Orktober: How to paint ork skin

Since it’s Orktober, I thought of sharing my newest and so far favorite way of how to paint ork skin. Also I’m currently painting tons of orks and goblins. I know it’s kind of a basic tutorial and you’ll find infinite ways of how to paint your green skins on the internet. But that’s exactly why I wanted to document my own process of painting ork skin. In 2022. It also happens that this our 50th post on this blog and what better way to celebrate this, by posting a classic ork skin painting tutorial during Orktoberfest!

My first orks and goblins were painted using the classic goblin green, snot green and orc flesh wash from the 1990ies. By the way I still have pots of these paints and they are still good to use!

How to prepare to paint ork skin

For this tutorial I 3D printed a bunch of modular old school ork miniatures by Monstrous Encounters. Check them out on MyMiniFactory. They have tons of really great STL files in that retro Oldhammer and Heroquest vibe.

First I glued them together and stuck them to a square base for later use in my main Kings of War army, which happens to be an ork army.

I started to prime them with a cheap plastic primer from the rattle can before I paint the ork skin. To speed things up, I stuck them all on a piece of wood using double sided tape.

Ork skin my way, the airbrush way

I now have the luxury of owning an airbrush. So I used it, since it really speeds it up the process. In case you don’t have access to an airbrush you can also go with a large brush and base coat, dry brush and wash your miniatures. I might post that technique later.

Now I take out the airbrush and spray purple from below and all around the miniatures. My paints of choice are the Army Painter Airbrush colors, but feel free to use whatever paint you like to work with.

I then use my Liquitex white ink to apply a “zenithal highlight” from above the miniatures. Angle your airbrush or miniature in a 45 to 90 degree angle.

Now I use yellow ink in a 0 to 90 degree angle (front to top of the mini) to hit all the skin parts. I use a very cheap yellow calligraphy ink for this step.

And now I hit them all with a green ink leaving a bit of the yellow shine trough on the top parts (heads, shoulder and raised hands). It can be (as far as I’m concerned) a quite vibrant green ink. Mine is from Green Stuff World.

As a final step I apply The Army Painter Quickshade Military Shader on all the skin parts. Any dark green wash will work for this final step. Avoid pooling of the wash and leave the miniature fully dry.

Now your ork skin tone is tabletop ready.

The brush way, alternative

If you don’t own an airbrush, it’s easy and very quick to use base coating, lots of dry brushing and a the overall green Military Shader wash.

Following are the steps I used to get to a similar result:

After priming the miniature grey, I base coated the skin in purple. Use a large brush for this, as it speeds up the process.

Then I went to dry brushing a zenithal highlight with white using a makeup brush. Next I pass over it with the same brush (don’t wash it out between steps) with a yellow. And finally I dry brushed the whole ork in green (with that same, unwashed brush).

As a final step, before tackling the details (see next chapter: Optional steps), I washed the whole miniature in green. As mentionned above I use The Army Painter Military Shader.

And that’s it! simple as that. And it all went very fast. Count 15 to 20 minutes including drying time of the purple base coat (excluding drying of the wash, which you’ll apply in the end anyway.).

Optional steps.

To further increase the ork’s character, I always take the extra, but optional, step to paint their faces. This later allows the eyes to focus on the main part of the mini, namely its face. This is especially vital if you paint large amounts of miniatures, that will be grouped into a unit. Thus it also allows for a less detailed and darker paint jobs below the faces, which speeds up the batch painting process tremendously.

I use a watered down pinkish flesh color to lightly accentuate the lips, nose, cheeks, ears and the top of the head. Some of you might not like this look. It’s an optional step after all. I personally dig this swine-like, ape-like primeval faces for my orks.

Ork wearing makeup.

I paint the teeth a bone color.

Then I add a dark red wash into all the folds around the mouth, the teeth, the cheeks, the eyes and the inside of the ears.

As a final step I paint the eyes red followed by a tiny white dot in the middle. This seems to be unnecessary at first, but it adds so much to the final result, especially when the orks are all lined up in their (home made and home printed) movement tray.

See for yourself:

This concludes my tutorial of how to paint ork skin and other green skin. There are 3 more miniatures to build. I’ll kitbash an ork to use as a standard bearer, marking the unit’s leader point in games of Kings of War.

Once completely finished I’ll post pictures of the miniatures on Instagram.

Until then, enjoy painting your green skins.

Leave a Reply