Anyway, for anyone reading, hopefully by the end of this you'll have picked up some new techniques or ideas. I'll take you through every step, from an assembled model to the finished product. Please note that there's a LOT of pictures in this guide, as I've tried to take pictures at most steps, to be as clear as possible.
Before we start, please read the following general tips that you should keep in mind throughout this process:
GENERAL TIP 1: Thin your paints. This is really, really important. Thick, gluggy paint obscures detail on the model and just generally looks terrible. I'd advise you to use a wet palette (conveniently described in a previous post) but at the very least mix some water with your paint on a tile to thin it down.
GENERAL TIP 2: Find some good lighting. Painting in poor lighting conditions is really not a good idea - not because it will 'damage your eyes' or anything like that (it's actually a myth - read here. Never say 40k blogs don't teach you anything useful!) but it makes it really hard to spot parts of the model you've missed. I've been painting several times in poor light, and every time I've had a look at the model afterwards in proper light, I've spotted parts that I've completely missed painting. I use a halogen light, but at the very least, grab a cheap reading lamp.
GENERAL TIP 3: Clear some space. Painting in cramped work area is not much fun. make sure you've got room to spread out all your equipment within easy reach.
GENERAL TIP 4: Don't be afraid to take a break! Some days (particularly those when I've had too much coffee or a beer or two) I'll find that my painting just isn't going as well as I'd like. If that's the case, I'll switch to assembly of models or do something else entirely.
Here's the paints we'll be using for both Parts I and II:
I know it's a lot, so feel free to substitute as appropriate!
Right, now that's out the way, let's get started!
1. Assemble your model, and REMOVE ALL MOULD LINES! I cannot stress that enough - if you're going to spend an hour or more painting your model, the least you can do is take 5 minutes to scrape off the more obvious mould lines. I'm way too anal about it, and spend more like 45 minutes to an hour removing every single bit of mould line, but it's definitely worth it. I can't count the number of times I've seen a fantastic paint job ruined by someone being too lazy to get rid of the giant ridge smack bang in the middle of the model.
2. Prime your model. Since I go for darker, grittier colours on my models, I prime with black. If you're going for brighter colours go for a grey or a white, although I've never had experience with these. Make sure you leave it for a while (at least an hour or so, but have a look at your paint's particular instructions) before you start any further painting.
3. Now we get to the fun bit! I'm going to do something unusual here - I'll paint the armour before anything else. The reason for this is that we sponge on paint chips which can be hard to control on a model as small as a Guardsman, and there's no point painting the skin and fatigues first if you then have to go back and fix up stray paint spots. I start with Necron Abyss. Don't be afraid to be a bit reckless here - any stray paint will be covered up later. Make sure you get good coverage at this step - being a foundation paint, Necron Abyss is quite good at this. If you're using a standard Citadel paint at this step, you may require a few (thin!) coats.
4. Once the armour is all basecoated, I paint a stripe of Adeptus Battlegrey on each shoulderpad. I judge the width of this by eye, as the paint chipping later helps to disguise variations in the width from model to model.
5. I choose to apply decals on the shoulderpads of my troops, so to facilitate this I paint some 'Ard Coat (brush-on gloss varnish) on each shoulderpad to give a smooth surface for the decal to adhere to.
6. Apply the decals as described in this post.
7. Because I'll do battle-damage later, I only do a mild highlight of Regal Blue along the armour ridges. A brighter blue would interfere too much with the chipping effect, and make to model look too busy.
8. To look as though the top layers of paint on the shoulderpads have worn through, sponge some Necron Abyss over each shoulderpad. This should break up the stripes a bit. Go back over with Adeptus Battlegrey and Skull White and clean up a bit if there are too many spots of blue.
9. Now to give the effect of the shoulderpad wearing through to the (now rusted) metal below, sponge some brown over the whole armour. Pay particular attention to corners, edges, and anywhere else that would get a lot of wear and tear. I use Calthan Brown for this, but choose a colour that gives contrast with your base colour. Again, go back over with Necron Abyss and clean up areas if too much chipping has been done.
10. We'll leave the chipping for now, and come back to it later. I do it this way so that if I stuff up (such as a stray paintbrush painting over already-finished areas) I have less layers to repair.
Now you have a choice here: if you want to paint faces using layering, follow steps 11 to 18 here. If, however, you want a quicker method, replace steps 11 to 18 with a simple basecoat and wash as described here.
11. Basecoat the flesh with your chosen colours. Here, I'll use roughly 50:50 Tallarn Flesh/Dark Flesh. This may require a couple of thin coats to get good coverage.
12. Highlight raised areas with Tallarn Flesh.
13. Wash the flesh with Ogryn Flesh.
14. I paint the black part of the eyes now, for the same reason that we've left the paint chipping alone for now - if I make a mistake, I don't have so many repairs to do. He'll look a bit nightmarish, but the next step will fix that!
15. Using a fine-tip paintbrush, pop a small dot of white in each corner of the eyes.
16. Now back to the rest of the flesh - highlight again with Tallarn Flesh.
17. Not highlight with 50:50 Tallarn Flesh/Dheneb Stone. For the hands, I just highlight the ridges of the fingers.
18. Finally, do an extreme edge highlight with Dheneb Stone. That's the flesh all done!
19. Basecoat the fatigues with Codex Grey. Try and get decent coverage, but it doesn't have to be perfect since we'll wash it and paint over most of it in the next step.
20. Wash liberally with Badab Black wash. (Sorry about the photo!)
21. Highlight again with Codex Grey, covering about 75% of the fatigues. Just leave the recesses as they are. (No photo here.)
22. Highlight again with 50:50 Codex Grey and Skull White or Undercoat White. This time, you want to cover about 50% of the fatigues. Again, on the average trooper I leave it at that, as it gives a nice contrast but is relatively quick.
23. Touch up any black areas such as the belt or boots with Chaos Black or Undercoat Black (the latter being preferable due to its better coverage).
We'll leave it here for now! We've basically finished the bulk of the painting, and now we just need to do the details. We'll come back to this on Wednesday, so stay tuned for Part II, in which we will finish off your Guardsman.
Update: Now Part II is up, which can be found here.