“Thin your paints” is quite possibly the single most important piece of advice you could give anyone starting out in the hobby. It might feel tedious at first, but you’ll thank yourself later. Also, consider the alternative. Thanks to the aforementioned paint thinning, and relatively dark (and boring) paint scheme I used when I first started painting my Eldar minis, the new layers of paint didn’t look all clumpy when I set out to redo the army. Here’s one of the very few pictures I could still find of how they looked around 2008:
I had a custom color scheme from Dawn of War that I kinda wanted to emulate (pictured up top), but try as I might, making it look as interesting on the tabletop as it was in game was more than I had the skill to pull off. I couldn’t really highlight, and wasn’t confident enough to go for bolder, bright colors. If you remember the old line of Citadel paints, it was primarily Regal Blue with some Midnight Blue for variation. Both are really dark blues painted over black primer. Needless to say they didn’t really pop, but at the very least I could say I was able to keep my minis looking fairly clean. I figured purple gems would give some contrast, but not too much, and white helmets just seem to be the thing to do for Eldar. It was alright for someone without too much experience. It was safe.
Fast forward a few years later after I’d finished my backlog of Dark Eldar minis. I’d learned a lot about brush control, highlighting, learned to really appreciate washes (aka shades) and with Citadel’s new line of paints coming out, I figured maybe I could do my old army some justice. I also took another look at some of the established Craftworlds for inspiration in finding a new color scheme and had my interest piqued by Iybraesil.
Iybraesil is a Craftworld that’s been in existence since at least the 4th edition codex, but was really only ever given a small section in the “Other Craftworlds” section of the book’s army gallery. Just a short paragraph of lore and a picture of an Iybraesil Guardian painted in very simple turquoise with a white helmet. Nothing to write home about, until years later when I saw how people online were picking out details to spice up their look a bit. The primary color always had to be blue anyway, and Sotek Green (originally Hawk Turquoise, and yes it is more of a shade of blue than green) made the models pop much more than they did with my old Regal Blue.
I’ll get some better pictures of all the units soon, but here’s one I took awhile back, shortly after finishing the Guardians and Farseer — the Wraithguard were WIPs at the time. I also redid the bases aiming for a brighter, more realistic rocky grey even for the units I hadn’t or didn’t plan on repainting, just to see how they looked together. I liked what I saw, and went all in with Iybraesil from that point onward.
One last minor tidbit, is that I opted to keep the gems purple as a tribute to the old Craftworld. The red and yellow gems I’ve seen people use just hurt my eyes anyway, and if we wanna get geeky and inject a bit of our own backstory to it (and we do), one might say survivors from the old Craftworld had found themselves on Iybraesil. While they’re tolerated, they’re also viewed with some distrust for not being true sons and daughters of the Craftworld. Hopefully that meets the quota for at least Grimdark-lite.