Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Painting Normans, step by step

SAGA is catching on big here in the Twin Cities. Hoping to help or inspire new SAGAmites everywhere, I'm sharing my Dark Age painting process in a single, overly long post. How fortunate that I have 48 Norman spearmen waiting for a quick coat of paint! 

Basing and priming: I used a glue gun for basing as it's fast, reliable and the glue smooths out the "pitcher's mound" on the base of the figure. I primed in brown to save a bit of brushwork. How much of the primer you keep intact is your call. The back of the shields, spears, and shoes are all good options.

Paint in sets: To maximize efficiencies, I sorted the Normans into 6 sets of 8 figures. I then block-painted each set with a single color. I'll mix sets at the finish line to achieve an irregular look. 

Block and wash: After block painting, I washed the figures with Vallejo's Sepia Game Color.   My other go-to wash is Army Painter Strong tone. Both give great results in shadows and shading.

Highlights: While painting for speed, I want my Dark Age figures to mix well.  Therefore, the Normans got highlights like the rest of my SAGA war bands.  While the primary blocking color was identical in each set, I varied my highlights slightly for variety. I avoided highlighting folds and recesses to keep a shadow effect  At gaming distance, the contrast looks quite nice.

There's a saying in miniature painting that it's all about "faces, bases and flags." To that end, I put use Foundry's flesh triad. I painted the flesh last to avoid the trial that comes from stray paint getting onto a face that is not my own.

Shield Transfers: I use Little Big Man Studios shield transfers for my SAGA painting as they both lovely and a time saver. Transfers were applied over white painted shields. Each shield got a coat of my lightest grey and then white since I can't get one coat coverage with just white. 
Color coordination: I sorted the transfers by color-red, green, blue and brown-and matched them to the warrior set painted the same color. While perhaps ahistorical, color coordination is pleasing to the eye and I do want my warriors to look good.
Paint the shields in: LBMS transfers are not a tight fit over the rimless kite shields. That's where you need to paint the transfers in. By feathering your paint just over the edges of the transfer, you'll fool people into thinking your shields were hand painted. I won't tell if you don't! 

Sealer:  I sealed the transfers with Future acrylic finish. Army Painter Matte varnish knocked down the shine at the finish line.

Basing: Bases were a mix of 1/3 fine & 1/3 medium Woodland Scenics ballast and 1/3 of a larger grit.  The bases were painted with Americana Milk Chocolate, a wetcoat of Cocoa over that and then a light highlight of Sand. I put tufts down and hit everything with Army Painter Matte Finish. With that, 32 Norman spearmen are done.  Time to crack open a frosty beverage and celebrate!  The next 16 Normans are well under way but I ran out of shield transfers, dang it.  

I'm planning to use these figures to turn my SAGA Norman warband into a playable Hail Caesar or Impetus army. To that end, I need many more mounted warriors. And Warbases bases to rank up my skirmishers. And more shield transfers.  And a local opponent would be good unless I want to paint up both sides.  I guess my last bit of advice today is to look before you leap!