How to Paint Tyranid Carapace for Hive Fleet Kraken

I have returned! After starting full-time work in July, keeping up with the hectic lifestyle of being an islander in summer time and work, sadly my hobby time has suffered heavily. In truth, this is the only thing I managed to paint all summer.

My main army of interest and hobby is Eldar, however I also help my brother with his 40k army, Tyranids. Breaking from the clean and technological shapes of Eldar and moving to the organic and “random” structures found in Tyranids, helped me try new techniques and move my painting skills in a fresh and new direction.

My main aim in painting this ┬ácarapace was keeping true to the Hive Fleet Kraken scheme, whilst keeping it original and organic. I think I was relatively successful in both respects, I like how the Carapace compliments the skin because of the similar purple and red/brown tones in the skin. In this case I’ll be using the head of a Tyranid Trygon.

Without further ado, to the tutorial!

Step 1

Step one is establishing a basecoat, I used doombull brown because it is a neutral colour with a dark red hue, which creates for interesting underlayer for red colours overlayed.

Step 2

This main step was linking the purple tones in the flesh to the carapace and also starting to bring backs some red tones to the red-brown of the carapace. This is a targeted wash to the recesses and those areas in shadow.

Step 3

Now this is the step which makes a massive difference and gives a great texture to the carapace. Starting off with a layer of Mephiston Red, making sure not to go into shaded areas and leaving brush strokes visible, this gives the carapace a natural and organic look, as if it has been growing over several years.

The same step is repeated with Evil Sunz Scarlet to create some highlights and give the effect of sunlight bleaching to some areas of the carapace.

Step 4

This is the part which requires most patience, knowing how much to add of this flesh tone will make or break the whole effect. I suggest you varnish before this stage just in case you make a mistake you can remove it without ruining the underlying paint job. This final highlight of Flesh 3 from Warcolours gives the carapace a lot of life and gives the final texture and organic feel, whilst still setting it apart from other Hive Fleet Kraken styles and schemes.


In conclusion I like the change in style I used to paint this model. I love that the red looks really deep but still looks natural. I have a few bits and pieces of this Tyranid Trygon ready so hopefully I’ll do a showcase some time in the near future so you guys can see the finished effect of the carapace.

So hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial, please leave a comment below with any thoughts or ideas, I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading,

The Sable Warlock


  • Awesome job with the tutorial. Also, the results are great. That purple wash really pulls it all together.

  • Jack Shrapnel

    Nicely done. The carapace works great with the lighter skin tone next to it.

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