Paint Pre Heresy Death Guard

Learn how to paint Death Guard in the scheme Mortarion intendended in this Istvaan appropriate palette!

Paint Pre Heresy Death Guard

We can agree that our miniature here is perhaps too blessed by Nurgle’s glorious tentacles to be truly pre heresy.  However, the color scheme for the armor remains the same.

If you are a stickler for terminology (or a stickler for tentacles, in this case ) we can call it Heresy-Era, or Pallid Hand plague company scheme.


At this stage, we are painting both he bone and the green parts of the armor, before adding the weathering to both of the colors simultaneously.

The bone color starts on a bse coat of Leather Brown.  We are using this because it comes in a shaker can from The Army Painter, and you can save a bunch of time on your army this way.

Make sure you go over any parts the spray may have missed with a brush, as we are using this color for the shadows.

We highlight this with skeleton bone, airbrushed at a 45 degree angle from the top of the marine.  Special attention was paid to the legs and feet, that would otherwise be obscured by most Death Guard’s belly.

Next, move on to the green parts of the armor:  the knee and shoulder pads in this case.  Base coat these with Castellan Green, that we will highlight with Death Guard green.

It’s important to do both green and bone before moving on the the weathering, because the armor gets the same treatment, and would look rather weird if not done together.


The first part of weathering is with Rhinox Hide and a sponge.  This will make all of the chipping on the armor.  When it comes to sponging, less is more, even for Death Guard.  I’m usually on the heavier side of this, so pace yourself.

Next, we want to add a shade that will tie-in both of the colors together.  You have two great options here, depending on the time you have or want to spend on this project.

Option one is oil washing using Burnt Umber.  This allows you to easily add streaking, and will tint both colors with an umber tone.  The drawback is that you need a solid 8 hours of drying time.  If you plan accordingly, this won’t be a big deal, as you can finish your hobby time with the wash and it should be dry and good to go by the next day.

Sometimes, that’s not an option.  Either time is not on your side, or, you just don’t feel like dabbling with oil paints.

That’s why there’s option two, Seraphim Sepia.  It’s what we are doing on the video, because waiting 8 hours was not an option, and you still get a great result.

We want to glaze with the Seraphim Sepia, not really use it like a shade.  The goal is to have a clean and even coat on every surface, not to let it pool in the recesses.


Much to my surprise, there’s more than a few arguments between Death Guard aficionados as wether shoulder and heraldry should be gold or bronze.  If you have strong feelings about either, by all means go for it.

Our method will be a dark and orangey gold, that will will shade, and that’s pretty much an in between of gold and bronze.

Start with a base coat Balthasar Gold, that we will shade first with Agrax Earthshade, then with Nuln oil in the recesses and around the rivets.

Again, this is all done on purpose to stay in the grey area of “is it bronze or is it gold” color.


Silver is a misnomer, as we are painting everything that should be silver in rust instead.  This will work well with our other main colors.

You can use either Typhus Corrosion or Rhinox Hide for the base coat on the rust.  Be careful with Typhus Corrosion, it will destroy your brush very fast, despite all the efforts you may put in keeping it clean.

The upside to this brush destruction, is that it offers a matte color to build our rust on, and adds a lot of texture with it’s sand-like consistency.

Next, you can sponge on some Skrag Brown, or stipple it on with a brush.  Overall, the sponge is much quicker for this effect.  But some areas are really hard to get to without hitting the adjacent areas, so you might want to switch to a brush at some point.

Repeat this process with Shining Silver, putting on much less of it on the model and focussing on the edges.

At this point, those 3 colors ill clash and look really odd.  Do no panic.  Nothing a generous shade of Nuln Oil won’t fix.

Vents & Joints

Death Guard models, specially those newer sculpts, have a lot of cables dangling about, so we will paint those in the same fashion as we will for the joints in the armor.

Start with a base coat of Skavenblight Dinge, a greenish grey that will tie in nicely with the green on the model.  Simply wash this with two coats of Nuln Oil, making sure the first has dried fully before hitting it with the second.

This will give the cables a rubbery look


Perhaps less common the the pre-heresy models, tentacles are a staple of Nurgle infested marines, and make for a nice contrast on the models.

You can start the skin here as well, because they will be sharing base coat of Bugman’s Glow.

We highlight both skin and tentacle with Kislev Flesh.  However, for the tentacles, you can paint your highlight in stripes ‘around’ the tentacle, to give it the cartoon texture.

Don’t worry if this highlight seems drastic, the shading will tone done the brightness.

Shade the skin with Agrax Earthshade.  This will tone down the brightness, as we don’t like Death Guard to look super healthy and tanned.

For the tentacles, paint them with a thin and even coat of Volupus Pink contrast.  We are not interested in the contrast’s ‘suggested use’ only give a bright pink shade to the gooey appendages.

Once that’s dry, you can hit the boils and cracks around the tentacles with Druchii Violet to gove it more depth.  Again, it’s worth taking extra time on the tentacles, becasue they will stand out from the otherwise drab model.


This scheme for Death Guard is a blessing when it comes to basing, as you have a lot of options.  I would try to avoid a light base, like a desert or snow, but almost anything else will look good.

If you like a more realistic approach, you can go for an urban look like this, or if you like a more eye-catching look, go for a lava or toxic slime base.

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