White can be a tricky color to paint. You need to be careful not to make your whites too light as once you are using pure white paint, there’s absolutely no way to highlight it any further. Because of this, it is important to remember that white colors are defined by their shadows. Don’t be afraid to use pure white on large sections of the mini, so long as you leave darker colors in the shadows to define the shape.
My go-to method for most colors is to start out dark and work my way up, so that’s where we can start this. Remember to leave your earlier layers showing so that your shapes are properly defined.
There are a lot of varied looks your white can take, and it mostly depends on what color you use for your shading layers. Let’s start out with the warm whites that are used on studio Deathwing and Protectorate of Menoth troops.
If you want a warm white, you might want to start out with a medium to light beige color (like P3 Rucksack Tan or a mix of Citadel Snakebite Leather and Bleached Bone). With this method, you may want to mix your base color with a light bone color before you finally reach white. Ultimately, you can achieve something like this:
If you want to achieve a cooler white color, the method is the same, only with different colors. Start out with a medium to light gray color. If you want a very cold result, you can work this up through a very light blue (like P3 Frostbite, or Citadel’s Space Wolves Gray). If you want a less cool look, you can mix your white paint into the base gray and work it directly up to pure white.
Again, remember that your ultimate white layer is covering quite a bit of the white area.
It is best to start practicing white with miniatures where it doesn’t matter if they end up looking light beige or light gray, because the easiest mistake to make is to have too much shading or to make the shading too dark.
Now, after some practice, if you can get the blending down pat, you eventually can start to play with colors that are almost white, but not quite. It is great for doing white on white free hand. And you can try shading with different colors to see what you can do.
Here is my Madrak Ironhide with red, blue and pink shaded white for skin, and a cool white tartan with a white tartan pattern: