How to Paint Space Marine Tanks

Written by larry simmons
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How to Paint Space Marine Tanks
Bring out the best in your Space Marine tank by painting it. (Paint brushes image by lefebvre_jonathan from

In Game Workshop's fictional Warhammer 40,000 (Warhammer 40k) universe, the Imperial Space Marines are humanity's elite soldiers. They are heavy-hitting infantry troopers played with traditional small unit tactics. In support of the Space Marine infantry are several Space Marine tanks, most notably the Predator heavy tank and the Vindicator siege tank. Painting your army for use in Warhammer 40k is a tradition most players embrace and painting the tanks adds to their appeal.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Warhammer 40k Space Marine tank kit
  • Liquid soap
  • Lint-free towel
  • Hobby knife
  • Plastic cement
  • Airbrush
  • Compressor
  • Primer
  • Paints (including gray, steel, brown, black and silver)
  • Paintbrush
  • Paper towel
  • Clear coat matte spray paint

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  1. 1

    Clean your model kit parts of any residue left over from the molding process. Molding the plastic parts can leave a residue on the plastic that interferes with paint adhesion. Wash the parts with liquid soap and water to remove this residue and dry with a clean lint-free towel.

  2. 2

    Build your model carefully following the model instructions. Cut the model parts from the framework holding them. Use plastic cement to adhere the parts together, taking care not to get the cement onto the surface of the model. Allow the completed model to dry for 30 minutes before painting.

  3. 3

    Pick a chapter for your Space Marines. The chapter is the unit the marines belong to and each has its particular colors and heraldry to use to paint the vehicle. Purchase paints that match the colors of the chapter you've chosen.

  4. 4

    Paint the model with a layer of primer paint. Attach the airbrush to the compressor and fill the brush reservoir with the primer paint. Hold the brush about 6 inches from the surface of the model and trigger the paint. Use steady strokes to apply a light coating of the primer to the model. Use a dark primer color such as black or dark brown to provide a shadow depth for base coat colors. Apply the primer to a single side and then allow the coat to dry for two hours before applying it to the next side, to avoid marring the paint as you maneuver the model.

  5. 5

    Paint the hull and barrel of the tank your base coat color according to the chapter information. Use the airbrush to paint with the same process as when applying the primer coat. Allow the base coat to dry for two hours.

  6. 6

    Dry-brush a layer of dark gray paint over the base coat to highlight the details and give the tank a dulled metallic sheen. Dry-brush the tank by dipping the brush lightly in the paint, then removing most of the paint from the brush. Run the nearly dried brush over the hull to create a light dusting of paint that's barely noticeable. Apply slightly more of the gray paint to raised areas to provide increased highlighting. Wait two hours for the paint to dry.

  7. 7

    Paint the tracks of the tank. Apply a layer of steel with a paintbrush and allow it to dry for two hours. Go over the steel with diluted brown paint to dull it from the effects of driving through dirt. Dilute the black paint to 10 percent and paint the thinned mixture over the tracks. Allow the wash two hours to dry as well.

  8. 8

    Paint any metal areas present on the tank such as the large bolt gun by the commander's hatch or the tank fittings with the steel paint. Allow the paint to dry for two hours and then dry-brush the metal areas with silver paint for highlighting. Allow the dry-brush paint two hours drying time and then wash the metal with a diluted black paint to darken the colors. Wait two more hours for the wash to dry.

  9. 9

    Spray a coat of matte clear coat spray onto the model to protect the paint. Allow the clear coat to dry overnight and then place any decals onto the model. Let the decals dry for an hour before handling the tank.

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