Hobby Tip - Painting Blood

Painting blood and blood effects on a figure is one of those things that I've seen asked about on a lot of different painting forums. While I don't profess myself to be an expert in it, I've had reasonable success in getting the "blood" look across on a couple of figures now (and they've gone over well, so I must be doing something right) - I figgered I would share my technique as it's fairly simple.

These are the three colors I use:
They each represent different stages in the application of blood on my figures, and each one is rather unique appearance-wise:
  • First off, we have Tamiya Color Gloss Clear Red Acrylic - this stuff is great for representing fresh blood. It's thinned with something akin to rubbing alcohol and has a much thicker consistency than most acrylics, almost like pancake syrup. You ideally want to save this for after you've sealed your figure, as it tends to dry (well, settle) more slowly than regular acrylic paints (I'm thinking it's because the Tamiya Color range is primarily geared towards being thinned for use in airbrushing and smooth finishes on R/C vehicles and the like. It also gets angry when you mix it with other additives, like dry time extender, so the application is simple: slather it on, spatter it on, spread it around in puddles - try to keep it to a minimum because when overdone, blood effects tend to look a bit "over the top." I feel that once the first application is set, you can always go back and add more if need be, but Tamiya Color is such a pain to remove (because like the old GW Inks, it stains) that it's best to build it up as you go along.
  • Secondly, we have a 1:1 mixture of GW Red Gore and GW Scorched Brown - this particular color is perfect for painting blood on a figure where you want it to look like it's starting to dry but not yet "old, crusty blood." It has that particular shade that's very reminiscent of real partially-dried blood, and whenever I have to open the bottle and add to the mixture, my wife (the nurse) always has to do a double-take.
  • Last, we have a 1:1 mixture of Red Gore and GW Chaos Black - a perfect color for painting older dried blood. Essentially, this would be the color that you thin down and apply directly to crevices or wounds, spattered on walls, caked on weapons - all the fun stuff that makes blood effects worthwhile!
As you may have rightly guessed, using these three colors in sequence from "oldest" to "freshest" gives the best finished effect when painting a mixture of old and new. Even with "fresh blood," I find it is good to go and establish blocked out main areas where I will want the eventual brighter blood to sit - I thin down the Red Gore/Scorched Brown mixture, generally to a 1:1 paint/thinner consistency but that depends, and paint it where I want to have the fresher stuff as the underlying darker layer gives the clear Tamiya red added depth. After sealing the figure and all weathering and everything else is done, that's when I'd ideally apply the Tamiya Clear Red for fresh blood. One nice thing about it and it's thicker consistency is that when applied over deeper reds (giving it depth), the thickness of the Tamiya paint itself gives the blood "body." It's also able to be applied in multiple layers and maintain that "body," so you can get blood drips and other nifty effects with sufficient drying time in between applications.

Some examples? Sure!
Blame the camera, as in real life it's much more glossy, but here's an example where I used all three colors to get across a history of repeated applications of Choppa blade into (through?) past human victims. Red/Brown thinned to block out the whole area (and "spattered" in a few places at 1:4 paint/thinner consistency), Red/Black thinned down and washed into crevices and other areas where old blood would remain caked, and Tamiya Red painted over both for the fresh stuff (also complete with a few "spatters.")

Primarily applied to the face, but also around the base of the neck and just above the ritual scarring where I felt it would pool from beneath his "gas mask," I decided since his "face" is essentially non-existent and simply patchy areas of raw flesh remaining over the bone of his skull, I'd have dried blood caked in the areas where his flesh meets his bone: for example, the figure's left cheek, the jawbone beneath, and around the remains of his mouth where his "respirator" is fused into what's left of his face. I had partially-dried blood around his augmetic eyes and in "trails" down his face from the corners of his eye sockets and under the remains of his nose on the figure's fleshy right side of his face.

Fairly self-explanatory, I think, but this has a combination of all three steps. The mental imagery I had was of this Genestealer Patriarch striding across the remains of a shell casing-strewn and blood-spattered battlefield and briefly pausing in his hunt for prey to taste some of the "leftovers" from a nearby puddle - whether that's the look I achieved or not is debatable, but such is life (or art).


  1. Great tutorial. I plan on integrating some of these tips into my own blood techniques. Thanks!

  2. Very useful, thanks for tips.


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