Khorne Lord of Skulls

Back in July one of my friends received a Lord of Skulls as an anniversary present (lucky bastard) to add to his Khorne Daemonkin Army. Being both a beginner at painting minis and burdened with a hefty backlog of unpainted miniatures he asked me if I would paint it for him. Having a hefty backlog myself I apologetically declined. Then he built the damn thing and I nearly lost consciousness looking at it as all the blood went somewhere other than my brain. I’m a sucker for the absolute nonsense of what this model is.

So, first things first – take a look.

Now, this took months to paint mostly because I was not prioritising it, I have been getting my Astra Militarum Army up to a basic table level. This is mostly what I would call quick and dirty but we’ll get to that.

Before writing up this post I shared the first few images with Reddit and, as with most big fun models, it got a few comments. Some asked how I did it, others felt it was nothing more than a humble brag calling this “quick and dirty”. So for fun, before I talk about how I painted each bit I want to share something. Something that is not easy for a proud mini painter to share: a gallery of flaws and corners cut. I got away with it for the most part because I know where to put the detail and the effort and where to cut corners. Anyway, have a look at my shame.

You will see patchy highlights, sloppy edging, 4 year old levels of ‘staying in the lines’ and a whole host of flat dull paint, dry brushed laziness and an abundance of dark brown wash to hide sins.

Look at all that silver on the tracks, that’s just drybrushing. The bronze trim on the bottom barely covers the red undercoat and has no highlights to speak of, I just brown washed everything to give it depth. Now I did do some very lazy shading on the red but I knew that would be a little eye catching in places and there’s a lot more of it on the shoulders than above the tracks.

All those skulls? Just a wash. Those fancy big blood tanks? All the metal on the back? Yeah that’s one layer of drybrushing.

I spent a bit more time on the blood inside because again I knew that that would be what the eye was drawn to. Same with the chest, the axe the helmet. The mold lines and build defects are on my friend. I told him I’d paint it how he gave me it.

So please believe me when I say this isn’t a humble brag. This is quick and dirty.

For those that asked how I painted this thing I won’t go into which paints I used because I chop and change, sometimes I mix a shade tone sometimes I use a bottle. Instead I’ll use general terms and you use your favourite brand.

I sprayed the model red to begin. I figured this would be a time saver but in hindsight I think a black would have been better. I then blocked in all my base colours. I started with re-basing all the areas that were going to be silver in black. I should have done all the areas that would be bronze too but I only figured that out later. I then did a heavy dry brush of a bright but not super bright silver. After that I blocked in the red over the base coat to ensure even coverage.

Its worth noting that to paint this I actually pulled the arms and blood tanks back off as there was no easy way to work around them.

I then worked on all the areas around the tank treads and the back. Everything that would not get a lot of attention. I quickly painted up all the bronze then gave it a heavy wash of brown ink. I add a little flow improver to try and reduce tide marks. This gives the bronze some depth and neatly separates the red and bronze.

When doing the bronze on the shoulders and more visible areas I added a gold and then silver highlight after the wash to bring out the shape a bit better. Being small there were no shortcuts I simply had to go round with my usual 3/0 brush and do it all manually.

For the red – I usually blend a dark shade into the lower areas either with just a darker red or by adding a little black. The most important thing though is to build up thin layers without a huge step in tone. I make heavy use of matte medium from Vallejo (basically GW lahmian medium) to make these shades more transparent and easier to blend. For the low areas this was usually one quick shade whereas on the upper portions I often did this over 4 or 5 gradual steps with a greater contrast. I then used a red/cream mix to do some line highlights again with more details and more steps on the more important sections.

The black armour is all line highlights. I use quite bright highlights on a few spots to make the rest seem darker and dark highlights around everything to give an outline to the shape. The red glow on the black armour I started by dry brushing red in tight circles around the lights. This gives a nice glow similar to the effect you can achieve with an airbrush. I definitely rushed it here though. I then build these highlights up until you get to a very bright yellow. Again that big red glow and strong contrast makes the effect work.

For the head that’s just a basic light brown wash over a basic bone colour. After that I do the opposite of the edge shading and use a lot of matte medium and start adding white to my bone colour and just rough it in. Look closely you can see how messy it is but the effect is nice.

Lastly the blood in the tanks. This is just red, shaded as before from light to dark top to bottom. After that, to give it a liquid bubbling look I stippled a little orange and brown over this with an old splayed brush. Not too much though. I then tried to copy the GW version of this model with the white glass reflections around each window – to less than amazing effect. After varnishing the model I then went over each window a couple of times with a watered down mix of Tamiya Clear Red (blood for the blood god or maybe the new gem paints could stand in) and Gloss Varnish for a glassy effect.
So, there you have my process on this big bugger. I’m sick and tired of looking at his big dumb face but I welcome any comments or questions.

Until next time, bye the noo.

– Callum


2 thoughts on “Khorne Lord of Skulls

  1. It just shows what you can do with basic techniques when you have the experience and skill to apply them effectively. Most folk would love this and I’m sure you can get commission painter delivering this at one of their ‘levels’. Personally I just can’t do this level, I haven’t the confidence to stop, keep adding more highlights, sometimes I wish I could just let go 🙂


    1. I think that really is key here. I’ve used a ton of basic techniques, I know how to hide mistakes and on the areas that are most visible I’m not denying that I put the effort in to get that wow factor. I love how this thing turned out all the same.


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