How to Paint Animal Skulls

Written by james t wood | 13/05/2017
How to Paint Animal Skulls
A clean, dry skull can be painted to a stunning effect. (skull image by JASON WINTER from

Painting animal skulls gives you a distinctive way to display the product of your hunts that shows the natural beauty of the animal mixed with your creativity through painting. Preparing and painting an animal skull for display in your home is something you can do yourself rather than hiring an expensive taxidermist to do it for you, which gives you the satisfaction of completing your own display in addition to killing your own game.

Remove all the skin from the animal head with your skinning knife. Boil the head in water for one to three hours (depending on the size of the head). Cover the entire skull in water when boiling, but do not boil the antlers if your skull has them. Antlers will degrade faster than bone. Remove the skull from the water when the meat falls easily off the bone. Do not over-boil the skull, as it can be damaged.

Pull all the meat off the skull using your fingers, knives, and tweezers as necessary. For animals with a smaller opening into the brain cavity you may need to use a spoon to scoop out the brains. Gently rinse the skull with water while you're pulling the meat off to flush away any loose pieces. Recover any teeth that fell out while boiling before you discard the water. Set the teeth aside.

Soak the skull in an enzyme bleach solution. Do not use liquid bleach. Typically you will use three-quarters of a cup of solution for every one gallon of water. Make sure the entire skull, but not the antlers, is covered by the solution. Let it soak for at least 36 hours and up to 72 hours to loosen all the remaining meat on the bone.

Brush the skull with the wire brush and use the tweezers and knives to remove the last remnants of meat and brain from the skull. Thoroughly rinse the skull with clean water when you have removed all the flesh from the bone. Let it dry completely.

Glue the teeth to the jaw with white glue. Fill in any cracks in the teeth with super glue before covering them with white glue. Let the glue dry completely.

Paint the skull with craft paint. Celebrity and hunter Ted Nugent, on the website, suggests that you paint with your fingers and follow your imagination when you paint. Let the first coat dry and then add a second coat if you wish. Once all the painting is done and the paint is completely dry, spay the skull, inside and out, with clear polyurethane to seal it.


Only hunt and kill animals that are legal for hunting and only with an authorised hunting permit.

Tips and warnings

  • Only hunt and kill animals that are legal for hunting and only with an authorised hunting permit.

Things you need

  • Skinning knives
  • Wire brush
  • Spoon
  • Pliers
  • Tweezers
  • Large stock pot
  • Enzyme bleach
  • Super glue
  • White glue
  • Polyurethane
  • Craft paint (various colours)

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