Friday, 11 November 2016

Eldar Farseer - chosing a colour palette

As usual I worked out my ideas for a colour palette before I began painting but once I'd started I allowed my plans to evolve as the work progressed.

It took me quite some time to make my initial choices for an overall colour scheme for my Farseer. I considered a lot of options but in the end I decided to paint the majority of the costume in dark tones with a contrasting light outer robe. The colour palette features black, blue, red, purple, gold and light grey. This gave me some bold colours and strong contrasts, both light/dark and warm/cool, to experiment with. In addition both black and white are colours I tend to avoid using so, by choosing to work with them, I’d set myself a little challenge.

I used black as an overall base colour for the scheme. Although I first learnt to paint minis with a black base colour, it’s been many years since I’ve worked in this way. I used a mix of GW Abadon Black, for good coverage, and Scalecolour Flat Black, for a matt finish.

The first part of the mini I painted was the inside of the robe and straightaway I found myself struggling! The black base colour really threw me as my colours behaved very differently from what I'd become used to. Colour is relative and colours that would have been vibrant on a light base looked chalky and washed out on a dark base. After this initial set back, I gradually built up a more pleasing intensity in my colours by layering them. In addition I would have had an easier time blending my colours into a black base if, rather than using a pure black, I had mixed a little of my colour into the black base.

For the black areas of the Farseer’s costume I used Dark Sea Blue in my mix. This gave a subtle blue/green tone to my blacks and tied it in with the cool elements of my colour palette. Black can be highlighted with a straightforward grey tone, but the addition of a little colour adds a lot of interest to what could otherwise be a rather flat and boring colour.

The use of black in my palette helped me to create a darker and moodier feel, more so than I would normally achieve. This is exactly what I wanted as I think it suits the nature of an Eldar Farseer. However the palette needed some contrast and the Eldar are not all about darkness!

My initial intention had been to use white for the outer robe but I quickly rejected this as the scheme developed. White would have been too strong a contrast for the overall feel I wanted. I chose instead to use a light grey, which felt right both in terms of contrast and as a colour choice for the sometimes ambiguous Eldar.

The obvious colour choice seemed to me to be a cool grey but I decided to experiment. One of the basic rules of colour I was taught at college was ‘never mix warm and cool grey in a design’. For years I never questioned this until I was required to create a design in an Art Deco style. After some research and experimentation I discovered that the best colour scheme for the job used both warm and cool grey. Under the right circumstances warm and cool greys can be used together to great effect.

I decided to attempt a warm/cool grey contrast on the outer robe. To do this I used warm greys in the shadows and cool greys in the mid tones and highlights. It took a lot of going back and forth between the tones to get the balance right but I’m delighted with the result!

The colour contrast needed to be kept fairly subtle to work but it adds a lot of interest to the otherwise plain outer robe. I’ve also incorporated a subtle stippled texture to contrast with the smooth armour. In addition by using Games Workshop paints on the outer robe and Scale colour on everything else, there is a pleasing contrast between the matt finish of the inner robes and the soft sheen on the grey outer robe.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with the rest of us. It's really something to aspire to.

  2. I appreciate you taking the time to write your thoughts on the process down. It's a sublime piece of painting.