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. With the release of new Sisters of Battle plastics, we take a look at this army and how to paint it with a few schemes and methods!
Who Are the Sisters of Battle?
The Adepta Sororitas are the militant arm of the Imperium’s Ecclesiarchy and also form the Chamber Militant of the Inquisition’s Ordo Hereticus. These religious warriors take to the field armed with bolter, flamer, melta, and faith in equal measure. Clad in the finest power armour and weapons available, the Sisters are selected, religiously indoctrinated and trained to extremely exacting standards. That alone would put them at the upper end of the Imperium’s elite forces, however, it’s their faith and mission that not only sets them apart but elevates them beyond similarly equipped forces like the Adeptus Astartes and Militarum Tempestus Scions. Their force of will actively manifests on the battlefield in the form of miracles. Bolter shots that should be easily turned aside by Terminator plate find weak points. Psykers hurl lightning from their fingertips, only to find it dispelled by flashes of golden light. Sisters that fall in battle to grievous wounds return to life and take up the bolter and blade anew.
The Sisters originally formed due to the Decree Passive, which is a restriction placed on the Ecclesiarchy forming military forces after the Age of Apostasy, a civil war that engulfed the Imperium some time after the Horus Heresy. However Sebastian Thor, the new leader of the Faith, argued that the Imperium’s religion needed force to defend it and who better than the fighting force that ended the war, the Daughters of the Emperor.
That force would go on to become the Adepta Sororitas, tasked with protecting the faith from within and without.
Where To Read More
With all the recent attention on Sisters, they’re getting some new fiction, and it’s pretty good! Rachel Harrison (of Severina Raine fame), recently released Mark of Faith that tells a story from the perspectives of a newly minted Sister Superior and an Inquisitor and it’s quite good! (Corrode: at time of writing I’m still reading this. Check back for a review in a few weeks.) Celestine: The Living Saint by Andy Clark is also not a bad read and delves into what it truly means to be a living saint.
If horror is more your jam, Peter Fehervari released Requiem Infernal earlier this year, focused on an obscure order of Adepta Sororitas and one of its wayward daughters, it’s quite strange and interesting!
James Swallow also wrote some Sisters novels at some point. They’re ok if you have nothing else to read.
Playing Sisters of Battle
Sisters of Battle just got added to Kill Team as part of the Kill Team Annual. We are in the process of reviewing their rules and datasheets and will update this section once the article is out later in the week!
At the time of this writing, the Adepta Sororitas are the recent recipients of a brand new codex. Check out our review of the recently released book here! We’ll update this once we put out a Start Competing article on Sisters.
Painting Sisters of Battle
My Way: Sister Superior Amalia
I’ve chosen to paint my Sister Superior in the box scheme, corresponding to the Order of Our Martyred Lady. Black and red are great colors that make for a striking army and from a rules perspective, it gets me access to all the fun special characters that GW is releasing. For Amalia in particular, I wanted to match the art she’s based off as best as I could.
- Like with any model, the first consideration is assembly. In this case, since the head is unarmored and going to be light (skin and white hair) contrasting black armor, I wanted to keep those separate and prime them in different colors. I kept the backpack off so I could get at the details on her back that no one would ever see. And again, in order to airbrush the base separately, I kept the model unglued from the base when priming.
- The primary basecoats here are black and red. For the black I primed black and then did targeted highlighting with Vallejo Air Blue Grey. This gave me a nice off-black that I could shade down to black and highlight up nicely. For the red bits, I first brush base-coated with Vallejo Blue Grey Pale to get a solid off white before then apply Vallejo Red. Doing the red directly over the black would take a lot longer. All of the white is that same Vallejo Blue Grey Pale. The leather bodice is a mixture of Vallejo Grey Black and German Camouflage Black Brown to get a nice off-black that has some brown in it to sell the look of leather and contrast from the ceramite armor.
- The red got a bit of a work up using Reaper Gory Reds to add a fair bit of variation. Of note is Amalia’s face which I originally sprayed with Reaper Fair Skin Shadow and Highlight. I went over the lips with Scale75 Pink Flesh to bring them out a bit without treading into make-up territory like the box art. For shading, I used my new AMMO Oilbrushers, namely Dark Mud (for the scrolls and gold) and Black (for everything else). This was easier than actual oil paints by a mile.
- Because the model is largely black, and a cold black at that, I wanted a warm stone color for the base. I started with Vallejo Middle Stone and then dry brushed it with some lighter colors. For the flames I just used Reaper’s Fire Red triad plus Sun Yellow at glaze consistencies over white to get a nice transition.
- Highlighting is the last bit and the most important highlight here is the black armor. I started with a 1:1 of Vallejo Field Blue and Pale Blue, I then added Vallejo Old Rose to give it some yellow tones, and then added Sunny Skintone and Blue Grey Pale for the final highlight.
And the final result:
The Booley Method – Silver Armor
As soon as GW started showing off the new Sisters models I knew I needed to buy them – the models are as 40k as it gets. I don’t have any long history of playing them or really know the fluff surrounding them particularly well, nor do I have any real idea how their rules will shake out yet. Not being attached to any of the “official” orders opened me up to figure out a custom scheme that I could use with any set of rules I wanted, and I could pick colors to work well with the rest of my armies. Though they’re unlikely to take the field at the same time as my Imperial Fists or Blood Angels, they may still find themselves getting support from my Knights.
Knowing I want a neutral color for the armor and that I’d be basing them on the same dark urban bases as the rest of my army, I immediately gravitated towards a bright silver. It was going to be very simple to paint, a big plus since Sisters are looking like a fairly model-heavy army. The next color to pick out is for the robes. It needs to be distinct from my red or yellow armies, but still a color that works well with them. I was immediately drawn to blues, but RichyP was already painting sisters with blue robes, so I shifted around the color wheel towards red and landed on purple robes. As a bonus, purple works well thematically with the army of the church, and I already knew how I wanted to paint it from working on my titan.
- Prime black. Pretty self explanatory, just make sure its a nice smooth coat. If you want super shiny silvers this can be a gloss primer – personally I prefer a more subtle sheen and end up matte varnishing everything anyways.
- Airbrush the entire thing in Vallejo Metal Color 77.711 Magnesium.
- Airbrush from about 2/3 above with Vallejo Metal Color 77.703 Dark Aluminum.
- Airbrush from almost directly above with Vallejo Metal Color 77.701 Aluminum. Running through all three of these silvers gave me a great transition from darker metals in the shadows to brighter silvers on top, cutting down on the steps I’d need to do later.
- Cover the entire thing in Citadel Nuln Oil Gloss. The Vallejo Metal Color paints go on extremely smooth, leaving a perfect surface for the gloss wash to run right into the crevices and pick out all the details.
- Basecoat all the robes with Reaper Master Series 09265 Deep Twilight.
- Using a soft brush, carefully drybrush Reaper Master Series 29819 Twilight Purple and 09296 Malvernian Purple over the robes. Drybrushing this is both quick and gives a little bit of texture, perfect for fabric.
- Paint the owl.
- Browns: Vallejo Model Color 70.822 German C Black Brown, Citadel Agrax Earthshade, VMC 70.983 Flat Earth
- Blacks: Scale 75 SFG-00 Decay Black, S75 SC-03 Graphite
- Golds: S75 SC-72 Viking Gold, Citadel Druchii Violet, S75 SC-75 Citrine Alchemy
- Flesh: Citadel Wraithbone, Citadel Contrast Guilliman Flesh
- Black Hair: Citadel Wraithbone, Citadel Contrast Black Templar
- Weapon Metals: Vallejo Mecha Color 69.058 Gunmetal, Citadel Nuln Oil Gloss, S75 SC-65 Heavy Metal.
- Drop her on an urban base, toss a bit of weathering pigments at the feet, and varnish.
On this model I started with her head glued into the body – in hindsight I would’ve kept it separate and glued in at the end. Given the presence of dangly robes I strongly suggest working with her pinned to a cork rather than directly attached to the base, the inside of some of the robes is very visible but also difficult to get a brush to from above.
RichyP – The Speedy method
I wanted to try and get the box done within a week of launch because that’s now my thing apparently, so I needed a quick and easily reproducible paint job, my other cross to bear is that it’s also expected that nearly everything I paint have Baharroth Blue involved…
Presenting the Sisters of Barry
I don’t have step by steps for this one sadly as I was to eager painting them all in a crazy rush to remember. Fortunately it’s a really easy process to follow.
Step 0: Primer
For the power armoured Sisters I had to hold my nose and prime black. For all the other units (except the Penitent Engine) I primed in Wraithbone.
Step 1: Base Coats
Paint the face, hair, flour de lis, visors on helmeted Sisters and raised parts of the armour in Eshin Grey.
Paint the Cloth areas in Thousand Sons Blue, it’ll take a couple of coats over black.
Step 2: Highlight 1
With the 2nd coat of Thousand Suns blue still wet, paint some neat Baharroth Blue into it to blend in some variations, pull the Baharroth towards the brightest areas.
Highlight the Eshin grey areas with Dawnstone Grey (selective amounts)
Draw lines in the hair with Dawnstone Grey
Paint the skin in Kislev Flesh.
Paint metals in VMA Steel and S75 Elven Gold
Step 3: Highlight 2
Do a couple of edge highlights of Baharroth Blue on the creases to exaggerate the highlights
Paint a few dots of white on the shiniest parts of the black armour e.g. Toe caps, knuckles, centre of knees and so on.
Using the same white to draw some more lines in the hair, and to dot the eyes.
Highlight faces with Wraithbone + Kislev flesh (about 1:1) and quickly blend in Darkoath Flesh
Step 4: Final stage
Wash the eye sockets with Druchi Violet, (also paint some under cheekbones and where the hair meets the skin.
Paint Drakenhof Nightshade into the folds of the blue.
Tidy up some of the highlights with thinned Thousand Sons Blue, and thinned Abaddon Black.
Wash the steel metals in Nuln Oil and the gold in Skeleton Horde.
Bonus Smouldering Corpse
I include this one because I’ve been asked a few times from people how I did the smouldering corpse.
Paint the whole thing in Wraithbone (sounds counter-intuitive I know), dab In some thinned pure white so that the recesses are brighter still.
Wash with Casandora Yellow, again with Fuegan and finally with Blood Angels Red in various places over the whole area (mix for variation).
Once it’s dry, drybrush with Abaddon Black and finally Eshin Grey.
[Optional fake OSL]: hit the surrounding area with thinned Blood Angels red and highlight brightest parts of armour with Luganath Orange.
Here’s the completed unit, based with Valhallan Blizzard:
And with their pals:
Dionycia has chosen the traditional black and red scheme but approached it in a very different way, there’s so much room for individual process in painting! Check out her other work on instagram
I’ve only just started the hobby for myself, however I’ve been painting some of my partner’s Ad Mech and have a background in art. Most of my process is a lot of trial and error or making things up as I go along! I have a small collection of original Sisters of Battle following the Order of Our Martyred Lady scheme with a few minor tweaks.
I always prefer to paint with subassemblies, especially on a model like the canoness because there are large areas that would have been impossible to reach if she was fully glued together. There are of course disadvantages to doing this, especially with a two-part cloak, which can end up with bad gaps and inconsistent shadows/highlights.
The primer I used was Citadel Wraithbone spray. As a first step, I mapped out and prepped the larger areas on the model such as the cloak and armour. The armour areas were painted black. The cloak uses a base coat of Jokaero Orange and a layer of Mephiston Red.
Generally, I have an order in which different areas are painted. The cloak and any cloth parts are the hardest and most messy to do, so I always tackle those first. It’s much easier to map out the shadows first by holding the model under a light source and seeing how they fall. Similarly, the same thing is done with the highlights.
The wet-blending technique will work best here and is a combination of Mephiston Red, Jokaero Orange, and Averland Sunset (blended into the highest point of a crease) and a tiny bit of Mephiston Red with Matt Black for shadows. Jokaero Orange is used for edge highlights. The lining of the skirt is black with a wet blend of lighter greys in areas that are visible.
The underside of the cloak and hood was done with the same technique using Averland Sunset, Matt Black and Pallid Wych Flesh. I made sure to put the model back together to really assess where the highlights on the inner portion would be and what should be in deep shadow.
To draw the cloak details, I marked a straight line around the edge where I wanted the decoration to go with a pencil first. At the bottom of the red skirt, I used Pallid Wych Flesh for the line, and inner cloak is done with black and Mephiston Red.
Gold Detailing, Sword and the Staff
Gold detailing in various locations was done with a base coat of Screaming Bell. Once dry, wash with Gloss Nuln Oil, possibly going over deep recesses twice. Raised areas were brushed over with a thin layer of either Retributor Armour or Gehenna’s Gold followed by a wash of Seraphim Sepia.
The sword was painted black initially, dry brushed with Necron Compound and edges highlighted with Runefang Steel. The gem on the sword was a mixture of Lothern Blue, and for dimension a mixture of black and Pallid Wych Flesh in certain spots.
The staff was painted with Pallid Wych Flesh and heavily washed with Nuln Oil especially towards the bottom portion. Once dry, Pallid Wych was carefully used again to highlight the letters and edges.
Armour and Backpack
The armour was one of the last steps, except for the corset and beads which were done right after the cloth portion in the beginning. The beads were coloured with Army Painter (AP) Uniform Grey followed by Ash Grey (AP) for the top half of the bead and a dot of Pallid Wych for highlight.
The armour and backpack generally followed the same steps. Initially painted black going to lighter tones – Necromancer Cloak (AP) all over except for the deepest recesses, followed by Uniform Grey (AP) on highlighted flat areas, with edge and extra spot highlights done in Ash Grey (AP).
The bionic leg had a base of Ironbreaker, followed by Gloss Nuln Oil and highlights with Runefang Steel. Certain areas were spot washed with Seraphim Sepia (bolts and hinges).
After the cloth and armour portions were done, I outlined various elements of the model with a thin black line, especially in the deeper recesses (e.g. under cloth folds, in-between the rope belt, under her beads, inside hood at side of face, etc.) to make the contrast of colours sharper. A Nuln Oil wash does this, but I didn’t want to do this as it could look messy.
The face was left at the Wraithbone primer colour with careful layers of Flesh Wash (AP) and Agrax Earthshade for shadow areas. Highlights consisted of Pallid Wych mixed with a little Agrax.
The base is constructed with corkboard, a GW skull, Army Painter tufts, and tombstone and paving cast using Sculpey from GW Scenery (Sigmarite Mausoleum). The Sculpey parts were broken up for effect and to fit with the model better. To fill the space between the corkboard and other elements, I used Armageddon Dunes. The skull was painted in Pallid Wych followed by Skeleton Horde contrast paint. The earth was a wet blend between Black and Mournfang Brown. Tombstone and paving were painted black. The entire base was then dry brushed with Wrack White. The earth was washed with Agrax Earthshade and stone elements with Nuln Oil. A final light dry brush with the Wrack White can be a good idea over the stone.
Ready to Work Some Miracles
There’s a lot of ways to paint Sisters of Battle and we have only touched on a couple, hopefully you’re inspired to move ahead and paint your Sisters Battle Box in one of our schemes or another of your choosing. Ultimately, Sisters are like Marines with a lot of robes and that adds a lot of visual flair and opportunity to get creative with patterns and freehand on all that cloth canvas. The new models are fantastic and jam packed with detail, so have a blast painting them! And as always, if you have any questions, feedback, or models of your own to share, feel free to drop a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.