How to Paint Orks

Painting Ork Flesh

One of the most difficult aspects of painting Orks is getting an effective looking skintone. Part of the problem is deciding on a method that looks good and then sticking to it throughout a large Ork force. Some modellers get over this by painting their Orks in a variety of different shades of green, or even brown or grey, whilst others find a tried and tested method that they stick to religiously. These methods range from a simple drybrush of a lighter tone, to multiple layers of paint, ink and floor polish. The schemes also range from lurid flourescent greens, to deep evergreen tones and drab olives.

Simple Techniques

Guru utilises a quick and simple method for painting Ork flesh using Citadel Colours and a single layer of highlight.

First paint his skin with Snot Green.
After that drybrush his skin with Bilious Green. To drybrush mean to put paint on the brush and then wipe the brush until it is nearly clean. then drag the bristles of the brush over the raised areas of the model.

You can use a drybrush of Goblin Green before the Bilious Green for a smoother transition between colours..


Warbossean has a technique similar to Guru's but uses a ink wash after the highlight stage to bring out the definition of the Orks musclature a bit more and smooth out the highlights.


First paint all skin Goblin Green, even in skin creases, then paint Scorpian Green onto raised areas such as muscles or facial features.

Then splash on some green ink onto the recesses in the Ork's flesh.

More Advanced Techniques

Gnat and Agatheron both utilise Future Floor Finish™ for their finished models.

As Agatheron says: If you look carefully at the future bottle, it says "clear acrylic." This means that it's basically the same kind of stuff as your paints, except totally clear with no pigmentation. Adding lots and lots of water will actually break down a paint eventually to the point where the pigment is so diluted that it can't cover anything. Future, on the other hand, is the same stuff, and can thin paint without weakening the pigmentation. In washes, it is able to pull the pigment solidly into the cracks where it pools, giving the illusion of darker cracks and shaded areas. Future allows one to do some pretty amazing things... but it is only a technique... and cannot stand by itself. Frankly stuff that is "futurewashed" all by itself with no blending or highlighting looks pretty terrible. The idea is, it is fantastic for doing shading on well defined muscles, beards, cloth, cracks in armour, etc... However, one must take care to paint over the higher surface areas and highlight it properly.

Gnat's method uses a lot of layers of highlighting in oder to give depth of colour and texture to the model and then adds an ink wash to pull the colours together and make the transitions between the different layers seem less incongruous.

In order to paint like this it is important to use a bit of guess work to figure out where muscles and bones lie under the smoother skin of the model - as thses areas should recieve the sharper highlights.

You can see this in the attention Gnat has paid to the Ork's left shoulder. On the unpainted model this area is quite flat and featureless but Gnat has managed to add texture to the finished piece simply by using stripes of paint.

The mixture in the final photographs, is (approximately) one part dark angels green, 2 parts water, 3 parts future.

As you can see ink washes and/or floor polish tend to leave the figure somewhat shiny. Most modellers counter this problem by giving their finished figures a coat of matte varnish (either from a pot or an aerosol).


Agatheron's method is a little like Gnat's save that he alternates between layers of highlight and layers of inkwash giving a smoother transition between the layers.
The technique is a basecoat, shading wash, and then highlights. He uses snot green as the base, and then shades using a watered-down mix of Black Ink, Dark Angels Green, a small drop of Snot Green for consistency and Future Floor Polish. This gets into the dark areas and brings out the detail. He then goes back with Snot green, blending up using Bleached Bone and then a very light wash with watered down Green Ink and a touch of Snot Green.

The idea is to keep the base colour in the mix at all times, that way there are generally no stark contrasts between layers that often happens in multi-coloured blending layers... If a bit of Snot Green is kept in the mix at all times then there will be a consistency throughout all the layers.

Because of this Agatheron's final layer of wash can afford to be a lot more subtle than that of a painter like Gnat or Grindlegutz, as it doesn't have to pull the various colours together.

Painting Ork Teeth and Gums

A large part of any Ork's face is made up of his mouth and it's attendant array of teeth (usually numerous, spikey and poorly maintained). Because the face of a minature usually provides the focal point and because Ork mouths are so large and dramatic it is worth investing in a decent method of producing a quality set of gnashers.

To the left is Agatheron's method of painting Ork gums and teeth for important models such as Nobs and Bosses. He has chosen to give the gums a red/pink paintjob because he likes the way the red contrasts with the green of the Ork's skin.

For his rank and file Orks he uses a simpler method: scab red, blended up with tentacle pink to paint a fine line around the base of the teeth. The end result can be seen in the Tankbustas shown below:


Gnat goes for more of a yellowy-brown look for the gums.

He starts by painting the whole mouth area Scorched Brown. the gums get highlighted with Vomit Brown, and the teeth get two highlight stages, Snakebite Leather, and then Bleached Bone. He then makes awash from Scorched Brown, a little water, and future floor polish.

This wash gets into the cracks between the teeth and recesses of the gums, and gives the mouth a nice, dirty, decayed look.

Grindlegutz also begins with a Scorched brown basecoat to his teeth and highlights this with bleached bone and a small dot of white. He then washes the teeth in Chestnut Ink mixed with soapy water. For the gums and tongues of his Orks he paints them with Dwarf Flesh, highlighted with some bronzed flesh and again mixed with watered down chestnut ink.


The diluted Chestnut Ink is also used to apply a layer of tartar and decay to the area where the teeth and gums meet.

For the lower lips of the Orks he paints a layer of unwatered Chestnut Ink over the skincolour he has used which provides contrast between the lips and skin.

Painting Rusty and Distressed Metal

Metal items that Orks carry will invariably become rusty and distressed and finding an effective way to represent that can be tricky, especially if you want to maintain the same level of rust and wear throughout your force.

Agatheron paints metal by first basecoating with Tin Bitz. This as an undercoat can show through the next layer as that sense of rust ever present. However, this technique also works fine if you skip the Tin Bitz layer as well. Next, paint your metallics Boltgun Metal. Probably slightly more watered down than usual, especially if you want some of the Tin Bitz to show through.

Next Agatheron uses Vallejo's Smoke colour mixed with equal portions of Chaos Black and several drops of water. Use this as a wash over the base metallic. The Smoke is a transparent colour, and when darkend down with black gives a great worn look to the metallics it covers. The effect is quite matte, doesn't produce blobbing like Future can and the pigment doesent creep back from the corners like if you just water down GW paint.

Grindlegutz prefers to make it look as if his boyz have left their gear out in the rain. He begins with a Boltgun Metal basecoat that he highlights up to Chainmail and then adds tiny spots of Mithril Silver of things like rivets, or the edges of torn metal or scrapes and scratches on the metal itself.

Ink washes are the used, first one of a black/brown mix to pull the layers of highlight together and then Chestnut Ink is used to simulate a rusted effect where metal meets metal and around rivets and so forth. Diluted chestnut Ink gives the impression of age and poor maintainance whilst undiluted ink makes things look seriously rusted.

Soylent Bob has given his Orrick Da Red a very rusted pole that uses hardly any metallic paint at all.

The secret to Soylent Bob's convincing rust is layering. He stipples and mashes various shades of brown, blackish-brown and orange over top of each other. He dosen't do dark to light, or light to dark, but one colour over another until there are all 4 or 5 shades all over the place. After that he shades and highlights the whole piece. He puts some Vallejo Smoke in the recesses, taking care not to wash the whole of the metal item, then a little more scrunched on boltgun metal for a few places where the metal has worn shiny again.

The cleaner areas of metal (such as the shoulderpads and Iron Gob) were produced again utilising Vallejo's Smoke colour. The Smoke-Black mix tints the (shiny and bright) boltgun metal down so it's nice and dark (vary by how thin you make the mix) and the brown in the Smoke nicely rusts things up a bit.

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