Building an Isorian Army 3: Painting the Tsan Ra

Previously, Zac Belado gave us an introduction to his new, Isorian army and a step-by-step guide to painting his command and phase troopers. Here, he continues with the Torus Squad…

Painting the Tsan Ra Torus Squad

ZB Isorian Tsan Ra Torus - All Done

Part of the appeal of the Isorians as a faction is that they have access to a delightful, and cuddly, set of alien allies called the Tsan Ra. My plans for the Isorian army that I am building has a squad of five Tsan Ra Torus troopers so I will have two squads of the models that I am going to paint. This will give me the five models that I need and also provide me with the flexibility to run two standard squads in future army lists.

I am going to use the same colours and techniques that I used with the Senatex Phase Command Squad from my previous article but these troops will have a few more highlights added to them. The Tsan Ra are much larger models than the standard Isorian troops and so the details on them have a larger surface area that is going to make it easier to paint some quick highlights. They also require more attention to the painting to make those details look better. No fear, though, as the aim is still to create a paint scheme that we can quickly work through to create some good looking models. Luckily the Torus Squad lacks some of the additional detail on the foremost limbs that the Tsan Ra Phase Squad does so we should be able to paint these up quickly.

That said, there are many parts of these models and I found that it was a lot easier to paint them if I broke up the process with another set of figures. If you are painting an army you always have another unit to do so add them to the painting table and when you are finished one step or done with a colour then move on to the second unit. When I was painting the Tsan Ra I had a unit of Phase troops that I did at the same time and just hopped between them both.


The Tsan Ra Torus Squad comes in a box with three metal models. Each model comes in three main parts with a separate metal sprue that contains four heads. The body of each trooper consists of a front section that has the neck, shoulders and weapon, a torso part and a separate set of four legs that attach to the torso. There are no instructions with the models but the parts have specifically shaped notches and attachment points that make it easy to identify them and put them together.

Putting the parts together is very simple but, as is the case with many large metal models, sometimes there are gaps between the pieces that need to be filled. The usual solution to this problem is some Green Stuff or Milliput to fill the gaps. When filling in this way, it is best to use a sculpting tool to apply and then smooth the putty and wetting the end of the sculpting tool helps make smoothing the putty easier. The models will need to be put aside for a few hours, usually overnight, to allow the putty to cure. Once cured you can sand it smooth and then the models are ready to prime and paint.

First steps

As with the other models, the Tsan Ra are primed with a coat of Army Painter Uniform Grey and then given a base coat of Vallejo Russian WWII Uniform. Once that has some time to dry the models are given a wash of GW Agrax Earthshade. The wash not only accentuates the shadows in the model but also deepens the base coat and makes it easier to see the individual details.

As before, the models were drybrushed to add a basic set of highlights to the models. I start with Russian WWII Uniform to re-establish the base colour, then a 1:1 mix of Army Painter Necrotic Flesh and Russian WWII Uniform, and finally a drybrush of Necrotic Flesh. This final drybrush is done lightly and only to the topmost areas of the model.

Top tip
When painting, the general advice is to start from the inside out and the innermost point on the models are the ridged under-sections of the limbs.

With the Phase troopers I started with a brighter orange colour, GW Fire Dragon Bright, but since these models have much larger ridged areas I decided to use GW Squig Orange instead so that when I layer the lighter colours there is a wider range of tones. As with the Phase troops, the tubules on the back are based with P3 Midlund Flesh and then these parts as well as the Squig Orange are then washed with Reikland Fleshshade. I will get back to those parts later.

Painting the Torus

There are two main sections on the Tsan Ra bodies, the Torus weapon and the mask that the model is equipped with. The Torus itself is in two parts – an outer ring and the inner ring that contains the weapon hardpoints. The colour scheme I picked uses red as a contrast colour and the outer ring of the Torus is the largest element on the model aside from the body so it will be a good spot for some red. Using GW Khorne Red still requires several thin coats but the paint dries quickly enough that you can go back to the first model once you have given the third its initial coat.. Once it dries it gets a wash of Agrax Earthshade. The inner section that contains the weapon hardpoints is painted with Grey Green and then washed with GW Nuln Oil.


The masks start out with a base of GW Fenrisian Grey and then a wash of the GW Guilliman Blue glaze. The plates of the mask are painted with Vallejo Ivory with one mask picked out in Khorne Red. I want to add a bit of depth to the white on the masks so they are given a 1:1 wash of Army Painter Soft Tone and water. Once that dries the white parts of the mask are given a highlight of Ivory followed by White. In my case it is a P3 paint but any white will do. To finish it off I paint some black on the bulbs of the mask. The red sections will get a highlight when I do the Conversion Torus later on.

One of the masks, I am making it the Leader, has an open faceplate and you can see the face underneath. I want to keep the palette for the army small so I reuse the P3 Midlund Flesh for a base and then wash this with Reikland Fleshshade. When it dries I give it some quick highlights first with a 1:1 mix of Midlund Flesh and Vallejo Flat Flesh and then finally Flat Flesh. The Tsan Ra face has six eyes and while one might want to avoid painting them, in this case the eyes give a lot of definition to the face so they need some paint. I used the Vallejo Grey Green for the sockets (touching up with Flat Flesh if I need to) and then put in a small dot of yellow for the centre of the eyes. With human models I usually ignore the eyes but it isn’t really an option here and painting them adds considerably to the impact of the face.


The model is based and washed so we just need to add some highlight to it to make it pop. The red sections of he Torus are given a highlight starting with GW Evil Sun Scarlet and then Fire Dragon Bright. There are very few sharp areas of these sections to put an obvious highlight so look for the areas that curve up or out from the torus and would catch the light.

The under-armour sections are given a highlight of Fire Dragon Bright and then a narrow stroke of yellow. I try to paint these highlights in layered stripes across the centre of the armour section so that it gives the impression of a glow.

Finally the inner Torus sections are given a single highlight of Vallejo Neutral Grey. Any medium grey will do but make sure to add a touch of water so that the paint has a bit of opacity. I just add a highlight to the top curves of the torus as well as the top of the weapon hardpoints.

Final steps

There are just two more parts to do and the models will be done. In addition to the ridged under-armour section there are also some areas that are under the surface of the armour but lack ridges. I am not sure of the intent of these but I wanted to add some colour to them to help break up the surface of the models. I started with a base of Necrotic Flesh and then added a wash of Agrax Earthshade. There are many of these sections on the model and I didn’t do all of them, only the ones that were in the largest area of the base Russian Uniform colour. The Agrax Earthshade adds a brown tone to the paint underneath it so the next step was to re-establish the base colour by adding a highlight of the Army Painter Necrotic Flesh. I added a touch of water to thin it out and make it less opaque. Once that was dry I added a second highlight of Vallejo Game Colour Dead Flesh. It has the same swampy green tone of the Necrotic Flesh but it is more yellow and less saturated. As well the game Colour paints are quite thin so they make very good translucent highlights.

The last item to do are the weapon hardpoints as well as the sections on the shoulders and the back that appear as energy sources in the studio paint schemes. As with the Phase troops I base these sections with Fenrisian Grey. The energy sources are quite large and so I give them a wash of Guilliman Glaze (Army Painter Blue Tone would work as well) to add a touch of depth around the edges. The weapon hardpoints are given a highlight of 1:1 Ivory and Fenrisian Grey and then a final dot of Ivory. The first highlight is watered down slightly so that it isn’t fully opaque.

The energy sources are a bit trickier and I try to slowly build up a end of colour by painting in smaller and smaller sections on these parts using a very thin wash of Ivory. That is a bit beyond my skills though (have to practice!) and so in the end I cover up the blend a bit by adding some strokes of 1:1 Fenrisian Grey and Ivory to the surfaces.


Basing these turns out to be a bit of a pain in the butt. My earlier attempts to base the Phase Command Squad ended up with me scrubbing the bases and redoing them using GW Martian Ironcrust. The bases looked busy to my eye and also seemed too similar to the base colours of the miniatures. The Ironcrust texture paint is red so it is a nice contrast to the green base of the models. GW also makes a Martian Ironearth texture paint and this is a similar colour to the Ironcrust but instead of building up a depth of the texture paint and having it crack this is meant to be applied on a flat surface and cracks in a manner similar to using a crackle medium. I initially used this with the Tsan Ra but my results were wildly inconsistent and it took several tries to get it to work – no matter how thin I painted it the cracks were enormous and lifted the paint from the bases. I got it to work on one set of Tsan Ra troops but the second set I painted didn’t work no matter what I did.

I am going to experiment with this some more but for the moment I am sticking with the Ironcrust as it works consistently. Sadly the one squad that has the Ironearth texture paint on it looks amazing so I will want to work out the glitches in that process!

We’re sure you’ll agree that Zac’s step-by-step guides produce some amazing looking models!  We certainly look forward to more of these…