Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Scutarii first fruits: A tale of two bases

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I completed the first 10 figures of the Spanish mercenary scutarii unit for my nascent Field of Glory Carthaginian army. Since the basing I'm using calls for four on a base, I've still got two odd men out, but the other eight are fully based and ready to rock and roll.

I used 80mm x 40mm Litko bases (3mm thick) with a magnetic base stuck on underneath. Litko bases are a godsend. They are cut precisely to size within 0.0001mm. I used to manage all kinds of quadrilateral shapes when I was cutting bases out of plastic. I even managed to trim off bits of thumb as well. Litko is a vast improvement.

I glue the figures to the base using superglue, partly because it does a great job binding the wood and metal, but mostly because it inhibits me from ever rebasing (on which more in a later post). After this I slather on a coat of Golden's good ol' coarse pumice gel medium. I apply it with a medium sized palette knife. I always make sure that there is a little bit of the medium overhanging the base so when I trim it later, there's a nice edge. I let the gel medium  dry overnight. If I get too eager, I wind up ruining things.

Once the medium is dry, I trim the edges with an X-Acto knife to get a nice clean look to the base. I paint the base coat on the medium using watered down Mud Brown from the Vallejo Air line of paints. Ater that dries, I dry brush some Howard Hues Colonial Khaki to bring out the highlights of the rough surface.

Now I attach a few rocks. I like the look of them on an individual base because it adds character like a vignette. However, too many per base and the unit, once complete, looks like it's straggling into combat through a boulder field. I use the model railrod talus produced by Woodland Scenics. They come in four grades. For these bases I used the coarse grade, but I will likely mix in some extra coarse and medium as well on other bases. The trick with them is to file down the side you'll attach to the base. This makes it look like the rock is partially buried in the earth, which is natural. Speaking of which, I use the natural color of the rock. I can stain it any color I want because the shade is neutral. For these bases, I applied a very thin wash of Vallejo Desert Yellow, just enough to settle into the crevasses and create a textured hue.

Once the rocks are on and stained with the wash, I apply multiple coats of Woodland Scenics turf. I used two coats of Blended Earth turf. I allow several hours between the coats; preferably drying overnight. I use Mod Podge, which you can get in craft stores, to glue on the scenic turf. It dries slowly and maximizes "stick." The first coat is straight out of the bottle. The second coat is watered down and daubed over the turf from the first coat. The two coats add depth to the texture of the base. In some cases, I've added three or even four coats to get the look I want. Finally, I topped off the base with patches of coarse turf. I'm pretty happy with the result.

Painting the figures was pretty straightforward. The sources I read, spoke of off-white tunics with magenta trim. Some few of the sources said it was a national costume. I did a few off white, using Howard Hues Linen, with various colors of trim, but I prefer a more varied array of color for the infantry. I don't want uniform unitl I get to the 17th century.

I painted the shields my self, but I got the inspiration from the Little Big Men Designs shields. LBM decals are very nice, but I feel like I'm cheating if I don't paint my own shields. 

Finally, the faces look a bit better than lipstick on a pig. This is a cruelly close picture of one of the best results, but no one truly wants to face his day with this mug. 

Fortunately, the figures are smaller in real life and most of the gamers I play with are older and have poor vision. 

Now I have the remaining 14 figures, which I've started. I'll finish six first and get another two bases complete (along with the orphans from my first batch), and then finish with the remaining eight. I think this scheme of painting in bits rather than attempting to do battery painting on all 24 figures at once is working.


  1. These guys are awesome David. Nice to hear your basing process, which I confess is a lot more planful than my own.

  2. Planful or painful? I think I spend as much time basing as I do painting the figures.