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This tutorial was requested (kind of) via the Beasts of War forums. If you’re not a member of Beasts of War, well you probably should be. Head on over and open a free account (no email spam, just access to their forums).

Obviously the title of the blog post is relative. Human skin can take many tones, even within a single ethnic group. For example not all “black” people have dark skin, some have very pale skin. However, this tutorial focuses on the palest of the pale, that is pale “white” skin. But why have I called this “pale skin” and not “white skin” I hear you ask. Especially seeing as my first tutorial was “Black Skin”. Well the answer is simple – I will be doing a separate tutorial on “white skin”, this is for painting an extreme of that spectrum, something like this chap.


If you look at the skin you can see quite a range of colours as well as white – blues, reds and purples play a big part too. This is because beneath the skin we have all kinds of interesting biology going on (veins, blood, fat, muscle etc) all of which colour the skin – more so in white people because their skin has less pigment to mask it. The paler a person is, the more pronounced these colours will be.

Colour Palette

You will need the following colours from the Citadel Range

  1. Bugman’s Glow (Base)
  2. Reikland Flesh Shade (Shade)
  3. Cadian Flesh Tone (Layer)
  4. Guilliman Blue (Glaze) – optional
  5. Kislev Flesh (Layer)
  6. Bloodletter (Glaze) – optional
  7. Flayed One Flesh (Edge)

Steps 4 and 6 are optional. If you’re painting a centrepiece figure, a character or a hero you will probably want to include them but if you’re painting faceless hordes of cannon fodder, you might consider omitting them. It’s entirely up to you, the final result will still be passable if you don’t bother.

The usual disclaimer applies, anyone using other paint ranges should use the Colour Conversion Chart link in the menu on the left of the screen.

Step 1

Boat all of the areas of flesh with Bugman’s Glow. You may need to apply two coats to get a smooth finish and this is true for both white and black undercoats. The second coat can be thinned a little bit with water or an acrylic paint thinner (something like GW’s Lahmian Medium.

Step 2

The next step is to apply a liberal wash of Reikland Flesh Shade to all of the flesh areas. This will help accentuate the shadows which are quite often very pronounced on pale skinned people.

Step 3

Next, highlight the flesh using Cadian Fleshtone. You will paint most of the flesh area with this, leaving only the deep recesses unpainted. As always, thin the paint slightly with water or medium as this will help create a more translucent look to the highlighting and make the transition from light to dark a little less defined.

Step 4 (optional)

This is the first optional step. If you don’t want to do it, move on to step 5.
Apply a thin glaze of Guilliman Blue to the flesh areas, try to focus on the darker, outer edges of the flesh near the recesses.

Step 5

Highlight using Kislev Flesh. As you can see in the image, most of the blue is no longer visible, it’s now just providing a slight blue tinge to some of the darker areas of the skin.

Step 6 (optional)

This is the second optional step. If you don’t want to do it, move on to step 7.
Using Bloodletter (red glaze) add a few touches to areas of skin that are often more flushed. Cheeks and hands for example. In the picture, I’ve added a small dab of glaze to the cheeks.

Step 7

The final step is to highlight with Flayed One Flesh, one of the citadel Edge paints (which I swear by!).  In the picture above, I’ve tidied the model up a little by re-undercoating some of the areas around the skin that I’d smudged paint onto.  This would have had to be done anyway before finishing the model so I thought it worth doing for the photo as it makes it easier to see the details of the face.

One final step, if you want to soften the colours a little, you can add a glaze using 1:1 Reikland Flesh Shade/Water(or medium) to the entire model. It will darken the skin a little, but not much but crucially it will soften the colours making transitions a little less severe. If you’re new to painting and haven’t mastered thinning paint or layering, this step is your friend as it will help to disguise any sudden tone differences.  I have chosen not to do this for the model above

Well, I hope you find this useful, as always, feel free to comment and feedback and request advice on any subject you like.