A painting method.

Andy describes how he goes about painting his irregular figures.

I don’t claim to be a great painter, I’m certainly unlikely to win any painting competitions, my aim is to get figures to a reasonable standard for the table top in a reasonable time.

When painting irregular, or at least non-uniformed, troops I still try to have a systematic method of painting, so I thought I’d share how I go about it.

For this example, I have 16 Gripping Beast Plastic Saxon Thegns to paint.

I start off by washing the figures in warm soapy water, to remove any mould release agent, then rinse and dry them.

For 28mm infantry I standardise on 2p coins for the bases. I can then use them individually for games like SAGA or Lion Rampant, or on sabot trays for games like Dux Bellorum.

So once cut from the sprues and any mould lined removed with a scalpel and file the figures were stuck to their bases using a general-purpose adhesive, like Bostick.

Cleaned up and based.

Some of the figures have their left arms as part of the torso, others have them as separate pieces. I then assembled the figures using liquid polystyrene cement, except for the shields. I leave the shields off to make it easier to paint the left arm and chest. I do keep a shield handy to check the position of the left arm against the position of the right arm and spear during assembly.

I didn’t have quite enough heads with helmets for the 16 (I had previously used some on some unarmoured bodies) so a couple of the figures had bare heads from the Dark Ages Warriors box. The bases were then built up with Polyfilla.

Assembled, bases built up with polyfila.

I then undercoated the figures with grey car primer spray.

Most of the paints I use are Vallejo Model Colour, exceptions are mainly Army Painter (AP) washes and inks.

First off, I painted any areas of mail matt black, followed by dry-brushed Gunmetal Grey. Spear tips and helmets were painted the same colour. Next the faces, necks and hands were base coated Brown Sand.

Skin basecoat, mail and helmets painted.

Skin was the painted Medium Flesh Tone.

Now to start with the systematic randomisation of colours for the clothing. I arranged the figures into as near a rectangular formation as possible, in this case the 16 figures simply went into four ranks of four files.

I then painted the figure’s trousers by file:

    • Light Brown (A, E, I, M)
    • Chocolate Brown (B, F, J, N)
    • AP Dark Stone (C, G, K, O)
    • Basalt Grey (D, H, L, P)
Skin and Trousers done.

Then the tunics by rank:

    • Grey Blue (A, B, C, D)
    • Deep Green (E, F, G, H)
    • Red (I, J, K, L)
    • Mahogany Brown (M, N, O, P)

If I had been painting lower status troops, I would have used the same colours overall for tunic and trousers, but added an additional colour to the tunic mix to avoid having the tunic and trousers the same colour on any individual figure.

Tunics done.

Next were the leggings, in diagonal lines top left to bottom right

    • Buff (A, F, K, P)
    • Pale Sand (B, G, L, M)
    • Beige (C, H, I, N)
    • Deck Tan (D, E, J, O)
Leggings done.

Next is the leatherwork. Belts, pouches and scabbard in diagonal lines from top right to bottom left, I used the same colours for the figure’s boots in a semi random order.

    • Chocolate Brown.                         Belts etc: (D, G, J, M)      Boots: (A, H, K, N)
    • Red Leather.                                   Belts etc: (C, F, I, P)         Boots: (B, G, L, M)
    • Saddle Brown.                               Belts etc: (B, E, L, O)        Boots: (C, E, J, P)
    • German Cam Black Brown.     Belts etc: (A, H, K, N)       Boots: (D, F, I, O)

Sword and knife hilts were painted in the same colours, plus black, at random.

Next was the hair, again four colours were used, with a semi-random selection of figures, making sure I didn’t use the same colour twice in any row or column of the 16 figures.

    • Black: C, E, L, N
    • Tan Yellow: A, G, J, P
    • Flat Brown: B, H, K, M
    • Brown Sand: D, F, I O
Belts and scabbards done.

Belt buckles and scabbard metalwork were painted either Gunmetal Grey or Bronze.

The spear shafts and wooden crosses were painted Beige Brown and the cords of the crosses painted AP Hemp Rope.

Swords, spear shafts and crosses done.

As always when I paint, I have to do some corrections, reworking any colours that had accidentally been painted over.

After corrections.

Once all the main colours had been finished, I proceeded to the washes.

All skin was given a wash with AP Flesh wash.

The tunics were washed as follows:

    • Blue Wash (A, B, C, D)
    • Green Wash (E, F, G, H)
    • Red Wash (I, J, K, L)
    • Soft tone Wash (M, N, O, P)

Soft Tone was also used for all spears and figures with Red Leather or Saddle Brown Belts, Scabbards and Boots.

    • Red Leather. Belts etc: (C, F, I, P)          Boots: (B, G, L, M)
    • Saddle Brown Belts etc: (B, E, L, O)      Boots: (C, E, J, P)

Dark tone was used for figures with Chocolate Brown or German Cam Black Brown Belts, Scabbards and Boots:

    • Chocolate Brown.                    Belts etc: (D, G, J, M)        Boots: (A, H, K, N)
    • German Cam Black Brown. Belts etc: (A, H, K, N)       Boots: (D, F, I, O)

All leggings and figures with Tan Yellow or Brown Sand hair was washed with AP Light Tone wash.

The bases were then finished with green basetex.

Washes added and bases finished.

Having finished the figures, I moved on to the shields.

These were cleaned up in the same way as the figures, then undercoated black on the backs and white on the front. I use white on the fronts as I was going to use shield transfers rather than painting the designs.

I then drybrushed the back of the shields with Beige Brown and painted the shield bosses Gunmetal Grey while still on the sprues.

Shields work in progress. The white needs touching up.

I then applied the shield transfers to the front. These came from Little Big Men Studios or Battle Flag decals.

Little Big Men Studios decals have a hole for the shield boss already cut out, but the Battle Flag decals don’t, you have to cut those yourself.

I did have some issues with some of the LBMS decals, I couldn’t peel the plastic cover off to expose the self-adhesive surface. After ruining a few of the decals I ended up gluing them to the shield complete with the plastic layer using PVA glue. I haven’t had that problem before, so I wonder if it’s because these are fairly old, 3-4 years maybe? I didn’t have any problems with the Battle Flag decals.

Once the decals had dried, I painted the shield rims with Japanese Uniform to represent the leather edging. Once this was dry, I then cut the shields from the sprues, tidied up the edges with more Japanese Uniform.

Finished shields

The astute among you will notice there are 20 shields, but only 16 figures, the extras will be used as battlefield markers: Fatigue in SAGA, Battered in Lion Rampant, or Leadership Points in Dux Bellorum.

It’s never a good idea to glue painted articles together, paint to paint bonds aren’t strong, so I used a file to remove the paint from the contact points and then used liquid polystyrene cement to glue the shields in place.

The figures were then given a coat of spray matt varnish.

Here they are, 16 figures, making up 4 points of SAGA Hearthguard, a unit of Lion Rampant Sergeants with four figures left over or 2 units of Dux Bellorum Noble Shieldwall:

The finished figures.

The guy on the left of the front rank has a painted shield (Green and Light Blue) from my stash of spare shields rather than one of the shields I did in this session.

So, that’s my method for painting irregulars in a systematic way.

I hope it was of interest.

Dark Ages Assorted

Here is the third and final instalment of Andy’s recently finished Dark Ages figures.

Above we have four figures from Westwind Productions DS04 Character pack, comprising (left to right) Arthur, a Bishop, Merlin and Owain.

The pack came with a selection of heads and shields for Arthur and Owain however, at some point in the painting process (interrupted by Christmas when I had to clear my painting table) I lost the shields. So Owain now has a spare Saxon shield and, as I used a Romano-British looking head for Arthur, I gave him a Late Roman shield, both from Gripping Beast Plastics.

Paints are primarily Vallejo acrylics over a grey primer finished off with Army Painter washes. Arthur and Owain’s shields were painted white and finished with Battle Flag or Little Big Men Studios transfers.

Unknown source, Ral Partha Bard, Gripping Beast Blind Seer, Gripping Beast Viking Warlord

The last four figures from this batch are from a variety of manufacturers.

I’m not sure where the figure on the left came from, Irregular or Lamming perhaps? The figure was originally unarmed, so I drilled out his right hand and fitted an axe from the spares box. If I need him to fill out a unit I may give him a shield.

Next in line is a bard or skald from Ral Partha Europe, he’s playing a harp of some form.

The Skald

The last two models are both from Gripping Beast. First off is the Blind Seer and his boy, finally a Viking Warlord.

After these were finished I had a bit of a diversion in scale and period, doing some 15mm Sci Fi figures before returning to the Dark Ages with some Saxon Thegns, but more of those later.

Carters and Herders

Andy reports on the next instalment of the Dark Ages figures recently completed…

First up (above) is a 4Ground Oxcart, with Oxen and the carter’s family from Colonel Bill’s Depot Battalion.

The figures were cleaned of any mould lines and washed in soapy water to remove any residual mould release agent and dried. The oxen, cart driver and boy were fixed to temporary bases for painting, the others were fixed to 2p pieces and the bases built up with 4Ground base render. All were then primed with grey car primer.

The oxen were given a couple of coats of Vallejo Pale Sand, then the upper parts of the body were painted Dark Sand and heavily washed with Army Painter Light Tone Wash. Eyes were painted German Camouflage Black Brown, and the horns Deck Tan.

The figures skin was painted with a base coat of Vallejo Brown Sand and then Medium Flesh with a selection of browns, greys and beiges for the clothes, one of the women has a Golden Yellow dress, the other English Uniform Brown. Both have Silver and/or Bronze necklaces. Finally the figure’s bases were given a coat of green Basetex.

Once assembled the cart was painted Green Brown and washed with AP Dark Tone.

The cart, oxen and the boy were fixed to a 60mm wide by 120mm deep carboard base and the area around the oxen’s bases built up with 4Ground base render followed by a coat of green Basetex over the entire base. I then used some brown cotton to add harness ropes to the cart.

The second part of this instalment is a pack of 4 Gripping Beast Shepherds & Stockmen painted in the same way as the cart crew.

Oh Brother!*

The short lesson today is read by Andy…

I’ve recently finished a couple of dozen Dark Ages figures. Here’s the first instalment: eight Gripping Beast monks from two packs SSC03 Monks Parading Cross and SSC10 Pious Monks

One of the Dark Ages rulesets I use (Dux Bellorum) allows some armies to have a unit of Monks to provide spiritual support to the rank and file. They may also be used as the less combatant targets of Viking raids under other rules.

All paints are Vallejo unless stated otherwise. The monks’ habits are English Uniform, with an Army Painter Mid Brown Wash. The under tunics (where relevant) are Khaki Grey and the Scapular White. Black and various shades of brown were used for their hair (what’s left of it).

The rope on the cross and monks belts are German Camouflage Beige.

The Abbott gets a nice AP Crystal Blue waistband and has some silver metalwork on his crook (Vikings may like those). The preaching monk’s bible has a Chocolate Brown cover and Pale Sand pages.

Here endeth the lesson.

* Anyone old enough to remember the TV series?

A Dark Ages Miscellany

After the scenery pieces Andy finds his inner animal.

I decided to do some figures that had come out of my painting pile but hadn’t been started yet.

These comprise a Viking warlord obtained from Colonel Bill (original manufacturer unknown), a Saxon Noble from Gripping Beast Plastics Saxon Thegn set and a couple of ladies from Belt Fed Miniatures, Gwendoline the Welsh Princess and Freyir the Norse Witch with her wolf companions. I also had another half dozen other wolves so decided to do these together.

In the picture above the two wolves on the right are those that came with Freyir. The three smaller wolves in the front rank are old Ral Partha figures; I don’t know who made the three larger wolves in the second rank.

All of the figures were started the same way, Halfords Grey primer undercoat, the humans then had skin base coated Brown Sand, as was Freyir’s hair. The skin was then painted with Medium Flesh Tone

First up is Freyir and her wolves. Her hair was Dry-brushed with Dark Sand, loin cloth and boots matt painted black, and then the loincloth dry-brushed London Grey.  The tunic and panels on the belt were painted Chocolate Brown and her staff Beige Brown. The boot tops and wrist bands were painted Khaki Grey and the staff skull and claws Pale Sand. Earrings and hair band (not visible in picture) were Silver.

The wolves were dry-brushed with Dark Grey and then Black Grey. Mouths were painted black, tongues Red and teeth Desk Tan.

The armour on the other three figures was painted black and dry-brushed Gun Metal Grey

Gwendoline has Black hair and Dark Sand tunic. Boots are Chocolate Brown and she has a Silver necklace, wrist bangles, belt and pommel.

The Saxon has a Black Red tunic, Flat Brown trousers and Buff leggings. Belts, beard and hair  are Chocolate Brown, and clock is German Camouflage Green.

The Viking has a Dark Grey tunic, Chocolate Brown belts and scabbard, Khaki Grey trousers and Flat Brown hair and beard. The figure didn’t have a weapon when I bought it, so I added an axe from the spares box, and a sword hilt from the GBP Plastic Saxons box to the empty scabbard.

All figures had appropriate coloured Army Painter washes.

Shields backs were painted black then dry-brushed Beige Brown, the faces were painted White. Gwendoline’s shield had a simple cross pattern in Flat Yellow and Red, while the other two had shield transfers from Little Big Man Studios. Shield rims were painted Japanese Uniform.

Finally all were given a matt spray varnish.

Of (Norse) Gods and Mortals

I have a fairly large collection of Dark Ages figures, Saxons, Vikings, that sort of thing, so when Osprey’s “Of Gods and Mortals” came out I started looking for some figures to serve as the deities in the game. I didn’t fancy Northstar’s prices for the “official” figures so I kept my eye open at various Wargames shows for something suitable.

On the SHQ stand I found a set of four Norse gods, Odin, Thor, Sif and Loki, for much less than the price of one Northstar model (link). Greek and Roman pantheons are also available’

These figures are larger than life, measuring 40 – 50 mm tall.

After the usual clean up, wash and dry, the figures were fixed to 40mm diameter slotabases; I used matchsticks to fill in the slot before building up the base with 4Ground Base render and priming them with matt black spray paint. All paints are Vallejo unless stated otherwise.

First up we have Thor and Sif (husband and wife) seen above.

Thor’s loincloth is Red, with an AP Red wash, cloak Red Leather with an AP Soft tone wash, boots German Camouflage Medium Brown with Black tops. His belt, Megingjörð, is Bronze with Silver detail, his hammer, Mjölnir, is Gunmetal Grey and Silver with a Beige Brown shaft. Hair is Mahogany Brown with silver braids and his helmet is also Gunmetal Grey and Silver. I did debate removing the horns, but he isn’t exactly a historical figure, is he?

Sif’s clothing is Deep Sky Blue, with an AP Blue wash, her hair is Dark Sand, dry-brushed with Pale Sand and washed with AP Soft tone (don’t believe what you see in Marvel films). Boots are Black Grey with German Camouflage Medium Brown tops. Her belt and scabbard are German Camouflage Black Brown with Bronze fittings. Bases are US Field drab with electrostatically applied grass tufts.

The other two gods are Odin (with his two ravens Huginn and Muninn) and Loki.

Odin’s tunic is Red, cloak Black Red, both with an AP Red wash, trousers London Grey and boots German Camouflage Black Brown with Black tops. His armour is German Camouflage Medium Brown with a black belt and a Bronze buckle. Wrist guard is German Camouflage Black Brown with silver trim, and his arm torc is Silver and Bronze. Hair is Light Grey, dry-brushed White.

Huginn and Muninn are black, dry-brushed Black Grey, their beaks are also Black Grey.
I have a variety of wolves which could serve as Odin’s other animal companions, Geri and Freki.

Loki is mostly in shades of grey, London Grey for the Tunic, Pale Grey Blue for the under tunic and Dark Grey for the Cloak, the latter with a Bronze and Silver clasp. Hair is black.

Bases are the same as Thor and Sif.

To give a sense of the size of these models, here’s Thor with a couple of his followers, 28mm Foundry figures.

Eadmund the Moon

Stephen bares his soul (and more besides).

This one has been in the bits bag for ages. It’s an Irregular Miniatures figure which, it’s fair to say, aren’t among the best. That said, Irregular do paint up better than they look in bare lead. That’s not saying much though.

So, this is Eadmund The Moon. I painted him up for SAGA as a Personal Champion. We don’t use the Swords For Hire and other bits in the Age of Vikings book that often. Not sure why.

I based Eadmund up on a larger, Hero, base. Irregular’s stuff is quite old and their 28mm stuff is more like true 25mm. To hide this lack of stature I made a miliput stone and plonked him on that to lift him up a bit. I also filed off the shield, which looked…well…poor. I stuck on a spare Gripping Beast shield (looking at the size of the shield on him will give you an idea on how slightly small he is).

And that’s Eadmund The Moon. Coming to a battlefield soon to give Andy and Jeremey a good taunt!

A Modelling Miscellany

Here’s a few things I’ve been up to over the last couple of weeks.

First up is a tower.

Actually, I did this earlier in the year. It’s made from two tubs of healthy snacks – cheeselets (the wider, shorter, tube) and a Pringle tube (smokey bacon flavour – lovely!). The stairway is made from balsa that was skinned with miliput and then scribed to make it look like stonework. Then a few barrels and sacks were added to make it looked lived in.

Next up are some wall bits. I bought these at Cavalier from Debris of War. I already had some walls, bought many moons ago, so I had to paint these to fit with what I already had. Either that or re-paint the whole lot. I’m not a big fan of stark grey stone. It looks artificial and most stone is actually a brown colour of one sort another. Certainly the stone someone builds a wall out of, anyway. Back when I did the first walls grey is all I knew. So these had to be done like that as well.

Another purchase at Cavalier (this time from Scotia/Grendel) was a dragon. I ummed and ahhed for quite a while about what colour to paint it – I prefer to steer clear of bright red or green fantasy dragons. My preference is for a more believable colour (given it’s a dragon). I already have a brown dragon so I couldn’t do that again. Instead, I decided to go with green but a more drab variety like you see in nature. Once done, though, it looked too green, so I decided to add some patternation to the scales – some brown stripes. I’m not entirely happy with the result, to be honest. I think it may get a re-paint at some point.

And yet another purchase at Cavalier, and another from Debris of War – a ruined…thing. Church? Building? Something.

The tiles were a print out of a medieval tile texture I found on the internet. This ruin is going with other ruin bits that can be put together to form a ruined church or abbey complex.

Last up is a scratch build. I’ve tentatively called it a ‘Templar Hostel’ because that’s what it was made for. I don’t know what they would have really looked like, so it’s quite speculative. It was built for this year’s Open Day (presuming that still goes ahead).

The Irish Rover

Stephen goes all Celtic.

Under Saga 1 the Irish were just too over-powered.

I always thought they’d be a good warband to play but the gross nature of some of their javelin abilities left them too powerful and, to be honest, it wasn’t fun playing them for that reason.

The good news is that under Saga 2 the Irish have been seriously nerfed, meaning it’s not so embarrassing fielding an army of them.

So I’ve revisited my Irish and the intention is to use them more often now they are a balanced force.

Fergal mac Amlaith’s mother is an Irish noblewoman and his father is a Viking Jarl.

He was brought up on the shores of Lough Ceagh where he looked after his father’s dogs. This love of animals has lasted into his adult life and now he has a large kennel of his own.

Since taking over his father’s lands he has demanded the fianna bondsmen swear fealty to him. They have all, both local noblemen and norse colonists, agreed to do that. This means that Fergal has a good many hearthguard to protect him and these men are led by Connor and Rory, the tribal champions – the feared curaidh.

The land tenants make up the rest of Fergal’s force. These bonnachts are well trained in how to use their javelins and hatchets and are prepared to fight to the death for their lord.

Looking over everyone’s pastoral needs is Father Padraig. He is a very spiritual man, though he is worldly too – he knows enough to know that peace is sometimes best achieved by knocking a few heads together.

They have all now sharpened their spears and swords and are ready to go roving.

Gael Force Norse

John Lambert gets his axe out.

I’d enjoyed using Norse Gaels in Saga Version 1 and was interested to know how they might fare under version 2 of the rules. I thought this faction was one that had changed the most under version 2 so decided on a new build based on the Footsore Irish and Viking ranges, taking advantage of the 3 for 2 offer they had running at the time. All figures painted using Artist’s acrylics.

Warlord – Hakon Maddadarson (The Hall Burner) – front pictured above

“Die bravely my slaves and I will take good care of your Dottirs!”

I mounted the Warlord on a piece of slate for a more imposing look. He has a rare and highly prized white Icelandic Gyr Falcon on his shield.

Daneaxe Heathguard

In version 1, there was an additional Saga ability bonus for taking Dane axes. This has gone in version 2 so only 1 point for this build.

Other Heathguard

I added 2 points of standard Heathguard. In version 1 Dane axe armed Warriors were the best option. In version 2 a powerful ability, Norse can only be used by Heathguard and Warlord so these appear to be a better option.

Gaed Gaedhil

These are fearsome mercenary warriors for which I used the Footsore Scots/Picts

Levy – Slaves

I used the Footsore Irish warrior range for these. Of limited use in Version 1 of Saga, they are a key part of my army in version 2. I painted 2 points of these.

The History of the Norse Gael Earls of Orkney is detailed in Orkneyinga Saga, an epic tale of bravery, treachery and Sainthood as rivals vie for the Earldom, raids in Russia, raids on Sicily, The First Crusade and an encounter with a Byzantine Dromon! How would the 28mm metal version fare on their debut?
The answer was rather well (see Jeremey’s battle report), despite misreading a SAGA ability and missing out on the chance to trap Andy’s Warlord, I really enjoyed the faction and the battleboard mechanics. Well worth a celebratory snifter or two of Highland Park ”Viking Honour”.