How to paint an animal skull

April 21 | meggyfin
bull skull art
By: WarrenlynnCC BY 2.0
I have a question about a bull skull that I am going to paint…

The skull sat outside for many years and is cracking, is there anyway I can repair this to get it to be smooth again to paint on? And if so what kind of primer should I use? -Kimberly

To answer this question, I turned to former Offbeat Home editor and, in my mind, the goddess of dead animal bones, Cat Rocketship! Sure enough, she had an answer AND happened to be wearing a "crown of animal bones" as she wrote her advice. (I rest my case.)

If the bone is becoming brittle and flaky, there is no repair, but you may still be able to paint it. It will come down to embracing the skull's worn texture and working with that.

I would start by brushing over the surface lightly with my fingers to loosen any really easy-to-bust bits. Make sure it's clean of dust, dirt, and cobwebs.

A primer may help make the skull appear slightly smoother, but it is likely not necessary. The two spray paints I recommend are primer-proof…

I like two types of spray paint for bones: Montana is an artist-grade spray, available in art supply stores and sometimes skate shops. It's very opaque (so it covers in one coat), comes in great colors, and works on difficult surfaces like flaking bone.

If you can't get ahold of Montana, I recommend Rustoleum Ultra 2x Cover, available at Home Depot.

Lay down a drop cloth and spray the skull, holding the can about 10 inches away and moving in slow strokes. If it is flaking, you will probably want to spray from a few different angles to make sure you don't miss any areas.

If you need to apply a second coat, do so either within the first hour or after 24 hours have passed.

Allow the skull to cure for 24 hours before moving it or bringing it inside, if at all possible.

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