A swarm of skirmishers

8 February, 2010

I completed the next batch of figures for my ancients armies this weekend. I still don’t have a complete Ancient British army, but I’m getting closer. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly I had a few small mishaps that slowed me down. I had the figures necessary for the minimum number of warbands ready to go and I’d finished a number of the naked fanatics (not hard!) when I put some matt varnish on them that I should have thrown away. It turned them white! More annoying was losing the shield transfers. Then I took the finished Britons out to show somebody and the box they were in got inverted in the car knocking the crew off the chariots.

These setbacks may have contributed to my painting other figures, but there were sound reasons for doing them. Firstly, I wanted to place an order for more VVV transfers, so I needed to check that they worked on the various figures I’ve got waiting to paint. This led me to do an element of OG15s Bruttian auxilia, some Chariot Polybian Romans and some CB Spanish. I also did some CB Numidian and Libyan skirmishers to see what their shields would look like and to experiment with using washes on white.

The Ancient Britons are a little closer. I’ve repaired damaged chariots and I’ve rebased all the figures I’d finished on MDF; I was really impressed with how Joel’s Marians lined up on my wheeling stick, while my figures were always a few mm out! Getting the MDF also provided an excuse to get the CB ‘Victory and Defeat’ pack. I also decided to give the adolescent skirmishers some small shields. And I’ve finished the second of the light horse elements.

Celtic adolescent skirmishers: the shields were Outpost round shields cut smaller in a hole punch and with their bosses removed. The patterns are VVV ones for peltas.

Ancient British light horse: the rebasing on MDF provided a good opportunity to improve the placing of the figures.

On the painting sticks are enough warband figures to field a Gallic army (including the headhunters, of course), and two more chariots. This time I decided to glue the shields on the unpainted figures. I’ll see how that goes, but certainly the gluing is a fiddly job that I only want to do once. Whether it’s better at the start or not I’m yet to see. I went all out and gluded the crew into the chariots unpainted. I may yet regret this! These figures are at various stages of completion; about half have finished shields; about two elements are finished, but can’t be based as they’ll be mixed with figures that are not finished. the rest are just needing their clothes painted, which takes me the longest, as I decide on colours and try to get enough variety (I’m really looking forward to doing some armies that have uniforms!).

The Polybian Romans have been given shield transfers, even though evidence for shield patterns is slim. The VVV patterns seem to follow Warry’s Warfare in the Classical World, p. 110. They’re intended to flank the spine, but one of the patterns in Warry is along the top as I’ve done, and I think it looks better like that. I’m doing the Hastati and Principes mixed on bases, and doing two uniforms (one for each legion). This one has white tunics and red shields with a boar on them. The others will have red tunics and green shields with wolves on them. The Triarii will match the colours, but have a different shield pattern.

Polybian Romans (right) and Oscan Infantry (left): the Romans are hiding behind their shields; their crests serve to mask the difference is size with the Oscans. You can see the same Roman patterns on the Oscan shields (left over when I decided not to put them parallel to the spines).

I also painted a few OG15s Oscan infantry. I got them from Mike Sanderson for a Bruttian army. They come from the pack IC08 (Samnite Infantry), but over a third of them are in the same pose (the two round shield ones on here), so I’m planning to get some more OG15s figures to allow me to allow these to morph into a Campanian or an Apulian army and to break up the monotony of poses). With these figures, and the next ones, I was experimenting with using washes on white. I find the wash makes the colour turn light brown. Advice from Fanaticus that I tried was to coat the white with Klear before using the wash and this got the results I wanted. I’m going for a fair bit of variation in whites, mixing in ‘Bleached Bone’ or ‘Kommando Khaki’ to give an undyed linen or wool effect.

The backs of the Romans and the Spanish Scutarii (the only way to see what the Romans are doing behind those shields!). The Spaniard on the right and the Roman on the left had stright white tunics, the others had various off-white ones. a prior wash of Klear kept the wash only in the folds.

I did an element each of Numidian and Libyan skirmishers. This was to try out a slightly darker flesh colour. I added some ‘Dark Flesh’ to my ‘Mediterranean Flesh’, which is a mixture of ‘Dwarf Flesh’ and ‘Vomit Brown’. This was also an experiment with their shields. I’m reasonably pleased with how they came out. However, just after I realized that the had should be near the rim not the centre! With these two and the Celts and Spanish that I’ve done, I’ve now got five of the 12 elements of a Later Carthaginian army, and now that I’m happy with the way I’ve done my Numidians, the two elements of 2LH won’t take long at all!

Carthaginian skirmishers: Numidian (left) and Libyan (right) psiloi.

Lastly, I did some CB Spanish. I’d painted their shields a little before to see if VVV transfers would work on them, and then I did a stand each of Scutarii and Caetrati along with one of Balearic slingers to see how the tunics would look. I used Peter Connolly’s illustration in Hannibal and the Enemies of Rome, p. 43,  as a model, though the figures on the CB website are useful guides too.

Spanish warriors: (from the left) Caetrati, Scutarii and Balearic slingers

I was up until 3.30 Saturday night working on some of these (not entirely intentionally)! I wanted to get them finished before the week started. Although I’ve not finished the Celts (and I really want to wait for the next lot of VVV transfer before I do that), I’ve now done figures for four other armies and satisfied myself with how they might turn out. In fact, I’m really keen to get onto those Romans and Carthaginians. I’ll try to do the Gallic cavalry before that, though—provided Xyston send some nice cavalry shields with spines before long!

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2 Responses to “A swarm of skirmishers”

  1. Stephen Says:

    Those have turned out nicely, and I see you hand painted a good rawhide effect on the Numidian’s shields. 3:30AM! That’s dedication.

    • Mark Davies Says:

      Thanks, I’ve done smaller shields of a similar kind for the Galwegians And Irish, but these ones are more of a feature. I think it’s best to do the patches quite quickly–the more you fiddle the worse they get, I reckon.

      3.30 is when you’ve gone past the point that you listen to the voice of common sense!


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