How to Paint Everything: Shadowsun

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. In this article we take a look at O’Shaserra, better known as Commander Shadowsun, one of the recent models to come out of the Psychic Awakening saga.

Who Is Shadowsun?

Shadowsun Credit: Games Workshop

Shadowsun is the T’au empire’s premier problem solver, a renowned general famous for her stealth tactics that led to the defeat of an Ork horde. Shadowsun is the current supreme commander of the T’au empire armies, having lived for centuries past the normal tau lifespan through judicious use of cryostasis only being woken for the most crucial of conflicts. She is one of the few remaining pupils of Puretide, a legendary commander from the first stages of expansion, and is known for embodying the principle of Kauyon – the patient hunter seeking victory through the use of ambushes and unyielding skirmishes beleaguering the foe before striking where it matters most.

The ongoing fifth sphere expansion has seen Shadowsun more active the ever, with a Death Guard fleet bringing the forces of the T’au to the edge of disaster before their mission could even begin and ongoing conflicts with the Imperium devolving into pure chaos as Genestealer Cult uprisings broke out on compliant worlds. Only time will tell if Shadowsun can lead this phase of expansion to success and expand the empires foothold in the galactic north.

Where to Read More

The author has not had an opportunity to dive into the black library offerings so any works mentioned here are presented without an accompanying opinion. Regardless, Shadowsun has not had nearly the same exposure as her peer Farsight, mostly appearing in brief sections of other works, an anthology book Damocles and one dedicated novella in Shadowsun: The Last of Kiru’s Line by Braden Campbell.

Playing with Shadowsun

Rather then repeat ourselves, checkout the recently updated Start Competing: T’au for tactics and ideas for how to integrate Shadowsun into an army.

Painting Shadowsun – Rockfish’s Method

After a couple of months sitting in the backlog I finally had the time to paint Shadowsun, rather than the T’au sept I chose to use my beach assault themed tau scheme. There are no really spicy techniques here, but I think the scheme has a great impact particularly when combined with the beach base. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

The first colours are just your conventional base coat, wash, and edge highlight for each of the main armour panels. There are a few colours that deviate a bit, the grey armour and metal get a dry brush instead of an edge highlight and the icons also get a sort of reverse panel lining with white instead of a wash.

After that boring stuff is out of the way we can begin to bring the details into the model. The wear is pretty simple, Dryad Bark then Stormhost Silver both applied with a torn piece of foam. Then we can finish up the main materials with an extreme highlight, with this step you can also recover any important edge highlights that were obscured by the damage.

I experimented a bit with the face, using small strokes to place the highlights instead of thoroughly layered areas, it sort of worked and was fun so I might try and work on it a bit in future models. When I was working with Fenrisian and Kislev there were a few intermediate mixes between the two, I did not use straight up Kislev as that is a bit too intense. Don’t worry about proportions too much, it’s mostly what looks right for the particular model with details like this.

The hair was mostly standard highlights, other than around the scalp where I used small streaks similarly to the face highlights. The objects on the base are fairly obvious, only thing of note is that I did two washes of Athonian Camoshade.

The glow on the engines and guns (I remembered them later I swear) is pretty fast but could be improved on in the future, probably with a glaze or two of an intermediate purple.

For lenses and screens I use a fairly standard gem effect, the main difference for screens is that I skip the basecoat of black and final white dot to give a more illuminated feel.

When I apply the basing paste I sculpt the waves as the water effects I use are thin so the underlying shape will show through. I am aware that there are products for sculpting waves but for these small ones it works pretty well and is pretty low effort.

The water effects are primarily tinted with Sotek but to give an implication of deeper water I used a touch of Stegadon blended in. Finally, cap off the waves using a drybrush loaded up with enough White Scar to create streaks, this makes a nice foamy look and hides the basing paste peaking through the water effects.

A quick clean up of the base rim with Dryad Bark and Shadowsun is done!

Final Thoughts

Games workshop has really been knocking it out of the park with their recent models! Even if you object to the omnipresent hero rock, Shadowsun has exactly the right level of detail to look great without being a pain to either paint or build. As always we would love to see what your take on this model is, feel free to show off in the comments or slip pics to us at!