Iron Warriors

Easy Iron Warriors

Back when I owned this army I received quite a few inquiries on how I painted my Iron Warriors. To answer all of your questions I have decided to make this my first painting tutorial. Click on the image thumbnails for a better view.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Iron Warrior Logo

  • Black Primer
  • Air brush
  • Tank brush
  • Latex/Vinyl rubber gloves
  • Cheap brush
  • Badab Black & Gryphonne Sepia Washes (GW)
  • Boltgun Metal, Mithril Silver, & Shining Gold (GW)
  • Chaos Black & Bestial Brown paints (GW)

Before I get started I would like take some time and inform you on proper priming. The most important rule on priming is to never prime miniatures on rainy or humid days. Repeat this line ad nauseum!!! Moisture gets on your mini when it’s humid outside, you may not be able to see it, but it’s there. That moisture gets caught between the mini and the primer, and when it dries your miniature will look like it’s been sprayed in fine black or white sand. Getting that stuff off is a real pain, so save yourself some heartache and only prime during the proper weather conditions. That being said, let’s move on.

Now I used to use Future floor wax for this tutorial, but with the release of GW’s (Game Workshop) Citadel Washes that noxious mess is no longer required. Mixing Future into your washes, rather than straight water, breaks up the water’s surface tension and causes the pigment in your paints and inks to settle and dry properly in the recesses of the model, rather than on the surface of your miniature. While useful, Future does come with some problems:

I. Future leaves your minis coated in a medium to heavy gloss depending on how much you use. The gloss is also pretty resilient and will act as a protective varnish for your minis, but I’m not a fan of polished models on the tabletop.

II. Future is toxic if ingested. Many hobbyists out there like to lick their brushes after washing them off to reestablish a nice brush tip. That habit is easy to forget and can make you sick when using Future. If you use that stuff PLEASE be careful to not ingest any or leave it in a place where family/pets could get into it.

Since we are using GW products with this tutorial we don’t have to worry about ingesting toxins and gaining all those cool superpowers the following morning. All that said, let’s get started!



Step I: After the black prime has dried, it’s time to basecoat the minis in Boltgun Metal with your airbrush. I suggest you check out my tutorial on Airbrushing and practice on some old unused minis to get this technique down before starting on your precious traitor marines. A complete coat is important for this step so make sure no black is showing. Don’t forget your pistols/guns!

Use your gloves for steps 2&3. That is unless you like shiny silver fingers…

Step II: Wet-brush (just like dry-brushing but keep more paint on the brush) your minis with Mithril Silver using your Tank Brush, and let them dry. Just like in Step I, a complete coat is very important. The washing in Step III relies on total coverage.

Step III: After the silver has dried it’s time to apply the wash (GW Badab Black). The new Citadel Washes from GW are pretty damn useful. They pool in the recesses and when they dry you’ll find all your joint shading done all at once. Another fine quality of these washes is that they can be used right out of the pot with no watering down. You’ll want to use a brush that can hold a lot of wash so you can do your mini’s assembly line style to save time. You can find some nice cheap soft bristle bushes from Michaels Arts and Crafts.

The only negative I’ve found with these washes is the time it takes them to dry. You’ll have to wait around 30 minutes or so for the model to dry naturally. I have a halogen lamp on my desk that trims the drying time down a bit but it still takes my minis at lest 10-15 minutes. Make sure they are completely dry before moving on to the next step.

Step IV: Pick out the detail of the mini with Shining Gold. Hit the trim on the greaves, shoulder pads, chest, belt, backpack, pistol/gun detail, and helmet. Now grab your Sepia wash. Use a detail brush to paint the wash onto the gold trim being careful not to get any on your newly dried iron armor. It gives the gold a very ‘rich’ look I am quite fond of.

Step V: Paint interior of the shoulder pads, the spots between his armor plates (backs of the knees and such), tubing, helmet, and sides of your pistols/guns in Chaos Black, then paint any horns with Beastial Brown. Highlight the horns with Bleached Bone. Now it’s time to make these guys into real Iron Warriors: it’s Hazard Stripe Time!

After the stripes, apply your decals and you are done! Base your minis, and give them their weapons, it’s time to slay the lackeys of the Corpse Emperor! “Iron Within! Iron Without!

24 thoughts on “Easy Iron Warriors”

  1. You are correct sir! This is a very old tutorial I made for my old site back in ’05 so thanks for the heads up on my mistakes. I’ll clear them up right away.

    Shawn G. (SoI)

  2. Fixed.

    Good luck with your IW’s. Feel free to fire any questions at me that you may have. They are still my favorite chapter in the GW mythos.

    Shawn G. (SoI)

  3. I found a good thing to do instead of a badab black wash. Make a 2/1 Gryphonne sepia wash to badab black wash and it makes a really nice wash like it’s rusty!

  4. Very nice! This method can be used to do Grey Knights as well. Just do a light wash of Asurman Blue after the black has dried. Highlight up with mithril silver as needed.

    Shawn G. (SoI)

  5. I’ve been looking at other chaos paint schemes and I’m stuck on which to paint. Iron warriors or World Eaters? Can you tell me which is quickest, easiest and takes less paint?

  6. Depends. World eaters could be faster if you use a spray paint to knock out the basecoat. Krylon has some AMAZING plastic designed spray paints called ‘Fusion’ that come in a slew of colors. One of which called “Pepper Red” that I hear is perfect for the blood armor of World Eaters.

    I would aim for the army that suits you best.

    Shawn G. (SoI)

  7. Hello! Great looking IW! I don’t have an airbrush, could I just spray Boltgun metal or drybrush in step I?

  8. Use what you can. What you really need is a solid basecoat of Boltgun. I do not recommend drybrushing for your first step, as that technique does not make for a solid coat.

    Shawn G.

  9. Thanls for the help this is very useful. but i do have a question, why is it on step 4 the shoulder pads becom darker? i cant find anyw?are you saying to iddarkimthg them. or i?s that what the wash did?

  10. Sorry Alex. I painted the shoulder pads black in preparation for painting on the Hazard Stripes. I touched on it in step 5 but started it in step 4. Sorry for the confusion.

    Shawn G. (SoI)

  11. Thanks for the help, but i have one more question. to make it a “legit” iron warrior do i need to add the hazerd stripes on the shoulder? or is it a custom thing you came up with? cause i lile it on the gun but not so much on the shoulder..

  12. nOOb question but why bother with the Boltgun Metal at all if your just gonna cover it completely with Mithril Silver?
    It seems almost a redundant step unless your leaving some dark edges or something but as per the tutorial you’re just covering the Boltgun completely.

  13. I made this tutorial back in ’04 when GW actually had Boltgun Metal (BGM) spray. Since it no longer exists I changed it to using an airbrush with the same paint. You could just spray in Mithril but you may need several coats as it lacks the same coverage that you can get with BGM.

    I really should revisit this tutorial as it’s been years since I’ve touched my IW’s. I just hate painting space marines. They are SO boring!

    Shawn G. (SoI)

  14. Hey, I have just started my iron warriors army an I just wanted to drop a few lines.

    1: how would you paint a iron warrior associated with the following:
    Nurgle and Khorne

    2: where can I get a airbrush?! (I’m in hong kong :p)

    3: your awesome 😉

    Your fellow heretic: A different alex

  15. Greetings Alex. Thanks for viewing.

    1. Khorne is easy as berzerker sub-cults have been found in Iron Warrior companies. Just paint them as berzerkers and hazard stripe their left shoulder pads to tie them into the rest of your army

    Nurgle however is a little problematic. Nurgle corruption is likely something IW companies would exterminate quickly for fear of widespread infection but that does not mean you can’t work it out in your own army. Perhaps you could exchange their right shoulder pads with nurgle based pads and give them re-breather helmets. Perhaps some different backpacks to help them stand out a little more. MaxMini makes some interesting backpacks for this use Check them out.

    2. Hong Kong! Awesome! Hmm… You may have to find one online. I picked my airbrush up from Amazon for a steal. I would recommend shopping there and seeing if they will ship to you. I don’t see why they would exclude you.

    3. Thanks! I’m glad this tutorial has been of help. Please feel free to ping me with any more questions.

    A new Chaos codex is rumored to come out shortly. Here’s to hoping that they include our favorite chapter again!

    Shawn G. (SoI)

  16. Thx for replying 😉

    ps. i thought of rusty warriors for nurgle would be cool. there seem to be some done allready 😉

    iron warriors are kewwll


  17. thanks so much for the IW painting tips, I’m rather tempted to go with IW for a Chaos teamed with traitorous IG list

    wondering how i might paint some IG units


  18. I’ve never done any IG models. Traitor guard should be pretty easy. As long as their armor, both body armor and tanks, follow the same process us use for your IW units, they will look fine. Black robes/pants/clothes with one yellow band around the thigh/arm would tie them into your IW host nicely.

    The only problem I would have is finding suitable models for my traitor IG units. Forgeworld make some nice looking models, but damn are they expensive. If the rumors of cult units in the next edition box set end up being true, you’ll have a nice source of troops there.

    Shawn G. (SoI)

  19. some of the warriors were going to be traitors while others will be slaves (conscripts), so for the traitors i’ll paint the way you said but the slaves will have mixes of silver, red and other random colours that i have

    if i can learn when the new codex may be coming out (official not just rumours) than i might wait for them, probably not though

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