Painting Skeletons with Army Painter Paints – A Sepulchral Guard Shadespire Test Model
Shadespire. Something just appeals about the game, where not only do you get to play with Games Workshop miniatures, but you also get to play with them under a series of rules that work really well.
Shadespire has a lovely set of rules. They are apparently well balanced, bar some unlucky dice rolls (no, I will not let that go), and the minis are simply stunning. Games Workshop has done their best to make them incredibly dynamic models, to the point where every single one is in an action pose. They are visually appealing and, like all GW models, lovely to paint.
Which brings us onto this article. I am far from a painting expert, having only returned recently to the hobby to the hobby and having to fit it around general board gaming and work. Currently I do a lot of learning as I go along, which results in a lot of mistakes and rehashes. That being said, we take what we can and try to better ourselves for the next mini. Recently I painted my first test model so I thought I would go through this skeleton in detail, and first time painting a skeleton with Army Painter paints. If anyone has hints or tips, or can see places to improve, please let me know. This is a process, and one I want to improve, so please feel free to be critical.
Painting Skeletons with Army Painter Paints
The first thing to note, when when I tried to find tutorials, everywhere gives their recommendations for painting skeletons in Citadel paints. This presented an issue, as the only Citadel paint I use is the primer. The little guide that came with the Army Painter Warpaints Mega Paint set also didn’t really help. This meant having to find a Citadel guide online and adapt like the human version of a Dulux colour card.
Step 1: Stormvermin Fur Priming and Matt White Undercoat
Step one was to prime the paint in Stormvermin Fur primer, usually used to undercoat Skaven, but which works well as a mid-tone primer for most things…if you don’t want to spend enough money for more than one spraypaint. Stormvermin Fur is a shade that looks like you are painting directly on the sprue (when painting a normal grey sprue); however, since Shadespire minis are designed so that you don’t have to paint them if you don’t want, it is really easy to get a nice cover with the primer.
This was then covered in Matt White, taking the advice I got from Alex, Azazel, and a few other mini bloggers last time about painting by using a wet pallet. This really does make all the difference, and as this article progresses you will notice that the paint is a lot smoother than my previous efforts thanks to that one tip.
The white didn’t cover overly well, and one thing I have done with the next model (The Reaper) is a second coat of the Matt White.
Step 2: Flesh Wash and Skeleton Bone
The next step was to draw out all the detail in the bone. This was done with a fairly heavy Flesh Wash. What this does is dye the white, whilst also pooling in the cracks. A dry brush was used to remove any excess.
On top of that, using a brush that has been trimmed really thin, the bones were picked out using Skeleton Bone. Being careful not to go over any of the recessed areas that now had the shade, a spare thin dry brush was used to remove any misplaced paint whilst it was still wet. Again, the wet pallet made this so much easier.
Step 3: Matt White and Wizards Orb
Next, using the really fine brush, and using Matt White again, a few key highlights were pulled out. I was told by someone (I have now forgotten who, so apologies for that) that you should shine a light on a model and highlight the places that are naturally brighter. I tried to do this, but then rotated the model to get better coverage. After that, there was no going back.
I feel I went too heavy on the white on the top of the skull, so if anyone has any ideas on how to highlight a skull more naturally than just colouring in the top, please let me know in the comments.
The next step was to apply a coat of Wizards Orb (which should really have an apostrophe in the name and always reminds me of a Lords of Waterdeep card) to the shield. This was, to be blunt, a bit of a mistake, but by that point I went with it. For the record, Wizards Orb doesn’t provide the best cover.
Step 4: Leather Brown and Dark Tone
The next step was to paint the rim on the shield and provide a dark shade. The rim was done with Leather Brown. A wash was applied over this, because washes are awesome and cover all types of sins, of Dark Tone.
This was effectively me ballsing up and wanting to reset to something that could be worked with.
Step 5: Dark Stone, Monster Brown, and Wizards Orb
Still on the shield, once the Dark Tone had dried, I noticed a few gaps around the edge. These were filled in with the Dark Stone grey, which blended in nicely with the Dark Tone to create something that looked relatively seamless. Monster Brown was then used to highlight the leather, and a thin coat of Wizards Orb (“Wizard’s Orb”) just kind of scribbled on the top half of the shield.
Wizard’s Orb was then applied to Skelebob’s loincloth.
Step 6: Dark Tone and Gun Metal
Once dried, certain parts of the loincloth were washed with Dark Tone, whilst leaving other parts untouched. This was to create a “lazy man’s” multi-green effect without actually having to get different green tones out of the box. Having spent most of my time painting Tzeentch recently, who are possibly the least green of all the Warhammer races, my greens tend to be hidden away at the moment.
Next, it was time to tackle the sword. Looking online I couldn’t find a tutorial for just a normal sword (so PLEASE can someone offer advice on how to paint weapons in the comments??). I wanted it to look kind of rubbish (not in that way) and rusty, so step one seemed to be to mix Gun Metal with a few drops of Dark Tone, and create an undercoat for the weapon.
Step 7: Dark Tone, Platemail Metal, and Dry Rust (Weapon)
Step 8: Matt White, Flesh Wash, Skeleton Bone, Matt White (Bone)
Step 9: Dark Stone, Necromancer Cloak, Matt White (Base)
From there a lot of experimentation went into the blade. I kept putting coats of Gun Metal, Dark Tone, and Dry Rust together and wiping them off. In the end, I sort of got the effect I wanted. It looks grimy and rusty and naff, which is kind of what I was going for – ish. Finally, Platemail Metal was put along the very edge of the sword to give it a bit of a shine on top.
The next step was doing a coat of Dark Stone over the base whilst leaving the bone naked. This was then painted the same way as the rest of the skeleton bone. It was Matt White base, Flesh Wash, then Skeleton Bone, and finally another highlight of Matt White.
The base was then dry brushed in a 2:1 mix of Necromancer Cloak and Matt White, before being brushed again, lighter and drier, in a 1:1 mix of Necromancer Cloak/Matt White.
Of course, Skelebob, the Petitioner, is not alone in this world. He is part of a much larger Warband, and you can see the rest of them in the picture below – they are such stunning minis and, since initially putting this post together, I have now made a good start on the rest of the group. Slowly but surely I’m learning an okay tactic for painting skeletons using Army Painter paint. There is, however, always room for improvement.
So, as a relatively fresh-eyed painting newb, I do have a few questions for the miniature painting audience who are reading this article.
- How do you do handles/staves of medieval weapons? I have no idea how to do spear handles or anything like that, so any advice would be much appreciated.
- What’s the best way of doing fur (for the shoulders of some of the minis?)
- What do you do for the back of shields?
- What other advice, having read this, would you suggest?
I have to admit, I thought painting green would be fun, but Wizard’s Orb has been the bane of my life whilst painting Skelebob, so I’ve had this idea to give each one a base cloth in a different colour, like old knights of yore. This would make The Reaper’s cloth blue, the Prince of Dust as a purple, and the Leader (who I have forgotten the name of) brown. Or something like that. It’s less typical of skeletons.
I don’t know – just spitballing ideas. The Rainbow Seven.
Cheers folks. To be honest, it has been really good to get back to painting. I won’t write an article for each one, but this has been fun. Anyway, please let me know your thoughts and advice. If you can give me any answers to the above questions please let me know in the comments below.