Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Zenithal = Piece of piss

If you're anything like me, you'll spend your time perusing various blogs, forums, groups etc, looking with jealousy at other folks painting skills and wondering how they manage it. The Scale Creep guys are good for sharing tips and giving constructive criticism to each other but some times I want to try something completely different just to see how it works out. No doubt, like me, you've heard whispers of 'Zenithal' shading and wondered what the hell people are talking about. Is it done secret set of paints? Some kind of airbrush? Black magic? I decided to give it a shot and see what all the fuss is about. But what to paint? 

My bezzy mate, Linz, bought me a load of Nurgle figures for my birthday as I'd hinted that if I was ever going to play AOS I'd use those figures. So in order to please him and Cheetor, who also seems to be falling for the charms of the Sigmar age, I grabbed my box of putrid blight kings and got the plastic glue out. 

So. The shading. Well this is the bit that supposedly makes all the difference. And this is how I did it. 

1. Spray the whole thing black. Just the same as every other figure I've ever painted. 

2. Spray over the top with a grey. Coming from above at a fair distance so that you are left with black showing in the recesses.

3. Spray with white from directly above. Ah. I thought I had a white spray? Ok I just dry brushed white over the top levels of the mini.

Piece of piss really. 

The next stage is simply to pick some washes and to cover the areas you want. I was experimenting so I used a range of colours to see what they'd look like. 

So then I started adding secondary colours and reds for the wounds and sores. 

Next up was edge highlighting. For this I decided to go for a brighter shade that I'm used to as its something that I reckon I'm guilty of being to subtle with. 

So this is what I've got after 3 shades and some edge highlighting. 

And another. 

Once all the basics were done all the was left was a bit of more traditional painting on the shield, weapon and foot, a bit of highlighting on the skin and a plume in a nice pink (I only realised it this point that I'd gone for a fairly tzeentchy colour choice but just goes to show that there's more to chaos than colours).

So there you have it. My first go at Zenithal undercoating. I'm pretty happy. I reckon I'll be able to pump out an army in fairly short order and we'll see how that goes. In fact as well as AOS they'll probably work for Dragon Rampant as well.

I'm not going to end up using this technique for all my figures but it's taught me a bit about certain things and I might try using edge highlighting more and pushing the brightness of my highlights. You never know! 


  1. Yeah my first try at it, it worked better than I imagined it would and made me think about changing the way I generally do things. Almost seemed like sorcery! These look great!

  2. God, I realise you've just earned new weapons to paint even more quicker you fast bastard. I'll watch with envy from the cloud of dust you'll leave behind.

  3. Great work! I've been zenithal undercoating since long before the internet gave it a name, but only really so I could see the details when base coating. I'll have to try the washy approach on my forthcoming chaos army. Thanks for the tips. :)

  4. Intresting stuff...I might have to give this a try. Though I'm pretty partial to black undercoat and mostly three layers for my own personal style. ;)

  5. I dont like using sprays, they are expensive and I feel guilty about the waste.You can get a similar effect by using a toothbrush or sponge. I tend to do it with white straight over the bare plastic, then a black/brown wash, then more white over the top.

  6. What a cool time saver they look great as well. Very tempting this AoS lark I must resist I must resist!

  7. I've been meaning to try this technique out for some time and you've just twisted my arm, they look spot on with just a few washes and some highlighting.

  8. Holy crap, that worked well. They look great. I must be trying that.

  9. I`ve tried this before without knowing it was a thing.

  10. You have done a great job on these. Really well done. I copied the painting guide for these on the GW TV thingy which worked well.

  11. Yup, that might be a time-saver :)

  12. I have to try this!!! Great work Colin. And like JB said, you're gong to be even faster now! I feel shame at my slowness in your presence.

  13. It seems to work; I'll give it a go!

  14. Funny thing I just tried this too with a bunch of carrion. Nice looking warriors mate.


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