David Rodríguez

The Carnifex, or Carnifex Primus, represents one of the most lethal characters of the entire world of WarHammer 40k in its various subspecies, such as the Carnifex Voracio, the Carnifex Vorantii, the Carnifex Howling, the Carnifex Arbylis, and the Carnifex Bilius.

Its thick armour gives it the adequate protection against many of the weapons used in battles. From a tactical point of view, the Carnifex can be compared to the Dreadnoughts or to the Ork Killa-Kan.

It’s a monstrous being, armed with the most advanced bio-weapons belonging to Tyranids. This is why it is deployed as an element of assault during boarding operations, or as the centrepiece of a frontal assault or even to consolidate or besiege fortified emplacements.

A primordial force, an immense mass creature, that can eliminate any defensive line placed in front of the advance of the Tyranids’ powerful army; it is also able to wipe out any man or implement, which comes between it and its goal.

To the mutations listed above, we can also add the Carifex Old One Eye, one of a kind because able to regenerate itself from life-threatening injuries. On its body we can clearly see the scars of many shots that should have killed it; the legends, told by the imperial forces’ warriors, tell about Carnifex killed at least a dozen times, but always reappeared. This specimen is armed with two enormous claws than can disembowel even the toughest enemy.

The Carnifex is not a very intelligent creature; it moves slowly, but luckily it is led by the Hive Mind, and so it is able to withstand, and adapt to any environment, even the most extreme ones, such as the arctic cold or the burning desert.

The first encounters with this species are registered in the battle against the Behemoth BioFleet; this fight culminated in the great conflict of Macragge. When the empire tried to stop the Tyranids’ invasion of the space, the Carnifex were in charge of each collision action.

Since 1990 I have been painting mainly humanoids miniatures and the people that know my style also know that I am a very big fan of the Space Marines and the Orcs. But back in 2007 I wanted to do something different, something that no one could have expected from me: I decided to paint a Tyranid.

A Tyranid is a fierce alien race of the Warhammer 40.000 universe, very similar to the aliens in the film Starship Troopers. They look like insects and they act as a hive, commanded by one single brain called the Hive Tyrant.

Out of the whole Tyranids' figure range my favorite one has always been the Carnifex. They are like organic tanks full of strength and biochemical weapons capable of destroying any enemy regiment in front of them with just one shot.

When I took the figure out of the box I realized how I wanted to paint it, as I suddenly remembered an illustration from Alex Boyd that shows a Carnifex in the middle of a battle. I wanted to use those exact same colors (purples, reds and beiges) and I wanted to give it a touch of "realism" escaping from the colorful and sparkly schemes used by some painters in the past.


I started with the "morbid" parts of the figure by using a light purple (a dull pink) prepared with a mix of Liche Purple and Bleached Bone both from Citadel. The shades where done with more Liche Purple and Black and for the highlights I used pure Bleached Bone.


As per the illustration reference, the next step was to paint the exoskeleton in a darker purple tone. I started with a base of Liche Purple shading it with a bit of black and green (complementary of the purple) and highlighting it adding Ivory (Vallejo). A very important point here was to apply with the airbrush a coat of satin varnish once the exoskeleton was fully painted. In this way I was able to obtain a moisturized look as if the shell was covered with a thin sticky layer.


Red areas conform the focal point of the miniature as they stand up from the rest of the dull colors I used. I mainly painted with this color the gums of the mouth and the parts of the bio-weapon that have that kind of disgusting visceral look.

For the base I used Red Gore from Citadel, shading it with a bit of Dark Blue Sea (Vallejo) and black, and highlighting it with Fiery Orange (Citadel) and Beige Red (Vallejo). After all layer were dry I applied a general coat of Gloss varnish and a bit of Red Ink. This allowed me to obtain the humid and almost disgusting look I was looking for, and gave the area a very high contrast from the rest of areas becoming the focal point of the figure.


Although in the illustration the claws of the Carnifex were red, I considered it was going to be too much red for the miniature, so I decided to go for a safer color: ivory.

First I applied a layer with a mixture of Space Wolves Grey (Citadel) and German Camouflage Black Brown (Vallejo). The highlights and the grain were painted adding some Vallejo Ivory and for the shadows I used German Camouflage Black Brown and a bit of Turquoise. I used some glazes with red ink especially in the areas in contact with the Carnifex flesh to have a smooth transition.


In order to keep a homogeneous tonality in the model, every single piece of the figure has some slight midtones of Snakebite Leather (Citadel) and some shadow tones of Scorpion Green, a very light green (almost radioactive) from Citadel that contrasted perfectly with the Liche Purple.


I prepared the terrain some years before for another project that was not successful, and while gluing together the pieces of the Carnifex I realized it could fit perfectly with the project. Basically, the terrain is a city fight environment devastated by the invasion of the Tyranids. I used some plasticard and bits and pieces of other figures to build it, and painted it with greys and browns in order to avoid it stealing the prominence from the Carnifex itself. The broken Imperial Eagle on the ground was painted in yellow in order to make it stand up from the rest of the terrain. For it I used Japanese Uniform, Ice Yellow, Ivory and Oxford Blue (all from Vallejo), shading it with Scorched Brown (Citadel).


This Carnifex model made me win the Slayer Sword at the 2007 UK Golden Demon, probably the prize I am most proud of. I used gloss and matt tones as an effect in much the same way as you’d use shading and highlighting. The model itself is free of flashy conversion work and the impact of the miniature comes from the dramatic positioning and the paint job.

I hope you like as much as I enjoyed painting it.


  • Model scale 32mm.
  • Painted with acrylics
  • Manufacturer Games Workshop