Friday 26 April 2024

A painting demo

I've painted up this Palatine infantryman and photographed it stage-by-stage to demonstrate my basic approach to painting these old figures. The figure is the Minifigs PB137 Infantryman of the Auxilia Palatina. 

I usually paint a single example of a figure to check out how to deal with painting a whole unit. This helps to spot flash and mould lines that are otherwise easy to miss. Much better than spotting that horrendous mould line once you've undercoated twenty figures. More importantly, it enables me to work out the colours I'm going to use and the order in which to paint each element of the model. 

Fig 1. Clean the figure up and give it a coat of white primer from a spray can. Some folks like to use black or grey I know, but I like to start with white because it makes the figures easier for me to see. 

Fig 1. Prime white. 

Fig 2. As a general rule I paint a figure from the inside outwards - flesh first, then the next layer of clothing, then the next, and finally weapons and equipment. That way, I can apply the black lining as I need it and splashes get painted over by the next layer. The base flesh is a mix of Army Painter (AP) Barbarian Flesh and AP Fur Brown. Depending on the subject, I vary the proportion of Fur Brown to get a darker or lighter skin tone. For Moors and Indians I would just go for Fur Brown at this stage.

Fig 2. Base Flesh

Fig 3. This figure has a lot of deep undercuts and I don't want to be poking my brush into those spaces  once the colour is in place. So, I'll paint some of the black outlines in now, notably to the deeply shaded areas where the shield joins the body, around the neck, around the right arm, where the cloak touches the tunic and beneath the legs. All of these areas are best blacked now. There's quite a chunk of casting in-fill under the right arm, which I've cut back as much as I could during the clean up. That also gets painted black so that when the figure is done the black will disguise the defect. 

Fig 3. Black out undercuts and hard to reach areas

Fig 4. Base colours for the next layer. The Tunic is a light mix of Coat d'arms Leather Brown and AP Matt White. The Trousers are a dark mix of Vallejo Model Colour (VMC) Medium Blue, AP Matt Black and AP Matt White. A couple of coats may be needed, especially with the tunic colour where it cuts in against the black. 

Fig 4. Base colours for the tunic and trousers.

Fig 5. I've applied a shading wash over the light coloured tunic and the flesh. The tunic wash is a thinned down Coat d'arms Leather Brown. I use an acrylic medium to make washes but water works too. The flesh wash is Citadel Shade Reikland Fleshshade. I don't need to darken down the trousers as they are dark enough to start with. Washes are great for adding texture to lighter colours and help to establish a guide coat for the highlights. 

Fig 5. Shade washes for the tunic and flesh.

Fig 6. Black lining.With the first clothing layer in place I apply the remaining black lining - round the face and the details of the helmet, the right hand, boot tops and the feet. I also add in the eyes - simple black lines, line round the nose and across the mouth. This is far easier that trying to do it later once the face is painted and any mistakes are easy to correct at the next stage. At this point I noticed that I'd obviously misread the left boot top detail and neglected to paint the whole leg in the right shade of blue. So I went back and corrected this before applying the black lining to the top of the boot.

Fig 6. Black lining. 

Fig 7 and 8. With the black lining in place I paint the next layer of base colours, sticking to my 'inside outwards' principle. The inner side of the shield gets a coat of Vallejo Game Colour (VGC) Leather Brown, the cloak and boots are painted AP Fur Brown - a couple of coats are needed to give a reasonably flat finish. 

Fig 7. Base colours for the cloak, boots and inner shield.

Figure 8. And from behind. 

Fig 9 and 10. At this stage I work up all the base colours by overpainting with a lighter shade leaving the original darker colour in shadows, creases and so on. This is the fun bit because the model starts to show its final appearance. If I was batch painting I'd probably do each colour in two stages to keep an even tone throughout, but as this is a one-off I've just wet-blended the paint adding more white/flesh to the raised details and clothing edges. The tunic is painted as the base coat but with more Matt White added to the mix. The flesh is painted as the base coat with more Barbarian Flesh in the mix. The inside of the shield is VGC Leather Brown plus AP Matt White painted around the outer edge. The cloak is AP Fur Brown lightened with AP Basilisk Brown (it's 'ochre'). The boots are AP Fur Brown lightened with AP Barbarian Flesh. 

Fig 9. Base colours overpainted with lighter colours

Fig 10. And from behind.

Fig 11. Having finshed the inner layers of flesh and clothing I move on to the shield. I've decided to paint this dark green. I quickly find that the dark green mix I'm using doesn't cover at all well over the white, so I paint the shield black, including the rim and rim inner edge. This will also give me my black line between the green shield and brown inner shield, which will save me lining out the shield later (see fig 16). I painted the scabbard black at the same time. If in doubt paint it black I say. 

Fig 11. Shield undercoated black

Fig 12. With the black undercoat in place, I mix up a colour to paint the shield. This is a mix of AP Angel Green (a dark 'bottle' green), AP Matt Black, and AP Matt White. With greens and blues I very often mix in a shade of grey to bring the tone down. I did the same thing with the blue trousers earlier. I sometimes do the same with browns; however, you have to take care adding black to browns as this can turn some yellowy browns green. The scabbard has been painted VMC Cavalry Brown (a maroon colour), this being my go-to colour for belts and sundry when not black or brown. 

Fig 12. Dark green shield

Fig 13. I've highlighted the shield by adding a little white to the mix, painting the top right hand side and carrying the paint over in an arc, then adding a little more white and painting the upper edges. I didn't go too far with this as I wanted to keep the shield a basic colour. I've also highlighted the scabbard by mixing AP Lava Orange with the VMC Cavalry Brown to make a matching brighter tone. 

Fig 13. Shield highlights 

Fig 14. The shield boss gets a quartered red and white pattern. I started with the white quadrants using a very light grey mix of AP Matt White and AP Matt Black, and then painted the red quadrants with VMC Cavalry Brown. I then highlighted with pure white and a mix of Cavalry Brown and Lava Orange. I also spashed a little red onto the green - didn't notice at the time though. 

Fig 14. Shield boss is a quartered pattern.

Fig 15. The helmet gets a coat of darkened down silver - a mix of AP Shining Silver and AP Matt Black. As with the other colours, the black lining is left in the incised detail.

Fig 15. Helmet base coat

Fig 16. The helmet upper surfaces and edges get picked out with AP Shining Silver.

Fig 16. Helmet highlights

Fig 17. The spear is next and I've painted it in my default spear colour: a mix of  VMC Flat Earth mixed with a little AP Matt White. 

Fig 17. Spear base colour

Fig 18. The spear gets a highlight coat of the same mix with more white added. I've also blacked the spear tip in preparation for painting the spearhead. Also... now that I look at the photos I realise I have splashed spear colour onto the figure's cuff! Well these things happen. I've since gone back and repainted the cuff, but as I'd taken all the photos before I noticed I've just left it for this demo. 

Fig 18. Spear highlight

Fig 19. The base is painted the same standard green I use for all my old school collection. This is a mixture of Warlord Green Webbing with about 10% VMC Flat Yellow. Two or three coats gives a nice solid finish. I like to paint the base before fixing the figure to its card base because otherwise it's a devil of a job painting between the legs and round the feet, especially on multiple figure bases. I also like to leave the base until almost last because I handle the figure by the top of the head and the base when  picking it up. This way the paint doesn't get worn away by constant touching. I've also added the spear point - darkened silver highlighted with silver as per the helmet.

Fig. 19. The base

Fig 20. Which only leaves the crest! This receives a base coat of very pale grey and a final coat of pure white - AP Matt Black and AP Matt White. I tend to paint crests red or white because I like them that way. As with the base, this is left until last because of the constant handling.

Fig 20. 

Figs 21,22,23 - I'm calling it done and here's a few shots from different angles. Note that the black lining is done by painting black in stages and overlapping the main or highlight colours to 'cut in' the black. With other models, I do sometimes reinforce the black by very carefully painting a thin black line, and there are occasions when I'll paint in the black lines entirely by hand. I haven't done any of that with this model except around the shield boss, where I needed to tidy up that red spash. Otherwise, the only things I've touched up are the ends of the feet where the paint had worn off through handling.

I could go in with a little brown wash to deepen some of the colours here and there - notably round where the tunic meets the cloak and in the creases of the cloak itself - but I'm happy with this one as it is. I've also left the tunic plain, mostly because the usual decorative bands worn by late Roman troops are hidden by the cloak in this case. I'm pretty much okay with how the colours turned out. The tunic may be a little darker than I intended and the shield a little flat - both could be adjusted with extra highlighting. This is why I paint a sample of course, though I suspect this fellow will have to wait a while before his friends turn up. 

Fig 21

Fig 22 

Fig 23 

Monday 22 April 2024

A Few More Persians

I'm aiming to have a playable army of Late Achaemenid Persians ready for the summer and am more-or-less on track despite the odd distraction. I've just completed a couple of new units and thought I'd take a few photos of the paint schemes before lathering the whole lot in gloss varnish! This blog was always intended to be - in part - a record that I could use as a future painting reference. I'm making this post in that spirit and I hope it's not too dull! 

First up - here's an old friend - the Minfigs Mercenary Hoplite PB8. I had to grit my teeth at this point as I've previously described this as the worst hoplite model ever made - with some justification I feel - and I already have lots of these in original 70s livery. But for this project I wanted everything done anew to a consistent standard, so at some point I knew I'd have to paint at least a unit of these. I do have some re-done, and much nicer, Hinchliffe Hoplites, and at a pinch I will be fielding these as well as some newly painted Garrison figures alongside my Minifigs. 

Note our man is one of the early production castings and consequently armed with a telegraph pole. The main issue with this beast is that the models are hard to rank up convincingly, and enemies have a job getting into base contact. The whole point of the weapon I suppose. 

When it came to painting this fellow I went for a simple tunic rather than trying to paint on the leather/canvas 'spolas' jerkin depicted on the illustration upon which this model is based (illustration 8 in Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars). It came together surprisingly well, and the result was far better than I was expecting. The shields on these early castings are usually more regular than on the late castings (thin spears), which are often quite badly distorted. I took advantage of that to paint a rim - which the aspis should have of course - and planted one of the Warlord Games hoplite transfers in the middle. 

Next up is an Armenian archer PB23 once again taken from the illustration in Armies Of the Macedonian and Punic Wars. I had a few goes at the paint scheme for this one before deciding to try the pattern from the Alexander Mosaic, which is commonly used as the basis for more modern representations of Persian troops - e.g. Osprey's book on Persian Armies as well as the 2nd edition of AMPWs by Duncan Head. 

Typical Minifigs bowman - has the arrow on the wrong side of the bow stave - but for all that a nice solid pose that suffers only slightly from not quite shooting to the front. That means I've had to 'skew' the rectangle metal bases slightly on the card base... which is making me a bit jittery! The alternative - cutting down the bases - would surely be an afront to nature. Oddly enough, where I've bought models that have been previously cut down to allow them to be based facing forward this is hasn't bothered me. I wonder if it should?

It takes a bit of time to put the red trim over the blue but I think I've cracked it. The eye does half the work, although photgraphed close up like this you do see the mistakes. I try not to look. 

The strange headgear is something of a misinterpreation of the the actual style, which was associated with people from Cappadocia as far as I know - I guess 'Armenia' is next door so perhaps the fashion was more wide-spread. As I understand it - and I'm no expert - this should be a three lappet cap as worn by other Persians, but with the two front pieces tied back over the head. The three peaks at the front were distinctive of the local style. I didn't much fancy remodelling the head piece though, and let's face it, if I wanted historical fidelity I wouldn't start here. 

Last one - Persian Infantryman of the Cardaces PB20 - I'd been after a unit of these for a while and was pleased to get hold of two batches recently. That gave me enough for a twenty man unit, although it's a mix of old-style thick spears and new-style thin spears... which once more makes me a bit jittery. Deep breathes... and calm. 

Once again I used the fairly plain tunic as the basis for a bordered design, following the kind of colours on the Alexander Mosaic and listed in the 2nd edition of AMPW. 

I tried a bronze-faced shield - didn't work at all - and resorted to a tried-and-tested dark red which I think is much better overall. If I can find a suitable transfer I will probably add one later, but nothing falls to hand at the moment. 

Quite what the Cardaces were I'm not too sure. The usual story is that they were a corps of Persian youth drawn from the gentry and trained to fight something after the manner of Greek hoplites... i.e. 'heavily armed' or possibly peltasts, i.e.'lightly armed'... so not much help there. The Persians suffered from a lack of good quality infantry and relied upon Greek mercenaries, not the most trust-worthy bunch. I've based these as close-order troops - as I have most of the archers - as I see these as front-line units rather than skirmishers. Traditionally - going back to the contemporary wargames rules of the time - these would have been classified as 'light mediums' and based onto 20mm frontages rather than the close order 15mm - so I've gone off piste a bit with all these. 

Right - time to get the varnish out and then maybe venture a photograph of the army so far. 

Infantryman of Auxilia Palatina (137)

This is the Infantryman of Auxilia Palatina that first appeared in the Miniature Figurines 72/73 catalogue as PB 137.

Both PB ranges were based on Phil Barker's books Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars and The Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome. This figure is taken from illustration 37 in the first edition of AEIR.

The code numbers for the AEIR range correspond to the illustrations in the book plus '100', i.e. illustration 1 is figure 101. 

The base is numbered PB 137 on the upper surface in the usual manner.

The AEIR book gives three numbered illustrations, all of which have the same title: 136, 137 and 138. Minifigs followed the descriptions and code numbers in their usual fashion, and I have therefore appended '137' to the descriptive header to make the distinction. All three illustrations are essentially the same and include separate illustrations of alternative helmets, one of which has been used here. 

A typical Minifigs figure of the time and nicely posed striding forward purposely. Late Roman armies were reasonably popular in the 70s, largely thanks to Phil Barker featuring them in his books and upon the tabletop. 

Wednesday 31 January 2024

Persian Infantryman of the Cardaces

This is the Persian Infantryman of the Cardaces that first appeared in the Miniature Figurines 72/73 catalogue as PB 20s and subsequently in the 75 catalogue as PB 20.

Both PB ranges were based on Phil Barker's books Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars and Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome. This figure is taken from illustration 20 in AMPW.

The 's' designation was used to distinguish the newer 25mm style of models from the preceding, smaller 1/72nd range. The transition was soon complete and the 's' - special - was dropped from the figure codes thereafter. 

The base is stamped PB 20 on the upper surface in the usual manner.

The Cardaces were apparently armed and equipped to fight in a comparable fashion to hoplites - or possibly peltasts - and were an innovation aimed at fielding a body of native close fighting infantry. The model doesn't look terrible convinced. 

Persian Royal Standard Bearer

This is the Persian Royal Standard Bearer that first appeared in the Miniature Figurines 72/73 catalogue as PB 19s and subsequently in the 75 catalogue as PB 19.

Both PB ranges were based on Phil Barker's books Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars and Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome. This figure is taken from illustration 19 in AMPW.

The 's' designation was used to distinguish the newer 25mm style of models from the preceding, smaller 1/72nd range. The transition was soon complete and the 's' - special - was dropped from the figure codes thereafter. 

The base is stamped PB 19 on the upper surface in the usual manner.

Persian Slinger

This is the Persian Slinger that first appeared in the Miniature Figurines 72/73 catalogue as PB 22s and subsequently in the 75 catalogue as PB 22.

Both PB ranges were based on Phil Barker's books Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars and Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome. This figure is taken from illustration 22 in AMPW.

The 's' designation was used to distinguish the newer 25mm style of models from the preceding, smaller 1/72nd range. The transition was soon complete and the 's' - special - was dropped from the figure codes thereafter. 

The base is stamped PB 22 on the upper surface in the usual manner.

Typical Minifigs slinger pose and nothing much to say about this chap. He wears what is described in AMPW as a 'spolas', identified as a kind of heavy sleeveless jerkin over his tunic. The sculpting is sufficiently vague that this can ignored and the whole painted as a tunic as more commonly illustrated. 

Sunday 21 January 2024

Persian Heavies

Progress on the Persians has been a bit slow what with one thing and another, but I've managed to finish another unit of Persian cavalry. I've also managed to get my paws on a decent amount of the PB Persians as well as a few of the preceding S range, so with luck and a following wind we might see a playable army by the summer. 

Persian Heavies 

As you see, uniformity is my thing! I think what I'll do is stick to uniform colours for the household units - i.e. the satrapy regular troops and royal contingent - and mix it up a bit for the levied troops. 

Eyes front... shoulders back! 

I'm trying to go for 'colourful' without falling into the 'explosion in a paint factory' trap that lies in wait when painting these classical Persians. It's a thin line... 

Who is that Alexander kidding.. get 'im chaps