Between my Wood Elves, Crimson Fists, and Khador armies I’ve painted a lot of red. I’ve tried many different techniques for painting it but recently I’ve settled on one that gives good results pretty quickly.
From left to right, GW Thraka Green Wash, GW Blazing Orange, GW Blood Red, GW Merchrite Red Foundation.
Any green wash, two reds, and an orange should be good for this tutorial but those are the ones I’ve used.
Base with Merchrite Red.I chose this color because it’s a Foundation paint and it covers black very well. Use multiple, thin layers to get a smooth coat and leave black in any of the recesses that you find.
Wash with Thraka Green. I usually do two light layers of the wash instead of one heavy layer because it gives me more control. The first layer goes over everything from step 1 while the second layer is more focused on areas I think would be in shadow. Be sure to let the fist layer dry completely before doing the second layer.
Highlight with Merchrite Red. When doing this step it is important not to cover all of the shading you just did in Step 2. You might aim to cover 80% of the red in this step, leaving that last 20% shaded. Look to leave shading in creases, where two things meet, and on the undersides / bottoms of things.
Highlight with a mix of Merchrite Red and Blood Red. This mix should be a color halfway between Merchrite Red and Blood Red. Because Merchrite is a Foundation paint a good starting ratio is 1:2 Merchrite to Blood.
Blood Red edge highlight. Take your time and paint thin lines of Blood Red on all of the hard edges on the model. I like to do this on every hard edge, even the ones that wouldn’t actually be hit by the light, because I like the effect. If you don’t like the way it looks, just paint the edges that would be naturally hit by light.
Edge highlight with a mix of Blood Red and Blazing Orange. Look to have your mix be in the middle of Blood Red and Blazing Orange, probably close to a 1:1 mix. Be sparing with this step and only use it on prominent edges and places that you want to stand out. Here, I used it on his shoulder pads and hands.
Done! I’ve included a shot that has the darkest stage, Step 2, side by side with the brightest stage, Step 6, so the difference is more obvious.