Wednesday, 15 July 2015

'Grim Dark' Tau Test Models

After unexpectedly acquiring some second hand Tau models recently I decided to have a go at painting them. Firstly to take a break from the Space Wolves and Shaltari projects i've been working on and secondly i've never actually painted any Tau models before...

The main reason for this is the clean, bright aesthetic of the GW studio Tau has never really worked for me, it just doesn't feel 'Grim Dark'. So I decided to paint some dirty, battle worn Tau as a test to see if i'd like to paint a whole army...

I've purposely kept to a very limited to colour palette to make the models quicker to paint, but also because that's just how most military vehicles are painted.

I've used a clay based wash for the first time with these models and i'll do a review for it in the next couple of weeks. Anyway here are some more pictures and i'd be interested to hear your thoughts, does the scheme work does it look 'Grim dark' or is it too much, and should I paint a whole army in this style?

Finally, the paint scheme is very simple to do and if there is interest i'll throw a stage by stage tutorial  up.


  1. Yeah it works, love it. I'm considering doing a similar with the Zandri Dust spray, with Bleached Bone highlights. Drab military colours look more 'realistic'

    1. Hi Siph, the colour is used was a VMA Hemp, which is somewhere between Zandri Dust and Tallarn Sand in the GW line. I found it difficult to actually use a really drab colour, and am still unsure of it, but as you say for a military look thats what you have to do.

  2. They look fantastic naf, really good looking hard worn military tau look about them.

    But... I just don't think they can carry grim dark without conversion work, the models just don't have that vibe about them in the same way the other model lines do.

    These guys do look great though!

    1. Thanks Rob, but they are not mine alas :)

      I am personally not a fan of the tau line, although I think these broadsides and the riptide are great models. The crisis suits are models in serious need of an update, and I know Xacheriel feels the same about them. Hopefully he will knock out some cool conversions of alt models for them

    2. Hi Rob, I know what you mean re the model line as a whole, they do lack the extra something that many of the other factions have. I think this is my attempt at a middle ground really, stay true to what the Tau are, but also integrate them a bit more into the vibe of the wider 40k feel.

    3. Ah yes, I see the tiny posted by Xacheriel now at the bottom, you should be shouting your name with such lovely painting! Yeah they are great looking and much nicer than normal Tau schemes, has a very sort of totalitarian feel about them, which goes nicely with the ethereals controlling all Tau sort of thing.

      I feel if I were to convert them to be grim dark it would involve creating rents in the armour and blood smears etc, the less sanitised side of war.

      But as I said when I though they were Naf's, great looking models and paint job!

  3. Looks pretty cool, perhaps [if it's not too] late add in some squad markings or big numbers - big numbers always look cool, fact!

    What material do you use for your base, is it a specific basing sand or one of the texture paints?

    1. Hi Dave, The basing is just GW's Armageddon Dust, washed with Seraphim Sepia then dry brushed with Tyrant Skull and a couple of Army Painter wasteland tufts added.

      Ive been looking to add some markings one of them actually has one on the vent behind the head, but it's in black, in hindsight this would have been better white i think.

      The issue I've had is there are hardly any flat areas on these models to include a noticeable number or squad marking. Looking at the rest of the range they seem to have more flat areas so i'll try and integrate more squad markings in.

  4. Love the camo scheme and weathering Dude. I think the blue OSL works very well, although I can't help but feel the front needs a colour to make it pop a little, squad markings maybe?

  5. These look great. I really really love the gritty look of the chipping/weathering on the armor plates. Really adds a lot of interest.

    Some notes:

    From the front of the model, there is a very singular tone across the entire piece, especially on the left model. Your eyes immediately go to the bright contrast lenses, and away from the other bits of the model.

    I think with some color breaks, you could add a lot of interest. I marked some areas you could do this in!

    On the missile nubs...they are missing something. I think it's because they are very smooth compared to the rest of the models weathered look. Maybe hit them with a bit of sponge weathering in the lighter tone? They remind me a bit of chocolates right now :)

    These are of course, just suggestions! (The red marks are just areas you could pop some color in)

    1. Thanks for that Gregg, i know what you mean regarding a bit more interest, it has been bugging me...

      I did try adding soot to the missile pod vents, but it just didn't work with the model being quite dark.

      Every time I added some colour it seemed to move the model from the military look of real life vehicles i looked at online. I think it may be that i just need to get a bit more comfortable with painting this style of model.

      In the end I went for the bright blue eye lenses as I liked the idea of the suit emerging from the camp areas with the eye lens glaring in terminator movie kind of way.

      They definitely need some colour on the front just to balance out the model. I think i may start by adding some colour to the small lights on the left side of the model you have marked and see how that feels.