How to Paint Everything: The Spires – Thanqol’s Method

The Spires are an absolute delight of a faction to paint; their design is so good that I’ve seriously considered starting a second Spires army just to paint them again but differently. A lot of this comes down to their ambiguity – these sculpts are alien in such a way that makes it very hard to know exactly what material any given part of them is supposed to be. Is that carapace, exposed flesh, bone, armour, stone, metal? Is that flesh healthy, rotting, pale, flushed, diseased? You get to make multiple huge choices and the sculpts will work no matter what you pick. The Spires as an army of animate stone statues would look absolutely brilliant.

But with my method we embrace the flesh.


One of my favourite tricks as a painter is inversion. If something is meant to look diseased, paint it to look healthy. If a character is supposed to be white, paint her black. I paint Chaos Marines as Ultramarines and it’s amazing how much character carries just in gold and blue. So, for the Spires, I decided to paint them in a deep, ruddy, healthy glowing skin technique that I’d normally use on tanned and muscular bodybuilder types.

While the technique looks complex, involving a four layer blend, it actually works really well for batch painting.

  • Spray Mechanicus Standard Grey.
  • Basecoat in Bugman’s Glow.
  • This is where the fun part starts because this is all vibes. You don’t have to get it neat, not even remotely – irregularity makes organic shapes look more real. You can also mix in adjacent colours; I’ve added in both Kislev Flesh as a highlight and Doombull Brown as a shade.
  • Do a really sloppy broad highlight over 75% or so of the model with Jokero Orange.
  • Do a sloppy highlight over 50% of the model using Ungor Flesh. You can do this while the model is still wet and blend it in if you’d like.
  • Do a rough highlight over 25% of the model using Bestigor Flesh, again you can wet blend a little if you like.

Now what you’ve got will look pretty bad, but that’s where we bring in our secret weapon and the best paint ever made: Magos Purple.

Magos Purple is a contrast paint and I cannot emphasize enough how much I love it. I use it for everything – dab a little in an armpit or eye socket, use it to shade red, use it to shade blue! It’s an extremely thin purple that acts like a delicate shade and can add a warm tone to anything. And that’s how we’re going to use it here: do an all-over glaze of Magos Purple. Straight from the pot is fine, but keep the layer pretty thin.

And that’s it! If you want to do a competition piece then you just basically go back and forth like this half a dozen times, smoothing out the blends and highlights, but for line troopers you can just stop after that first glaze and the results will be great.



I love gold. It’s one of my favourite colours. There is, however, one gold paint that stands head and shoulders above everything else, something that when I realized how much I loved it I went out and bought four extra pots just in case they stopped making it. There’s no substitute for Scalecolour Viking Gold. 

If you really can’t find it, maybe try a 1:1 mix of Retributor Armour and Balthazar Gold. Still it’s worth buying if you can get it.

Shade it with Agrax Earthshade, highlight with Liberator Gold, corners with Stormhost Silver, you’re done.



The whites across this army are mostly simple – white hit with contrast Soulblight Grey and then highlighted back to white. For the Siegebreaker Behemoth I did something special though; this technique would work on any highly textured surface, like the upper bodies of Incarnate Sentinels.

After painting the whole area in Ulthulan Grey, I shade with a random mix of Berserker Bloodshade, Magos Purple and watered down Emperor’s Children/Fulgrim Pink. You can use really bright colours like those pinks as shades for white, just add enough water to the paint that the surface tension breaks and it’ll run into the recesses. Then drybrush the area with Ulthulan Grey and then a pure white again. Do another pass with the shades and drybrushes if you’re not satisfied, you can trace it up out of the recesses to make a veiny, marbled pattern. Touch some areas with very gentle amounts of Blood for the Blood God to finish the effect.



It starts off the same as my basic white – white shaded with Soulblight Grey. This time, though, only run the Soulblight Grey over the 50% or so of the model you want to be white. Then, while the Soulblight Grey is still wet, get some Kroxigor Scales and run it over the unpainted area, and then wet blend it a little into the Soulblight Grey where the two meet. Be careful with this because the teal will dominate the mix if you pull it up too far.



Just your basic black+highlight Eshin Grey+highlight Stormvermin fur process. It’s a classic and everyone uses it because it works. I’ve also done some models with the Dark Reaper/Thunderhawk Blue combo. If you’re working on larger models consider adding an extremely faint drybrush of Emperor’s Children to weather it into the alien landscape a little.



So I did this entire army this way because I purchased these purple alien tufts and needed an army to go with them.

Put down your texture paints first, before spraying. Use whatever you like for these. Basepaint the bases Slaanesh Grey/Warpfiend Grey, and then drown the entire thing in our old friend Magos Purple. Then drybrush with Emperor’s Children and/or Fulgrim Pink. Like with organics you can be super messy and inconsistent with the paints you’re using, chaos makes it read as more natural and less artificial.


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