Home Forums Ancients Are our shields too nice?

This topic contains 12 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by Sane Max Sane Max 1 month, 1 week ago.

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  • #115730
    Sane Max
    Sane Max
    Participant

    I have shaky hands, poor hand-eye co-ordination, and a tendency to rush stuff. To paint figures I have developed compensating techniques over the years, using washes, dry-brushing, highlighting with the sides of the brush – so it’s not the end of the world. But where I have to actually paint something neat on a flat surface, it really shows up.

    So the advent of really good shield design transfers is a blessing I have accepted with open arms. Some of the transfers you can get now are gorgeous.

    But, that poses a question – are they too gorgeous?

    The thought was inspired by an article I was reading about the Dura Europos shield, which is a work of art. The author was saying that maybe it was not, as is usually assumed, some sort of parade item – he makes the point that a slave’s time was cheap, and if you had one with a good eye why not make the most of it? Really go to town on the shields, it’s the sort of thing you can imagine a proud unit commander being happy to see on the parade ground.

    The other thing I saw was a picture of a knocked-out Late War Tank, and the shocking quality of the camo. If you saw that on a wargames table you would be appalled. It looked like it had been slapped on with a roller by someone in a serious hurry…. And of course, that’s the point, it was.

    So, I wonder if my efforts to have better-looking shields may be basically wrong, especially for things like dark-age warriors where you have to assume they did it themselves. Imagine them, sat in the Grubbenhause with their tongues between their teeth “pass me the size 6 brush Svein” “Oooh Haakon, that looks amayyyyzing” “Don’t say anything, but his MUM paints his shield”

    Maybe the ‘applied in a hurry by a man with shaky hands’ is the look I should be striving for after all?

    #115734
    willb
    willb
    Participant

    WW2 camo patterns were hand painted and did not follow specific patterns, but the initial painting and early war patterns were pristine..   Early war German patterns do not show up well in black and white, however there is one video from the invasion of Poland that shows the patterns.   Modern NATO tanks are spray painted to specific patterns.  The initial painting looks perfect, but by the time they have been operating in the field they are covered with mud and dust.   Ancient armies tended to pride themselves on their appearance.  Taking care of one’s weapons and armor was vital to keeping alive.   Prior to engaging in a battle they probably looked like they were on parade.  Poorly maintained  armor and weapons could fail.  Recent studies have found that ancient statues were painted in bright colors.  https://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-other-artifacts/more-colorful-ancient-greece-pigment-proves-classical-statues-were-once-021409

    https://youtu.be/gRMPYh2QdSM The video in this one is interesting

     

    For my 28mm figures I will print out shields and flags/banners on my computer either on heavy cardstock as replacement shields or light paper if gluing them onto the original shield.   

    https://18clovehamhock.blogspot.com/2009/10/projects-completed.html

     

     

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by willb willb.
    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by willb willb.
    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by willb willb.
    #115745
    Sane Max
    Sane Max
    Participant

    I have never thought of printing shields straight onto cardstock – that would work a treat, especially for smaller scales! What an excellent idea – stolen.

    Taking care of one’s weapons and armor was vital to keeping alive.   Prior to engaging in a battle they probably looked like they were on parade.  Poorly maintained  armor and weapons could fail.

    Yes, but that’s a modern army reply. I am not talking about a rusty sword, or a crudely lashed spear-head, or even a dirty shield. I am sure Dark-age weapons were pristine. I am talking about a layer of paint. Your picture is beautiful, and I am sure you are right to make it so – in the classical era labour was cheap, and I am aware all men went into battle looking their best – not only was battle a status-event, clean clothes are safer than dirty ones as well.

    But for Dark ages shields? There were no sergeant-majors, and no parades either. Can you see Svein forbidding Ulf to get on his boat (you horrible little man) until he can get a decent paint-job on his shield?

    #115753

    OB
    Participant

    There were parades of a sort when a hosting occurred I suppose.  More to the point the Dark Ages were status mad – it defined where you stood legally.  I’d guess all the lads took every opportunity to assert their status so I’d go for the best painted shield they could manage.

    For the Romans barrack life was often boring and turn out important so I’d agree with the fellow in your article the Dura Europos shield was likely intended for battle.

    OB
    http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/

    #115755
    Mike
    Mike
    Keymaster

    Would a professional soldier be more likely to have neat stuff than a warrior who raids to live?

    Your professional Roman soldier is provided with a livelihood as a fighter and things are made for him, not by him?
    Would Ragnar McRaiderson have the inclination to spend his own time and money on looking like part of a professional fighting army, when in fact he is not?

    I am being broad and assuming professional soldier (fights for money) vs warrior (fights for plunder) are different enough to be a thing.

    #115756
    Norm S
    Norm S
    Participant

    Some of the transfers you can get now are gorgeous. But, that poses a question – are they too gorgeous?

    NO! 

    Though I did recently see a Roman unit that had some mud on the bottoms of the shield and dry brushing across the entire face, just to dampen down the vibrancy and they looked superb.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by Norm S Norm S.

    http://commanders.simdif.com

    #115758

    OB
    Participant

    Most warriors didn’t raid to live.  They raided to live better!  Even the professionals of the Viking Great Army had farms or Halls for the richer ones to go home to.

    The retinues of nobles and kings were just as professional as Roman regulars it’s just there weren’t very many of them by comparison.  Both had a tail of specialists including craftsmen serving their needs.

    I’m with Norm on the transfers not least because I’m going to refurbish my Macedonians.

    OB
    http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/

    #115759
    Ochoin
    Ochoin
    Participant

    I see where S.M. is coming from & I think his point is probably valid.

    However, I think a good analogy is with Napoleonic Campaign uniforms versus full dress. The former are more historically valid wear for soldiers on the battlefield but I prefer the latter, simply because it looks better. Ditto shield patterns.

    My wargaming isn’t necessarily about historical truth.

     

    donald

    #115764
    Thaddeus Blanchette
    Thaddeus Blanchette
    Participant

    I don’t know if a slave’s time was “cheap”, first of all. It has to be measured against what the slave could otherwise be doing and Roman society was heavily labor intensive. Also, buying a human was a considerable investment and most Roman soldiers simply wouldn’t have that sort cash lying about. Even if they did, can you imagine the domestic disputes arising out of Cato being ordered to paint Romulus’ shield instead of doing the market shopping for Julia…?

    I would think that elaborate shields such as the one at Dura Europos would be relatively rare. However, given the status aspects of ancient combat, I do agree that those who COULD do shields like that would and even the poorest would try to make a good turn out. That is perhaps why we see those simple yet striking shield patterns in the dark ages. They are colorful, attractive, and relatively easy to paint and apply, even for a man with shaky hands.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #115783

    OB
    Participant

    Thaddeus is right.  The point of having a slave was to extract the maximum benefit.  But quite ordinary Roman soldiers owned them.  It was one of the advantages of getting paid in large sums of cash in a mainly barter economy.  We have some evidence of Roman Soldier Last Will and Testaments, ordinary squaddies who left manumission and whatever they has accumulated to their slave.  The newly minted Freedman would erect a little monument which is how we know it was a frequent occurrence.  We can only guess at the relationship of course but we can safely assume that not all of the slaves were possessed of artistic gifts.

    The military being what it is now and then if someone had a swanky shield that met with unit  approval the rest of the lads would get one too.  Who produced them we cannot know but a talented lad in the ranks should not be ruled out.  They very much liked to make money however they could.

    OB
    http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/

    #117861
    willz
    willz
    Participant

    – Transfers are they too gorgeous? ?

    No.

    We are are wargamers, wargame is artistic licence for doing a nice paint or print job if possibile.  I normally print my shields on paper and glue them on, touching them up with paint.

    Willz.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by willz willz.
    #117865
    willb
    willb
    Participant

    – Transfers are they too gorgeous? ?

    No. We are are wargamers, wargame is artistic licence for doing a nice paint or print job if possibile. I normally print my shields on paper and glue them on, touching them up with paint. Willz.

    I agree and do the same.   I also print them on cardstock and use them to replace the over thick plastic shields .  Greeks and Romans painted their statures.   Examination of the remaining flecks of paint have shown that they could be very colorful.   So it is quite likely that some shields were also brightly painted.  This is supported by many of the shield patterns in the Notitia Dignitatum.

    #118054
    Sane Max
    Sane Max
    Participant

    So, I wonder if my efforts to have better-looking shields may be basically wrong, especially for things like dark-age warriors

     

     

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