How to Paint Skeleton Warriors

Updated February 21, 2017

Skeleton Warriors are the core troops and the defining feature of Games Workshop's Vampire Counts army, from the miniature war-gaming system Warhammer. Raised by the Vampire Lord to fight on the battlefield, these shambling undead warriors, armed with sword or spear, should form the bulk of the army. Because they form such a large part of the army, painting the skeletons is just as important as the main characters in the army --- the Vampire Lord for example. However, because there are so many of them, it is advisable to keep the painting technique simple.

File away any moulding lines that appear on the figure, using a metal file. These are available from craft shops and are much easier to use on the tiny figures than sandpaper.

Assemble the figure using superglue. The parts to assemble are the torso, legs, arms and head. Allow the glue to dry completely before proceeding. Don't glue shields in place just yet, it is much easier to paint them if they aren't attached to the figure.

Fill in any gaps on the figure with modelling putty. You may find the skeletal figures do not require as much filling as other figures, as they are made from bone not flesh. Be careful not to use too much putty and lose the definition of the bones.

Apply a base coat of Warhammer's "Khemri Brown" paint to the bones of the skeleton. Apply a base coat of "Boltgun Metal" to the armour, metal parts and shield. If the skeletons are holding spears, then apply a base coat of "Scorched Brown," if there are brass parts on weapon handles or shields, apply a base coat of "Brazen Brass." Allow to dry.

Mix together "Brown Ink" and "Black Ink" and add water to create a "wash." Apply this watery paint to the entire figure. Allow to dry.

Paint the bones with a light coat of "Bleached Bone." Ensure some of the darker base coat is allowed to show through to create a look of age, dirt and shading. Highlight the armour using "Chainmail," and paint any cloth areas in your armies chosen colour.

Highlight the bones again, using "Skull White," and examine the whole figure, making sure each different colour is highlighted in a slightly lighter shade. Attach the shield and start on the next Skeleton Warrior.


Using the same technique on each figure gives the whole army a uniform look, but to add realism, keep some of the skeletons bones darker than others. A clear varnish will ensure your paint job is protected when you play war-games with your army.

Things You'll Need

  • Craft knife
  • Metal file
  • Superglue
  • Modelling putty
  • Selection of Warhammer paints and inks
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About the Author

Based in England, Tami Mason writes for and various other websites. Mason has worked as a proofreader and copy editor since 2007 and is a trained interior designer who also specializes in art history, art and crafts.