Star Wars Armada: Painting TIE Fighters

One of the most iconic of all Star Wars ships is the TIE. Having a nicely painted swarm of these little guys looks great on the table. Here is a tutorial on how I painted my Imperial TIE Fighters.

Before starting, understand that the TIE models are all going to be in bad shape. Every single one of mine had to be straightened. I figured out a quick way of righting these ships.

I took a blow dryer and held it close to the model to heat it up so the plastic can be manipulated. I placed the model in a jar otherwise it would get too hot to handle!

If you do this, be careful. Don’t hold the hairdryer too close to the bottom as there is a lot of air pressure in that small space and a sort of vortex will develop. A few times I laughed out loud as a TIE shot out of the jar and flew into the air. Luckily I managed to track the TIE with my eyes but I might have lost one flying behind a book shelf or something, so be mindful of that if you’re planning on using my method.

If you are bald and don’t own a blow dryer, you can use boiling water to get TIEs into a workable state instead.

Don’t blow your TIE away, be mindful of the air pressure.

After the TIEs were heated up they could be worked like jelly for quite some time,  5-8 seconds if memory serves, and still workable for a few seconds after that. While the TIE is in it’s jelly like state, use your fingers to work the wings and make them straight. As a carpenter friend of mine use to say, your hands are the best tools you have, so use them!

After the models were straightened and any mould lines removed with a file and knife, I primed the TIEs in black using P3 Black Primer. In my opinion, it’s the best primer around for preserving small details on models, I highly recommend using it.

It’s a fantastic primer and applies very thin coats as I’ve mentioned previously in other articles.

After many coats of primer (better 5 thin coats than 2 thick ones!) I drybrushed the TIEs with Vallejo Neutral Grey (Codex Grey for GW).

Below are two pictures of what they looked like after the first drybrush.

20150330_165514 20150330_165502

I then applied another lighter grey drybrush mix of Silver Grey +  Neutral Grey 3:1.

You can see in the pictures below the grey areas are more pronounced after the second drybrush.

20150330_225614 20150330_225642I then painted the two red dots on the backs of the TIE in Blood Red.

20150330_165557I then painted the front guns with Orange Fire. For some TIEs I used white first as I thought it would bring out the orange, but it really didn’t make a difference so you can skip that step.

20150330_22581820150330_230115The drybrushing should have brought all the lines on the side panels out. The next step was to paint the black part of the panels to get rid of the excess grey.

In the picture below you can see three painted black panels, and three left to go.

20150331_065238Next, I touched up the edges with Neutral Grey. Invariably, when you are painting in the black, you will mess up some of the grey areas, just go back and touch them up at the end.

20150331_111123The final step was carefully painting the connecting lines on the inside of the panels, from the body to the corners in Neutral Grey.

20150331_111117 20150331_070339Sometimes you might want to go back and touch up either grey or black. Depending on how bad your gamer OCD is and how many TIEs you have to paint, just remember the scale of these little guys and the fact that they only have 3 hit points.

You won’t notice any small mistakes when they are on the table, and most likely 3 hit points won’t last long anyway 🙂

20150331_164752Once they are all done, coat them with a varnish to protect them. I used Army Painter’s Anti-Shine Varnish. It’s a great product because no varnish is visible on the model.

anti-shine army painterWhen you get a bunch done, I suggest you mount them on a base as inspirational guides while painting.

20150331_111739The finished product turned out pretty well. Below is a picture of my TIE swarm.


Here are my Painting Notes:

• Drybrush Neutral Grey (GW Codex Grey)

• Drybrush lightly Silver GreyNeutral Grey 3:1

• Paint two red dots on the back GW Blood Red

• Paint two guns on the front Orange Fire

• Paint edges of the Solar Panels Neutral Grey

• Paint inside solar panel Black

• Paint in the Black parts of outside solar panel face

• Touch up edges with Neutral Grey

• Paint connecting lines on the inside of the panels, from the body to the corner Neutral Grey


In my next article I’ll go over how I painted an Imperial Logo on my Howlrunner TIE.


4 thoughts on “Star Wars Armada: Painting TIE Fighters”

  1. Great article. I just got Into painting my IA stuff, but I’m sure I will soon get into Armada and will need to paint these tiny little ships!

  2. I can’t find “silver grey” paint in any line. Can you give more details on what exactly that color is? Thanks!

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