Tuesday 30 November 2010

Return of the Republican Romans

So, having promised myself I'd do it "next" for the last three weeks, I'm finally going to write some commentary on what I did with the Romans that I posted pictures of.

The bases seem to get a lot of attention when anyone sees these models, so I'll start there. The bases were actually the first thing I did - I could try and claim that this was part of a grand master plan to build the units from the ground up or something, but actually I just wanted to get started on the army and the models I'd ordered hadn't arrived. Since I didn't have anything else I could do on them, I put more effort into the bases than usual.

The first thing I did was to build some texture onto the bases. I started with polyfilla - the ready mixed stuff is easiest to work with because you can keep sealing it up in between jobs without it drying out too much. I was trying to get a sort of stepped outcrop kind of feel, and to help mark the edges of the small steps in the polyfilla I added some small patches of gravel and sand.

On bases I've done before I've left the gravel as is, reasoning that gravel is made of rocks so must logically look like rocks... the problem with that though is that the colours won't blend very naturally, so this time I painted everything, filler, gravel and sand, in the same colours. I started with a thinned down black undercoat, and then drybrushed three progressively lighter sand shades onto the the bases to get a bright look to them.

Obviously having done the bases first I need to blend the painted models onto the bases - so I do this by hiding the join with more sand and then drybrushing over the top as before. To finish it all off I added some patches of foliage and flock to try to suggest dry scrubland - I'm aiming for a sort of "North Africa/Carthage/Southern Europe" sort of look... 
On the cavalry you can sort of see the larger steps that I did on some of the bases. These were very easy - it's just some foamcard stuck to the base and cut at an angle before I applied the polyfilla. The effect is quite good on models at this scale though, and sort of suggests that the army isn't just advancing over the traditional perfectly flat wargames battlefield.

So, onto the painting of the models themselves. The Xyston miniatures are very nice - the details are quite exagerrated, so I took advantage of that and picked out the majority of the detail with brown ink. Again, I started with a black undercoat so that I could drybrush the metal areas, then basecoated everything and applied the ink to pick out the details. This then showed up the best areas to start highlighting with another drybrush, and I did the same with the metal areas in a lighter metalic colour to get them to shine a bit more. The whole thing was then varnished in GW Purity Seal - I'm sometimes a bit nervous about using varnish as it can leave a cloudy finish, but I stuck religiously to only spraying the varnish on dry days and it seems to have worked out ok.

The other thing I'll just mention quickly about this army is the colour scheme - there are actually 4 legions in the army and I considered using different colours for each, but I decided I'd rather get the "implacable wall of Roman shields" effect and kept everything the same colour - the only difference was to make the helmet plumes black instead of red for my penal legion. 

Oh, and finally, on the subject of shields - another Republican Roman army at the club has transfers on the shields to give them all patterns. This does look very nice, but I decided to leave these off to keep everything looking uniform - I wanted to try some psychological warfare by having a wall of blue shields visible clearly from across the table and I think adding detail to the shields would have detracted from that. So, as they are, the only thing detracting from the effect is my tendency to move units around basically at random.

So that's it! Watch this space for an update on the Saxons once I've got some pictures taken of them...


  1. The bases look very nice. Something I use is ready mixed coloured filler. This means that shold an accident happen and the base gets chipped (it's happened to me) there isn't a white bit glaring at everyone and it really does attract attention. I try and use a basic earthy brown or something. I find it works well. I use the squeezy tubes you can get.

    I also prefer to use plain coloured shields for Republican Romans. I think it looks right. The transfers on shields is good for later Roman armies.

  2. Ah, I'll have to have a look for coloured filler then, I hadn't thought of that. These bases are quite chunky so they don't get knocked about so much, but my Flames of War US Airborne have similar bases and those get chipped a lot.