How to Paint the Mutalith Vortex Beast – TheChirurgeon’s Method

This article is part of a larger series on how to paint the Thousand Sons. To return to the parent article, click this link

The Thousand Sons aren’t all rubrics with their blue armor and gold trim; many armies opt to supplement their sorcerous might with various beasts of Chaos and Daemons. In this article we’ll be looking at one way to paint the Mutalith Vortex beast.


The mutalith is a big model but there aren’t really many nooks and crannies to it, nor spaces I felt I coudln’t reach assembling it normally. It might have been OK to glue the burning vortex on later, but as-is I just assembled the whole thing and primed it, doing a bit of a zenithal prime with Mechanicus Standard Grey and Grey Seer. I normally prime black, but I wanted to use contrast paints for the flame vortex, so it made more sense to go with lighter colors.

The Skin

I started by washing the skin with Druchii Violet on the bottom and Carroburg Crimson on top, hoping to give it a semi fade of purple-grey into more of a pink. This worked fine but had the added side effect of giving me a color I didn’t really have the paint to match to correct. I’d end up mixing Celestra Grey and Druchii violet in a separate pot to make a “grurple” color, a kind of very light grey-purple that’s like a slightly lighter Daemonette Hide. This is what I ended up using for highlights on the flesh and corrections I needed to make. I use it to highlight and pick out muscle groups, particularly on the exposed flank with the raised arm.

The Tentacled Maw and Claws

Next was the maw, which was a more complicated process. I started by painting the tentacles with Screamer Pink, which I then washed with Carroburg Crimson. After that I highlighted it again with Screamer Pink and then faded that out on the tentacles with Pink Horror and Emperor’s Children, then did edge highlights with Fulgrim Pink. 

The drool was a bit trickier. I started by painting the drool with Ogryn Camo and then did some blends with that to have it mesh better going into the tentacles. You can see this best in the second gallery photo. The teeth on the tentacles were painted with Rakarth Flesh and shaded a bit with Agrax Earthshade before being highlighted with Rakarth Flesh and Reaper Polished Bone. At the end I give the whole thing a heavy coat of ‘Ardcoat to give it a glossy, wet look. It’s gross as hell.

At this point I also painted the claws and horns, painting them Abaddon Black, shading that up to Corvus Black, and then edge highlighting with Mechanicus Standard Grey and Celestra Grey. 

The Flaming Vortex

Hoo boy, this took me a while and half of that was figuring out an execution I liked. I started by coating the vortex itself in mutiple coats of Iyanden Yellow, and I also put that and Cassandora Yellow on the Mutalith to create a kind of yellow OSL effect. Yellow and Purple are complementary colors so this doesn’t create the best mix, and I’ll have to come back to it to touch it up and highlight those spots with Dorn Yellow later on.

The vortex is a three-stage process. In the first stage I’m painting yellow, but the idea is to work outward from yellow with orange and red. This is all done with Contrast – next comes Gryph-Hound Orange, and then Blood Angels Red on the outsides, with some slight touches of purple using Druchii Violet on the tips of the Chaos Star. Once the contrast colors are down, it’s time to go back over the raised parts using brighter colors, primarily Flash Gitz Yellow, Fire Dragon Bright, and Evil Sunz Scarlet. 

I work the interior back up with Dorn Yellow and Reaper Pure White until I have a white center that looks appropriately hot.

Finishing Touches

After that there are a few more touches to put on. The bone spurs that aren’t horns are painted Rakarth Flesh and blended into the grurple color of the flesh, and I’ll highlight them with Reaper Polished Bone to finish them off. The tail tongues are painted the same as the tentacles. THe base is just an average desert base, though I add some dust to the Mutalith’s legs.

In all, I’m pretty happy with this, though the yellow OSL could have been better – it’s a bit too strong. The Mutalith took longer than I expected to paint, mostly because the maw took a while and the skin color I picked took a lot of custom paint mixing.

This article is part of a larger series on how to paint the Thousand Sons. To return to the parent article, click this link