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Zombie Painting Guide by The Dark Sheep


This tutorial was originally featured in Carpe Noctem's Invocation Magazine.
The names of the paints used have been replaced with newer citadel paint equivalents, with old paint names referenced in brackets at the start of each section.

Wherever an undead army marches, death will always follow in its wake. Innocent civilians and experienced soldiers alike, they all suffer the same fate.
While some corpses are picked clean of flesh by the scavenging ghouls, most will be resurrected to fight again as zombies.

Models by Karez



The Skin

You will need the following paints: Rakarth Flesh (Dheneb Stone), Agrax Earthshade (Devlan Mud), Biel-Tan Green (Thraka Green), White Scar (Skull White), Abaddon Black (Chaos Black).

= Step 1 =


Rakarth Flesh was painted as a basecoat over a Abaddon Black undercoat. When painting skin it is important to keep in mind that the paint should make a smooth layer of colour that covers well. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to use quite a bit of water. When using thinned down paints, not even the use of foundation paint is enough to get the wanted effect, so you might need to apply two layers to get a good coverage.

= Step 2 =


A mix of Agrax Earthshade and Biel-Tan Green in a 3:2 ratio was used to tint the bright base colour into a greenish brown. Again it’s important to work with smooth layers when painting skin, so take extra care when applying the wash, and make sure that the paint does not pool up in unwanted places. Zombies tend to be in different states of decay, something which can make one zombie’s skin vary greatly from another’s. This can easily be represented by making small changes to the original mix of washes. This could be as simple as to add or deduct one part Biel-Tan Green, or you could even try experimenting with different colours.

= Step 3 =


To get the skin back to its pale self, the skin was highlighted with pure Rakarth Flesh. By choosing the same colour for the highlight as you do for the basecoat, the skin will get an overall harmony that will be practically impossible to obtain in any other way. This model was repeatedly dry brushed very lightly with a stiff, short bristled brush in order to get the appearance of old skin that has started decomposing. If this approach is taken it is important to be careful or else you will end up obscuring the shading, gained from the wash.

= Step 4 =


A final highlight was applied over the skin area to increase the contrast between the dark, sunken crevasses and the pale, stretched skin. This highlight consisted of a 1:1 mix of Rakarth Flesh and White Scar and was carefully painted along the various edges and raised features of the model. Places such as the face and around the wounds might need some extra attention in order to stand out more on the model. These places are after all places of interest and by making them just a little bit brighter, the model will be that much more appealing.


You will need the following paints: Mephiston Red (Mechrite Red), Carroburg Crimson (Baal Red), Nuln Oil (Badab Black), Druchii Violet (Leviathan Purple), Ushabti Bone (Bleached Bone), Seraphim Sepia (Gryphonne Sepia).

Every zombie with a bit of self respect will be covered in various grotesque details. Be it open wounds with exposed innards,
maggot-ridden patches of skin or just the occasional boil it will be necessary to know how to treat them.

= Open Wounds =

zombiepaintingarticle8.jpg zombiepaintingarticle9.jpg zombiepaintingarticle10.jpg zombiepaintingarticle11.jpg

I started out by applying a coat of Mephiston Red. This was shaded with a mix of Carroburg Crimson, Nuln Oil and Druchii Violet in a 3:3:1 ratio. This wash was mostly distributed in the recesses, but I allowed it to flow out towards the edges of the wounds in order to create definition. The next step is to highlight the raised areas with a mix of Mephiston Red and Ushabti Bone.
What you want is a nice, pink colour, so mix in a lot of Ushabti Bone. Use this to highlight raised areas or to paint fine lines on exposed muscles.

= Maggot Holes =


To give the sickly appearance of juices running from these little holes I washed them with Seraphim Sepia twice. By applying large drops of wash to each individual hole, they will naturally overflow, and you’ll get the effect of puss spilling from the wounds. Make sure that the wash runs downwards instead of in every direction as this will look more natural

= Boils =


The boil was done in much the same way as the maggot holes. It was soaked in several layers of Seraphim Sepia and while the paint was still wet, I made sure that most of it was left around the base of the boil. The thing about Seraphim Sepia that makes it well suited for this is that a thick layer will dry up dark orange, while a thin one will look yellow (as opposed to Biel-Tan Green or Drakenhof Nightshade which only dries up in different shades of the same colour). Thus make sure that you use quite a bit.

= The Face =


Unlike skeletons, the zombie has facial features that need a bit more attention. The eyes and teeth are the most noticeable of these. Personally I think that bright, white eyes looks great on undead models in general, but by tinting them a little bit with a wash you can really make them pop. This was easily done by dotting out the eye ball with white, wash it with the preferred colour (I used a very dark green) and then dot them out again with the same white. Clean, white teeth will look out of place on a model ridden with decay, so I wanted the feel of yellowed, rotten teeth.
I achieved this by first picking out each individual tooth with skull white and then washing them with Seraphim Sepia.

= Exposed Bone =


Some Zombies have exposed bone sticking out of wounds etc., and this is a good opportunity to tie your zombies together with your skeletons.
Simply paint the bone in the same way as you do your normal skeletons.

Finishing off the zombie

You will need the following paints: Abaddon Black (Chaos Black), White Scar (Skull White), Mournfang Brown (Calthan Brown), Nuln Oil (Badab Black), Agrax Earthshade (Devlan Mud), Baneblade Brown (Khemri Brown), Leadbelcher (Boltgun Metal), Seraphim Sepia (Gryphonne Sepia), Runefang Steel (Mithril Silver), Rhinox Hide (Scorched Brown).

A zombie model also consists of areas that are not flesh and here I will touch upon how to paint things like clothes, leather wrappings, wood and rust.
This part of the article should be treated more as a guideline though, as most people have their own techniques and colour schemes.

= Clothes =


I decided that the clothes on this particular model should be dark grey, so I started with a basecoat of Abaddon Black. This was then highlighted with brighter greys.
When working with black and dark grey it is always a good idea to mix your own colours. This is because the premixed colours often contain a hint of blue.
By adding White Scar to the Abaddon Black you can easily control the outcome of the colour.

= Leather =


To get a dry and old effect on the leather areas I base coated both the belt and the wrappings with Mournfang Brown. This was then washed with a 1:1 mix of Nuln Oil and Agrax Earthshade. Finally a 1:1 mix of Baneblade Brown and Mournfang Brown was carefully dry brushed over the leather. If you are not comfortable with controlled dry brushing, an alternative is of course to use the layering technique.

= Wood =


To keep in theme with the leather, I decided that the wood should be dry and old as well. Rhinox Hide was used as a basecoat on the wooden supports.
Then a mix of Rhinox Hide and Baneblade Brown was carefully painted in thin lines over the basecoat. This was slowly worked up to pure Baneblade Brown.

= Rusted Metal =

zombiepaintingarticle19.jpg zombiepaintingarticle20.jpg

Both the scythe and the chain mail was base coated with a thin layer of Leadbelcher. Then I applied large drops of Leadbelcher to the scythe and allowed them to dry for a while. As soon as the small drops of paint were covered in a thin film of dried paint, I burst the bubbles and smeared the thick paint around. This was repeated several times until the scythe blade had a nice, rough texture.
Then I gave both the scythe and the chain mail a heavy wash of a 1:1:2 mix of Agrax Earthshade, Nuln Oil and Seraphim Sepia.
To bring back the appearance of metal, an extreme highlight of Runefang Steel was applied to strategic areas.


Other Skin Tones

Even though green is the way many choose to go when they paint zombie skin, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the only way to paint dead flesh.
On the following models I have used the exact same technique when it comes to the skin, but I have replaced the Biel-Tan Green with other washes.

For this model I used Druchii Violet


For this model I used Drakenhof Nightshade


For this model I used Seraphim Sepia

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