High Contrast: Painting The Gorechosen To Stand Out

The Gorechosen of Dromm are the first warband for a long time that I’ve tried to paint resembling Games Workshops recommended colour scheme, but while I used the box art as inspiration my final result is a little different. I wanted to have a much brighter, higher contrast finish for my models while staying true to the established Khorne colours of red, gold, and skulls. I’ll be leaving out some areas that I was less impressed with or I finished very simply to keep things moving, like leather belts and buckles, but I’ll break down how I went through the key areas for the Gorechosen of Dromm.

I did some experimenting to nail down a workflow that made sense to me, I enjoyed, and limited the number of steps while maximising the impact of each. I also wanted to use a lot of contrast paints. The contrast range can be a little inconsistent, and the finish can be difficult to control without practice (which I think you’ll see played out here), but there’s no denying the speed an impact of a layer of contrast paint, and the best of them are unrivalled when it comes to effect vs effort. Fixing mistakes with contrast paint is hard, but not impossible. A mistake early on will show through all your subsequent layers, and without starting all over again it can be hard to fix anything but this is why I tend to use a regular layer paint for my midtone/highlight rather than letting contrast do all the work. These steps serve as a little clean up, and something of a checkpoint in your painting that you can go back to if you do something you don’t like. You can also deal with some of the inconsistency by not being afraid to apply a second layer of your contrast base coat, just focused on the shadows if you didn’t apply enough to get the contrast paint effect.

With all that in mind I hope you find the inspiration here to do your own experiments and work out what steps make the best painting experience for you, while also delivering results you can be proud of.


  1. Starting with the skin, this was the recipe as used for Skullgrinder Herax. The coverage in the contrast paint range varies a lot and I find the skin colour paints to be some of the weakest. To make up for that I like to use a base skin tone. In this case all the skin areas were painted in Kislev Flesh.
  2. To add more warmth to the recesses I used a 1:1 mix of Darkoath flesh and contrast medium all over. This step should be quite heavy, and you may want to add more to the shadows once the first coat has dried.
  3. Use Kislev flesh to highlight the volumes again, painting onto the tops of all the muscles and covering any unwanted areas where the contrast paint mix from the last step pooled.
  4. Finally highlight with Flayed on flesh. This should have quite a broad blend, covering 30-40% of the upward facing areas of skin, ending with an edge highlight at the top edge of all the muscles.

Black leather and cloth

  • All the leather and cloth should be first painted in Black Templar.
  • Once dry add a second coat of black templar, focusing on the folds and recesses in the cloth. To make the leather belt darker apply this second coat focusing on the middle of the band, leaving a broad “highlight” around the edges.
  • Next make an edge highlight of thunderhawk grey. Make it as thin as you can but don’t worry if it’s a bit untidy, since this is also a good time to add battle damage by painting small scratches using the very tip of your brush.
  • Finally spot highlight the most prominent corners with Fenrisian Grey. Any scratches from the previous step should also be highlighted where they meet an edge.

Red armour panels

  • Start by painting all the armour panels in Baal Red. It’s one of the more opaque contrast paints so don’t worry too much about getting contrast in this one step and just try and get an even coverage.
  • To achieve contrast use Druchii Violet washed towards the bottoms of the panels to create a gradient. Using a warm coloured wash rather than a black like nuln oil means you don’t desaturate the colours, so the reds stay vibrant. Keep a clean brush on hand, and if you find the wash is pooling, use the clean brush to soak up the excess.
  • Evil Suns Scarlet represents more of a mid tone than a highlight in this scheme. Highlight the edges, and use it to clean up any areas that the Druchii Violet made too dark.
    If you want to smooth out your gradients go back and forth adding Evil Suns Scarlet or repeating the Druchii Violet wash until you’re happy with it.
  • Finally add a spot highlight to corners, rivets, and the peaks of the knee pads, with Wild Rider Red, as well as a few small scratches of minor battle damage.

Gold Trim

The trim on the Gorechosen Games Workshop have painted is very muted and desaturated and I wanted to make mine pop a little more. As a result this recipe is much warmer and brighter than the Games Workshop models, but it complements the red which is also brighter than the box art.

  • After all the red has been painted go over all the gold trim with Skullcrusher Brass. If you have a steady hand make sure to get the sides of the trim, where it goes down and meets the armour. Be very careful, but a small amount of overflow into the red should be less obvious after shading.
  • Wash all the brass areas with Reikland Fleshshade. Allow the wash to pool where the red and gold meet (as well as around rivets and recesses in the metals themselves) to get a dark dividing line between the two, giving the trim better definition from a distance.
  • Using Skullcrusher Brass again highlight all the edges of the trim, as painful as it might be. The wash will have really reduced the natural shine of the metallic paint and this will get some of that back in the most important areas.
  • For the trim I stopped there, but for the areas of worn hammered metal I wanted to bring the colour down a little and have them show a bit more age, so I did a final highlight of Stormhost Silver. If you want the metals to look really scuffed and beaten up you could drybrush this on. I opted to paint it by hand focusing on the bottom edges of the dents and scratches, as well as an all over edge highlight.

Bone and Skulls

There are two distinct types of bone on the Gorechosen. The first is the bone they wear, all of their horns, Dromm and Herax’s hip adornments, and the Gorehulk’s bone growths. These are painted by Games Workshop as very desaturated brown/grey bones, while the second – the bones and skulls on the bases, and the Gorehulks bone loincloth – are much warmer.

  • Ratling Grime will make up both the mid-tone and the shadows of the grey bones. Apply over all the large worn bones and the Gorehulks growths, making sure to end your brushstrokes where you want he bone to be darkest. Again, if you get any pools of paint you don’t want you’ll be able to cover them up later, or alternatively soak them up with a clean brush before they dry.
  • Ushabti Bone should be applied as a generous highlight on the top of all the raised areas. Make sure the paint is thinned properly and brush in sharp lines towards the brightest point, leaving a streaky texture.
  • Do the same thing with Wraithbone but only covering points and sharp edges, including the bottom edge of any damage in the bones.
  • Finally add very small optional highlights of pure white, only on the very tips of sharp spikes like the growths on the Gorehulks arms.
  • Unlike the Ratling Grime on the other bone, for the warm bones Aggaros dunes will be used as a shadow colour, with the mid-tone being established on top.
  • Highlight with Ushabti Bone on all the upward facing volumes, picking out details like the individual teeth.
  • Use Wraithbone to accentuate the ridges in the cheeks, brow, and nose of the skulls, as well as small areas on the rounded portion of skull and the ends of the bones.

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