Mortarion’s Death Guard legion are a faction that could just as easily be painted for 30K as 40K using the same palette. In fact that’s precisely what I plan on doing.

The Death Guard was the last army I painted for Warhammer 40,000 nearly two decades ago. I must admit, I didn’t enjoy painting them initially, but I ended up loving the final result. Aside from a successful outing at the 2003 GT Grand Final, they have been sitting in a figure case, untouched and forgotten. However, that army is a topic for another post, and they will have their day on the battlefield again.

In many ways, the palette I’m about to share is a means to blend that force with the multitude of excellent Heresy and 40K miniatures now available. It’s an opportunity to explore new possibilities and bring together different elements from various ranges.

The palette I chose is easy to replicate across entire infantry units, or for individuals. It also makes full use of enamel and oil paints, both of which I like because of the effects they help create.

How to create Mortarion’s sons

Beginning with an aged white base, I achieve the heavily weathered and stained bone armor by applying a light rust enamel wash and sponge stippling with German grey. The bronze metallic trim, weapons, and green pauldrons are also painted at this stage. The beauty of this palette is its simplicity. I even add the legion decals at this point, specifically for those I intend to use in early Heresy games.

The most satisfying step comes next: painting all the armor with thinned burnt umber artist’s oil paint, using a little white spirit. Once dried, it gives the miniature a look similar to the one on the right. The excess oil paint can be easily removed using a lightly dampened cotton bud or makeup sponge with clean white spirit. Through gentle wiping, the Death Guard’s underlying battle-stained armor is finally revealed.

By varying the direction of the strokes, not only can a patina be created, but also streaks of grime and deposits of dirt. The malleability and workability of oils are their biggest strengths, adding another dimension compared to acrylics. This technique works equally well on the more recent Death Guard models, creating a nice connection between the legion as it was and the legion it became after Mortarion’s fall, prior to the siege of Terra.

Warhammer 40,000 Death Guard being painted using oil paints

I don’t have a specific goal in mind for my Death Guard army other than continually adding more models as long as I enjoy the process and they continue to release unique and impressive sculpts. With the 8th edition set, additional characters, units, and the amazing series 3 heroes set, I have more than enough to keep me occupied for months to come. Nurgle consistently provides new opportunities, and I don’t anticipate that changing anytime soon.