Tomb of Annihilation by Wizkids: Painting Poorly – Warded Skeleton

A Bare Bones Bad Guy...

Hello, all you painters out there!  Or should I say, all you ASPIRING miniature painters!  Welcome to Painting Poorly, my series on how to paint minis on the cheap!  You may have been previously following my series on the A Song of Ice & Fire Miniatures Game by CMON Games, well, today I’m starting a new series!

Wizkids was AMAZING and sent me a copy of their newest Dungeons & Dragons board Game: Tomb of Annihilation, and starting today we’re going to be going through how to paint all of the awesome minis that come with the game until you’re left with a completely painted copy, starting with the Warded Skeleton!

Besides skeletons being one of my FAVORITE types of monsters, I chose this mini for us to start off with for a few reasons:

  1. There are a few of them.  If you mess up on your first one, you can keep practicing until you get it right.
  2. If you mess up on a mini that you only have one of, then you’re stuck staring at your sucky paint job for all time, and that’s REALLY frustrating.
  3. It’s a relatively simple paint job, but allows us to cover a wide variety of the basics of miniature painting.

So, without any further ado, let’s jump in.

1. Gameplan, Prep, and Prime

So, I always try to find inspiration for my color palettes from somewhere, and, well, remember how I said that skeletons were some of my favorite monsters?

Well, I think that’s because of Jason and the Argonauts…

These are pictures from the Scotland Museum of the actual models used by Ray Harryhausen to make that amazing sequence come to life. Notice how the bones aren’t PURE white? They’re almost a yellowy tan color.

So, with that in mind, I’ve assembled the following colors:

I’ve assembled only a few paints here.  From Vallejo, I have Dark Sand and Copper, though any tan color or bronze metallic will work well.  I simply went with Vallejo because my wife got me them for Christmas.  Vallejo’s got good quality for their price, especially when you buy their packs online, which usually run around $20 for a pack of 8 colors.  Still pricier than the craft store, but not too bad.

What DO recommend spending the money on is a bottle of Plate Mail Metal by The Army Painter.  The coverage you get from it is fantastic, and it just goes on VERY smoothly.  It is a noticeable improvement in the ease of application.  They’re about $3 a bottle, but I got mine about two years ago, and I still have plenty.  Rounding out the paint, I’ve got a white and a black from the craft store.  These were about $1 a piece.

So, as you can see, I’ve already primed my Warded Skeleton with Matt White spray-on primer by The Army Painter, which, if you’re going to spend the money on anything, it should be your primer.  Let me repeat this: DON’T SKIMP ON YOUR PRIMER!

Cheap primer has no tooth to it, so your paint will just slide off, and you will get INSANELY FRUSTRATED.  Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to basecoats!

2. Basecoats

Before we get started, I want to stress to you that you should be thinning all of your paints in about a 50/50 ratio with water.  You don’t want to have your paints be too thick because it’ll obscure a lot of that great miniature detail.  You can find a more in depth explanation about this on my blog.

We’re starting off with the dark sand, or your tan.  Paint all of the bones of the skeleton.  Nothing too hard here, but make sure that you get a nice smooth coat over all of him and don’t forget the tops of his hipbone that are sticking up out of his belt.  You can use whatever size brush you like, but I used my size 1.  Small enough to get it where I needed it, but big enough to get a good amount of coverage with each stroke.

Next, you’ll be mixing up a bit of your black and your white paint in a roughly 50/50 ratio, which should also be thinned with water in equal parts, so I guess it should really be 1/1/2 black paint/white paint/water.  You’ll use this to paint the rags around his waist, including the space where his pelvis should be, but it is only blank plastic…

You don’t ever want to use PURE black because it doesn’t give you anywhere to go during the shading step.  So get familiar with this 50/50 black/white mix, because we’re going to be using it A LOT.

Now, we’ll move onto the metallics.  We’ll start off with the copper.  Copper is a fairly lighter color, so we actually don’t want to thin this with a 50/50 ratio.  More like a 2/1 copper/water ratio.

We’re going to paint the hilts and handles of the daggers, and all the trim of the armor, including the belt, as shown above.

The last thing that we’ll cover in the basecoating step is the steel.  Using your plate mail metal, cover the blades of the daggers and all the studs on the shoulder armor, belt, and loin cloth armor (but if I’m being honest, that’s the area I’d protect most of all, too…).

Once that’s all dry, we can move onto shading!

3. Shading

Again, if you’re new to my tutorials, you should know that the thing you really want to spend the money on, other than primer, is a good shade or wash.  I pretty much only use The Army Painter, but your shades and washes are going to be worth it in the long run.  You CAN make it on your own, but the amount of money that you save vs. the amount of effort you have to put in/mess you make.

Today, we’re going Highlander Style: There can be only ONE.  And that one is Strong Tone by The Army Painter.

Strong Tone is a DARK dark brown wash, almost black, and it gives really good coloring and depth for simulating bone.

We’re going to take this straight out of the bottle and apply it everywhere on the model.  It should only take about two or three drops of the stuff to cover the whole model, and go section by section.  You don’t want to move it around too much once it’s already on, just put a thin layer everywhere a, making sure that it gets into all the little nooks and crannies, but it’s not POOLING anywhere.

Wait for this to dry, then it’s off to HIGHLIGHTS!

4. Highlights and Finishing Touches

Okay, so this next part is COMPLETELY optional, but it can help give your minis that extra POP, and the skeleton is a great miniature to practice this technique on.  We’re just going to be using the same paints that we have been, so it won’t be too hard.

We don’t need to highlight the metallics, but we WILL be highlighting the bone.

Using your dry sand or tan, and your SMALLEST brush, paint the top of the skull, and outline the bottom of the eye sockets and the chin.  After that you’ll essentially just be highlighting the front of each individual bone, drawing a line down the front of each of them, leaving the sides and recesses darkened.

Here’s an example of how to highlight the back of the skeleton. Notice I mainly hit the ridges of the scapulas and tried to get each individual spinal bone, while also doing the ribs and arms here as well.

And just so you can get an idea of how to do highlights from the top down, here’s a picture of the skeleton from a bird’s eye view.

5. Dungeon Crawl!

You’re done!  Base it however you like, spray it with your matt spray, and get those suckers in the dungeon!

Hopefully you found this helpful, and you can always find all of my tutorials on my blog and make sure you keep checking in here at MeepleGamers and on my blog because there will be new tutorials for Tomb of Annihilation posted on a bi-weekly basis!  Until next time, Adventurers!