How to Paint Everything: Ynnari, Part 1 – The Visarch

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. This week, we’re kicking off a three-part series on how to paint Ynnari, specifically the triumverate of Ynnead that make up the faction’s special named characters. 


The end of Warhammer 40,000’s seventh edition was a tumultuous time. The edition was a bit of a disaster, having been marked by the confusing and broken formations system of army construction, loads of unnecessary random tables, and summoning daemons to help you regardless of the army you were playing. As 8th edition loomed, Games Workshop decided to make a large change not just to the rules, but the storyline as well, choosing to re-run (and revise) the 13th Black Crusade plot it had run more than a decade before. The new story saw Abaddon finally destroying Cadia, Guilliman returning, and the Eldar gaining new hope.

Book 2 of the campaign’s Gathering Storm trilogy acted as a follow-up to the story hooks laid out in the Death Masque campaign/boxed set, focusing almost exclusively on the waking of a new Eldar god of the dead, Ynnead. Eldrad Ulthuan’s attempts to prematurely awaken Ynnead weren’t completely unsuccessful despite Deathwatch interference, and as a result, the God of the Dead stirred in its slumber, eventually waking to the point where it could lend power to the Eldar. The followers of Ynnead come from all aspects of the Eldar, including Craftworlds/Asuryani, Dark Eldar/Drukhari, and Harlequins, and believe that Ynnead will help the Eldar survive the end times and destroy Slaanesh. Chief among Ynnead’s followers is Yvraine, and the Visarch is her protector.


Part 1 – The Visarch

The Visarch makes his debut in the lore in Gathering Storm book 2: Fracture of Biel-Tan. Moments after Yvraine is resurrected by the birth of Ynnead, the Visarch arrives to jump to her defense with a band of his own warriors. Although his body and dominant personality are that of Yvraine’s former mentor, the Visarch channels many Eldar souls within his body, and may call on their memories and personalities as needed. In battle, he can channel the rage of an Incubi, the skill of an Exarch, and the speed of a Wych. The Visarch wears ancient armor in the style of Bel-Anshoc and wields the Cronesword Asu-var, the Sword of Silent Screams, one of the five crone swords of the Aeldari. Story-wise, Yvraine is the major focus throughout the Gathering Storm narrative, with the Visarch acting as more of a silent, mysterious protector to her, saying only a few words when he first appears and adding only a few more afterward.

Where to Read More

The Visarch was first introduced in The Gathering Storm II campaign book, released at the tail end of seventh edition. There hasn’t been a ton of content on the new Eldar cast since the bulk of Games Workshop’s fiction releases tend to be Marine-focused, but there are a few sources you can turn to if you want to read more about the Visarch’s adventures with Yvraine. Fiction-wise, the Visarch tends to be played up as “mysterious,” so even though he appears in these books, don’t expect to get a ton of characterization of him.

  • The Gathering Storm II Campaign Book introduces the Visarch along with the other Ynnari characters
  • Shadow Warrior, by Gav Thorpe details Yvraine and the Visarch’s attempts to recapture the final crone sword from a long-lost craftworld that has only recently re-emerged from The Warp.
  • Wild Rider, by Gav Thorpe is the second book in the Rise of the Ynnari series and details the Ynnari helping the Saim-Hann craftworld fend off Necrons.


Playing With the Visarch

After languishing for most of 8th edition, the Visarch got a substantial buff with the release of Index: Ynnari in May 2019’s White Dwarf. He dropped in points cost, making him the least expensive way to tap into Ynnari, gained a much-needed 4+ invulnerable save, and gained a re-roll 1s bubble in the Fight phase that affects all Ynnari units. This last change meant he finally had a mechanical reason to exist, especially if you’re interested in running Harlequins, who normally have to pay CP to access a re-roll bubble, and now lose access to that ability if they’ve become Ynnari.

The Visarch is pretty strong in the Fight phase, crossing the threshold from “OK” to “actually pretty dangerous” thanks to being S5 and -3AP. Like Yvraine, he re-gains wounds when nearby AELDARI models die, and can also gain additional attacks if AELDARI CHARACTERS die. Normally abilities that give extra bonus attacks over the course of a game aren’t worth your time, but that’s partially because you typically have to pay for them by taking a relic or warlord trait, and the Visarch’s ability requires neither, making it slightly more relevant and less painful to get. While you could technically use the Visarch to act as a bodyguard for Yvraine, keeping her alive isn’t as important as it used to be, so the ability isn’t super relevant. Finally, The Visarch shares Yvraine’s ability to ride in all the different Aeldari transports, which is a nice bonus.

The Visarch, all things told, is pretty cool. They could probably have made him even cheaper, but he’s fine overall and can be a nice complement to a unit of Ynnari Harlequins leaping out of an allied transport to buff their capabilities. It’s also not irrelevant that he gives the Yncarne the benefit of his re-roll 1s aura – rolling a clutch of 1s To Hit with the Yncarne felt pretty terrible, and the Visarch can now show that glowing purple newbie the ropes to avoid this.

If the Visarch is your Warlord he has to take the Master of Death trait, which means each unmodified 6 he rolls to hit is 2 hits. That’s OK but but the “unmodified” part keeps it from being great.


Painting the Visarch

Of the three models in the Triumvirate of Ynnead, the Visarch is the most straightforward, and likely to cause the fewest problems, so we’ve chosen him as our starting point for the series. If you’re a relatively new painter and are looking to tackle the Triumvirate models as a hobby project, I’d recommend starting with the Visarch, both because he’s the least useful on the table, and because he’ll be the easiest model to practice some techniques on. As always, we’ll be showcasing multiple styles and methods for painting here, with multiple levels of difficulty and skill applied.

Alfredo “Bonds0097” Ramirez’s Approach

The Visarch seems like a daunting model to paint with his dynamic pose, embossed armor and literal mountains of gems but if you come up with a plan and break the process down, he actually doesn’t have that many different colors and can be quite approachable.

  1. The Visarch’s pose meant that getting to certain areas would be very difficult if I glued the whole body together. In particular, the legs occlude the inside of the cape and the sword arm occludes a bunch of stuff. Ultimately I settled on three sub-assemblies. The legs, the torso which included the cape (because there were seams on the fur that I wanted to make sure were welded with plastic glue), and the sword arm.
  2. After zenithal priming, I did the main armor color. You’ll note the model looks fully assembled but that’s actually just together with blue-tack. This is helpful for a number of reasons. For one, it ensures that your zenithal shading and highlights match the actual pose of the model; this can be difficult when working with subassemblies. Secondly, it ensures the contact areas between sub-assemblies don’t get primer or paint on them and you have clean surfaces to bond together with glue later on.
  3. As is usual, I basecoated all areas before moving on to washes. I masked the torso and painted the cape with an airbrush, then did the rest by hand. I paid particular attention to the tabard as I really wanted this to stand out as a nice crisp white area.
  4. With the main body of the armor being red, the sword was a good opportunity for contrast so I chose blue as my color. That said, I hate painting power swords so I took advantage of my subassembly and masked out the armor bits then sprayed the sword with metal and Tamiya clear on top. I find this gets a really nice power sword effect with minimal effort.

The Colors

  • The Armor: I wanted a nice contrast of cool and warm on the armor so I used a purpleish red for the shading (Scale75 Deep Red) up to a warmer red on the airbrush highlight (Scale75 Aldebaran Red). For the edge highlights I went all the way up yellow on the brightest points. Overall, I think my armor is less orange-y than the studio scheme which I felt worked better with the overall Ynnari scheme in case I ever do guardians or something in the Ynnari colors.
  • The Cape: Unlike the studio scheme, I didn’t want such a saturated blue right next to the red, I felt that clashed a bit for my tastes. As such, I went with a pretty desaturated blue tending towards grey.
  • The Tabard: The tabard was probably the second most time-consuming part of the model (after the god damn gems)
  • The Fur: To tie the armor and cape together I went with purple tones as my base for the fur and then drybrushed it up to warm off-whites.
  • The Gold: I like Scale75 Dwarven Gold for my eldar golds but rather then shade Sepia as I might normally do I used violet to tie it back to the armor, though really there aren’t large areas of detailed gold so this didn’t matter all that much.
  • The Gems: The gems are all just Scale75 silvers with Tamiya Clear on top.

Tips & Tricks:

  • SUBASSEMBLIES – in this case, keeping the sword and upper torso separate during the painting process helped a lot
  • Don’t paint the gems until the end and gloss coat them after you’ve varnished the rest of the model so that you get a nice shine.
  • Think about your gem colors and placements. Green and Blue will have the most contrast against the armor so use those on the face and centerline to draw the eye in.
  • Don’t be intimidated by the embossed armor, the lines are quite distinct and using the side of your brush you can edge highlight them with ease.

The Final Result:


Liam “Corrode” Royle’s Approach

I am far from the most disciplined or technique-focused painter on Goonhammer – my strength is industrial-scale painting, turning out multiple armies per year which look good enough on the table that people aren’t ashamed to play against them. That said, I enjoyed painting the Triumvirate of Ynnead a lot, and I think I did a pretty good job on them, so when HTPE: Ynnari came up I jumped to volunteer. This guy is an interesting challenge to paint. He’s only a regular infantry-sized model on a 32mm base, but he’s absolutely packed with detail. He has a bunch of different textures and materials, plus approximately ten thousand gems dotted around everywhere. Fun!

I don’t do anything particularly fancy priming wise – no zenithals or special base coats or anything here! Just straight up Army Painter Uniform Grey, because I like working on grey as a compromise middle ground between black and white. I should also point out that I almost never sub-assemble anything – I build the whole damn model and paint it like that, attached to the base it’s going to live its life on. This makes painting a little more challenging, but at my standard it’s fine. If you’re thinking “how did you do the cloak without messing up the armour” – basically what I do is block in the base colours, taking care but ultimately not worrying too much if it’s a little messy, and then clean up afterwards. After that, when you’re doing finer work, and taking commensurately more care, you should be ok. If you can’t get your brush in somewhere, that probably means no-one is ever going to look there, so the most important thing is just that the base colour is blocked in (so that there’s no unsightly primer showing through etc.)

As you read through this, then, assume that my process was not “paint this whole section, then this whole section,” but instead “put down all the base layers described, then clean them up, then put down the secondary layers, then clean up if necessary, then move on to the finer details.” 

For the main area of the armour, I started at Khorne Red, then layered on Mephiston Red, then Jokaero Orange. After the Jokaero went on I thought I’d made a huge mistake, since I wanted a redder tone, but the answer turned out to be Carroburg Crimson – washing the armour with this gave it a nice depth and brought it back down towards brick red, exactly the tone I wanted. I hit some raised areas with Jokaero Orange again and edge highlighted the helm, the knee armour etc. and then did a final corner highlight on the highest points with Troll Slayer Orange.

The golds were all Gehenna Gold, then Auric Gold, washed Reikland Flesh, and then re-layered with Auric before a final edge highlight of Runefang on the highest points. The gems got much the same treatment before I then went back and blocked in two tones of colour on them. Just in terms of the gems, because there are so many and I was liable to miss some, I sat down with the GW website open in front of my monitor and just rotated the Visarch around in the 360 view, copying the colours they’d used for them. This sounds mad, but it’s a helpful way to take care of a slightly overwhelming part of the model, and make sure you don’t miss any. For the other metal parts, these are just based Leadbelcher and then layered Ironbreaker.

The cream cloth was all Rakarth Flesh, layered up with Flayed One Flesh and then Screaming Skull, with Seraphim Sepia washed into the recesses and then tidied up with Screaming Skull again. The belts and the soft parts of the armour are VMC Black Grey, with an edge of Mechanicus Standard Grey.

The fur on the cloak and the little cloth cords tied around his shoulder… things and holding some of the gems were done more or less the same, with a base layer of Mechanicus Standard Grey, then a couple of layers of Ulthuan Grey under VMC White for a smooth finish. The fur was then washed with Drakenhof Nightshade to give it a blue tone, then relayered with Ulthuan Grey followed by VMC White.

You can see what I mean about there being lots of bits and pieces to this guy! We’re in the home stretch now- just the cloak, the sword, and the sash. The sash was simply Naggaroth Night, then a layer of Xereus Purple covering most (but not all) of it, and then another layer of Genestealer Purple covering less again, and then finally Emperor’s Children pink on the tips.

The cloak is Macragge Blue, then raised areas hit with Altdorf Guard, a finer layer of Calgar Blue, and then recesses washed with Drakenhof Nightshade.

Finally there’s the sword. This is probably the only part of the model that’s actually technically impressive! Along either side of the blade, I started from Kantor Blue, and then wet blended up through Macragge Blue, then Teclis Blue, then Lothern, then Baharroth Blue, and then back out again on the other side. For the back of the blade I simply reversed, starting lighter and getting darker towards the middle. To finish, I applied a thin highlight of VMC White along the centre of the blade, then glazed the whole thing with thinned down Drakenhof Blue.

All that’s left after that is a quick matte varnish (Testor’s Dullcote for life), some ‘Ardcoat applied to the gems to make them shine, and then some grass and some Gamer’s Grass flowers which I’m using to tie my Eldar together.

That’s it! A bit of a marathon to write down, but surprisingly quick to achieve.


Jay “Flavivirus” Iles’ Approach

“The Visarch is wearing ancient armour, archaic compared to modern Eldar designs. I wanted to show some of that age, as well as the power that came with it. I also wanted to use the fur on his cape as a common colour with Yvraine’s Gyrinx familiar to bring them together, and a deep purple for his cape to blend him in with the rest of my Aeldari forces (which have purple and turquoise as linking colours).”

For the Visarch’s armour:

  • Primed Halfords Grey.
  • Basecoated with Vallejo Model Metallic Air Signal Red.
  • Washed with GW Nuln oil.
  • Drybrushed with GW Fire Dragon Bright (to add a bit of rust/age to the armour).
  • Metallic blades on elbows and knees were picked out with Vallejo Model Metallic Air Silver, belts and straps were hit with Vallejo Game Color Turquoise.

For the cloth:

  • Basecoated with GW Xereus Purple.
  • Washed with GW Druchii Violet
  • Highlighted with GW Genestealer purple.

For the gems:

  • Based with Vallejo Silver.
  • Coated with GW Waystone Green, Soulstone Red, or Tamiya Clear Blue.

Fur trim:

  • Based with GW Ahriman Blue.
  • Dry brushed with a 1:3 mix of Vallejo Game Colour Dead White and Ahriman Blue.


  • Based with Vallejo Silver.
  • Glazed with a 1:2 mix of Lahmian Medium and Waystone Green.


  • Start with a layer of Vallejo Sandy Paste.
  • Base with GW Gorthor Brown.
  • Wash with Agrax Earthshade.
  • Apply Valhallan Blizzard and Middenland Tufts as desired.

Finally, varnished with two coats of Vallejo Mecha Matt.

Problem Areas/Things to Avoid

If you can, paint the body before putting on the cape. Keeping the cape detached saved me a lot of time and worry.

If you had to do it again, what would you do differently?

The highlights on the cloak could have been blended a lot more evenly. I started off using Soulstone Blue for some of the blue gems and it just didn’t look good; I’m using Tamiya Clear Blue for all of them would be better in future. Finally, the basing is a little lacklustre – some decoration there would really elevate the mini.


Next Time: Yvraine

That wraps up our look at how to paint the Visarch. Next time we’ll take a look at how to paint Ynnead’s emissary, Yvraine.