How to Paint Everything: Dark Angels

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Dark Angels Intercessors

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. Dark Angels are the first legion and are very, very loyal. Today we will look at how to paint them and their specialists, Deathwing and Ravenwing.

Look guys. Here at Goonhammer dot com, Dark Angels get a bit of a bad rap. Most of it is because of Greg “” Chiasson but still, they endure our mockery.

I’m here today to tell you that these people that have disparaged the most loyal of loyal boys are wrong. Extra wrong even. In fact, Dark Angels are actually the best loyal legion. No, don’t laugh I’m serious. I’ll prove it in this article.

Who Are The Dark Angels?

Dark Angels are haughty, proud, and hide a heck of a secret. One that they protect at all costs from the Imperium at large, with no act being beneath them in their quest to seek redemption. As we all know, keeping secrets is a cool and good crime.

So cool and good that the Dark Angels have dedicated two entire companies towards it.

The 1st company goes by the name “Deathwing” and always fight entirely in Terminator armor – which is rad – that’s bone-colored because a single squad survived a literal planet of Genestealer cultists, which is even radder. In black cladding is the 2nd company, the Ravenwing, who take up the fight on bikes and in speeders or flyers. The two companies work in tandem: the Ravenwing finds secrets (enemy targets) for the Deathwing to keep (kill, capture). Backing those boys up is a fairly normal chapter, that people on the internet call Greenwing for some silly reason.

The Dark Angels are also the First Legion and therefore can dunk on all the others by pulling the classic older brother move of “I did that before you did”. They also have the best toys because of this, literally hiding away weapons and tools from the Dark Age of Technology while other legions got their hand-me-downs. None of these toys really get used in 40k, because the rules writers seem to love disappointing us, but it’s nice that, at least in the fluff, we can Big Time every other chapter by laying down the classic line of “If you’re not first, your last”.

As you can see, all of this makes the Dark Angels the most loyal legion. In fact, we would even say that they’re twice as loyal as the Space Wolves, a chapter that:

  • Attacked a loyal son of the Emperor for no reason no less than 3 times. Seriously, Leman Russ is out of control, someone should stop him! Think of the children!
  • Harbors mutants in their ranks.
  • Has no green power armor, the shame.
  • Has too many wolf-named items.
  • No cool robes.

Compare this to the noble (and loyal) Dark Angels:

  • Only attacked in self-defense.
  • Zero mutants! (please ignore the Watchers in the Dark for the sake of this)
  • Mostly green power armour.
  • As many cool robes as you want, friend.

Damn. 5/5 for the Dark Angels on loyalty, versus the obviously treacherous Space Wolves.

Playing With Dark Angels:

Reader, I’m going to level with you. Dark Angels get like, one good codex compared to regular Space Marines, every 15 years. The current codex is not one of them. Also I’m way under-qualified to write this bit other than “Take the Heavenfall Blade relic because it’s a cool sword, and also as many Hellblasters/plasma weapons as you can”. My recco is that you read the excellent Stop/Start Competing with Dark Angels, here.

Coda’s Take On How To Paint A Dark Angel, One Of The Green Ones:

Ok, so I grew up with the 3rd edition ‘dex, so this picture is peak DA for me:

Yes. It took them 2 goes to make 1 3rd Ed Dex. I seriously chewed out Andy Chambers at a Australia Games Day about the 1st attempt, at the tender age of 11 or 12. Credit: games workshop

As you can see here, gold and green looks kickin’ rad. So let’s paint our boys like them. Below, I’ll tell you how to do it, by traditional and contrast methods:


Here’s how I do it:



Traditional paints:

You will need:

Paint List - Click to Expand

Green bit:
One Dark Green Paint of your choice. This can be Caliban Green from Citadel, IV-15 from Instar, Dark Green from Vallejo. I’ve reviewed them all here if you want to figure out the best green.
Citadel Warboss Green
Citadel Skarskik Green

Red bits:
Vallejo Model Colour [VMC] Carmine Red
VMC Dark Vermillion
VMC Vermillion

Citadel Iron Warriors

Citadel Black Templar Contrast

Citadel Liberator Gold
Citadel Stormhost Sliver

Citadel Wyldwood Contrast

Army Painter Dark Tone
Army Painter Soft Tone

Citadel Grey Seer
Citadel Guilliman Flesh Contrast

I couldn’t pick between Instar Matte or Vallejo for the example. so I flipped a coin. It has deemed that we will step though the Vallejo Game Colour Dark Green example.

Step 0:

Undercoat it Matte Black, preferably out of a spray so it’s nice and smooth. This could be citadel or a good hardware brand.

Step 1:

Slap on a thin coat of Angel Green, avoiding the creases/little lines in the armour and give the bit near the shoulder pad trim a wide berth. This is because we want to exploit the tech called ‘blacklining” and save us a ton of work.

If you did it right your dude will now look like this:


Dark Angel Intercessor

Dark Angel Intercessor by Tyler “Coda” Moore

Step 3:

Do a second thin coat. I want to stress that you want to be a smmooooooth operator on this green, so do make sure it’s thin. Go a bit deeper than you did the last time on the bits you want to stay black. This creates a gradient. If you did it right it will look like this:

Dark Angel Intercessor

Dark Angel Intercessor by Tyler “Coda” Moore

Step 4:

Paint in the base coat on the rest of the details. Here is what I did:

Reds: Vallejo Model Colour [VMC] Carmine Red. You will need 2~3 layers of this for some things like the knee pad marking. Make the coats thin.
Purity Seal: Wraithbone, Black Templar for text.
Undersuit: Layer Grey Seer, Wash Black Templar
Pouches: Layer Grey Seer, Wash Contrast Wyldwoods
Boltguns: Black – Layer Grey Seer, Heavy as hell wash with Black Templar.
Metals: Citadel Iron Warriors
Boltgun Lens: Citadel Stormhost silver, Spritstone Red.
Gold: Liberator Gold.

Step 5:

Now that’s done drown all the green bits of model in Army Painter Dark Tone (Alt: Citadel Nuln Oil), you really want this to pool heavily, then relayer the base colour green to cover up any splotch-y-ness, this time retreating further back than your 1st layer. You could target this wash but honestly I’ve found this to be A: Funner B: less time consuming.

The gold bits and purity seals, shade ’em with Army Painter Soft Tone (Alt: Citadel Seraphim Sepia). Relayer the 1st wave of details as you feel fit. You should have a space man that looks like this:

Dark Angel Intercessor

Dark Angel Intercessor by Tyler “Coda” Moore

Step 6:

Now to highlight.

Green: Thicc Warboss Green -> Fine highlight Skarsnik Green.
Gold: Thicc – Liberator Gold mixed with Stormhost Sliver. Fine – Same as previous, add more silver.
Red: VMC Dark Vermillion -> VMC  Vermillion

And with that done boom:


Dark Angel Intercessor

Dark Angel Intercessor by Tyler “Coda” Moore


One very Dark Green Dark Angel. Here’s a full squad of boys, 4 of them painted with the above method, just with various manufactures of dark green paint:

Dark Angels Intercessors

Dark Angels Intercessors by Tyler “Coda” Moore

The last guy? He was a contrast job. Here are the deets:


Dark Angel Intercessor

Dark Angel Intercessor by Tyler “Coda” Moore

Fairly similar to the above, here are the condensed steps:

Grey Seer Undercoat
Wash Dark Angels Green -> Tiny Warboss Green highlight
Eye lenses: Blood Angels Red
Marking: VMC Dark Vermillion
Purity Seal: Wraithbone, Black Templar for text, wash Army Painter Soft Tone
Undersuit: Layer Grey Seer, Wash Black Templar
Pouches: Layer Grey Seer, Wash Wyldwood
Boltgun: Black – Layer Grey Seer, Heavy as hell wash with Black Templar.
Metals: Iron Warriors washed with Dark Tone.
Boltgun Lens: Stormhost sliver, Spritstone Red.
Gold: Liberator Gold -> Wash Army Painter Soft Tone (sepia) -> Mix in more and more Stormhost silver as desired. Aim for 2 highlights.

If I had my time over I would have cut the Dark Angels Green 50:50 with Contrast Medium and done two washes instead of one to combat the blotchy effect.


Here Is How Other People Do It Wrong Also Deathwing And Ravenwing


Dark Angels, from Greg

The Three Wings

Examples of the three wings. Credit: Greg Chiasson

I’ve been in love with Dark Angels since 4th Edition, though that love clearly doesn’t come across in most of my posts because it’s funnier when I focus on how bad they suck, which they very much do right now.

Initially, I started with a pure Deathwing army, which we’ll cover in a bit, but I did end up with most of a battle company worth of green ones eventually. I have two methods of painting them, with some overlap. The first is all using Vallejo Game Color paints, and the second, which doesn’t look as good but is much faster, uses GW Contrast paints for the armor and weapons.

Classic Method

  1. Prime black, always black.
  2. Basecoat the armor in VGC Dark Green, the gun casing and eyes in VGC Scarlet Red, and the metals (mechanical bits on the gun, swords, etc) and golds (chest eagles, sword hilts, etc) in whatever gets you there, it’s not really something I care about a lot. The joints in the armor, like the insides of elbows or the backs of knees, I like to basecoat in VGC Sombre Grey – previously I’d done these in metal, but I think I like the black-grey look better.
  3. Washes. I use two, mainly: Nuln Oil on the metal, grey, and green, and Agrax Earthshade on the gold and red. At this point the greys are done – the two-step of Sombre Grey and a heavy black wash gives a nice rubberized kind of look and I’m honestly not aiming for Golden Daemons here, so it’s Good Enough.
  4. Go back over the basecoats on the greens and reds, to bring those back up a bit. The green I use the same VCG Dark Green, which I don’t think is quite dark enough without the wash on it, but on the red i switch to VGC Bloody Red. Leave a bit of shade in the recesses, but cover over most of the raised or flat bits.
  5. Highlights! Your call what you use on the golds and metals, but typically one shade brighter than whatever you did for the basecoats. Highlight the armor with VGC Scurvy Green, and a second highlight in VGC Scorpy Green if you’re a more ambitious painter than I am.
  6. Last step, which is more washes, which I usually do after the highlights because I tend to over-apply them, and this helps pull everything together – Carroburg Crimson on the gun, and Athonian Camoshade on the armor.

Contrast Method

This is really a hybrid approach, because I didn’t want to buy too many types of Contrast until I had a chance to try it out. The metals, golds, and armor joints are actually exactly the same as above, and I don’t usually highlight the Contrast armor, though I really should and I think it would help a lot.

The fact is, I’ve never been happy with my highlights, and I’m not confident in my ability to get them right, so a lot of times I just don’t do them, because it seems like a dicey proposition to put in more work to make my models look worse.

  1. Prime white, always white. Technically you’re supposed to use the Contrast primers for this, but it turns out Corax White works basically fine.
  2. Paint the armor Dark Angels Green Contrast. I like to do one thick coat, with a second thinner one in spots to even things out – two coats tends to clobber all the variations out and look like just straight Caliban Green again, and one seems to have thin spots and pooling.
  3. Paint the gun in Flesh Tearers Red Contrast.
  4. Paint the metal/gold, wash it black/brown, then highlight with a slightly-brighter metal/gold. Paint the joints in the armor grey, then wash them black.


I’ll be honest, I’m extremely lazy with this:

Ravenwing Dark Talon

The prettier of the uglier two DA flyer models.

  1. Prime black
  2. Edge highlight VGC Cold Grey
  3. Smaller edge highlight just around sharp corners and all, of VGC Stonewall Grey.
  4. The Ravenwing logos and wing motifs I like to paint white, and then hit with Basilicanum Grey Contrast. I’ve since changed my stock white recipe to be VGC Ghost Grey, highlit with VGC White, but I haven’t officially done that on any Dark Angels yet.
  5. Paint all the details – gun casings, chest eagles, gold and metallic details, etc – the same way you would above. That consistency across the different wings is really important, to tie them all together and keep an army with a mix of green/white/black units actually looking cohesive.
  6. On flyers, paint the bottom of the model using the Deathwing armor recipe, below. I like the variation this gives, so the flyer isn’t just solid black. It’s worth spraying the basecoat on here, if you can – I like to spray the whole thing bone, let it dry, then mask off the bottom and the design on top of the wings, then spray black back over it. The time spent tediously masking is a pain, but I promise it’ll pay off when you compare it to having to cover white with black, or vice versa. On bikes and Landspeeders, don’t paint the bottom at all. No one ever sees it, so who cares.

I panel-lined this with a brown pen.


  1. Spray Army Painter Bone. You can do white too, and layer VGC Bonewhite instead, if you don’t have the bone spray, but it’s a huge shortcut to be able to spray your basecoats, I think.
  2. Wash Agrax Earthshade.
  3. Layer VGC Bonewhite, everywhere except in the recesses. This will take a few coats, but it builds up a really nice color.
  4. Highlight VGC White.
  5. See above in re: matching the details up with the other models, but with the difference here that the chest eagles and tabards are in green, using the armor recipe in that section. Something else I should have mentioned up there, is that the tabards and robes on the greenwing, I use the same recipe as the armor on Deathwing. Like I said, consistency.



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