thousand sons painting guide (color schemes explained)


The Thousand Sons faction is a loyalist Space Marine Chapter in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. While they are a part of the Warhammer army, they have a unique culture and color scheme that sets them apart from other Chapters, from the Orks to the Necrons, Custodes, Mechanicus, and even the space wolves. 

If you’re thinking of painting your Warhammer 40k thousand sons miniatures, in this blog post, we will explore the Thousand Sons’ culture and color schemes in more detail to help you paint your models effortlessly. 

Culture of the Thousand Sons

The Thousand Sons are known for their unique culture, heavily influenced by their Egyptian roots. They are devoted to knowledge, magic, and sorcery, which they use to protect humanity from the forces of Chaos. 

The Thousand Sons are also highly intelligent and value knowledge above all else. They are also quite devoted to magic and have a ritualistic culture that makes their faction quite fascinating. Regardless, their knowledge of magic and sorcery is unmatched by any other Chapter within the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

Color Schemes of the Thousand Sons

Warhammer 40K Thousand Sons has a unique color scheme any experienced mini painter can instantly recognize. 

Their armor is primarily blue with gold trim with red or yellow accents.

If you’ve watched or seen photographic images of warriors in ancient Egypt, you will observe that their cloth and armors often have these accents. Since Thousand Sons portrays the culture of ancient Egypt, it’s no surprise that their color scheme is also based on the ancient Egyptian god of knowledge, Thoth, who was often depicted with blue skin and gold or yellow clothing.

The Thousand Sons’ vehicles also feature this unique color scheme, with blue and gold being the dominant colors. Their banners and heraldry also feature these colors, along with various symbols and hieroglyphs.

Popular Color Schemes for 40K Thousand Sons

The most popular non-default color scheme, especially for the thousand sons heresy miniatures is a shiny candy red. This scheme is relatively easy and only needs a gold spray/undercoat and red contrast paint. Optionally putting gloss varnish (or if you’re lucky Nuln Oil Gloss) to make it shinier. Regardless, the most popular color schemes for 40K Thousand Sons include:


  • Basecoat – Kantor Blue 
  • Wash – Nuln oil 
  • Drybrush – Kantor Blue 
  • Highlight – Thousand Sons Blue 
  • Edge Highlight – Blue Horror 

 Robes, Shoulder Pads, Helmets, and Kneepads:

  • Basecoat – Xereus Purple 
  • Highlight – Screamer Pink 
  • Edge highlight – Pink Horror 


  • Base – Abaddon Black base
  • Drybrush – Eshin Grey drybrush
  • Highlight – Celestra Grey highlight


  • Base – Abaddon Black 
  • Drybrush – Skavenblight Dinge 
  • Highlight – Stormvirmin Fur 
  • Edge highlight – Dawnstone 


  • Base – Leadbelcher base
  • Varnish – Nuln Oil Gloss
  • Highlight Runefang Steel 
  • Drybrush – Necron Compound (only if the surface is large) 
  • Edge highlight – Stormhost Silver 

Alternatively, Choose Your Color Scheme When Painting 40K Thousand Sons

One of the wonderful things about the hobby is that you’re welcome to paint your army however you’d like. Most miniature painters do theirs in their legion colors, so dark (but not Khorne dark) red with gold trim. I love this theme, but I use dark red and silver for my thousand sons’ army.

Painting Techniques for 40K Thousand Sons Miniatures

Note: Here, we will be painting battle ready 40k thousand sons rubric marines. 

When painting traditional Rubric schemes, most mini painters will either basecoat with gold and paint the armor panels with blue or basecoat in blue and use gold trims. But, painting the rubric marines involves much more than this. 

What you will need

  • Small layer brush
  • Color (Retributor Armor, Thousand sons blue)

The Process

  • Undercoat the model with Retributor armor
  • Use a small layer brush, then apply Thousand Son Blue as basecoat all over the armor and be sure to thin the paint. 
  • Once it dries, it’s time to add details. Use Abadon black, Leadbelcher, Celestra Grey, and Averland Sunset, laying them one at a time to create varied details on the model where you want them. Don’t forget to thin the paint before applying them to the model. 

Abadon black helps you add details to the weapon, while the Celestial Grey works best on clothes. Paint Leadbelcher on areas where you want to create metal textures and Averland Sunset where you want to show light source. Then, Paint the eyes using Corax white. 

  • After applying the base paints, it’s time to paint some shades. To do this, we use Nuln oil and Biel-Tan green. Water it down and lay it evenly on the model. Apply Biel-tan green to the eyes to add depth. 

Tips for painting Warhammer 40K Thousand Sons Miniatures

  1. You will lose detail with a thick cost. Do two to three thin coats to keep the details. 
  2. Consider batch painting your 40K Thousand Sons miniatures. It can speed things up and give you time to decide what to do next on the models. 
  3. Don’t worry too much about making mistakes. Even experienced mini-painters make mistakes. Just make sure that with every mistake you make, you go back and touch it up. 
  4. Keep note of the different colors you used. This way, you don’t end up painting another model in the same faction a brighter or darker tone than the rest of your army.


40K Thousand Sons have a unique culture and color scheme that sets them apart from other Space Marine Chapters. Regardless, the most important thing to keep in mind when painting your Thousand Sons army is that they typically look like Egyptian Gods. So, colors like Red, Gold, and Blue are three colors you can’t miss out on when painting your model. 


More Thousand Sons Color Schemes Ideas