Pre-Heresy World Eaters Painting Tutorial – Part 1

Good evening! I’ve had lots of positive comments from people about the Pre-Heresy World Eaters I’ve been putting on the blog lately – thanks for all your kind words. I’ve had a couple of requests for a tutorial on how I’ve gone about building and painting these chaps, so I’ve done an additional model (who doesn’t need more Marines with Boltguns?) and photographed each stage. In part one I’m going to cover the components I’ve been using and the materials I’ve used to get the initial colouring complete. Part two will cover painting in the detail and highlighting, whilst part three will cover the markings I’ve added as well as applying the techniques to alternative models. Anyway, here’s part one!

Pre Heresy World Eater FRONT

Pre Heresy World Eaters Space Marine


Pre-Heresy World Eaters Tutorial Part One: building and spraying


So why have you used this technique?

For as long as I’ve been playing Warhammer 40,000 (twenty years now!), I’ve loved Space Marines. Over the years, I’ve collected a variety of chapters, but they’ve nearly always been loyalists. I’ve tried doing Chaos Marines on a number of occasions, but just couldn’t work up quite as much enthusiasm for some reason. That was until Forgeworld released Horus Heresy: Betrayal and its lovely range of early mark power armour. I immediately bought a bunch from them to make some pre-heresy Imperial Fists (as I’ve collected Imperial Fists for years), but the striking blue and white scheme of the World Eaters really attracted me. When Black Library released Betrayer, describing the World Eaters Legion immediately following the start of the Heresy, I was sold. The tragic, there-but-for-the-grace-of-the-Emperor nature of the Legion was a great bit of background and I knew I had to do an army, and the escalation league at my local club, Bristol Vanguard was an ideal opportunity. However, with an impending wedding, money and time were somewhat limited.  This meant buying another army of Forgeworld resin was right out. Could I build and paint an army that would look good on the table top, not cost a fortune and be completed whenever I had a spare half an hour between other jobs? The answer, as it turned out, was yes!

Forgeworld’s range of Pre-Heresy models, in marks II, III and IV armour are lovely and if you’re looking for an authentic army in one of these marks, Forgeworld is definitely the place to go. However, I decided that I didn’t need to be completely authentic; all I needed was to make them look old and archaic. The World Eaters’ striking colour scheme would do the rest of the work for me. The novel Betrayer also states that the World Eaters use a fierce looking helmet type unique to their legion – the Sarum pattern. Surely the Sarum pattern would be similar to all those Khorne Berserker heads I have in my bits box? Mixing these with plastic Chaos Marine and loyalist Space Marine parts would surely get me the look I was going for – and it pretty much did. The colour scheme, where the shoulder pads and backpack are blue would allow me to spray components separately, significantly reducing work load, especially if done in batches. Carefully planning the assembly and painting will reduce the time taken considerably! In the guide below, I’ve done one model, but when doing the army, I do 10 – 20 models at a time as the spray stages become particularly quick then.

What parts are used?

For my basic World Eater, I’ve used the following parts, pictured below:

  • Head, legs and body from the Khorne Berserker boxed set. Although the body and legs from the Chaos Space Marine box will work fine too. On some I’ve used Space Marine Tactical squad legs too.
  • Arms, weapon and back pack from the Chaos Space Marine box.
  • Shoulder pads from the Space Marine Tactical squad. I’ve used these to give the finished model a slightly cleaner appearance and because I want to put markings on the shoulder pads and many of the Chaos / Khorne ones include too much detail to easily do this.
World Eaters bits

The parts I’m using for this World Eaters Space Marine

I used these parts because they matched what I wanted to achieve, but also because I had plenty of all these parts in my bits box (I mentioned earlier that I’d tried to do Chaos armies before!). You should feel free to use whatever parts you happen to have and experiment with alternative components. The joy of 40K is that nothing is fixed in stone – you can do what you like!

What Paints Are Used?

In this part of the tutorial, I used:

  • Games Workshop’s Skull White spray paint
  • Games Workshop’s Chaos Black spray paint
  • Army Painter’s Ultramarine blue spray paint
  • Army Painter’s Soft Tone dip
  • Testor’s Dullcote matt spray varnish. Army Painter’s Matt spray varnish is also very good, but I found Dullcote to give a slightly better finish. I’ve stopped using Games Workshop’s Purity Seal I find it isn’t quiet matt, it’s more satin – which is fine if that’s the effect you’re going for. However, every so often you’ll get one of the terrifying ‘misty’ batches of spray that will totally ruin your models! I stopped running the risk.
  • Games Workshop’s Macragge Blue acrylic paint
Paints used

The materials I’ll be using in part one of this tutorial

Cleaning Everything up for Assembly

First, remove those unsightly mould lines and sprue marks! Okay, you can leave some on the back pack and head – you’ll see why in a second. We’re going to throw some of those bits away.

Modifying the Helmet

Controversially, I rather like the Khorne Berserker heads, even if they are a little dated. For this project we just need to remove the ‘rabbit ears’. Cut along the lines shown below with a pair of clippers or a knife. Don’t cut too near the head with the initial cut, we want a nice smooth rounded surface there. Once you’ve removed the majority of it, go in carefully with a sharp craft knife and remove the remainder. This is easier on some heads than others, but I try and leave the ‘ear phones’ intact and leave a smooth curve on the upper part of the helmet. Remove the rest of the mould lines from the helmet at this point. Obviously, cleaning up the mould lines from the rabbit ears is a waste of time!

Cut off Rabbit ears

Cut along the blue lines, being careful not to remove any of the helmet itself


Modifying the Back Pack

To de-Chaosify the back pack, but maintain a level of archaism, I’ve used the Chaos backpack with the ‘extenders’ removed. I cut along the lines shown below to remove these. Hold onto the vents on the ends! We’re going to stick those back onto the main body of the back pack, as you can see below. This gives us a backpack that clearly isn’t a regular Space Marine one (it has too many pipes and whirly bits), but also isn’t a Chaos backpack. Perfect! Note that it doesn’t have to be assembled with the vents pointing straight down. I wanted a bit of variety throughout the army (I don’t think the World Eaters go in for standardisation much), so some have been reassembled in various ways, as per the chap below. I’ve also used a few loyalist back packs throughout the army (because they were in the bits box and it saved me buying more stuff) and some back packs keep the Chaos extended vents, again to add variety. A final note on the back packs – if the extenders you’ve removed have the ribbed pipes on them, don’t throw them away! These are useful bits, and in part three of the tutorial, I’ll show you where I used them.

Back pack_01

Again, cut along the blue lines


Back pack _03

…and reassemble! Keep the tubing for later.

Back Pack_03

Reassemble the vents at any angle you like

Assembly for Spraying

Assemble the Marine as normal, but do NOT glue the shoulder pads, weapon or back pack on! Mount him on a temporary 25mm round base and attach him to whatever you use for spraying. I use a length of stick for multiple models and blu-tac them on. For individual models, I often just hold it with my hand inside a plastic bag. Don’t fix him too well to the 25mm round base – he’ll be coming off later. The shoulder pads and back pack should be mounted on a piece of sprue (I use a very small amount of super glue) so we can spray them separately from the model. The final base and gun should be mounted on another sprue. I’ve sanded the base prior to spraying as this further reduces time. The white patches you can see in the picture below are small pieces of plasticard, roughly where the Marine’s feet will go. This will allow us to glue him to the painted base later without having to remove any sand that’s been glued down or trying to avoid gluing sand in exactly where his feet will go. A bit of planning here massively reduces time taken later on!

Bits to spray_01

Assembled and ready for spraying white

Bits to spray_02

Mount the other parts on old sprue. The parts on the left are to be sprayed blue, the parts on the right, black.


Pretty obvious here – the Marine gets sprayed Skull White, the shoulder pads and back pack are sprayed blue whilst the weapon and base are sprayed black. This may seem like a bit of a faff doing it like this – and it is a bit for one model, but when doing an entire squad or army, this saves a lot of time. After spraying, they should look like this:

After Spraying_01

Sprayed white

After spraying_02

Sprayed black and blue


Assembly for Shading

Once dry, glue the shoulder pads and back pack onto the body. I then painted the belt buckle with Macragge Blue, as per the colour schemes in Horus Heresy: Betrayal. Also touch up any areas that need it following removal from the sprues for spraying. It’s not quite the same as the Army Painter Ultramarine Spray, but once we’re finished here, you’ll never tell the difference (at this stage, I’d also paint any areas of exposed skin (usually bare heads, but sometimes other areas) with Games Workshop’s Cadian Flesh, but I’ll describe this in more detail in part three). He’s starting to look like a World Eater now! But he’s a bit flat and lifeless. He’s also a far too clean!


Assembly ready for shading


Next up, liberally apply a coat of Army Painter’s Soft Tone shade. I often refer to this as ‘dip’, due to the early practice of actually dipping the models in it, but I wouldn’t do that myself. I use a large brush, 0.5” will do and it doesn’t need to be high quality. Make sure it’s clean though! With the Army Painter Shade, you’ll need white spirit to clean the brush. For this reason, I would not use the same brush that you may use for acrylic as the oily nature of white spirit and related paints mean it can be difficult to properly apply water based paints afterwards. Immediately following applying the shade, he’ll probably look something like below:


The infamous Brown Legion. Quickly, wipe it off before it dries!

He looks pretty brown! Before it dries, we want to tone this down.  So, straight after applying the shade (and I mean straight after – if doing a batch, do these one at a time), take a piece of kitchen roll and wipe away all the excess. The shade will start to dry pretty quickly, and we want to remove as much brown as possible. This can take a bit of practice, but I found that a good guide line is to remove as much as you think necessary, and then remove some more. My later models had more of the shade removed than earlier ones, and I think that they benefited. Ideally, the shade should be left only in the crevices of the armour. But don’t worry too much if some gets left on flat areas – we can turn that into weathering or damage later. The picture bellow shows the model with the excess wiped off. Leave it to dry for 24 hours – it needs to be totally dry before the next stage. It’ll still be rather shiny when dry, as you can see in the photo – totally unsuitable for painting anything else over.

Shade Wiped off

Better, but he’s still a bit shiny and sticky

A quick coat of matt varnish will do the trick. I use Testor’s dullcote spray, which leaves it looking like the picture below – ready for painting the detail on! I’ll cover this in the next part of the tutorial.

Matt Varnished

No longer gloss


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5 Responses to “Pre-Heresy World Eaters Painting Tutorial – Part 1”

  1. Chris says:

    Excellent tutorial, I like the look of your blue more than the forgeworld artists’ job. This blue with the dirty white really pops, and creates a nice synergy. Now I just have to get some of these products to Brazil to get started.

  2. Matt says:

    Thanks for your kind words, Chris! I’m working on part two at the moment, hopefully you’ll find that useful too.

  3. Dan A says:

    I like the idea of seperately spraying items and then assembling afterwards, it immediately makes the models neater and saves time. Consider the idea stolen!

  4. Matt says:

    Ha ha! Yep, it’s simple, but effective.

  5. Matt says:

    The second part is now up too! It’s here.

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