There are many ways to paint bone, but if you are looking for a way to let Contrast Medium do most of the work for you and get a lot of Skeleton Warriors or Grave Guard done quickly, then look no further.

This site contains affiliate links you can use to support Tale of Painters. As Amazon Associates, eBay partners, and partners of our partner shops we earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks :)

Tutorial: How to paint bone featured image

This tutorial assumes you have a good understanding of how to paint Warhammer miniatures. Underneath each picture is the corresponding instruction. Each step shows the paint(s) I used. I have a rather eclectic paint collection, so when I use a paint that’s not from Games Workshop or out of production, I’ll try to provide you with suitable alternatives from the current Citadel paint range [in brackets]. However, if you want to achieve the exact same result as shown, you might want to expand your paint collection with a specific colour. You’ll find a list of all the paints used in this tutorial at the end of the post.

How to paint Skeleton Warrior / Grave Guard bone

Tutorial: How to paint bone - step 1

Basecoat the bone with multiple thin coats of Wraithbone base paint. Depending on your paint scheme and the amount of exposed boneit might be a good idea to use Wraithbone primer instead

Tutorial: How to paint bone - step 2

Wraithbone base paint tends to dry a bit chalky, so I applied a coat of varnish for a smooth finish, which will help the wash to spread more evenly. I used a mix of Anti-Shine and Gloss Varnish from The Army Painter, but any satin varnish is fine. You can skip this stage completely when you use Wraithbone primer.

Tutorial: How to paint bone - step 3

I mixed Wyldwood with a lot of Contrast Medium, about 1 part Wyldwood to 10 parts Contrast Medium, and gave the bone a generous all-over wash. Soak up any excess wash with a spare brush if you notice excessive pooling. This will create a beautifully smooth subtle shading.

Tutorial: How to paint bone - step 4

Once dry, I thinned Wyldwood with Contrast Medium again, but this time more like 1:5. I applied this mix as a selective wash over areas where I wanted the recesses to be even darker, like the eye sockets, ribs and spine, fingers and feet, and the cavity between the forearm bones.

Tutorial: How to paint bone - step 5

If there is still visible pooling on larger flat areas such as the upper arm bones or the cranium, or if you need to correct any paint spills later on, mix a tiny bit of Beast Hide into Wraithbone (approx. 1:12) and use the mix to smooth over any affected areas. You can also use Monster Brown from The Army Painter for Beast Hide, or Gorthor Brown from Citadel.

Tutorial: How to paint bone - step 6

Finally, add a highlight of Pallid Wych Flesh. You can spend as much or as little time on this stage as you like, focussing only on key parts such as the skulls and fingers or going all-over, or even applying the highlight as a drybrush. If you want to go even further, you can add little dots of pure white to the sharpest corners.

Stahly Patreon Banner 2024 760x100px

And this completes my quick and easy bone effect. The key to this technique is getting the first wash right, so use a lot of Contrast Medium. Be generous when applying the wash and take your time, soaking up any excess to keep pooling to a minimum, and you will end up with a beutiful and smooth result that won’t need much more work.

Here you can see the technique applied to the base of a Spirit Host and an old Skeleton Warrior. For the Skeleton Warrior, I used Wraithbone primer.

Nighthaunt Spirit Host next to a Skeleton Warrior

Paints you will need for this tutorial:

Citadel (Games Workshop)
Wyldwood (Contrast)
Contrast Medium
Pallid Wych Flesh

The Army Painter Warpaints
Anti-Shine Matt Varnish and Gloss Varnish [or any satin varnish]

Formula P3
Beast Hide [Gorthor Brown, or Monster Brown from The Army Painter]

If you need to expand your paint collection to follow the tutorial, check out our partner stores Wayland Games and Element Games, which offer an amazing range of paints at a discount.

Garfy used a different approach for painting the bone on his Ulfenwatch Skeleton Warriors, make sure to check out his tutorial, too:

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If so, leave a comment or reaction below, and if you got any questions, leave them here so I can answer them for you.