Step by Step - Salamander Space Marine Terminator

by Roman aka jar

posted by roman, jarhead, kong


After the snow comes back these days and outside is really cold, i decided to take a warm coffee and try to pick up translating some old tutorials of mine in english again.

This one is a Step by Step article about a Games Workshop Terminator from the Chapter of the Salamanders i did paint up about 2 years ago - the final model you may find here! If you are intrested in this article take your time reading it - it is one of the biggest articles i ever wrote until today. I have to say sorry about the photo quality in this tutorial - i never had been good at taking photos, especially in the past (these ones in here are way too bright mostly). From this point on the translation work rolls in:

Salamander Space Marine Terminator - Step by Step

It all began with one of my favorite miniatures ever. A Space Marine Terminator painted up by vincenti - this model is still one of my favorites and i love every single spot on him. I am not able to find the model anymore as the listing on CMON seems lost. Oh damm... ok, i got inspired to start my own Salamander Terminator by vincenti, thanks for this great inspiration again.

The build up

I've tried to catch a pose of the marine while he is advancing into battle. The model itself is build from parts of the Warhammer 40.000 Assault Terminator box. The cloak on the back is from the Warhammer Empire General (Plastic Sprue). The 2 belts at the front are cut off a plastic Khemri Standard and glued to the model.

I put the model up to a cork from a wine bottle to have a better handling of it during the painting process. More information?


The model has been primed using the 2K-Priming method explained here. Looking at my pictures i have to say that i went a bit too much into pure white these days than i would do today.

First Colours / Basecolour

I choose to start with the main parts of the model, in this case the armour. I did start this very bright to work from bright to dark areas by using glazes later on. The basecolour on the armour has been a mix from Citadel's Space Wolfs Grey + bilious green (or schorpion green) + Snot Green in a mix of circa 30/50/20. I didn't use a glaze here as very thinned glazes will take several layers to have a strong basecolour. I did mix in a bit of water, about 1/2 (colour/water) and applied 2 Layers to have them strong. Here comes the model so far - you see it is really very bright:


First soft shadows to the armour

I like to paint models up with a light coming from straight above them. It helps me to know where i put my light and shadow areas in the end and makes him look kind of realistic when he is influanced by a light from above. It also sets the focus at the upper areas of the model where you can find the face which is often the most characteristic place at a miniature. I just think to myself that there is a bulb of light above the model - for sure it isn't there - but my thinking is so strong i can see it in due the experience of doing this very often. If you are intrested in the theory of light check this article!

So i did with the green armour using the basecolour mix from the step above and adding a tip of Hawk Tourquise and Regal blue in it. When i say i use a tip i mean a little colour on the tip of the brush. In the end it is not that important if the tip is a bit too much or too less, you'll find out for yourself due your own experience on how you like to do it. Always remember while reading this that i work my way from dirty to clean. I guess you will have some moments while reading this where you might think "ouh, that's dirty and nasty how he works with his colours!" - Yes it is :)

The glaze became a bit thinner than the basecolour. I did mix it about 1/3 (colour/water) to gentle start with the shadows. I am always trying to move these glazes in the area they shall be in the end. For example the shadow glazes i pull in the direction of the shadows and the light glazes i pull in the direction of the lights. This is how the colour looks on my wet palette:

When working with glazes you should not bring your fresh mix of water and colour (glaze) to the miniature as soon as possible. Stay calm, breathe and detract most of the water from your brush again. I did use a tissue while working at this marine. Today i simply use my skin but this will be explained further on in another tutorial. Moving your brush over the tissue you easily can spot how thin your glaze is:

Important to me is that i already try to focus a complete light situation to the model. I want the legs and lower torso less bright in its colours than the upper areas (light from above). I'll keep that in mind already at these first shadows. Higher means bright colours, lower will get dark. Bad picture i know, but you will get what i try to explain here by the further shadow work on the miniature.

I also added other basecolours, for example Elf Flesh/Graveyard Earth for the facial skin (50/50). The pergaments where made with this mix but with an additional tiny tip of Chaos Black in it. The cloak on the back was done with a mix from Catachan Green and Chaos black. The model looks like this with these first gentle shadows on the armour - really gentle - check out the article about using glazes again, there have been some picture updates made - here!

More Power to the shadows

Next i was up to concentrate my brushwork to the deeper shadows of the armour - always having in mind that my imagined light source comes from the top. I used the basecolour of the armour mixing in Midnight blue + more Snot Green + a tip of Chaos Black to make it darker for the deeper shadows. It looked like this at my wet palette:

The next explanation comes from the imagined light source. You have to understand light and how it works to do so. I'll try to explain to you in this little sketch. If light hits an edge the edge pops out much brigther than the rest. The area besides it goes a bit darker as there is no light coming to this place. The main power of the light is bound to the edge - nah, i hope everyone gets me here... 

With this knowledge i bring in a strong bright edge with a shadow besides it by using a glaze of my second shadow colour tone mentioned above. I have marked the edges where i want the light to hit hard with orange in the following pictures. Always thinking about the light from the top and where i put my shadows.

The face did get its first shadows by bringing in Chaos Black/Scorched Brown/Fortress Grey, ca. 50/30/20 in the basecolour of the skin. I also used this colour mix without the skintone to paint the basecolour of some additional armour parts.

Further colour decisions, intensing shadows

Next steps have been the decision where to put metallics and what colours i use for them. If you are intrested in some thoughts about working with metallics, check this article!

I did paint the following metallics up to the Terminator:

Mithril Silver/Bubonic Brown/Snakebite Leather/Liche Purple (ca. 60/15/15/10)

Mithril Silver/Hawk Tourquise/Chaos Black (ca. 60/20/20)

All skulls on the model became a basecolour done from Schorched Brown. The pergament was worked to its first shadows by using Bleached Bone + Chaos Black. The face got several thin glazes of Scorched Brown to intense the shadows in it. The eyes have been painted black, followed by white. More about eyes is planned in another tutorial. The upper cloak part was made from a mix of Vile Green/Bleached Bone/Chaos Black/Deadly Nightshade.

The shadows on the armour got more intensed by mixing a darker shadow tone from Chaos Black/Snot Green/Liche Purple/Deadly Nightshade (ca. 30/30/20/20). I concentrated my brushwork this time in the shadow areas to bring them more depth, done by glazing them. This step looks a bit dirty at the moment, but you know, dirty first, clean later - that's how i paint and live :)

The colour mix used at the armour looked like this at my wet palette:

The model itself is now in this state of progress. Hope everyone can see the blabla i did about light slowly reaching the miniature:

 Also i build up a gaming base for this guy by using stones, a coloumn from Rackham which has been cut in the upper torso and some dry wine branches from our balcony - i know crazy weirdo stuff, haha - all butchered in putty, which provides good fixation when it is dry:

Cleaning up the mess by using middletones, intensing shadows and lights

The areas of the armour where the light hits the most have been intensed by using the basic armour colour + Ivory (Vallejo Model Colour / 70918).

The dirty areas from glazing to the shadows where no put attention at. Cleaning up works well with going back to the bascoat. Now take a look at 'dirty' areas and try to understand why there is maybe a not so good spot, not clean in place where maybe cleannes is the wish.  To understand it simply think this way: There is just a too quick break from one colour hue to the other, so we need the colours hue in between to fix it (I did use the basecolour and crazy mixes of it adding Chaos Black, Bestial Brown, Liche Purple, Midnight Blue, Teracotta totally randomly). Now mix it your way and bring it at place to tidy up. Now idea if this is understandable in my 'troglodyte-english-language-abilities'


At least i hope so. Further on little typing fingers...

The dandruffs at the cloak have been done with a various mix from the colours above to bring in some shadows by glazing. The facial eye area was gently glazed with Liche Purple. The golden parts have been glazed with Liche Purple + Teracotta several times.

At the grey armour parts a mix of Chaos Black/Bleached Bone/Space Wolfs Grey (ca. 30/20/50) was attached. I have no idea what this might be good for, but big Urang-Utan-King will tell me for sure in the end.

Lightwork, thinking about the detailworks, assembly to the base

At this point i first have to say sorry. Ahhhh... not again. Really i hate myself for this. Most times when a miniature comes to detailwork my brain completly switches off and i can't tell anymore what i did 2 minutes ago... damn it! This is truely no joke or a test on kidding you... this is the plain truth, damn it! Ok, this is the actual state and a better photo too - i did fix him up to the base:

I'll try to explain. Brain reset. Think!

At the base i chose warm earthy colours. I workded mostly everything up from Graveyard Earth and mixed a lot in, like purple, teracotta, black, catachan green. The sand has been drybrushed while the stones and the statue have been painted normally. Take a view on the edge/light thing - i always like to put as much attention to a base than i do to the miniature. It makes it more homogenous in the end.

The grass i have used here is from the company "MiniNatur" and is really easy to assemble, but there will be another tutorial on how to do so and how you can make it less glued to the base - way more harmonic. Sooner or later. The leaves are birch seeds, glued to the base. You may also get those at PK-Pro if you are a lazy guy.

The green armour was strengthen in its lights by using a mix of Bad Moon Yellow and Snot Green (ca. 70/30). Also the shadows have finally got some attention with soft glazes of chaos black + Regal blue (50/50) - somehow an additional drop of Schorched brown in it, don't know why but i used this also in the next places. The grey armour parts have been glazed into the shadows by using this colour. The lights have been done by mixing in Fortress Grey and Ice blue in that mix.

By using the brown/black glaze i have done a complete darklining on the model, that means i took my time to seperate every single area from the other by a dark line. It is way easier for the eyes to get some more information out of the model when this is applied. It is getting sharper and you have a clearer view on the details. Soft, gently glazes of Scorched Brown to Vermin brown have been used for the weathering on the green armour. I tried to do it not overall - i tried to focus on the idea of "less is sometimes more". 

The golden parts have been glazed with Bestial Brown about 5 times. The energy weapon, the hammer did recieve some glazes with pure white, followed by glazes of ice blue, gently applied over the white to make it bright and strong in its energy powers. To make this effect stronger i took a tip of Hawk Tourquise and brought it in by mixing it to ice blue. Carefully glazed this in, concentrating on the deeper spots.

From a mix of Scab Red + Chaos Black (ca. 40/60) i started the "Flames" at the shoulder- and kneepad. The cloak on the back has been darkened with glazes from a mix of Chaos Black + Hawk Tourquise (ca. 40/60).
The dandruffs have been darkend by using a glaze of Purple Liche. For the deepest cavities i have used the mix of the darklining step, mentioned above. Colours used by the base have been appplied to the end of the cloak to make it look more used. Did the same to the feet.

The face recieved glazes of Elf Flesh to set the ligths in the face. Mixed in teracotta, Tanned Flesh, Scab Red, Hawk Tourquise und Chaos Black to achieve deeper shadows in the face. I have to redo the eyes again after i smashed them up while painting the face. Close up:

Detailwork A

I removed the model from the base again. Yeah i know this might sound very chaotic. I did so because i had no other chance bringing in more details. 

The eyes in the face have been set with white again. A black pupil was set in both eyes and have been finished with a white tiny point in the black to show the light reflection in the eye. Not completly satisfied with the actual state of the eyes but i'll try to fix this.

The golden areas have been glazed with brown/red again while the lights got attention at the edges by using mithril silver additional to the gold base colour.

I did paint the flames on the knee and the shoulder with a spontenous mix of cab Red/Bubonic Brown/Golden Yellow/Fiery Orange/Bad Moon Yellow/Chaos Black


Detailwork B

The skulls have been painted with a mix of Fortress Grey/Chaos Black/Bubonic Brown (ca. 50/20/30). Lights have been set with more Bleached Bone in this mix while the shadows have been set with adding Midnight Blue/Schorched Brown to the starting mix.

I strengthen the flames by making the green that touches them nearby a bit darker. Now i try to explain my work at the flames using the knee for explanation. I did start here with a mix from Scab Red/Bubonic Brown.

I did set the cloth part on the other shoulder into the lights by starting with Graveyard Earth over adding Bleached Bone. Still no idea what will be up there and i have also no idea why there are pink spots now.

I checked the model long time in my hands, viewing it from every angle. I so decided which areas should get more lights and which less. I controlled this over the complete miniature and made some final highlights. I often do the final lights in the end so i can navigate the focus way easier.

The skulls and the final lights at the armour edges have been strengthen in their lights by using Bleached Bone/Scoprion Green. I checked the darklining over the complete miniature and reworked some places. I also started to play a bit with additional weathering to make this guy really look battleproofed.

I took my time to take a good photo of the miniature now and this is the result, still too bright but at least sharp:

Final words

Again i have to say sorry that this article gets lost in its own progress. It is always hard for me to complete rethink everything i have done, mostly when it comes to an end. Whatever, i hope you like it and i hope it helps... always remember:

If life would be easy were would all the adventures be?

Keep on happy painting!


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