Thursday 5 November 2015

Step-by-step: Painting a Nurgle Plaguebearer – part 1


The Games Workshop (GW) plaguebearers are lovely minis to work on with lots of character and sculpted details. They are also relatively straightforward to construct and have an uncomplicated form that lends itself to customisation. 

For the most part I’ve kept customisation to a minimum, focusing instead on getting a dynamic twist into the poses and opening up some of the sculpted details on the stomachs to create some depth within the minis. 

Plastic minis have really come on over the last few years with increasingly dynamic poses and a greater dimensionality, however, they can often be a little bland in regards to their surface textures. Even the best plastic minis often have a few smooth areas that just look … plastic! Rather than being a problem this smoothness gives the painter an opportunity to create their own textures, either physically or with painted effects. 

To introduce some extra physical texture to my Plaguebearers, I’ve used baking soda. I mix the baking soda together with my base colour and some Vallejo matt varnish to form a thick gritty paste. The varnish is important as it makes the mix stronger and prevents it crumbling when dry. You can experiment with the proportions of the mix to vary the finished effect. Broadly speaking the more baking soda you use the rougher the finish. 

The mixed paste can then be applied on top of the base with a clean damp brush. Alternatively you can create a more extreme texture by building up small blobs & balls of the paste onto the mini. I’ve also pushed a few microbeads into the paste to add variety to the texture. 

As the baking soda mix doesn’t shrink very much during drying it can also be used to fill and cover gaps. It will, of course, dry to a rough texture so it’s uses as a filler are limited, but this is still a useful option. Once the baking soda mix is fully dry give it a coat of the base colour. 

Colour Palette

I’ve listed the colours I used to paint my Plaguebearers below. I have very mixed feelings about posting exact colour recipes as there are so many variable factors that come into play with colour. Don’t get too caught up with the idea of mixing three drops of this colour with two drops of that! It’s far more important to understand the type of colour you are using and how it behaves in relation to other colours. If you want to try out the colours I’ve listed when painting a plaguebearer that’s great but I’d always recommend that you have a play with colour and feel free to experiment. 

Base colour:
Games Workshop - Rakarth Flesh

Mid tones & shading:
Scalecolour - Sherwood Green

Scalecolour - Deep Red 

Scalecolour - Boreal Tree Green 

Games Workshop - Screamer Pink 

Scalecolour – Mars Orange 


Scalecolour - Black Leather 

Vallejo – Armour Brown

Vallejo – Ivory 

Base colour 

I’ve used GW Rakarth Flesh as the base colour on my Plaguebearers. It’s my favorite colour to use as a base for pale flesh tones. Rakarth Flesh is a relatively neutral, desaturated, warm tone and works harmoniously in combination with other colours. 

The majority of the flesh will be painted with glazes by shading down from light to dark. This means that, in lighter areas, much of the base colour will show through the shading, so it’s important to ensure good even coverage. 


To begin shading down from the base colour, I first applied a controlled wash of dilute yellow/green (Sherwood Green ) to the mini. The effect of this first wash is quite weak; but it serves as an initial tint of colour that helps to plan where subsequent layers will be placed. The following glazes can be a little less dilute but will be applied in a more selective and controlled way. 

I built up successive green glazes until I defined the main light and shade areas of the mini. As the glazes build up each layer should cover a little less area than the one before. 

Once I’m happy with this stage of green shading it’s time to begin creating stronger contrast to both the colour and tonal range. It can also be very helpful to block in the areas of raw flesh with a deep red at this stage. Having these areas of red painted in will help with balancing out the overall range of colour & shading on the mini. It’s all too easy to be overly cautious when building up the shade on a pale surface, so the presence of the strong red will help to counter this. 

To begin the process of building up the contrasts, I mix red into the green in increasing amounts over successive glazes. The red and green are the foundation of the entire colour scheme. Initially I add only a tiny amount of red to warm up the green but then move through a series of deepening khaki tones through to brown and finally deep red. 

The interactions between these colours will vary depending on the colour mix, dilution and translucency. Red and green is a high contrast combination but the more neutral brown tones help to balance them out and create an overall harmony. 

Coming in part 2 Colour nuance and highlighting


  1. Needless to say I'll add this to my website.

  2. What size microbeads do you use?

    1. Suppliers dont allways give the exact sizeI so it can be a bit hit & miss when ordering micro beads. My favorite microbeads are sold for use in 'nail art' (whatever that is). I would estimate that they are about 1mm diameter.

  3. Damn amazing!

    Question when you make the glazes do you just dilute with water or do you use something like Vallejo Glazing Medium?

    And how do you get the green so smooth? My greens seems to be drying up a bit grainy.

    1. I use water to dilute my glazes and sometimes a little drying retarder. I dilute the paint down untill it is very watery and then build up lots of very thin layers. That seems to give a smooth finish.

  4. Thanks for the great tutorial! Could I ask how you go about mixing the wash, is it just water and paint or do you use any other medium?


    1. Obviously this is something thay I should have mentioned! :) I use water to dilute my glazes and sometimes a little drying retarder.

  5. Forgot to add that the baking soda technique looks great, I'm hoping it will work well adding some texture the armour on some nurgle terminators im working on. I'm thinking it would be a good foundation for the areas of rust and decay.

    1. It should look great! That's how I've done the rust on the plaguebearers swords.

  6. Hey brother! I have to mention a couple things. First, please keep mentioning your colors used. Some of your previous recipes have really gone a long way towards changing the way I paint. For instance, I also use the Rakarth with my paler skin tones, and I also use your Ratskin flesh recipe for copper. I understand your meaning though, the colors aren't as important as what they are doing. But that's why you should continue positing them, it helps me see I need a warm here, or a desaturated there.

    Next, something about the photos you use, I can't always see all of them. All but one photo on this tutorial for me is simply a kitty cat for me. I am using my iPhone to view, though. This happened on some of your older tutorials too, but then went away for awhile around the time you started working on your ape project. Just FYI...

    1. I see the kitty pictures top that say the photo can't be found, but if you click it it'll bring you to his photobucket account and you can see it there.