here, black for the weapons, leather seat and some gold accents. The rider has a fair bit of white on the helmet and cloth but that’s about it. Any gems and lenses were basecoated in dark metal.
  4. I gloss coated everything and applied transfers, opting for the Saim-Hann rune on the top of the bike and tribals on either side. Then re-coat the decals and wash everything, using a black pin wash everywhere. For the white I opted for a dirty grey but regretted it. In retrospect I would have gone with with a cool blue grey wash for the white instead. After washing, I applied a Matte Coat to everything.
  5. The three main highlights are the red, black and white. The white was highlighted with pure white, the black with a blue grey color (something like VMC Field Grey) and the red got three stage highlights, starting with a scarlet color (like VMC Scarlet) then an ochre (VMC Yellow Ochre) and finally Ivory on the sharpest corners. The lenses got re-coated with a bright silver and then Tamiya Clear Blue. The blue lenses for the eyes are a mistake, I don’t think they contrast enough and I’d do green next time.
  6. Before gluing, I Satin Varnished everything and then gloss coated gems and lenses by hand. Finally, carefully glue the rider to the bike and you’re all done!

And the finished result…

Alfredo’s Alternate (Faster!) Method – A Guardian

Saim-Hann Guardian WIP
Saim-Hann Guardian WIP Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

For this Guardian, I wanted to achieve something similar to my usual method of painting but much more quickly. So I took quite a lot of shortcuts, which I’ll note, and you can take more to speed this up even further. This model took 90 minutes from prime to finish (not including the base) so I hope it’s fairly approachable for troops.

  1. First things first is priming. Since I was gonna use contrast, I primed with a mix of white and grey (mostly white) and then satin coated the miniature. Alternatively, just spray with Wraithseer from GW. 0 Minutes In
  2. I used contrast paints for the two main areas of the model. I quite like these paints and want to do a more in depth article on them in the future because they are extremely useful. In my case, I went with Flesh-Tearers Red for the armor and Apothecary White for the loincloth and helmet. I like how rich Flesh-Tearers Red is but if that’s too dark for your taste, you can use Blood Angels Red instead and do everything else the same, it will give you a brighter and more orange-y color. 17 Minutes In
  3. For the black areas I used regular black rather than a contrast paint, I prefer the effect. I then hit all the gem areas with Scale75 Necro Gold and a few spots with Black Metal. At this point, the red had dried sufficiently for a wash. While I think contrast is great, I don’t particularly care for the shading, it doesn’t, uh, contrast enough. Now, normally I’d gloss coat before washing and use oils, but we’re going fast here so no time. Instead, I mixed my own wash with a 1:1:1:2:4 ratio of black ink, flow improvers, pledge future floor wax (whatever it’s called), thinner medium and distilled water. You could probably use nuln oil gloss if preferred, maybe add a touch of gloss medium to it make it flow even more. Then I pin washed all the armor, targeting only crevices. Then while that dried I re-coated gems with silver and then painted over them with Tamiya Clear Green. For troops, you could certainly call it here or keep going. 51 Minutes In
  4. The last step was edge highlights. Again, contrast paints give you some great tonal variation and soft shading but it’s not enough contrast on edges for that ‘eavy metal look. First was highlighting the helmet and loincloth with pure white. I consider this pretty essential as it really sells the white. Then the armor, which I highlighted with VMC Brown Ochre. If you don’t want to highlight all of it, focus on top edges like the knees, abbs, pecs and shoulders. And then I used VMC London Grey to highlight the black. Again, if you don’t want to do all of it, just hit the major lines on the shuriken pistol (or catapult most likely). 91 Minutes In.

And there you go, here’s the finished result:

Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones’ Method

I’m not normally an Eldar player, but I love the faction’s models and have loved the red and black of Craftworld Saim-Hann ever since the release of the Vyper model way back in like 1996 (for what it’s worth, I think the Falcon and Vyper still hold up very well despite their age). So when it came time to do some Craftworld models for How to Paint Everything, I jumped at the chance.

I started by priming my Jetbike black, then I taped off the part on the nose where I wanted the stripe to be. I got a little lax with my plan for this and didn’t immediately remember I was going to need two stripes, so I ended up having to freehand this a bit later on. It turned out OK but in the future I’d rather just do the masking correctly in the beginning. In all the scheme ended up being really simple and something I wouldn’t have a hard time doing on a full army.

Anyways, once I had the stripes masked off I did a basecoat of Mephiston Red, shaded a bit with Carroburg Crimson and blended up to Evil Sunz Scarlet. I did the same for the rest of the bike and the rider, and painted the underside ribs and seat leather with Corvus Black, shaded a bit with Nuln Oil. The jet engine is Leadbelcher with a coat of Nuln Oil as well. The Helmet was Reaper Ghost White highlighted/shaded up to Reaper Pure White. Once I’d gotten in the basic colors I did edge highlights on the red with a 4:2 mix of Evil Sunz Scarlet and Reaper Pure White to get some final edging work in.

I’d like to say that I freehanded the emblem but I went with the Games Workshop transfers on this one just for consistency’s sake. Overall I’m pretty happy with the result.

Final Thoughts

Saim-Hann are a fun scheme to paint. The red and white is relatively simple but very striking on the battlefield and you can add a lot of creativity with runes, tribal markings and black stripes or chevrons to crank things up a notch. Like any Craftworld army, you’ll likely add some Aspect Warriors too and that gives you additional variation to work with, so you’ll end up with a really colorful and eye-catching force. Hopefully this guide gave you some ideas for your own approach and feel free to send us feedback or questions at, have a wild ride!