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From Idea to Reality, Part 2: Color schemes
Work on the Ozone Scorpions has not gone as swiftly as I would have preferred—like many of you, I too suffer from Real Life Syndrome, which tends to rob one of time ordinarily devoted to Warhammer 40,000. 

Since I’ve begun working on the Dark Eldar, I’ve received a few questions about them—if you’re curious, check out my responses. 

Painting the Scorpions
Now it’s on to the real nitty gritty: assembling and painting the figures. But before going into full production mode, it’s best to pause for a moment and figure out how you want your troops to look. Better to spend a little time now experimenting with color schemes rather than have to repaint a bunch of figures later. 

In deciding on a paint scheme, I knew I wanted something that looked good, was easy to paint, and would be distinctive. Here’s what I came up with.

Armor: I must confess that I am not terribly impressed with the paint schemes in Codex: Dark Eldar. Most of them (like the one below) are too simple for my tastes: body all one color and helmet a different color (I call this the long underwear scheme because that's what it looks like they're wearing). And while the more elaborate designs in the codex are very cool, I can’t imagine having the patience to use them on more than one or two figures (I’ve had my fill of complicated paint schemes with the Tigers, thank you).

Dark Eldar in long underwear
Above: Dark Eldar painted in the "long underwear" style found in 
Codex: Dark Eldar. Not bad, but ain't exactly boss, either.
 © Copyright  2000 by Games Workshop Ltd. 

Not to mention that Dark Eldar must be the favorite army of Goths, because every other collection you see is painted in black—and lots of it, too. Yes, it looks good, yes, it’s appropriate, but it’s also overdone. Advice for 40K players everywhere: “just say no” to Chaos Black. 

Back in the "Rogue Trader" days, I had an Eldar pirate army also named the Ozone Scorpions, and some of them wore silver and blue ("sky" colors) to match the first part of their name. Silver and blue sounded interesting, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it again.

While watching football one Sunday afternoon, I had an epiphany that clinched my choice of colors. Who else besides the Dark Eldar are flashy, arrogant, evil to the core, and hated by millions? The Dallas Cowboys, of course. To me, those sissies in silver pants are the perfect inspiration for an army of conceited, showboating villains. 

Hail to the Redskins!
Above: The Dallas Cowboys--the villains I love to hate and the 
inspiration for the Ozone Scorpions' paint scheme

Visualizing a scheme is all well and good, but it’s no substitute for actually testing it out on a few models before the painting begins for real. In my description of the Ozone Scorpions, I wrote that they wore Ice Blue and Mithril Silver. I found out, thought, that even if you use a black undercoat, Ice Blue still looks too pale—more like the color used by the Tennessee Titans than the Cowpies. Midnight Blue is a bit too dark. Enchanted Blue isn't quite as dark as the jersey you see above, but looks good anyway. 

My first inclination was to directly parallel the Cowboy uniform: white boots, silver pants, blue tops, silver helmets, just like the guy above. But what looks girlie on the gridiron looks even sillier on the tabletop. So while my army may still be a bunch of sissies, at least they won’t wear silver pants. 

My next thought was to actually try the “long underwear” scheme from Codex: Dark Eldar—maybe the Enchanted Blue would jazz it up a little. It did not. Easy to do, but still missing something, in my opinion. 

So I chose something a little snazzier, but not so hard it would be difficult to paint (below). Each Dark Eldar Warrior is primed in black (from a spray can), with the arms, torsos, legs, and eye lenses painted Enchanted Blue. Helmets, shoulder pads, gloves, and boots are Mithril Silver. The silver gloves and boots also give each figure a “retro” look reminiscent of the “spaceman” costumes from those campy sci-fi movies of the 1950s—I can’t explain why, but somehow I find this appealing.

Dark Eldar painted like the AD&D Drow
Above: Initial version of Ozone Scorpion color scheme

After painting up a couple of squads, though, I wasn't satisfied. The Scorpions looked too clean, too shiny, too “cartoony.” Despite (or perhaps, because of) all those years of painting Fighting Tigers, I had never really progressed as a painter. Clearly, though, what had worked for my Space Marines would not work for my Dark Eldar.

So I asked for some advice from my pals at The Millenium Gate forum (thanks, guys!) and made some improvements. I began giving each figure a wash of watered-down Chaos Black, then lightly drybrushed on Shadow Grey over the Enchanted Blue. The results (below) aren't Golden Demon quality, but I think they're a huge improvement. 

The final color scheme
Above: Final version of Ozone Scorpion color scheme

Skin tones: Didn’t every gamer play AD&D at some point? Didn’t every AD&D player worthy of the name take a character through the excellent “Drow” series (Modules D1-3) at some point? So can someone tell me why no Dark Eldar army I have ever seen has incorporated the obvious?

Close-upLike the 40K Dark Eldar, the AD&D Drow were sneaky, vicious, deadly, fast, and took a punch about as well as a Daisy Scout. I was a long-time Dungeon Master, and the Drow were some of my favorite monsters, so I had to use them in 40K. In keeping with the description of the Drow in the Fiend Folio (veterans will remember that book), my Dark Eldar would have Chaos Black skin and Skull White hair. Eyes would be Mithril Silver.

As with the armor, though, I wasn't completely happy with my first results. The Chaos Black skin was too dark, the Skull White hair had no definition, and the Mithril Silver eyes just looked too freaky. I drybrushed the skin with Enchanted Blue to bring out details. I started adding Mithril Silver streaks to the white hair, then eventually started painting the hair a base color of silver before adding some white over it. And the silver eyes became Blood Red. I realize that red eyes are kind of a visual cliché, but they work and they're easy to do.

Finished Drow look
Above: More Ozone Scorpions

Weapons: Again, lots of figures, and I’m already using lots of silver. Chaos Black for the guns, with Boltgun Metal for the blades (a subtle difference against the Mithril Silver) and Ice Blue (gotta do something with that bottle I bought) for buttons, power packs, etc.

Bases: As an amateur astronomer, it tickles me to no end to see the bases of 40K figures covered in green grass or yellow sand—two very Earthlike features that would probably be hard to find throughout the galaxy. C’mon, guys, this is a game set in outer space—remember that, will ya? This is your chance to do something really creative.

I didn’t get many chances to use blue when painting my Tigers, but since I’ve begun the Scorps I’ve become enamored of it. Everyone thinks blue is boring, but I’ve found it has a lot of interesting shades. I cover the bases of my Scorps in sand, then paint over it in Shadow Grey and drybrush on some Space Wolf Grey (despite their names, these are really shades of blue). 

The finished bases go well with the Enchanted Blue and Mithril Silver of the figures and have a suitably “alien” feel. Should anyone ask, I tell them that the Scorps are exiles from Commorragh and have a hidden base in a cobalt/ammonium desert. 

Next time, I’ll move on to the backbone of the Ozone Scorpions: Troops. 

From Idea to Reality
Getting started <> Color schemes <> Raider Squads <> Transports <> Warriors <> 
Haemonculi/Talos <> Reavers <> Wyches <> Warp Beasts <> Archon <> Final

Related Pages
Themed Army Idea: Kabal of the Ozone Scorpions
Armies of the Jungle: Kabal of the Ozone Scorpions

Posted  January 2001


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle