The Viking Legal Team in Action

The Viking Legal Team in Action
Snorri is unhappy about your bar tab - VERY unhappy...

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Painting System: Variety for Dark Ages

The easiest way I've found to systematize variety and also hold the figures more easily is to glue them on popsicle sticks.  I also mount them by similarity of pose and figure so that it gets easier to paint them as I go along since I get to know the nooks, crannies and sculpting of the figures.  For the initial batch of Vikings, the bag of 20 "40DAR4 Vikings w' sword-spear -- no armor" conveniently came in five sets of four bodies with a variety of weapons and heads.  After cleaning, assembly and priming, I mounted them along with the five berserkers, Harald Hardrada, a standard/horn blower and another warlord.  The final results are pictured below:
 Harald Hardrada [w'Old Glory 25mm fig for comparison]

 Combo Standard-bearer and Horn Blower

Command Pack Warlord and a Berserker

Two more berserkers - one on right looks especially berserk!

These guys are really ulfhednar, wolf-pelt wearers

 The rest of the crew p.1

  The rest of the crew p.2 - note the fellows in shaggy pelts 3rd row back, a nice touch.

Shield variety in the packs

There's two major types of variation I try to represent on my dark ages figures.  The first is the general variety of colors and items that research reveals.  So for Vikings the most popular tunic colors are supposed to be red, blue, and "leaf green".  Four to five other colors are mentioned.  The second is what I think of as individuality.  These are the little changes in skin tones, personal items and such that mark these people as individuals who dress with what they have for war and not in some sort of "Viking uniform".   

With the row of figures laid out on the sticks, I use the columns to plan and track variations.  In the below example, I've four different base coats for flesh, one to each row.
I'll do similar things with each stage of the painting, so 1/4 of the group will have red, blue, or "leaf green", while the last 1/4 will each have a unique colored tunic.  Organizing this way helps me to plan variety quickly.  Using diagonal and other patterns to paint belts, shoes, etc, will give lots of variations and when the figures are on the table they'll look varied yet similar enough in the painting tones to all be from the same area / tribe / etc.

After I've painted all the basics, I hit the little touches of individuality.  I try to characterize anyone who's interesting in pose or weapon, and give even the shieldwall types at least one thing to mark them; ornament, hair, shield color, something unique.  This reminds us that they're all individuals gathered to fight, not highly trained uniform types like today.  This stage can take the longest but is usually the most fun for me.  Special characters like generals and warlords will get a bunch of time spend on them.

I've done this with all sorts of dark age figures, from Goths to Saxons to Welsh, and it's worked very well for me.

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