Marineros – A Painting Guide

These Spanish Sailors make up the backbone of most Spanish naval forces and if you play many games at sea as the Spanish, you’ll probably find yourself painting a lot of these minis.

I’ll be painting this set of minis fairly close to the paint scheme shown in the rulebook, but I’ll provide some alternate paint schemes at the end.

There’s always a balance between realism, efficiency and functionality when painting groups of models like this. You don’t want them all to be uniform and have the exact same colors of pants, shirts, sashes etc, but you want them to have enough in common that you can visually differentiate between groups of models on the board or on your ship. The painted examples on the rulebook tie the models together with the blue trousers and red accessories. The model shooting his pistol shares only the shirt and sash colors with the others so I may trade some colors around a little to help him “fit in” with the others while still avoiding a strict uniform look.

The sailor models are some of the quicker models to paint since they are fairly sparsely equipped when compared to Militia models or Flibustiers with their elaborate clothing, trim, muskets, straps and pouches.

Step 1 – Prep and Prime

Remove excess metal, rinse and prime your models as described in my Preparing Models post.

Step 2 – Base Coats

I start with the skin which I cover with Bugman’s Glow. This is a dark skin tone but I aim to get a sunburnt look by the time I’m finished and this paint has excellent coverage which is nice for the shirtless guy. I’m straying a little from the Firelock examples by giving Mr Pointing Pistol blue trousers instead of brown. I want to tie him into the general color pallet without making all of them uniform so I’m going to paint Mr Axe’s pants a different color later and use the blue on his hat. I cover all the blue areas with Macragge Blue.

I paint Pointy Pistol’s vest with XV-88 and cover the bases while I’m at it.

My other primary color will be Mephiston Red. I use it on all the sashes and most of the head gear. I use Rhinox Hide for the edges of the bases again and on the shoes, scabbard, hat for the sailor on the far Left and hair on the two figures on the Right.

White is a difficult color to work with but I’m putting two coats of Vallejo Ivory over all their shirts. I’ll use German Grey for the hair and facial hair for #2 and #4. I’m using Celestra Grey for #1’s hat and #3’s trousers.

Rhinox Hide shouldn’t be in this picture…

We’re getting down the details now! I use Mournfang Brown for the pistols and knife/sword grips and Steel Legion Drab for all the belts and straps.

I use Vallejo’s Metal Color Steel to paint the swords, pistol metal, belt buckles, axe and knives and Brass to paint the hilts, a bit on pistols and the button on #4’s jacket. I had to touch up some of the pistol wood with Mournfang Brown and paint the knife handles I missed.

Everything is based so next comes the washes!

Step 3 – Washes

I used Carroburg Crimson for all the red, Drakenhof Nightshade for the blues, and Agrax Earthshade for the browns and brass.

A blend of Agrax Earthshade and Nuln oil works well for the steel.

I thinned that blend down to a 1:1:1 mix of Agrax Earthshade/Nuln Oil/Water for the white and grey garments.

I didn’t use any shade at all on the skin as I’ll be using the base Bugman’s Glow as my shade tone.

Step 3 – Highlights

Now comes the tricky part. The highlights attempt to reinforce the way light hits 3-dimensional objects by using lighter shades of the base color to emphasize the raised and prominent areas. This also gives your mini some high contrast which looks good on the table.

I’m using a wet pallet but you don’t need one. The wet pallet lets you mix the tones really easily and get smooth transitions between the shades, but with a little extra work you can get the same results using a couple dishes in a standard pallet.

For the blue areas I’ll be using Macragge Blue, Altdorf Guard and Calgar Blue.

This isn’t very neat but it will do the job.

Blue highlights completed.

For the red I’ll be using Mephiston Red, Evil Sunz Scarlet and Wild Rider Red for my final highlight.

Give the upturned edges of the ridges in the sashes and headband the brightest highlight.

The white shirts are a little tricky to highlight without making obvious transitions lines. If a line looks too abrupt, immediately wet your brush a little and “feather” the transition to blend and dilute the paint a before it dries.

I did a coat of Ivory then mixed in some Vallejo Model Color White and ended with a couple highlights of pure white.

While we’re using Ivory, I apply thin slivers of Ivory for the eyes followed by a dot of German Grey for the pupil. A small and good brush is crucial for making the eyes convincing. I broke out a brand new Windsor & Newton Series 7 size 1 brush for this task.

Next comes the skin and it’s going to be the longest part of highlighting. My standard approach is to use a medium tone like Cadian Fleshtone, then use a wash to get a darker tone in the recesses, then highlight up from there.

Another approach which is just as good is starting with your “shade tone” as a base (in this case Bugman’s Glow). It’s more work layering on the lighter tones but you avoid the potential for the water marks the shade paint can leave and it gives you full control of the finished product while the Wash paint is a little unpredictable.

The Wash method is easier but I’ll use this method here. Feel free to use either method.

I’ll mix strip of all 4 skin tones into my wet pallet.

The shirtless fellow is the most work! Imagine a light source (directly above is fine but sometimes angled is better) and try to mimic how light would hit his body.

Make sure to pick out the fingers and toes with one of the lightest tones.

The model below has the cleanest face for painting. Above the eyes, the bridge of the nose and the cheekbones are all good places for your brightest highlights.

Mr Pistol turned into a slightly demented Sam Elliot…

Some of the faces aren’t very clean casts and that can make it harder to get a clean look.

Mr Pistol’s vest gets highlights ranging from the original XV-88 through Balor Brown with some final highlights from Zamesi Desert.

The grey bandana, socks and grey pants get quick highlights with Administratum Grey with some white mixed in for the final layer.

Next I’ll break out my darker brown tones and highlight the hat, shoes, scabbard and brown hair with Rhinox Hide, Gorthor Brown and Baneblade Brown.

Giving a hat a nice weathered look is a fun challenge.

Highlight the tips of the hair and upturned side of the mustache with the same brown tones.

The two models with German Grey hair get highlights of Stormvermin Fur and Dawnstone but you could mix a little grey or white into German Grey for the highlights if that’s easier.

No one looks at the shoes but a quick touch on the toes, laces and heels gives it some depth.

A quick edge highlight on the scabbard is all you need.

I’m using the original Steel Legion Drab with some Tallarn Sand mixed in for edge highlights on the belts and straps.

The wood pistol, add handle, sword grips and knife handles all get layers of Mournfang Brown with a highlight of Skragg Brown.

The metallics are last. I’ll be using a progressively blended Steel/Duraluminum for the blades, pistols barrels/locks and belt buckles and Brass with a couple dots of Gold for highlights on the hand guards for the swords and the butt end of the pistols. Mr Pistol also has a couple buttons on his vest I’ll hit with the Brass/Gold combo. One set of shoes has buckles which you can paint with Brass or Steel.

I notice the little rivet/button on the scabbard and paint it with Steel while I’m here.

Highlighting metal is hard!

The highlights are done and we have some nice high-contrast models that have a cohesive color pallet but don’t look too uniform.

Step 4 – Protective Coat and Final Details

I’ll be using Testor’s flat Clear Coat to protect the minis and give them a nice consistent finish. Be careful with Mr Axe as you remove him from the poster putty as his ankles are weak and if you bend them at this point, all your paint will chip off!

These next steps aren’t necessary but give you some extra fun detail and variation.

Blood can be overdone and I use it sparingly as a rule but a little can look great. You could even have the group you plan to use as a boarding party have the bloody weapons.

Here I just added a little to one of the blades. Citadel’s Blood for the Blood God is translucent, thick and glossy and it’s easy to work with.

Manning a cannon is dirty business and these guys look pretty clean! Here are a couple options for griming them up.

To achieve a powder stained effect I mix a little Black (Abaddon Black is my standard but I couldn’t find it) with Lahmian Medium (around a 1:5 ratio) until a I have a really thin mix similar to a wash. Get some of that mix on the brush then flick it across paper or whatever you use to dry your brush to remove most of the paint and moisture. Then apply what’s left with a standard dry brush technique. Drybrush with a wet paint…

I applied it the lower portions of trousers on the bald guy on the Left and lightly to the ends of the sleeves on the figure on the Right.

And closer:

You can also use this black glaze over chins and jaws for an unshaven look, but be careful because it can spoil a good face if it gets out of control (or it help disguise a messy face you might be unhappy with).

If you want a generic dirty/grimy look, I find Typhus Corrosion a quick and effective option. Apply sparingly with a drybrush technique.

Applied to the knees and lower pants.

We’re finished!

If you’re painting very many of these figures you’ll probably want to expand your color pallet for some variation. I used some yellow as an accent color for the sashes etc for some variation on some of my Marineros. You can also go for more of a drab look by limiting yourself to grays, browns and shades of white. This color pallet I used is probably a lot more colorful than would be typical.

I found doing a painting guide for 4 different figures at once to be a challenge but I hope this is helpful!

I know this level of detail will be more than some people want and less than others want but I just outlined the way I like to paint my minis. It probably takes me about 3 hours to paint up four minis using these methods.

Any feedback on how to make a guide like this most helpful or even tips and techniques that could help me improve my painting are welcome!

In my next guide I’ll be describing how to get a set of models painted up quickly using a quickshade.

Paint List


  • Macragge Blue
  • Bugman’s Glow
  • Rhinox Hide
  • XV-88
  • Mournfang Brown
  • Steel Legion Drab
  • Mephiston Red
  • Celestra Grey
  • Altdorf Guard Blue
  • Calgar Blue
  • Evil Sunz Scarlet
  • Wild Rider Red
  • Cadian Fleshtone
  • Kislev Flesh
  • Flayed One Flesh
  • Administratum Grey
  • Gorthor Brown
  • Baneblade Brown
  • Stormvermin Fur
  • Dawnstone
  • Balor Brown
  • Zamesi Desert
  • Tallarn Sand
  • Skragg Brown
  • Drakenhof Nightshade
  • Agrax Earthshade
  • Nuln Oil
  • Carroburg Crimson
  • Blood for the Blood God
  • Typhus Corrosion
  • Lahmian Medium
  • Vallejo Paints

    • Steel

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