How to Paint Red Hair for Warhammer Miniatures: A Guide for Beginners

Dark Eldar Warhammer 40k

How to Paint Stunning Red Hair for Warhammer Miniatures: The Ultimate Guide for Novices and Experts Alike

As an avid Warhammer hobbyist with over 20 years of experience painting miniatures, I am often asked, “How do you get that vibrant red hair on your models? Your highlights look so natural!” Well today I am excited to share my secrets to creating eye-catching red hair your entire warhammergaming club will be envious of.

Whether you are painting a fiery Warrior Priest or a cunning Dark Elf Sorceress, with a few key tips on color selection, layering, glazing and highlighting, even beginners can achieve professional-looking vibrant red locks that make your miniatures come alive. From renounded companies like Games Workshop to smaller boutqiues, there is no shortage of fantastic Warhammer models just begging for vibrant, flowing hair.

So grab your best brushes and let’s get started!

Dark Eldar Warhammer 40k

Selecting the Right Red for a Natural Look

When trying to recreate natural red hair, it is important to use paints spanning the spectrum from deep burgundy to bright ginger. This allows you to capture subtly different hues for depth and realism.

For the darkest shadow areas, I prefer a deep ox blood red like Vallejo Game Color Bloody Red. This rich vibrant tone provides the perfect base. For the midtone red brown, Army Painter Dragon Red works beautifully. Finally, to make those bright highlights really sing, Vallejo Game Air Hot Orange or AP Daemonic Yellow capture the ginger and blond tones of sun-kissed curls.

Now for human skin tones, you generally want to avoid going too bright orange and straying into cartoonish territory. For elf skin however, vibrant orange and yellow highlights help convey an otherworldly look. So consider the overall aesthetic you are going for.

Warhammer 40k paints

Thin Your Paints and Patiently Layer Up Transitions

The key to smooth, natural looking transitions on red hair is patient layering while progressively lightening your mix. Many novice painters make the mistake of blobbing on thick, uneven coats, obliterating previous work. Instead, thin your pigments considerably and apply multiple smooth passes, allowing each layer to dry between applications.

Slowly progression upwards through your red brown midtone towards ginger orange highlights. Never cover an area completely on subsequent layers. This creates unwanted hard lines instead of a natural blend. Leaving some of the underlying shade peaking through, particularly around curves and recesses, adds depth and visual interest.

Warhammer 40k Redhair

Use Glazes to Tint and Enrich Your Base Layer

Once you get your midtone layer laid in, glazing is fantastic for enriching the underlying coat. Mix a reddish-brown wash like Reikland Fleshshade or Army Painter Soft Tone with Lahmian Medium or flow aid. Apply it sheerly over the basecoat to tint the overall hair redder and tie the layers together. This helps newer painters immensely, bringing warmth and cohesion to the finish haircolor.


Place Your Brightest Highlights Thoughtfully

It is so tempting to just layer highlights everywhere thinking ‘more is better’, but restraint is needed for believably. Look at reference photos and note where the light naturally catches: the peaks of curls and waves, crown and part lines. This is where you want to place your most vibrant ginger and yellow-orange tones.

Also consider the direction of light source on your Warhammer scene. If your Sorceress stands in torchlight, her hair’s brightest highlights should reflect that accordingly, with shadows falling opposite. This thoughtful placement sells the illusion spectacularly, even for novice painters!

Redhair Warhammer 40k

Example Dark Elf Sorceress Red Hair Paint Scheme

To demonstrate these concepts fully, allow me walk through a step-by-step paint scheme for rich red hair suitable to a cunning Dark Elf Sorceress:

  1. Basecoat black (I prefer Abaddon Black spray)
  2. Layer hair area with 2-3 thin coats of ox blood red, like Vallejo Game Bloody Red, leaving darker shadow areas showing.
  3. Wash lightly with 50:50 Red Shade like Carroburg Crimson and Lahmian medium to enrich.
  4. Reapply Bloody Red, leaving more black lining showing to help define strands.
  5. Layer midtone areas with Army Painter Dragon Red up to about 75% coverage, no hard lines.
  6. Highlight raised areas and peaks with Vallejo Hot Orange. Use sparingly only about 25% coverage max.
  7. Add final extreme highlights of Army Painter Daemonic Yellow on crown and peaks catching direct light.

The elegant, flowing locks of a Dark Elf spellcaster seem like the perfect fit for showcasing these glowing red hair techniques. Let me know if you have any other feedback on improving this section!

And that’s it! Follow these guidelines while practicing layering and glazing patience, and you will be amazed how vibrant and voluminous you can make red hair for Warhammer. From the deepest shadows to the brightest fiery highlights, select colors appropriately across the spectrum, blend smoothly, and mind your placements, and your mini’s flowing locks will grab attention!

For even more Warhammer hair inspiration and tutorials, be sure to check out our YouTube channel with helpful videos detailing additional advanced techniques like freehanding realistic hair strands. And let us know your top hair painting tips in the comments below! We would love to feature your work. Keep an eye out for our next article on achieving equally stunning results for blonde and black hair. The craft of miniature painting has so much depth, fun and relaxation to offer hobbyists of all skill ranges when you follow some simple fundamentals. We hope you found these guidelines useful. And as always, happy painting!

If you are looking for a YouTube guide we recommend: How to Paint – Realistic Redhead Hair (

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