Wednesday 15 June 2016

Painting Ork (Orruk) flesh

Painting Orks is easy isn’t it? After all they’re just green. 

It is, of course, never quite that simple. If I were painting a human I’d expect to put all sorts of nuances into the flesh tones so why should Orks be any different?

Rather than painting my ‘greenskins’ with an all-over even skin colour, I’m going to try to introduce as much variety as is reasonably possible, given the scale and available areas of flesh.

A non-human skin tone could reasonably be expected to use a different colour palette and follow different rules. However, by applying some of the same principles to Ork flesh that I would to human flesh, I should be able to bring a touch of realism to the fantastical!

The following are a few things to bear in mind:

Exposure to the sun. 

Do Orks tan? Have some areas had more exposure to the sun than others? Perhaps the upper side of the arms, or the neck and shoulders, could be a darker or more saturated tone? Similarly less exposed areas could be paler.

Skin Markings/Patterns.

Why couldn’t Orks be striped, spotted or even just freckled? Such markings needn’t appear all over and don’t have to be in a contrasting colour. A subtle (or not so subtle) skin pattern would add a lot of interest and character.

Further to this, it seems unlikely that all Orks would be exactly the same shade of green. It makes sense to me that Ork flesh tones would be just as diverse as those of humans. Possibly more so!

What colour is Ork blood? 

This has a lot of bearing on the apparent flesh colour and, in some areas of thinner flesh, the blood might show through. In this case it could be a useful ‘cheat’ to assume that Ork blood is red(ish) and include a red/pink/purple tone in some areas like the face, elbows and knuckles. Similarly the tonge and inside of the mouth could incorporate this colour. A red that is closer to a purple than it is to orange may harmonize better with green. This is because both colours will contain some blue.

For the purposes of this project, I’ve decided that Ork blood is indeed a red/purple colour and all the green comes from pigment in the skin.

The colour palette

GW Death World Forest & Rakarth Flesh mix

Death World Green is the core colour in my Orc flesh tones and it’s a colour I’m really enjoying working with. I’ve found that it mixes well with the other colours in the palette to unify the range of colours and tones.

Vallejo Dark Sea Blue, GW Rhinox Hide, Scalecolour Sunset Purple.

You can’t beat Dark Sea Blue! Here it provides a dark blue/green for the shadows that contrasts well with the yellow green of Death World Forest. Rhinox Hide is a really useful colour to use in combination with Dark Sea Blue. Mixed together they produce a very dark neutral tone that can be used instead of black for the darkest shadows. I used a lot of this combination on my Tomb King. The purple can be used as a glaze to add a little interest and colour contrast to the shadows.

Mid tones
GW Death World Forest, Scalecolour Sherwood Green, Scalecolour Blood Red, Sunset Purple.

This is where the more saturated colours come into play. I’ve used these colours, in various combinations, as glazes to add some depth and interest. The red, in particular, can be used to create a focal point on the face and helps to give life to the mini.

GW Death World Forest, GW Death World Forest & Rakarth Flesh mix, Vallejo Ivory.

Highlights pull everything together by increasing definition and contrast. I’ve pushed the highlights on the Megaboss’s face to a fairly extreme level. This is so his face will still ‘pop’ and remain a focal point once the enormous visor is in place. I doubt I would go quite so light and bright on most other Ork minis.


  1. Do you not use primer on your minis?

  2. My god. Amazing. I love it. You really make things look cartoony but real...hard to pin-point what I mean. But just great. I love your thought process.

  3. Echoing the question from Grey above I'd be really interested to hear how you work without a primer. Loving the work so far on the new project.

  4. Hi David, amazing work. For some reason though I can't see most of your photos on this blog it says "photo not found" from photo bucket

    1. Thanks for the tip off! This is an ongoing issue and one of the banes of my life! I think its a problem with photobucket and only seems to affect a few people at any given time and not even every single time they view the blog.
      I'm sorry for the inconvinience it's causing and will not give up working on this untill it's fixed!

    2. Try using abload instead they're very reliable in my experience.

      Doesn't blogspot host images as well though?

    3. Thanks for the pointer David. I'm going to see how I get on just uploading the pics to blogger... watch this space!

    4. Really the best orruks i have seen so far!! You're a grandmaster of miniature painting!!!

  5. Sorry if I'm asking too many questions but could you go more in depth for the shadows, midtones, and highlights? Do you mix the paints all together or just apply each color where you want them to be? Is it mostly done through layers or glazing where you want the color to show? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jerry, My flesh tones are painted almost entirely with (very dilute) glazing the highlights are more like layering.