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Warhammer 40k ‘five paints only’ contest winner looks crisp

Entries to the Starter Set Challenge were limited to just the paints and tools from the upcoming Warhammer 40k Introductory Set, and look amazing.

Warhammer 40k starter set paint challenge winner Chris Matthews' termagant mini, a purple and mauve alien monster

The Warhammer fandom on Twitter has picked the winner of the Warhammer 40k Starter Set painting challenge, a smoothly color-blended Tyranid termagant by Chris Mathews. The community run contest challenged painters to use five specific paints, a single brush, and no primer, to paint a Space Marine or Tyranid, mimicking the contents of the upcoming Warhammer 40k Introductory Set.

“The biggest issues were the no primer and one brush rules, it took a good while to get a smooth base coat down” Mathews says. Although it’s a lot more convenient to use spray primers when painting miniatures, Citadel base paints have reasonable adhesion (or ‘key’) and will suffice for plastic miniatures, provided you have the patience.


Mathews has some advice for those looking to get smoother transitions in their miniature paints:

“When mixing I always find it’s easier to try and build up to the colour you want, expecially with light colours. It lets you gradually shade up or down on the model to the tone/color you want. Darker colors are a lot more forgiving but the wraithbone changes a lot with a small amount of paint. All the shades and highlights were basically built up gradual glazes over time”.

You can find more of Matthews’ work in his Twitter feed.

There were 39 entries to the contest, with the winner selected through several rounds of community voting on Sunday. The other two finalists were a Horus Heresy Space Marine sergeant painted by @Gonders, and an Ultramarines Primaris Lieutenant by @Ragingbeard46.

Contest organiser Andy Clark says “the quality of painting from everyone was superb and the imaginative color schemes were great”. He even gave the challenge a shot himself, producing a very cool Terminator.

Warhammer 40k starter set paint challenge organiser Andy Clark's Space Marine terminator

Clark adds “I think the community loves a challenge, we are wargamers after all. The restrictions let people flex their artistic muscles and demonstrate that, even with a tiny selection of paints and equipment, it’s possible to create world class work”.

Clark plans to run more limited-palette painting challenges, loosening the restrictions to allow entrants to paint models from any Warhammer 40k faction or Age of Sigmar army, and permitting spray primers and more than one brush.

It’s remarkable how creative constraints can also be liberating. Recently retired Warhammer 40k art legend John Blanche avoided using blue in most of his pen and ink work, as the pigment tends to fade to invisibility over time. This taboo against blue carried over into the Blanchitsu model-making movement, and if you turn the pages of fanmade Inq28 magazine you’ll find that reds and yellows proliferate while blues are scarce. It all contributes to that very distinctive style that makes art or miniatures feel grimdark.