Painting Triumph of Death: By the Numbers

Painting Triumph of Death

Whether painting legions or just single figures for skirmishes, this basic painting scheme works well for getting that ghastly look of an animated corpse as given to us by Peter Breugel. 
Our palette of doom!

The goal of this painting tutorial is to get a good and detailed paint job on lots of minis without spending a ton of time on each piece, creating the impact of a great looking unit on the battlefield.  I’ve broken my paint job into basically 5 stages to create my look.

Step 1: Priming

After cleaning your mini of any flash, and gluing on any weapons needed, I prime my models with spray primer.  For most of my minis I use a black primer, but after some experimentation I decided that a grey primer works best for the color scheme I will use.   Give the models a spray by first laying them flat on a surface (cardboard works great) and getting the undersides, then a second coat having them standing up to get tops and sides.  Remember to spray outside kids and away from your face!
I’ve tried three different grey primers/spray paints with varied results

Army Painter Grey Primer:  Darkest of the grey primers. Great spray action, smooth application. What I used on all the painted skellies you’ve seen to date. 

Armory Grey Primer: Medium color grey. I’ve had really bad luck with this primer type with two different cans. It comes out chalky and gritty; I can’t recommend this to you. I’ve never had a problem with Armory white, which I really like. 

Taymia Fine Surface Grey: A very light grey primer, super smooth, recommended by my sculptor Drew Day Williams. I may be in love with this one. 

Step 2: Base Coats

Using Privateer Press P3 Beast hide, cover the entire body of the model. Use appropriate wood color for the haft and paint the metal head black. At this point the model should be covered.  I like a darker haft to make the halberd look worn in, so use either P3 Ruddy brown or Citadel Dark Flesh. If you want a “newer look” I recommend Vallejo green ochre or Citadel bubonic brown.
Pro tip- you can “wet paint” some highlights onto the flesh at this point using a mix of Jack bone and beast hide if you want. 

Step 3:  The Wash

Take your mini and some Citadel Agrax Earthshade “shade” (really a glaze but we’ll call it a wash) and cover the entire model. As the wash drips down a bit, pick up the paint from the base and take it back into some of the deeper areas like eye sockets, etc.  At this point you can also clean your brush and then use it as an eraser to wipe away some of the wash in higher exposed areas.  This is more of an aesthetic call, to try it out and see if you like it.  
Note: this step is really quick- you can knock out 20 minis in 5 minutes easily. 

WARNING:  For some reason the size of the Agrax Earthshade bottle makes it very susceptible to being knocked over!  Make sure it is out of elbow and arm reach and that the lid is on tight. Wisdom is the knowledge that I’ve made this mistake before… (edit- I just tried shaking the jar after I had the lid open getting paint all over my pants and the floor. Clorox wipes are your friend. ) 

 Step 4: Paint Overs

Once the Wash is fully dry, take your base of Beast Hide and repaint the fleshy areas of the model. You don’t have to repaint it all. I hit the major leg and arm pieces plus the dangly bits. 

Step 5: Highlights

Next I mix 50/50 ish of Beast hide and P3 Jack Bone, and hit the skull sections, bony arm sections and all the joints. Basically all raised areas that you want to be a bit more standy-outy.   After I’m done with that I hit any fully exposed bone, in particular feet, hands and the front of the skull with P3 Menoch White Highlight- which is a light bone color and not white at all. 

Pro Tip:  When painting fingers, ribs toes etc, I find it best to not try and dry brush across, but rather take your brush and do down the length of the bone. It builds up the paint better on that surface and you get less accidental paint in between. 

If you painted up any area too much for your liking, just judiciously go over it with some more Agrax Earthshade.

That’s all there is to it. Now just base it up the way you want, or finish the rest of the unit and base them all together. 

Side shot of a unit showing variability in same technique

 Pro Tip: When multi basing, I find the models that have the best fronts and best backs and stick them in the rank that shows them off. After they are all based, I might go back and touch up or highlight bits on the models that are more prominent. 


  1. Looks like Testors' Dark Tan Flat spray paint is a pretty close match for P3's Beast Hide, to make step 2 even faster.

  2. Really nice looking figures, Thomas. I also use spray primer, though I use white due to painting much smaller scale figures. I get it from Orchard Supply, Home Depot, or other hardware stores. Usually much less expensive than the hobby paints. In addition to white and various shades of grey and black, they also have a red/brown. Orchard used to carry yellow and green spray primers. While no longer carried they can be found online.