Flames Tutorial

For my first article as resident painting bloke, I thought it would be best to do a tutorial on how I did the flames on my Imperial Knights! I took these to Throne of Skulls in March and I was lucky enough so be selected as one of the best looking eight armies. Below is the picture of my four knights for the purposes of this tutorial we will focus on the traditional flame colours. This tutorial can be applied to a range of different colours as you can see by the lead green knight.

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Okay so all the pictures below are done with the top plate as this will give us a nice surface to play around with the technique.

The tools you will need for achieving this are:

1. Airbrush and Compressor

2.Black Primer (for the initial basecoat)

3. 1 Plasticard sheet

4. Scissors

5. A dark grey colour, light grey colour, white, red, yellow and finally orange (personally I use a mixture of Vallejo and Minitaire paints).

So the plasticard and the scissors are the first pieces you will need to cut out two templates. One template must be cut into a wave and the other cut into tear drops of different sizes as seen below.

You can buy templates like this online but it’s just as easy to make your own, the plasticard will swell after time but you can just make new ones by doing it this way. I did all four knights with this set and they just about need replacing.

Now we want to start with your dark grey colour and we need to position the template with the rounded section at the very base of the front of the base plate. Set your compressor to around 25 psi as this will give you more control as we need to go around the edge of the template. Keep the template still and carefully go around the edges aim for just inside the template then if you accidentally spray more paint it wont be too bad! Keep moving around the piece until you get an effect such as this.

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While you’ve got this colour in the airbrush go over all the pieces in a similar fashion you want to have this effect on.

Next comes the wave piece we cut out, we want to use this piece to give our original pattern a bit more of a flowing feel so go to the edges and pull the grey back in as we shall see in the next picture.

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Now after we’ve done this we need to go back to our original template and get the lighter grey and we want to edge highlight our original pattern. Now, the key is to try to not to overlap the original darker grey too much. Try and keep this quite fine but don’t worry about doing it absolutely everywhere. You should get a finish similar to this…..

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At this point you might be losing a little bit of faith that we are heading in the right direction but fear not were about to start bringing the panel to life! Granted it doesn’t look much look a flame at the minute so let’s add some red. Personally I use Vallejo Scarlet Red here and you want to put a thin layer over the whole piece. If you put too much of a coat on here you will obscure our hard work so far so remember keep it light and go for multiple coats if you need to.

So lets add that red colour:

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So the first red coat is on and it’s looking a bit more flamey. As we’ve tried using the templates once already so let’s do it again. Add the light grey again using our teardrop template and our wave template. Don’t worry about the positioning just put it wherever you like just like the first layer.

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Don’t worry about covering your hard work so far as we are about to take it to another level! Now it’s time to use our orange colour and again like we did with the red we want to apply a thin coat over the whole piece again.

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Now were getting somewhere! The flames are starting to pop now. Don’t worry about the shine the paint will give the piece as we can add a Matt Varnish here later on to protect our hard work and to dull the shine, personally I use Army Painter Matt Varnish.

For the next step we want to use our white and very carefully add some highlights to our orange section. As you can see on the right hand side I got a bit trigger happy and put far too much white down. We can quickly solve this by just repeating the above steps though. Don’t add too much white as we don’t want too much showing through so a similar amount to what I added in my next photo and you will be fine. Of course all tastes are different so don’t take my guide as gospel experiment your self and see what happens.

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I like to use the wave template at an angle roughly 45 degrees and spray a very fine coat near your highlights at this stage it looks like we’ve ruined it slightly but the steps are really simple so you can just redo them if you don’t like the results.

After the white highlights we need to take our final colour which is yellow and again like the red and orange add a thin layer all over the piece to achieve a finish like this.

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So as we can see I wasn’t happy with the excess white so I re-sprayed it black and started again this only took a few minutes to do another new layer. As the layers are really thin with an airbrush you don’t have to worry about clogging the detail too much.

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Have a play around to get a finish you like, if you think the yellow is too bright then use the light grey again instead of the white as this will give it more of a subtle look.

One last picture is one of the knights in the cabinet on the second day of Throne to give you a complete look at the finished model. When you add all the pieces together you will then get more of a striking model. This technique can be used on all sorts of models.

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I hope you enjoyed my first article and I hope you found this article informative. Don’t be scared to give this a go as you can see each step is quite simple but gives a completely different finish.

Thanks for reading,

– Mark


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