How to Paint Everything: Dark Angels

This article is part of a larger series on how to paint Space Marines. To return to that series, click here.

In our How to Paint Everything series we look at how to paint, well, everything, with a look at different styles and approaches from different artists. In this article we’re looking at how to paint the Dark Angels.

The very first legion of Space Marines, the Dark Angels are known for three things primarily: Their striking green armor, their access to ancient Dark Age technology no one else has, and the fact that they harbor deep secrets about some kind of shameful event in their past. This makes them all insular and weird, but also makes them pretty cool.

In the 41st millennium, the Dark Angels are one of the most distinct chapters of Space Marines, with striking green armor, bone-colored robes, and different color schemes for their first and second companies, the Deathwing and Ravenwing, respectively. Even their more standard marines often don bone-colored robes and cloaks, while their iconography often includes wings and swords.

In this article we’re going to take a look at different techniques for painting the Dark Angels, with a look at each of the Chapter’s famous companies, their primarch, and even the Fallen they chase across the galaxy.

Covered in this Article

  • Techniques for painting the core elements of the Dark Angels, from bone-colored robes to power weapons to lenses and purity seals.
  • Schemes for painting the Dark Angels in their classic green armor, and guidance on how to paint the chapter’s heraldry.
  • Schemes from different painters for each of the Dark Angels’ famous companies, the Deathwing and the Ravenwing.
  • Schemes for painting pre-Heresy Dark Angels and the Fallen.

Heraldry - Click to Expand

Outside of the custom armor colors of the Deathwing and Ravenwing, the Dark Angels follow pretty closely to the Codex Astartes, organizing its 3rd through 10th companies along those Codex lines. Even the Deathwing largely follow a structure similar to other chapters’ first companies.

Battlefield Role and Squad Number

The Dark Angels use deep red markings for their battlefield role, and white gothic script for the squad number. You can find these on the Dark Angels transfer sheets (or freehand them, if you’re brave). For the Ravenwing, shoulder pads are typically all black, though Black Knights typically have additional heraldry with gold markings.

Company Markings

Dark Angels marines wear their company markings on their left kneepad. Deathwing marines instead use their left kneepad for squad and personal heraldry, often sporting designs with some special significance to the chapter and its history.

For more on heraldry, check out our guide to painting heraldry here.

Gemstones and Lenses - Click to Expand

If you’re painting Space Marines, you’re going to have to paint some lenses on the marines and likely some gemstones as well. The process for painting these is pretty similar – you can find everything you need for this in our guide to painting gemstones, lenses, and vials, but if you need something faster for painting eye lenses on Space Marines, you can find a quick tutorial here.

The process for painting lenses is the same as painting gemstones. You generally want to start with a black area (or darkened), which you’ll work inside, leaving a small line of black around the edge as you go. Start by painting your base color. If you’re painting red lenses, this will be Mephiston Red or Khorne Red most of the time. Once that’s down, you want to shade the lens, with a brighter color toward the front corner and a darker tint toward the back corner of the helmet. I do this by shading the eye with Carroburg Crimson and then Nuln Oil. 

Finally it’s time to do the extreme highlights. Put a dot of black paint in the back corner of the lens, and put another, smaller dot of white inside that. Highlight the opposite corner of the lens using a bright shade of your color. For red lenses this will often be Evil Sunz Scarlet. 

Scrolls and Purity Seals - Click to Expand

If your marine chapter is composed of particularly pure warriors burdened with an excess of faith, they’re likely to be covered in purity seals and parchment that chronicles their great deeds. Painting these is pretty straightforward, but can be daunting since painting good purity seals means creating small lines to suggest the presence of writing. The good news is there’s an easy way to make this effect stand out.

While Purity Seals are lighter in color, they’re usually going to be attached to a model you want to prime black. Either way, I start by painting them with a couple of thin coats of Rakarth Flesh. Once that’s dry, I wash the whole thing with Agrax Earthshade.

Next I go back and highlight that with Rakarth Flesh again and then highlight a second time – including the edges – with Reaper Polished Bone (Wraithbone in GW paints, give or take). This is also when I paint the wax seal – it’s Mephiston Red, and I’ll wash that with Carroburg Crimson and then highlight it with Evil Sunz Scarlet. 

Now it’s time for the lettering. The “correct” way to do this is to use a very fine pointed brush and and paint lines with a dark brown. But if you want to go faster and have an easier time with it, I’ll let you in on a secret: Micron pens. The .005 pen gives you a very small point and is perfect for drawing the lines that work on something like this.

Using the pen start marking small lines (squiggles if you’re feeling brave), leaving the occasional space> your wording should have an “F-shaped” patter more or less, as that’s just how people read in English.

One Last Tip: Watch out if you paint over the micron ink. Water can reactivate it, causing problems like smearing.

Plasma Coils and OSL - Click to Expand

The Dark Angels are notable for their plasma weaponry, with special tech held over from the Dark Age of Technology. Being the first legion has its perks, it seems. These weapons tend to have bright, glowing energy coils which can create some great opportunities to paint stand-out models.

You can find our guide to painting plasma weapons (with some notes for easy and beginner OSL to go with them) here.

Power Swords - Click to Expand

If you’re painting Space Marines of any variety, you’re going to eventually have to paint some power weapons, and because the Dark Angels have a larger number of swords per capita, that means power swords. For more on how to paint power swords and glowing weapons, check out our guide on painting power weapons here.

Robes and Cloaks - Click to Expand

If you’re painting Dark Angels it’s very likely you’re going to need to paint up some robes and hoods. Painting robes and cloaks is really just painting cloth and folds, though the Dark Angels do throw a wrench into things by having bone-colored cloaks, which can be more of a pain to paint and shade. Here’s a quick tutorial on an easy way to do Dark Angels cloth.

Step 1: Basecoat

Unless you’re painting Deathwing, there’s a good chance you’ve already primed your model black. That’s fine, but you’ll need to do a few thin coats of a lighter basecoat. Here I use Rakarth Flesh for my basecoat, which is a darker bone/offwhite color.

Step 2: Washes

Next up comes washes. I wash the robes with Agrax Earthshade. You could also skip wash painting in this step and use mixes of Agrax and your bone colors for fills between folds. This will darken the whole thing but will also help you understand where your folds are going to be.

Step 3: Blends and Highlights

Now it’s time to blend all of that. I start working with Rakarth Bone and Agrax Earthshade as a mix, working up to full Agrax. Then I work in Reaper Polished Bone in the mix and continue to highlight up until I’m painting pure Reaper Polished Bone.

From this point all that’s left is to paint the details on the cloak, such as the sword emblem and the striping on the tabard. I painted them red because this particular conversion is for a Fallen.

Schemes - Click to Expand

Because of the unique nature of the chapter and its first and second companies, the Dark Angels have more schemes than any other chapter to work with – three between its main companies, Deathwing, and Ravenwing, plus an additional scheme for Fallen and pre-Heresy Dark Angels if you want to go that route. The good news is that it’s much less likely you’ll get bored painting them!

Standard Dark Angels (Green)




Pre-Heresy Dark Angels

The Fallen

Special Units - Click to Expand

Although the Deathwing and Ravenwing make up the majority of the “special” units for the Dark Angels, there’s still one relatively new standout model in the range: The chapter’s primarch, Lion El’Jonson. We’ve got methods here for painting both the Horus Heresy resin kit and the newer plastic kit from Warhammer 40k.

Where to Find More

The Dark Angels have a storied history and a ton of character in their models as a result. If you’re looking for more painting advice on them, check out our other how to paint articles on Space Marine chapters – you can find those in our parent article on How to Paint Space Marines, linked below.

Have any questions or feedback? Feel free to drop a note in the comments below or shoot us an email at

This article is part of a larger series on how to paint Space Marines. To return to that series, click here.