Painting 6mm Romans

New(ish) member Mark2 shows us how he paints his little fellas…

I’ve recently started playing Field of Glory at the club and decided to purchase a 6mm late Roman Army, never owned a Roman army but I have dabbled with late western Roman reenactment and enjoy this period. After consulting the FoG ‘Legions Triumphant’ army list, I picked a Dominate army (3rd to 5th century). Bought my figures from Baccus, they have a good range of late Roman and allies to pick from, the whole army cost around £90. Bases where purchased from Warbases and I used a mixture of Citadel and Vallejo paints, plus the Baccus basing kit.

Baccus figures are pretty chunky for 6mm and have quite a bit of detail, after consulting with some experienced 6mm painters at the club I decided to start with a black undercoat and work up from this, dry brushing light/bold colours to accentuate the detail, finally picking out detail such as weapons, helmets and banners. It’s important to use lighter or bolder colours at this scale, without this figures tend to look like a dark blob on the table. The black undercoat acts as shade/black line effect. The trick here is to ’trick’ the eye, with the aim of producing hopefully decent looking figures on a tabletop battlefield.

These figures are Baccus late roman with helm, I’m using them for my Auxilia palatina. In a Dominate army these troops were usually deployed as medium infantry but where also used as heavy infantry. I believe this was to fill gaps in the legions which were becoming a little more scarce during this time. I’ll be basing the auxilia on a FoG 15mm medium infantry base (40x30mm) but will pack the troops together in the style of heavy infantry. The figures come in fours and I use 16 per base, two lines of eight, that’s about as many as you can get across a stand this size using Baccus.

These figures where tacked to temporary painting bases, I usually permanently base before painting if I can, but didn’t fancy painting these guys when they are so closely packed together. I tack using a small blob of super glue as it’s easy to break off when you’re ready to base.

I base coat using a black acrylic spray, I find cheaper car sprays work well with metal figures, not to be used with plastics. It’s a messy job, but you can cover a whole army fairly quickly. I tend to undercoat in chunks, usually around 4 units at a time.

I begin by dry brushing the main colour, for the auxilia it’s their tunic, which I have painted using Citadel Lothern Blue, a bright powder like blue. I chose this colour as I have seen artists impressions using blue and it plausible that it may have been used. I dry brush with one of my 0 size brushes that has seen better days, you can purchase dry brushes but they tend to be on the large size and you need a relatively small brush for this scale. Dry brushing involves removing moisture from the brush by sweeping it across some kitchen role or the like and then lightly brushing across the area you want to paint, at a 45 degree angle if possible. This technique highlights raised detail and leaves recessed areas darker, giving a fairly good and realistic contrast, I find it works really well at this scale. I don’t tend to dry brush at larger scales as I prefer to wash and layer, however this is a quick and effective way to paint 6mm armies. You need to be careful not to contaminate other parts of the figure, such as the spear, shield and forearms, but this is relatively easy with some steady sweeps of your brush, any miss-haps can be blacked over.

Once I’ve completed the main colour I move on to the ‘large’ peripheries, in this case the shield (Vallejo Scarlet). Note that I am not dry brushing here but applying colour to the front of the shield leaving the middle and rear black, the same technique is also used with the spear (Vallejo Beige Brown), helmet (Citadel Mithril Silver) and flesh (Vallejo Flat Flesh), more on this in a moment.
Fourth picture – helmet, spear.

Before moving on the next stage, now is a good time to check for any contamination, such as tunic colour on flesh or weapon areas by touching up with some black, this sounds fiddly but it’s worth doing and doesn’t take long at all. I spend about 5 minutes per unit, the auxilia have eight stands with 16 figures on each so it gives you an idea of what I mean by not taking up much time.

I now move on to the flesh, hands and face in the case of these figures. As I mentioned above, Baccus are quite detailed for 6mm, so need a little care and attention when doing the Faces. I use a three spot method, one at the mid-top of the face and two below, left and right, this creates a face rather than a flesh coloured blob (at least that’s the theory). I’ve found the Baccus figures do have different faces, some work well with three dots others are better with two, this can only be about casting variations. Remember the effect works at battlefield level, on the table top, not close up. Next is to add any metal colours, I used Citadel Mithril Silver for the helmets, spear tips and shield boss. Gold (Vallejo Brass) for the standard, instrument and helms for the officer, musician and standard bearer. I use the same technique described above, making sure to pick out highlights and leave those in shade black. After this it’s the spear poles and then onto shield detail (see below). I also apply paint to the leggings at this point (Vallejo Pale Sand).

I’ve chosen to add a pattern to the shield, I’ve done this as it adds a little more detail to the figures and helps to catch the eye, really important at this scale. I’ve used Vallejo white, note that there are two units both with differing patterns. I’ve done this based on research carried out about the period, which indicates that Roman armies of this time were subject to more barbarian influence.

Finally the base materials are applied, basing is important at all scales, for 6mm it’s really important as it helps to bring your units to life. Again, brighter colours should be used for same reasons described above. I’ve chosen to use the Baccus basing system, which involves applying fine grade sand using PVA glue, washing the sand with a light brown ink and then dry brushing three progressively lighter sand colours over the dry wash. Don’t worry about hiding the figures’ stands at the moment, this comes next. Once the dry brushing is complete, you add the grass, this is done using a small plastic device called an Uff Puff. It’s best described as a plastic bellows, which you fill with grass and then apply the grass over the base, this means that the grass is more likely to stand up, and less likely to lie flat or clump. So, water down a little PVA apply around the figures’ base and hey presto you have some grass and no step showing from the figures’ base. Finally I paint the edges of the base Citadel Moot Green. I’ve also included some of my archers and cavalry, these were done without using temporary panting bases and there’s more space between these figures. I have also added grass between each figure. So that’s it, I hope this has been helpful, I am also working on a 6mm Spanish Peninsular army and hope to share some photos of these in the not too distant future.

Author: Brigadier Tony

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