Tau Colour Schemes

January 16, 2010 ·

Warhammer Tau will return, but first I need your help to pick a colour scheme for my Tau army.

I sadly sold my last Tau army because I simply couldn't paint it fast enough and alter my army to keep up with the constantly changing Warhammer 40K tournament game.

So, like my Space Wolves army, my Tau will need to be basecoated, washed and drybrushed. Painting painstakingly perfect highlights was far too time consuming. I don't think the orange stripes were a good idea either, but I really enjoyed painting those.

I've come up with 4 possible colour schemes.

There's a poll on the right for you to vote -->

I'll explain my thoughts behind each of the colour schemes and why I like them, what's good about them and what's potentially bad about them.

Tau Colourscheme 1: District 9
I think we were all blown away by the battlesuit in District 9. What was more amazing was that it had orange stripes, much like my first Tau army. The colour is a dark grey military blue. Interestingly enough, Tael from The Advanced Tau Tactica has painted a number of Tau Firewarriors in a very similar colour scheme.

If I wanted to paint this army, I'd need to find a suitable base colour, mix my own highlight (probably the basecoat + Bleached Bone) and drybrush it on, then paint the stripes and other details later.

Darker coloured armies tend to look better drybrushed and I probably wouldn't need a wash for the extra shading.

Tau Colourscheme 2: Wee Men
Ever since the Wee Men blog painted this Hellhound, I've been a keen follower. He's currently doing a big batch of tanks where he spray undercoats them red, covers part of them in masking tape and sprays the rest beige for a camo effect, then applies Army Painter Medium, a kind of glaze that's like coating a model in Devlan Mud wash apparently. Once dry, then them gives them a quick drybrush highlight, painted the details and done. For someone like me who wishes they could do all their tanks in one big batch, this is very appealing. I'd have to do the same for my Battlesuits and Firewarriors, but I'd spray them beige, use Army Painter on them, then paint the red and other details afterwards.

I like the colour scheme, but the only thing putting me off is my lack of experience with Army Painter. I'll also need to borrow my parents garage as there's nowhere to do this messy stuff in my flat.

Tau Colourscheme 3: Dirty Desert
Don't be fooled, this is actually a very carefully painted model. But, there's a less careful way to achieve the same effect and that's with spray cans and washes. Back in 2006, when I used to write FIREBASE magazine, I sprayed up a Star Wars imperial shuttle for a scenario, then painted certain panels Scorched Brown, then painted the other small details and it looked surprisingly a lot like this Forgeworld Battlesuit.

This was achieved using 3 spray cans from Halfords. A brown, a beige and a lighter beige (like Bleached Bone. The brown was the basecoat, then the beige and lighter beige colours were carefully 'dusted' on from a distance.

The army would be extremely quick to paint if I went for this approach. I'd just have to use some washes to bring out certain details, like gaps in armour plates. I'd also be in big trouble if I made any serious mistakes in painting the details as it would be impossible to mimic the rough sprayed effect with a paintbrush.

Tau Colourscheme 4: Classic Warhammer Tau
Alternatively, I stick with my original colourscheme. The biggest problem with this is that painting the highlights carefully by hand took far too long. The other problem is that before the highlights the models looked very muddy due to my choice of colours. So naturally, I'm concerned that drybrushing won't pick out the details and make the paint scheme look very muddy indeed.

I think that this scheme is out of the question unless I paint everything neatly by hand, which caused problems as it took far, far too long. The long orange stripes really made the scheme work and these were incredibly time consuming to paint as well.


Firewasp said...
January 16, 2010 at 4:31 AM  

I do like the forge world colour scheme. If I Hadn't already started painting my tau in green when I saw this I probably would have gone for something like this.

Gabe Chomic said...
January 16, 2010 at 4:44 AM  

My vote is for scheme 2.

TJIC said...
January 16, 2010 at 6:27 AM  

2 and 3 are both quite nice.

I don't actually play WH40k, just spectate, so take my advice with a grain of salt!

levi said...
January 16, 2010 at 9:21 AM  

3, dirty desert!

NockerGeek said...
January 16, 2010 at 10:00 AM  

I like the orange striping and dark blues from #1, but #3 has a really nice look to it, and it sounds easier to get an army done quickly that way. Go for #3.

Anonymous said...
January 16, 2010 at 5:14 PM  

ive always like the urban scheme so #1 is nice but it would be pretty cool to see #2

Anonymous said...
January 16, 2010 at 6:49 PM  

Anything that helps to speed up painting an army is a good thing, imho... hence, #2.

Anonymous said...
January 16, 2010 at 6:58 PM  

I'm not just gonna post "go number 3", because that's what the voting was for. But I am gonna say that the battlesuit looks *spectacular* in that colour scheme, and, no doubt about it, 5th editon tau armies are gonna be way battlesuit heavy. #3 for sure.

Gredus said...
January 17, 2010 at 5:09 AM  

1 would really need the orange stripes to contrast. It would also help identify it as your army at a glance i guess. It could look awesome all assembled.

2 runs the risk of looking like all the generic sand colour schemes you see on other Tau armies.

3, meh, i'm just not feeling.

4 i think would work if you maybe did it as a base coat, wash then much lighter drybrush. Perhaps changing out the brown for another colour.

The Green/Orange colour scheme really reminded me of Halo when I saw your army and my guys are going to be painted kinda similar (for the vehicle markings anyway)

levi said...
January 17, 2010 at 5:23 AM  

Oh somehow I didn't see the voting, sorry.

Pearlygates said...
January 17, 2010 at 1:18 PM  

Adam if you go to 'Eastern Empire:Shas'El Tael's Work' (this can be found on OSH's blog - 'Tau of War') he has paintshop 'thingy' that can let you test out colour schemes on fire warriors/crisis suits/devilfish/Piranhas.

I was playing about with it using the fire warrior scheme. I like the idea of a black and metal-grey colour sheme (colours works well visa-versa with the amour and clothing) The metal-grey amour scheme made me think of your old Tau army.

Gredus said...
January 17, 2010 at 1:48 PM  

Oooooh nice tip Pearlygates! I'm off to check that out now! \o/

slxiii said...
January 18, 2010 at 12:25 AM  

Tau aren't an army you can drybrush and be done with.... at least not as far as my experience goes
If you do find an effective, wuick way to paint them, write an article on it and let us know!

Anonymous said...
January 18, 2010 at 11:10 AM  

I like all of them except #2, but dirty desert seems the most interesting, btw does anyone know or have the urls to the spray can sites? or atleast the brand? I plan on having a brown/gold army, and am searching for a nice brown/ tan coat. by the way why did you have to sell them?

Brian said...
January 18, 2010 at 5:52 PM  

I vote 3. If you do paint your Tau that way could you do a post on how exactly you painted them? I've no interest at all in actually going through the painstaking process of painting my army by hand, but if I can just spray paint them all in a matter of minutes I would do so in a heart beat.

Anonymous said...
January 18, 2010 at 8:21 PM  

What about blue/black with gold trim

mithril said...
January 19, 2010 at 10:30 AM  

my tau are being painted a medium dark green, with red sept marks and a yellow-tan secondary color for the "cloth" parts of the infantry uniform. the result looks like a WW2 imperial japanese style, with a touch of fuedal samurai asthetic. toss in red, black, and gold for the commander (a samurai scheme, to go with the XV-89 figure used, which is very samurai is, down to the kabuto helmet..), and it looks pretty cool. the kroot have been painted up with a dark green skin color and brown quills, and with gold and turquiose for the lizardman bitz used to give them character..looks rather like a mix of tengu and kappa...

Ken said...
January 19, 2010 at 5:33 PM  

I know my color scheme may seem odd, but I've painted my Tau with an "Iron Man" theme. I've seen someone else post up their take on this theme, but I feel mine looks a little more organic. I base coat with Chaos Black spray. Use Mechrite Red and Iyanden Darksun foundation. Use Shadow Grey to paint the cloth. Wash everything with Badab black. Paint over foundation with Shining Gold and a 50/50 mix of Red Gore/Mithril Silver. The electronic and power sources on weapons and armor are painted (and dry brushed in many cases) with Ice Blue. And then highlights are done with Skull White on the Ice Blue.

Perhaps I will receive a hail of rebukes, but so far they look pretty snazzy on the table. Not true to Tau fluff in a sense, but I thought maybe some Tau would use metals in their armor in their further expansions into space.

Isaac said...
January 20, 2010 at 9:32 PM  

I like number 3, mostly coz it's the least Tau-like of the four, but also it's a rather cool scheme in it's own right. I'm just starting to collect Tau and need to pick a scheme, I was thinking white with pale electric blue armour and orange sept colours.

Anonymous said...
January 29, 2010 at 7:09 AM  

I have a Tau Army based on Shas'El Tales color scheme.

Don't get me wrong, it's very pretty and catches a lot of attention at my local store - BUT, it's going to be the same problem your last list had - block it out quickly, spend forever highlighting. =\

My 2 cents - for whatever that's worth.

Anonymous said...
February 2, 2010 at 8:55 AM  

I like most of them, I have the same problem with #1 that I have with all armies painted that shade of grey, they end up looking like unpainted pieces off the sprue from even a short distance away.

derek said...
February 11, 2010 at 4:42 PM!! go with 3. its easy and looks realistic. Plus i think you can pull off an amazing paint job with this on hammerheads and the like.

cant wait to see what u choose

Anonymous said...
February 22, 2010 at 6:41 AM  

Tau Colourscheme 3: Dirty Desert

This is a unanime issue. BUT, it seems to be quite easy to do, and I'm sure it is really difficult to paint.
Does anybody ever tried to paint it like this ?

DaDewd said...
April 18, 2010 at 8:29 AM  

It seems like the running theme with these schemes is sot of decrepit. I plan on painting my army pristine and brand new, like fresh out of the giant robot gundam assembly line.

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Warhammer Tau is a group of wargamers who feel that they have a little something different to offer other Tau Empire, Kroot, and allied players... even if it's just a starting point for discussion! Our goal is to produce at least one article per week to inform and encourage the Tau and Warhammer gamer community. For the Greater Good, of course!

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