How to Paint Hive Fleet Dendrobatidae – Primaris Kevin’s Method

This article is part of a larger series on How to Paint Tyranids. To return to that series, click here. After my laborious but fun scheme with my Regal Skulls Space Marine army, I wanted to dive into the realm of Tyranids and make some bugs. My logic for this was twofold. First, I like big bugs and I cannot lie. Second, it should be easy to come up with a quick scheme that looks good but doesn’t take much time. After extensive exploration, tweaking, and getting really helpful feedback from my friends I came up with a highly colorful and saturated scheme reminiscent of a poison dart frog. Hence the name Hive Fleet Dendrobatidae. This scheme was first featured with Rippy the Ripper, and while it looks nuts the core concepts are fairly easy to execute. They would also likely translate pretty easily to another scheme if you wanted to, such as creating a Kraken scheme with GW Blood Angel Red.
This was supposed to be simple and fast. Credit: Kevin Genson


The first thing I do is assemble the model into components, remove any mold lines I find, and apply Green Stuff to fill in gaps as well as the eyes. The entire model is undercoated with GW Wraithbone spray and then a full wash of Army Painter Soft Tone is applied. The model is then drybrushed with Vallejo Game Air Bonewhite (I specifically use the air paint because it’s thinned and produces a nice glazing effect) followed by a regular white paint.
Work in progress Exocrine showing the washed and drybrushed Wraithbone undercoat as well as the base after painting.


The blue bits are two coats of GW Talassar Blue thinned to a 50/50 consistency with GW Contrast Medium. The combination of the washed and drybrush undercoat with the thinned Contrast paint produces a lot of depth and variation. Try to be neat if you can as you’ll want to clean up any overages with Bonewhite before you move on to the rest of the model.

The Carapace

The yellow carapace pieces are a single layer of Liquitex Professional Yellow Orange Azo over the washed and drybrushed Wraithbone undercoat. I use this product a lot thanks to its extensive pigment content, and because it’s my favorite color. I line the recesses with AP Strong Tone if I want more of a contrast, but it depends on the model and circumstances. Be careful with the ink pooling in the crevices as it will turn orange if it gets too thick. The dot patterns on the carapace are made using LP Carbon Black. I start by depositing a few drops in a random pattern and then drawing the drops together while the ink is still wet. I am relying on surface tension to get the pattern and keep things tight.

Pink Bits

The fleshy bits like the tongue, gums, and those weird organic vent things start with a white undercoat and then a single layer of LP Magenta. I then tone things down with Army Painter Purple wash. I may add some blended magenta and white if I want to emphasize a particular feature or provide a bit more contrast.


The claws start with an undercoat of GW Blood Angel Red contrast. I then apply a layer of LP Carbon Black ink to the base, and use a mixture of LP Pyrrole Red and Carbon Black to slowly wet blend a transition. The LP ink products are very good for wet blending, as they can reactivate the layers underneath and come together nicely when you apply several successive thin coats.
I’m also completely incapable of leaving well enough alone when it comes to the models themselves. Credit: Kevin Genson

The Base

I use GW Agrellan Earth to provide some texture and then undercoat with Wraithbone. The base color is two coats of GW Snakebite Leather. I then wash it with AP Strong Tone and then drybrush it with Vallejo Model Color Hull Red. The rocks are pieces of oyster shells. I started with a layer of Contrast Baslicanum Grey and drybrushed with VMC Gloss White. Different techniques are applied for different plants, mostly consisting of Contrast paints. The green leaves are from a GW kit and are painted with GW Warp Lighting with the stem painted in a line of GW Ork Flesh. The blue fungal pods are printed on a resin printer and start with a base of GW Aethermatic Blue with some AP Soft Tone on the base and some green contrast tones for detail. The whole base is finally rimmed in Badger Stynylrez Black. This article is part of a larger series on How to Paint Tyranids. To return to that series, click here.