Let’s Paint Harlequin Diamonds – a Warhammer 40,000 Hobby Tutorial

The most difficult part about painting Harlequins is painting a bunch of diamonds. Fortunately, I’ve got some nice tricks that make it a little easier to pull off a nice pattern for you today. Let’s get started!

Level 1: Big Diamonds

We’re going to talk about two sizes of diamonds today, and the bigger ones are the easiest.

First, you want to basecoat the areas you’re going to apply the diamonds to with the easier color to paint over. Make sure you’ve done all the highlighting and shading you want to do before you get out your darker paint for the next step, as this will be crucial to the next point.

After the base layers are shaded and highlighted to your liking, and this does not have to be the smoothest blend as we will cover it up a bit, it’s time to add some thin lines going diagonal across the area. This can be done with a sharp pointed brush and paint, OR you can use very thin felt tipped markers. Micron brand markers work beautifully for this purpose, and they come in a huge variety of sizes.

I find it easiest to start at the top and go at around a 45 degree angle around the leg here. This is nice and simple if the area is straight, and we will cover bent surfaces further on.

Now for the magic. Taking the same thin lines, draw at the opposite angle down the leg. Again, I like to start at the top and go down to the side, wrapping all the way around the leg.

The right most picture has a nice example of what to do if the surface curves. If the leg were straight, the line would be straight. Since the leg is curved, follow the curve of the leg.

The second to last step requires filling in the diamonds with their own tone. My trick for this is to start with a top diamond, and then paint the diamond below it, and the diamond below that and so on until all the diamonds in the “column” are painted.

Next, move to the side of the original diamond to the diamond touching its side point and paint that new diamond before proceeding down the “column” once more. This method makes if very hard to mess up the order of the checker pattern in the diamonds and keeps things nice and methodical.

This last step is optional, but it really helps sell the look – especially if the colors are something other than black and white.

Using the gradient established by the base layer of paint, highlight up the painted in diamonds with a few glazes of a lighter tone of the color. This can be done by mixing in a little white, or by mixing in a lighter other color (for example yellow mixes into green nicely to highlight). By matching the existing blend from dark to light, the checkered diamonds now help trick the eye into seeing them as one piece of cloth on the model.

At this point, the rest of the model could be painted in solid tones, and it would still have the look and feel of a Harlequin Troupe.

Level 2: Small Diamonds

The classic Harlequin costume has diamonds freehanded all over it, and for the other areas I’m going to demonstrate how to paint smaller, more intricate diamonds.

Full disclosure, I had gotten the model mostly painted before I thought to compare my pattern to the other completed members of the unit and realized I had goofed up the colors, so I ended up starting all of the freehand over to document it properly!

Once again, start with a foundation layer of one of the two main diamond colors, and highlight and shade it as usual for this kind of smooth cloth. The differences in tone are much more pronounced in these blue areas.

The colors I used for this stage are p3 Coal Black, p3 Meridius Blue, and ProAcryl White

Once again, break out the fine tipped brush or marker and start making diagonal lines from the top of the leg area and wrapping around.

An important thing to think about here is how a bent leg would interact with these lines, and for this purpose I always paint the straighter leg first and then try to place the lines on the folded leg afterwards starting in the same approximate places.

In the first picture, the bent leg has some lines that start on the top of the thigh and bend severely with the curvature of the leg. Compare that to the straight leg and it is more clearly correct as those lines would normally cut straight across from the thigh down to the calf in an uninterrupted line. Because the leg bends, the line must bend with it.

Now that the first set of lines have been established, it’s time to make the opposing lines. Once again, I recommend doing this with the straighter leg first as it will show the paths needed for the bent leg.

Further, if things fail to line up perfectly, remember that it’s very difficult to see both sides of a solid object at once, so as long as each side looks correct on its own things will work out fine.

Next, use the same method of starting with a top diamond and then painting the one touching it right below and following this all the way down before coming back up and starting the “column” next to it. I used p3 Amethyst Rose for this step, though any dull burgundy color would work as long as it is reasonably opaque. This is tricky enough without having to go back and paint multiple coats for a seemless color.

The last couple steps here involve using the existing highlights in the base layer as a map for which new diamonds need highlights and where they would need them. A couple thin layers are better than thick ones here, as that will help sell the look of a seemless piece of cloth.

Finally, go back quickly and make sure the base layer diamonds are bright enough where the highlights demand them, and call it done!


Most people think that freehanding is far out of reach, and that is simply not the case. With a little care (and maybe a micron marker pen), this kind of pattern is well within the reach of most hobbyists, and definitely worth practicing for the brush control alone.

Because I re-did the pattern on the example model, I ran out of time to finish up the NMM and gem work it needed to join the little unit I’m slowly putting together, but here are some finished shots of this scheme on a couple of other models!

The key things to remember here:

  1. Start with a highlight map of the base color.
  2. Place the relevant lines on top of that.
  3. Color in using a column system to keep track of the pattern.
  4. Use the highlight map to show you where to place the highlights on the second color.

And finally, freehanding doesn’t need to be everywhere. Some big diamond patterns on a few places can be just as effective with blocks of solid color for pulling off the Harlequin look, and for much less effort.

As always, thank you for reading! If you feel like supporting this kind of content (and the many other articles we’ve got here), consider backing our Patreon or even just leaving a comment with something you’ve got on the painting table.

Until next time!

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