Epic: Swordwind Flashback

///Epic: Swordwind Flashback

As the Eldar are back featuring on my painting schedule I figured it would be a good time to pull across this old Dropship post into the archive for the sake of completeness. These were done way back for the Swordwind Supplement by Specialist Games (RIP). It’s interesting how some of my methods for painting them have changed over the years and not changed in others. Just reminiscing…

The Eldar are quite simply one of the most eye catching and spectacular armies to translate to Epic scale in my opinion, with their sleek skimmers and brightly coloured uniforms. Out of all of the armies that feature in Epic, the Eldar have always been a personal favourite, the Biel-Tan Swordwind and vivid red Saim-Hann in particular.



Compared to the simple bold colours of the Space Marines and the gritty weathered palette of the Imperial Guard and Orks, the Eldar present a different painting and modelling challenge altogether. The clean bright colours seen in a Craftworld force don’t lend themselves ideally to the dry brush and wash technique used extensively in some of my other armies to date. Eldar vehicles in particular are best painted using more classic layering or ‘feathering’ techniques, both of which better emphasise the crisp blended highlights. An Eldar army can be one of the most challenging to paint well in addition to time consuming, however the final result in my opinion is well worth the extra care and effort.

The models shown here are only samples from my forthcoming Swordwind force and were painted at the end of 2003 with the exception of the Wraithlord and War Walker, which were more recent. Before I get too involved in an army I like to paint a few ‘test’ pieces first to see how the different colours in the palette work together. In the case of the Swordwind, the huge variety of colours in the Aspect Warriors makes this even more challenging.

Guardian Warhost

The first few sample pieces for the Guardian Warhost I chose were a Guardian unit, Guardian Heavy Weapon Platform, Ranger unit, Farseer, Wraithlord and Wave Serpent. All models are from previous ranges with the exception of the Wave Serpent, which is one of Forge Worlds highly detailed resin variants.

In all instances the bone white armour was achieved by starting with a base colour of space wolf grey over which a mix of ghostly grey and white was applied. A final pure skull white highlight was then painted over any raised armour details. For the green I began with a base colour of dark angels green to which I added increasing amounts of snot green for each successive highlight up until the final highlight for which I added badmoon yellow to the mix. All black detailing and weapons were then highlighted with either shadow grey or fortress grey depending upon the effect I wanted to achieve.


Aspect Warhost

Compared to the simple green and white palette of the Guardians, the Biel-Tan Aspect Warriors are a riot of bright colours and contrasting armour. For my initial models I chose a unit from each of the following Aspects; Howling Banshees, Dark Reapers, Warp Spiders, Fire Dragons and Dire Avengers. In most cases I based each Aspect as five models to a stand on regular Epic infantry strips, however for the larger Dark Reapers and Warp Spiders I decided to reduce them to four models and mount them on larger 20mm x 40mm Warmaster bases to emphasise the rare nature and reduced numbers of these Aspects. It also allowed me more freedom to add a little more detail to each of the bases. I am not going to list the colours used for each Aspect as there are far too many to describe, but I will cover the painting of them in more detail at a later date when they cycle back across the painting station again.

walkers (1)

You can see the more recent additions here.

By |2017-09-13T11:26:14+00:00August 2nd, 2015|Categories: Epic|Tags: , , , |5 Comments


  1. James December 10, 2015 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    Hi, I’ve always been very impressed with your Epic armies and I’m really pleased to discover the newest version of your site and the Epic archive posts – slacking off at work does have benefits!

    Could you let me know how you painted your Warp Spiders please? I’m painting a few up for a friend who’s been having some rough times recently. I’m alright painting at Orks (though not to your standards) but despite knowing what colours 6mm space elves should be, I can’t get them to come out right. Mine currently look like they;ve been painted under disco lights…

    • Carl Woodrow December 10, 2015 at 2:14 pm - Reply

      Hi James, thank you very much! I wish I could remember the palette but it was so many years ago all I can offer is an approach if I was doing them now and best guess.
      The trick with Epic, especially the Eldar is exaggerate exaggerate exaggerate! I would prime them light grey then block paint the body arms and weapons in black and a terracotta (orange red) as appropriate. Use very basic spot highlights in a good hot yellow for the red parts and then apply an overall red wash. That will do the work for you and not only blend in the highlights but add shadow and contrast. For the faceplate and mandibles I use bleached bone and then just add a spot of pure white to the top of the helm.

      It doesn’t need to be more complex than that as with Epic you want strong contrast so overly fiddly blending or too many colours actually looks worse.
      Keep it simple and neat, the washes and spot highlights will do the rest.

      Hope that helps.

  2. James December 10, 2015 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    Hi Carl,

    Thanks, that’s incredibly helpful and will really make a difference. I think I’m too used to painting Orks, which are much more suited to my rather slapdash style.

    Would this approach also work for an Avatar? I’m planning to do one in primarily red/ orange tones, though maybe add a minor colour to link it to Ulthwe.

    Finally, can you recommend a good light grey primer? I don’t have an airbrush.

    Thanks again for your help,


    • Carl Woodrow December 10, 2015 at 2:45 pm - Reply

      It would yes, again spot highlights and washes will help bring out the details. Where you can make the Avatar pop is in the face. If you pick it out in a light high pigment colour it will really draw the eye. If you have a steady hand focus on achieving a neat finish to the face where possible as it will uplift the rest of the figure.

      Re: Primer. Personally I use fairly cheap acrylic grey car body primer from Halfords which is absolutely fine. If you want something more finessed I also find Tamiya Fine Surface primer great. It’s a lot more expensive and although comes in a much smaller can don’t be deceived, a little goes a long way as it works best with light coats.

      • James December 10, 2015 at 3:23 pm - Reply

        Brilliant, thank you.


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