As I mentioned before, Tyranids were my first army, which is using the term loosely, as I began collecting and painting as a preteen during 2nd edition. Once 3rd Edition rolled around I had at least one of nearly every 2nd edition model, and a few genestealer cult models I found in dusty hobby shops.
Here's a look at some of my 2nd ed models and my by-the-book (or as close as I could get) scheme. At the time, the 'Eavy Metal team didn't even paint armies with singular paint schemes, so I definitely didn't either.
A close up of the first minis I destroyed with my painting (in)abilities:
The Screamer-killer fex was arguably my best paint job, which just means the details of the model itself are still visible.
When a new generation of Nids was announced, I was extremely excited and pre-ordered the Tyranid Army which, if I remember correctly, contained the codex, a Hive Tyrant, Zoanthrope, Lictor, Carnifex, 3-6 Warriors, 16 Hormagaunts, 16 Termagants, a Biovore, and 12 Genestealers (the only models that didn't get updated – I already had ~20 from Space Hulk).
My local GW had open 40k gaming one day a week. Players were required to have all models painted with at least 3 colors and based; I made it a goal to have a full 1,000 point army ready to go by the first gaming day after the army's release. I achieved my goal, bringing the store's first 3rd Ed Tyranid army, though my paint scheme wasn't liable to win any awards.
I essentially painted the entire model black, painted all the carapace red, and then dabbed on some putrid green (which even then was discontinued) for the fleshy bits. I can't say for certain, but I don't think I even primed the models, just did a straight base coat of Chaos Black on the plastic and metal as can be deduced by the peeling/chipping on the biovore:
I can't say for sure if it's a good thing or not, but I essentially never went beyond that 1,000 points. I would break the bugs back out from time to time for 40k games, but never really built on them.
Soon after 4th edition was released, I actually packed up my 40k, and didn't go back until last July. I'd gotten much better at painting by the time I packed it in, but never revisited any of my 40k armies, or expanded them significantly.
When I pulled my third edition models back out, I was honestly a little embarrassed by the painting. For my first set of 6th edition games, I didn't have time to do much updating, but did finish a couple models I had assembled way back when, like the lictor and this warrior:
For the warrior, I followed the same scheme, but didn't lather on the blood red, instead just hitting part of the plates. I kept the Lictor even darker, figuring he shouldn't be brilliant red. It was with the lictor that I began integrating some green highlights on the black; though I kept it so dark you really can't tell here.
I also revisited some of my older models and tried to darken the carapace a bit, which was really just a hasty attempt where I back filled the carapace with black, as you can see on the 3rd Ed tyrant on the right:
The 2nd ed tyrant above was my next piece, in which I decided to go further with the green highlighting, and made my first concerted attempt at feathering and having a couple of layers of highlighting on the carapace, at least on the torso.
Emboldened by my success there, I took the parts of that scheme that I liked (since I wasn't remotely consistent across the entire Tyrant model) and put that into a new squad of Gargoyles, my first GW purchase in several years (and so it began).
I stuck with mostly black for the body, but decided to go much lighter for the wings, reasoning that as the skin was stretched it would be thinner allowing more light through. I painted the full squad of 10 over the course of several days/nights/evenings, doing the carapace in its entirety before moving on to the body, then the details. The scheme I used for the Gargoyles is the one I’ve been using and expanding on since.
For the carapace, I start with the black primer, and often do a watered coat of black to even out anywhere the primer is a little thin. Then I do a coat of a dark red (Scab or Khorne Red) covering most or all of each plate. This is followed by progressively lighter shades, sometimes blended, eventually working up to a Blood Red.
For the skin, I have been going further and further into the green, but generally I start with the black primer and pick out major raised areas with Incubi Darkness. From there I blend up a couple layers to Jade Green, which serves as the ultimate highlight for most of the body. Where I feel the skin would be stretched (wings, Tervigon belly) I progressively add white to the Jade Green for another 2-3 layers.
The final step is the fleshy bits and teeth. For the teeth they’re usually 3-4 layers going from brown to a bleached bone (Screaming Skull now).
For the fleshy bits, it took some trial and error, but I eventually settled on straight Putrid Green, followed by a black wash. Then I go back and pick out the edges/ridges in putrid green again. With monstrous creatures I added white to the Putrid green for a couple layers of highlights. These were very lightly applied to the general flesh bits and more used on the tongue and eyes.
I definitely won’t crank out 1,000 points in a week with this level of detail, but it’s something I can be a bit more proud of, even while I still have plenty of room to grow.
Thanks for reading, particularly if you made it all the way to the end.