How to Paint Everything: Leviathan Dimachaeron

This article is part of a larger series on How to Paint Tyranids. To return to that series, click here.

I mentioned a back in my Army Showcase that I was planning on painting one of these big fellas, and I finally got around to it! Amusingly this was probably the best Forge World model I have ever purchased; it had a minimum of warping and I didn’t have to re-sculpt any major details. That’s definitely intended as a back-handed compliment, however. Regardless, this model was quite fun to paint and it only took a couple of days for the main paint work so this guide should be a little shorter then some of my others.

Part 1 – Base coats and washes


I start with a base coat of Ushabti Bone through my airbrush before drowning it in Carroburg and leaving it to dry for a while. Once you get back to it I go around and get all the blades with Flesh Tearers and the carapace with Shyish, then I coat the odd fleshy recesses with Fyre Slayer and Carroburg again. For the poison sacks I glazed thinned Warp Lightning on until the main sack area was nice and dense but avoid a harsh transition.

With the main colours built up I went around and did a bunch of detail base coats:

  • Steel Legion and Skeleton Horde for the teeth
  • Screamer and Druchii for the tongue
  • Yriel and Casandora for the eyes

In parallel I glazed the blades with heavily thinned black templar to give them a transition towards the body, you can often get away with one or two thin coats for the majority of the small ones but for the main claws I would do maybe 5-6 really thin coats to get a nice smooth change.

Part 2 – Highlights


I like to start with highlighting the details because if you miss and make a mess you can hide it with a later highlight, order isn’t super important here but I would start with doing some order of Emperors Children on the tongue, Cadian on the fleshy bits, or squig on the claws because they all get a final highlight of Kislev. The eyes are highlighted Yriel and Flash Gitz, I usually skip pupils on most of the nid stuff but I often put them on guns and for that you can use either Black Templar or your choice of straight black. The poison sacks get a few glazes of Golden Olive to give them a bit more organic texture. Teeth get Zandri and Ushabti for highlights, nothing fancy there.

With all the smaller highlights out of the way we can turn to the large area ones, the skin is just Ushabti and Screaming Skull in large soft almost glaze area highlights, its mostly just one coat of each but sometimes I would do multiple of Screaming Skull if I wanted it a bit more intense. The carapace is highlighted in Genestealer and Dechala, I have heard people call this style of highlight ‘feathering’ despite it not being a blend at all, instead its applied in little short strokes starting a bit into the panel and moving to the edge.

Hopefully this gets the idea across

Essentially the idea is to make small overlapping cones of highlights by using the shape of your brush to start at a point then draw down into a wider form, and then overlaying it again with a brighter one. it does have a nice organic feel without taking too long.

Part 3 – The Base


I started the base bits by cleaning up over spill on the rocks and skulls with Ushabti and then applying thinned Wyldwood to the rocks and skeleton horde to the skulls. After that the rusty metal is thoroughly coated with Typhus then gets a sequence of drybrushes spread a bit randomly – I used Ironbreaker, Jokaero, Skrag and Ryza but you can basically do whatever combo of metal and oranges.

The earth is done with a couple of texture paints, Stirland Mud and Battlemire with the thinner Mud being applied in a weaving path as the river bed and then the thicker Battlemire as the river banks. Once dry, the banks get Agrax and the bed Wyldwood then just the river bank gets drybrushed Steel Legion. I would suggest varnishing at this point, I have been using Vallejo Matte for this.

The river is a thin coat of Vallejo Still water which I then sculpt small ripples on with Transparent Water gel before lightly drybrushing the whole river with a hint of Pallid Wych. At this point I added some Gloss Varnish to the various recessed fleshy bits and pores on the Dimachaeron to help add a little bit of creepy-ness, then its just painting the rim Dryad Bark and throwing a bunch of tufts on and its done!

I used the following Gamers Grass tufts:

  • 6mm Burned Grass
  • 6mm Dry Green
  • 2mm Dry Green
  • 2mm Moss
  • 4mm Green
  • 6mm Mixed Green
  • 6mm Strong Green
  • Spiky Green
  • Dark Green Shrubs
  • A big pile of assorted flowers


Dimachaeron. Credit: Rockfish
Dimachaeron. Credit: Rockfish
Dimachaeron. Credit: Rockfish
Dimachaeron. Credit: Rockfish

This article is part of a larger series on How to Paint Tyranids. To return to that series, click here.