Rather than create a step-by-step tutorial on how to paint the Scaly, I thought it might be helpful to demonstrate the actual mechanics of painting it.
Colour theory can be very useful when planning-out paint schemes. Particularly for dioramas or complex models, it’s extremely helpful in order to achieve a good balance of visual interest and consistency. If you have too many colours contrasting with each other, it can look disordered – whereas if there are too many colours which complement one another, it can look very dull.
So, how can you plan out a series of contrasting and complementary colours? You can use a colour wheel as a guide:
Colours adjacent to each other on the wheel are complementary – while the ones opposite one another are contrasts.
It isn’t really necessary to use a colour wheel though. There are three primary colours – red, blue, and yellow. Then there are the secondary colours – green, purple, orange. Any secondary colour will contrast with the primary colour it doesn’t contain. So, for instance, orange complements red or yellow, as it contains these colours; but contrasts with blue.
There’s more to colour theory than this, such as the difference between warm and cold hues – and as with all rules, you can learn them first in order to subvert them later; but the basic theory is a good place to start. It was something I put to use when painting the Empire general, a few years ago:
What’s also important is tying the various different colours of a scheme together, in order to keep it synchronized. The technical term for this is colour harmony. To achieve that, I tend to use a neutral colour for highlighting and for shading all parts of a model. The obvious ones here would be white, and black. In this case, I used khaki to create highlights; and dark brown to shade.
Finally, using a spot colour helps balance the overall model out – this is a colour which contrasts with the main colours you use; applied to select areas. For this model as an individual, the predominant colours were green and brown; and I used red as the spot colour, as it contrasts with green.
However, the Scaly is also meant to be part of a diorama; so I used yellow as a subsidiary spot colour, which will tie the overall collection of models together. This all sounds more complex than it actually is – it’s really just a case of planning it out beforehand.
Anyway these were the colours I used to paint the Scaly:
The skin was painted green:
I wanted it to have a dual tone, to avoid it resembling an ork – so I used Khaki with a small amount of green added to it; and painted the lower part of the face, and the underside of the tail:
Painted the rest of the base colours:
Then washed the entire model with smoke + black:
I used khaki to highlight both shades of the skin – mixing a small amount with the green, then adding more for successive layers to highlight the dark area. Pure khaki was used to highlight the paler area – adding a bit of ushabti bone, and then white for the final highlights:
The scales were made darker than the skin, but shaded and highlighted with the same colours as the other two areas:
Finally, I glazed all three areas of skin with several thin layers of Thraka green + smoke, which tied it all together.