Discover Epic Warhammer 40K Custodes Color Schemes


The Adeptus Custodes are the Emperor’s elite guardians, the most powerful warriors in the Warhammer 40K universe. Their armor is adorned with intricate designs and colors that reflect their status and purpose. 

Want to paint your Warhammer 40K Custodes but can’t decide on a suitable color scheme? Here’s everything you need to know about painting your 40K Custodes miniatures. 

Brief History of the Warhammer 40K Custodes

The Custodes are among the elite forces of the Horus Heresy originally tasked with protecting the Emperor’s laboratory and ensuring his safety during his experiments. Over time, their role evolved to become the Emperor’s personal bodyguards. 

During the Horus Heresy, the Custodes fought alongside the loyalist Space Marine Legions and played a crucial role in defending the Imperial Palace against the Traitor Legions.

The Custodes are organized into various units, ranging from the Shield Hosts (the main combat units, each led by a Captain-General), Sentinel Orders (the intelligence gathering unit), and Shadowkeepers (tasked with maintaining the Custodes’ ancient technology). Each of these units has its own color scheme. 

The 40K Custodes Color scheme 

As mentioned earlier, every Custode units have its unique color scheme, but the most popular and official color scheme of the 40K Custodes is classic gold. 

The iconic gold color scheme of the 40K Custodes typically features a bright, shining gold color for the armor, often accented with red and black details. The gold color is symbolic of the Custodes’ wealth and status, as well as their unwavering loyalty to the Emperor.

iconic gold color scheme of the 40K Custodes

To achieve this color scheme, you can use Citadel’s Retributor Armor for the base coat. Highlight the armor with Auric Armor Gold, and add some depth with Agrax Earthshade. For the red details, use Mephiston Red and Evil Sunz Scarlet, and for the black, use Abaddon Black. 

The Shadowkeepers color scheme has a darker and more ominous look than the typical gold appearance of the Custode army

Unlike the classic gold-armored Custode minis, Shadowkeepers use a black basecoat for the armor, accented with silver and gold details. This color scheme is often used for Custodes assigned to more covert operations, such as assassination or sabotage.

Shadowkeepers color scheme

To achieve this color scheme, start with a base coat of Abaddon Black. Highlight the armor with Leadbelcher and Stormhost Silver, and add some depth with Nuln Oil. For the gold details, use Retributor Armor and Auric Armor Gold.

The Custodes also have a striking armor called the Aquilan Shield, which features a blue basecoat accented with gold details, and the Aquila symbol, a powerful symbol of the Imperium’s power.

Aquilan Shield

To achieve this color scheme, start basecoat with Macragge Blue. Then, apply several layers of highlight with Altdorf Guard Blue and Calgar Blue, and add some depth with Drakenhof Nightshade. Don’t forget to use Citadel’s Retributor Armor and Auric Armor Gold to recreate the gold details. 

Besides the Shadowkeepers and Aqualian Shield paint schemes, many mini painters often paint their Custodes with a pink basecoat on the armor with gold details.

To achieve this color scheme, start with a base coat of Fulgrim Pink. Highlight the armor with Emperor’s Children and Screamer Pink, and add some depth with Druchii Violet. To recreate the gold details, use Retributor Armor and Auric Armor Gold. 

How to Paint 40K Custodes

Painting a Custode army is unlike painting other miniatures. A Custode paint scheme will range from battle-ready to parade-ready, painted weapons and special effects like transparent jewels and their skin. 

The good news is that you can paint them with your own color scheme and come up with your own lore about them. Just go with what you think is cool. 

  1. Battle-Ready Paint Scheme for Custodes Army

Start with a basecoat of Retributor Gold Spray. Then, apply wash with Reikland Fleshshade Gloss and do a 50/50 mix of Lahmian Medium and Druchii Violet to create more shading effect. 

After this, drybrush the model with Golden Griffon and move to the metal parts. Use Leadbelcher to basecoat your metals and apply a wash of Nuln Oil Gloss. If you want to create leather textures, basecoat with Doombull Brown and apply Agrax Earthshade as a wash.

  1. Parade-Ready Paint Scheme for Custodes Army

For this technique, all you need to do is spot highlight (stipple) the armor and stick to the other steps in our battle-ready painting technique. 

So, rather than apply Leadbelcher on the metal parts of your armor, use Stormhost Silver and stipple over the raised parts of the model. 

  1. Create Glow Effects on Weapons

Note: for this technique, make sure you thin each paint with Lahmian Medium to create smooth layers that transition perfectly and ensure a natural power glow. 

So, basecoat the weapon with your chosen color, i.e., Kantor blue; apply the first highlight with a shade that contrasts well with the base color, i.e., Sotek green, and make sure to mix with Lahmian medium. 

Add a second and third highlight (with colors like temple Guard Blue and Baharroth blue) mixed with Lahiman medium. Then, create depth with wash (Contrast Medium and Akhelian Green). As a final step, add edge highlights with white paint. 


The Warhammer 40K Custodes have a rich color scheme that makes painting these elite guardians a fun experience for both entry-level and seasoned miniature painters.

So, whether you prefer the classic gold and black of the Horus Heresy era or the intimidating red, black, and pink color schemes, rest assured you will always find something that perfectly suits your army. And, if you can’t find one, just go ahead and use colors you know you will love.