Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Dark Ages Fun - re-painting 2nd hand figures

I rarely buy painted figures, only once before actually,  the reason being I enjoy painting.... well OK did enjoy painting, I probably dont enjoy it as much as I once did, that's not to say I dislike painting but as my have eyes tired over the years it has become more difficult to achieve a certain standard I have set for myself. I found this very frustrating and off putting, coupled with a long hiatus from the brushes doubly so. The purpose of buying second hand troops was to be able to get a quick start army on the table, unfortunately I'm a pedantic bugger, I found I could not just satisfy myself with rebasing and be done with it, nope I had to go fidgeting around and before you could say "dont go fidgeting around" I had.

No problem getting gaming straight away but I have to fidget with things

As far as things go I could have rebased and had a game with my new troops as is and the enjoyment would have been up to expectations irrespective. I could not let it be, the painter in me had to get in the way, and personal taste I suspect too. My newly acquired Saxon army had been painted with a blocking in of colour and then using either a black wash or dip to shade, serviceable, but I am not a great fan of this method. It works very well on plastics and cleanly cast metal figures but unfortunately picks up any defect in the miniature whether it be from casting or at the sculpting stage another reason why I chose to repaint or touch up the figures.

Black wash and dip highlight any irregularities in the castings surface

I was quite convinced that I was not going to strip the figures back, why pay extra for painted figures and then take them back to metal, it would just be defeating the purpose, a purpose I was getting more and more confused by my actions, but paint I would. Strict neatness (if that is possible) was not the order of the day, keeping it simple was. As is often the case I derailed a few times before I got this idea through my thick head, what I needed was a quick method that would achieve negating the black wash and it's effect of highlighting defects, and provide room to reclaim points of highlighting. There was no room or need to work subtle transitions with multiple layers of washes or glazes, besides I don't think my skills, and eyes, are up to distinguishing such nuances anymore. What was needed was bright, clear and distinctive. Well bright and clear as a rabble of dark age warriors would allow. I repeat speed was of the essence coupled with a reasonable standard....

Compared to a mini of the same starting colour, shadow and mid tones

For the most part I have taken the original painted colour and placed a layer of like (red on red etc) paint over in a slightly translucent mix, this allows the blacked areas to influence shading. taking the same colour I have then applied a layer of quite opaque paint to just the mid and higher regions of the figure, damp brushing is a quick way of achieving this, the translucent paint in the deeper black washed areas and the opaque paint on the higher projections of the figure give an effective shadow and midtone effect in just a couple of minutes from the what is essentially the same paint with out mixing or opening another lighter shade, I might add when it works it looks more natural. Now I either mix in a bit of paint to lighten what I already have on the pallet or open an appropriate highlight shade, more often than not I mix my highlight using the existing colour on the pallet but really this is up to the individual, without telling gran how to suck eggs pick out the highlights in your preferred method.

Highlights crudely applied, I want this to be quick
Nothing fancy, keep it simple

If there are numerous folds close together I'm happy to dry brush, if they are further apart or subtle folds then I will go in and paint them. I like to keep the paint translucent if I'm picking out the highlights it may require two or more coats but with a care you can reduce the area of application for each layer (much like you would for three step but with the same paint shade on a much smaller scale) and this gives a nice effect.

Two coats of wash and everything has tied together

Shading from the original black wash clearly visible
Now using my base colour I add some shade colour to darken slightly (I avoid black and look for a deep shade of the same colour a good example would be GW scab red for red) and thin to a wash consistancy and coat the figure. This will darken your highlights a little but has the satisfying effect of tying it in with the base colour ie reducing the transition, now if I feel like it I redo the highlights and wash step. A pretty quick method for a quite reasonable result all up (with hair dryer) this takes about 10-15 minutes per figure which is about half the time I spend on flesh and hair!

Note: with the example in green everthing was still in the experimental stage, the final wash was of the base colour, I felt the shadows worked fine as is and didn't need deepening. The example in red below was done as described with most of the mid and highlights painted on using the dry brushing method, a very quick repaint.

Now I still haven't decided which army I'm building but it has occurred to me that for the most part, as far as painting is concerned, it isn't going to make a huge difference one way or t'other. As long as my rabble look suitably rabble-ish they can slot in nicely with a goodly selection of Warlords from a number of nations. At the moment I have decided to group the figures ie skirmish types, huscarls, spear etc and make up bases accordingly. This will give me a generic army of like based troops which can be drafted into games/nationalities on an ad hock basis

My skirmish warriors ready for battle they just need ....

... a couple of mates before they are based, 4 to a base in Impetus.

Getting into the swing
Thanks for looking
As usual all errors grammatically and in composition are the sole responsibility of google and the reader


  1. You did an excellent job of using what was already there by utilizing that black wash without stripping it. I particularly like the way the green turned out. Nice and bright.

  2. Nice work Dave, you certainly smartened them up!

  3. Nice work on improving these, Dave. They came out really fine.

  4. Thanks Anne, they aren't brilliant but it was quick and made me feel better about the presentation. It is a jolly green, a few bright colours in amongst the rabble is all that is needed to lift the group.

  5. They are looking heaps better Ray a few more and then on to the shield wall!

  6. Cheers Dean, overall I'm happy with the result. With luck I can get and plan a basing weekend too :-)

  7. Thanks Phil, lovely is a bit generous but for the amount of time I have been off the brushes I'm hppy with the result. Probably just the right sort of project to help get my eye in


Good, bad or otherwise I love to hear what you think..... mostly