The Dark Elf painting guide review

With G.W.’s new website, they managed to highlight some of their digital books, better than on the old website. And so I budged and decided to give the Dark Elf painting book a go. I took some time thinking if I’d risk buying a single model’s guide first, or go for the complete set right away.

Eventually I decided to buy the big book, thinking it would make more sense than buying the small books individually.

Poor book descriptions

The first problem I stumbled upon when making a choice which book to buy is the rather poor item description provided by G.W.. Apparently, they didn’t bother telling what units are actually covered by the painting guide. They just labeled it as “Dark Elf models”. The icon or image of the book hints at Dreadspears, Darkshards and Witch Elves… each of which have an individual guide. But there’s also the Hydra guide, and we’re left guessing if it will be included or not.

The descriptions also completely neglects to mention if this large book/guide includes the other individual guides, whether they still have extras which this book doesn’t cover or if the large book covers more than the sum of the individual guides. All in all, this makes the decision making of what product to buy an annoying task.

In these modern days, customer satisfaction and customer experience are key to a good marketting strategy. The poor description of the book’s contents weighed negatively on my customer experience and almost convinced me not to buy the book.

But I did… not too disappointed.

The real content

So what does the book offer? Here’s a summary and description, the main thing lacking on the website.

  • Dreadspears
    • A step by step guide to the scheme used on their cover art and website including a detailed plan for silver armor, golden decorations, elven skin, red cloth, purple shields. Most of these parts are described in a 3 to 4 step process, each with high quality pictures.
    • A quick listing of two alternative painting schemes, including schemes for red armor and two more alternative ways to paint gold.
  • Black Guards
    •  A step by step guide for the scheme used on the cover art, including dark silver armor, black armor, nice contrasting gold, two schemes for purple cloth and a more detailed scheme for elf flesh (for faces)
    • A quick list for alternative colors, including a third scheme for purple cloth, leather, gold trims, drum leather, red hair or fur.
  • Dark Shards
    • A step by step guide for the scheme used on the cover art…. but… it barely includes recipes not included in the above models. Even the purple cloth scheme is copied verbatim from the black guard cloaks. It does add a new scheme for dark brown wood, for the repeater crossbows. It also gives a color scheme for a gem… but it’s not so special.
    • An extra guide on batch painting the Darkshards. Oddly enough, I found this one quite informative. It helps to see which parts can be painted at a time and how it can be used to do the majority of the work.
    • A quick list for two alternative schemes, adding another gold recipe, two wood recipes and blue armor recipes.
  • Executioners
    • Another detailed guide for the mainstream scheme, explaining the gold, bright red cloth, black cloth/leather and the skull masks.
    • A single quick lists adding recipes for bronze, bone-colored masks and dark red cloth.
  • Witch Elves
    • A detailed guide, but not for the cover style. They took the blood-splattered-face look for this guide, giving detailed schemes for skin, black leather, gold, (pink hued) white hair, red hair, blood-red armor
    • Two quick lists, adding recipes for red leather and pale skin. It repeats recipes for black leather, silver armor and gold.
  • Statue of Khaine
    • A detailed scheme for the gold version of the statue, really going in depth on the gold there and how to bring contrasts in so many pieces of gold.
    • Quick lists for green marble, matching silver and contrasting gold trimming.
  • Cold one Knights
    • A detailed guide for the cover art model, but it focuses mostly on two variants of the cold one’s hide! Which is awesome.
    • It adds a quick list for a very neat, dark armor style and two more skin variations.
    • It repeats a whole lot of gold, purple and silver schemes from the previous guides.
  • Dark Riders
    • A detailed guide, for a scheme that resembles the cover art. In short, it only adds something new for the horse. The rest is a repetition. I’m not disappointed though: the horse recipe is a welcome one.
    • The quick lists add a new recipe for leather, and some other repetitions.
  • Dreadlord model on foot, but all it really does is give 3 recipes for the dragon on his shoulder.
  • The Hydra
    • A detailed scheme to paint it green, black and blue. It also adds a detailed scheme for the scaly armor of the beastmasters, which is quite suited for sea dragon cloaks. The rest is more repitition, be it in detail.
    • The quick lists add the basic steps for the cover art scheme.

First impressions… and second impression!

If you give the book a quick glance, it may seem like you’re given a lot of repetition without real novelty… but that might not be entirely correct. Admitted, none of the schemes have truly inspired me to go buy the army and go crazy.

But that initial impression isn’t entirely correct. If you combine the total list of recipes, you’ll learn you have been given all the building blocks to paint your Dark Elf army in quite an interesting list of schemes (silver, dark metal, red, blue). It’s a pity that they didn’t give more army shots, like they did in 6th edition, showing what a whole themed army looks like. The extra recipes for cold one skins, scaled cloaks, black horses and large surfaces of pale flesh make it a valuable starting point for anyone in need of it.

Then there’s a ton of recipes for details, cloths, trimmings and leather including some of the more difficult red and purples.

The verdict

Overall the book is good, but little more than that. Does one need the book? No. It’s a great starting point for people who are looking for a recipe for almost every detail in the army without having to spend days to perfect their scheme…. but none of the recipes strike me as so original that the book is a golden deal.

Another piece missing that would truly boost the “good feeling” about the book is the army wide pictures. It’s literally a collection of painting guides for individual models. I recall the 6th edition armywide shots that really helped sell the idea of building one’s army theme. This isn’t the case with this book, something which you’d expect to find when buying “the army’s painting guide”.

Still, it’s a valuable asset if you want to spare yourself a lot of searching and experimenting.

I’m not sure I’d recommend buying the big book over the individual model books though. There is so much repetition in the recipes, that I think buying one or two model guides might give you more than enough ideas to paint most of the Dark Elf army. It really comes down to how much time you want to spend googling or figuring out your own painting recipes.

2 thoughts on “The Dark Elf painting guide review

  1. I got the High Elves one on a whim. Liked it, without being blown away.

    Did you get the iPad version or the PDF version? The iPad is where these things really add value compared to the old paper ones, with interactive zooms & 360 shots.

  2. Yes, it’s the iPad version. I quite like the high quality of the pictures, though I still consider it expensive for the content. It’s good, but not awesome.

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