The coolest thing about zombies for the wargamer? There are lots, so they look lovely on the table.
The worst thing about zombies for the wargamer? There are lots, which equates to a lot of work.
This tutorial will provide a quick and easy way to paint zombies to a good gaming standard. It leaves the painter room to embellish, too, while being easy enough for even a budding painter to produce fine results. So there’s a bit of something there for everyone. This style of painting is especially useful for some of the cheaper and rougher zombie miniatures on the market, but with a bit more attention works just as well for the classier ones too.
The principle? Zombies – whether you’re painting modern or fantasy models – are just regular people, with the notable exception of being dead. Hence, their clothing and equipment will paint up just like it would on any other model. Where the whole zombie-thing kicks in, is the whole ”dead” part.
For this tutorial I picked one of the Mega Miniatures zombies, a true flower child who has found himself a juicy leg and is now literally one of the Grateful Dead.
Step 1: Pick up your favourite zombie model. Or, if you’re just starting on your zombies using a tutorial, one that you don’t really like that much. Clean the model as usual, and prime it black. We are looking for a finished zombie that’s dark and menacing, and a bit dirty. A black basecoat will help you with that.
Step 1: Basecoat the model black
Step 2: Paint the zombie’s clothing and equipment just like you would on any other model. Don’t touch the skin yet. I like to experiment on zombies’ clothing and other details, using different techniques. If something looks awful, you can just slap some blood on it. The mini will be lost amidst your horde, anyway.
Step 2: Paint clothing etc.
Step 3: Paint the skin with the palest skin tone you have. You can go as far as ivory (a yellowish, natural white). Don’t worry about the paint not covering the black basecoat all that well, and don’t paint too thick layers on. In fact, the black basecoat shining through will add to the skin’s blotchy, dead appearance. Doing this also saves you time, which is lovely when you have dozens of zombies lined up for painting.
Step 3: Paint the skin
Step 4: Give the zombie’s skin a light blue wash, using either a very thinned down blue paint or ink wash (I use GW’s old blue glaze). Don’t overdo it, you want a zombie instead of a blue-skinned alien. You can also experiment with different shades of blue and green for different end results. Make sure the wash ends up all over the skin, especially on places you want to accentuate, such as the eyesockets.
Step 4: Give the skin a light blue wash
Step 5: Use a very thinned down black ink (again, I use GW’s) to accentuate some shadows (as in step 4, the eyesockets are important, as are cheekbones) even further and generally ”dirty up” the zombie. The deeper shadows give the zombie a more menacing, gaunt and even deader look. If you want to use the black ink to add some splotches of dirt to the zombie’s clothing, now’s a great time.
Step 5: Use black wash to accentuate shadows
Step 6: The blood. Yes, there’s always blood. I like my zombies bloody and gruesome, death by undead should never be too pretty. Take some brownish red paint (GW’s Mechrite red for me), and add loving splashes of it on the model. Use your imagination! How did he die? Throat torn out? Paint a lot of blood on the throat and down the front of his shirt. Has he eaten someone? Some blood around the mouth and chin. The zombie carries a weapon, did he defend himself before he died? And so on, you get the point. Again, don’t overdo it. You don’t want to end up with a walking clot of blood. Actually, if you do then feel free to overdo.
Step 6: Add blood
Step 7: Simple red paint won’t do. It just looks fake and too clean, doesn’t it? Paint liberally over it with dark brown ink (GW, surprisingly). Let the ink overlap the paint’s borders for a more natural and dirty look. You’re gunning for the gross-factor here. Messy, dirty, icky. Let your imagination run free. A lot of blood seeping into the zombie’s clothing? Paint a lot of brown ink on it for a darker overall effect.
Step 7: Paint over the blood with brown ink
Step 8: Dot in some black ink to represent coagulated and dried blood. By now your zombie should look fairly awful, in a good way. I also added some black ink to the eye sockets at this point, since that will make the eyes stand out more.
Step 8: Dot in some black ink
Step 9: Paint the eyes. I simply use a drop of very light grey, white’s fine too. Don’t bother with pupils, the full-grey eyes will look creepier and more dead. You can also pick out other detail, such as teeth. For once, don’t stress too much if the eyes end up a bit lopsided. They’re zombies, they don’t mind.
Step 9: Paint the eyes
Step 10: Base the model to your liking, and you’re done!
Step 10: Base the model
And next? Just repeat this procedure a hundred times or so, and you’ll have a miniature zombocalypse on your hands. Oh, and if someone actually tries this tutorial out, I’d love to see the results!