Home Forums Ancients How to paint 3mm Romans: A tutorial.

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  • #133506

    The first thing to remember is that you need to paint light and bright at this scale or absolutely all detail will be lost at arm’s length.

    Luckily, the Roman legionaries are easy to paint. About the easiest 3mm job I have ever done, in fact.

    The first step is to plan out your basing. My basic unit (call it a cohort) has one 20mm x 8mm stand and two 10mm x 8mm stands. This is about as fiddly as one can get without really having trouble, but it does allow for pretty much any rule set out there, from half scale DBA, to Hail Caesar. It also allows three basic formation types for Hail Caesar: line, double line and column.

    Since O8’s castings are all 20mm wide, this means I need to snip a bunch apart to make my 10×8 stands. I use a high quality, thin nosed wire cutter to do this (you can see it in the photo below). Be careful snipping! Cup the castings in your hand because they will fly about like bullets!

    I then glue the castings down on popsicle sticks.

    The first stick contains the command castings (and these are carefully trimmed to give the smallest bases possible – watch it with the Conicern: it’s fragile and can break off its stand fairly easily).

    The second stick is made up of first rank castings.

    The third and fourth sticks are filled with back rank castings.

    Use white glue to attach the castings to the sticks and let it dry thoroughly before proceeding to the next step. I let it dry overnight.

     

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

    #133510

    Tonight was less humid than usual, so I could go on to the next step: prime with light gray. I use a thin gray paint-on primer and usually give it one coat, plus touching up of bare spots. One could also prime white. Black, however, is usually too dark and strong for this scale.

     

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

    #133511

    Protip: if you want to speed this already very fast process up, base the castings with silver paint.

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

    #133513
    Thomaston
    Participant

    I broke quite a few minis snipping down the strips. The longer spears in the samurai range were quite prone.
    Do you clean your minis before you paint them?

    Tired is enough.
    I like tiny miniatures

    #133539

    As much as viable, yes. After doing a bunch, you’ll get a feel for the metal’s tolerance. As you probably know by now, it has ZERO give. When you try to clean the last bit of flash from the spearpoints, you need to make sure you are not putting any lateral stress at all on the spear.

    There’s a knack to it.

    One main word of advice: DON’T BE PERFECTIONIST. It really doesn’t pay at this scale, because you are going for mass effect. So a little nubbin of flash here and there… fuck it. Let sleeping dogs lie.

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

    #133540

    Thankfully, the Romans are very robust. I have only had difficulties with the conicern player and only when I trim very, very close to his feet.

    Btw, if one or another figure snaps off of the base, superglue will put him to rights, particularly if he is in the middle of thenformation.

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

    #133544
    A Lot of Gaul
    Participant

    One small point, Thaddeus: the Roman horn-blower is called a cornicen, from the Latin cornu (horn).

    "Ventosa viri restabit." ~ Harry Field

    #133553

    Thanks!

    Here’s the next steps. Paint the heads and backs of the Romans silver. Next, give them a medium black wash. Here I have used watered down GW contrast paints:

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

    #133562

    Next step, not shown: dry brush the tops and backs of the castings with bright silver. Pay particular attention to the helmets and pilum tips.

    After this, things get a bit complicated.

    All parts of the figures that will be brightly colored need to be painted white. That’s the shields, crests, and lower back tunic.

    But!

    Only the outer soldier’s lower back tunics need to be painted at this point. That means the outer two soldiers of every strip of 2, 4, and 8 soldiers, as well as all the command figures. The command figures are all front rank and usually more spaced out a bit due to base sizes, so I always paint them completely, as if they were regular, individual figures. This is why I mount them for painting on their own popsicle stick.

     

    Front:

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

    #133570

    Back:

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

    #133573

    So, here’s the pila painted. Again, only the first rank and the right most man in each group. I also did a quick swipe of medium flesh on the legs, both front and back, and painted anything that will be bronze a dark brown. (This is exclusively command figure stuff.)

    The only thing you need to worry about in this stage is not getting the spear shaft color on the pila heads.

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

    #133574

    Shields given a coat of yellow contrast paint. Just slop it on.

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

    #133575

    If you were doing classic legionaries here, you’d put a solid coat of red paint on these shields. This is my second legion, so shield designs are different here.

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

    #133578

    So, while I wait for the bright green paint on the castings’ to dry, I start making bases. These are made with a postcard glued to magnetic backing.

    The green is extremely bright and artificial, but will be toned down later. At this point, I detail paint the command figures, put a coat of green paint over the bases, and cut them out. Then I pop the castings off the popsicle sticks and glue them to the bases.

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

    #133587

    So, now I’ve got all the castings glued down on the bases. The command figures have been fully painted, but detail work needs to be done on the front, back and sides.

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

    #133590

    Now I will have to paint around the margins of the stands, touching things up and completing bit, before finally hitting the bases with more green paint.

    The shields will be the first thing to do. The front rankers get a dark green boss with a silver tip, giving the impression of a laurel wreath around the boss. They will then get a dot of red on each corner of the shield. The right most file’s shields in each block get similar treatment.

    The back ranks and left/right files get a red lower tunic strip. Left file and back rank gets their pila painted. Finally, light skin tone is dotted on the front rank’s face and hands and the left/right files’ and back rank’s arms. A brown ink is applied to the legs (pooling a bit around the feet) and then they are lightly drybrushed with skin color.. Finally, the bases are touched up with the intense bright green.

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

    #133601
    Steelonsand
    Participant

    I’ve really been enjoying these posts, and particularly their ‘episodic’ nature – it’s almost as if you could take in a tutorial, go away and paint your own mini’s to the same point, then drop back in to see the next instalment and learn how to take things forward…… “Tune in next week for more”…….

    As always from Thaddeus, a neat and effective method – looks like it gives good results too – if I didn’t have a Lead Mountain of Irregular’s 2mm the size of Kilimanjaro- I would be sorely tempted to give the 3mils a go……

    Addenda: I believe stockpiling Lead is allowed, right? – it’s not toilet roll, after all……

    #133604

    I wouldn’t try to use it as a substitute, either.

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

    #133608

    Here we are, halfway through the final detailing process. The cohort on the right is done. The rest need shield detailing. Then I will go for final clean up, which principally involves making sure there’s a dark line between the legs and the base and that all the helmets and pila points are bright enough:

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

    #133610

    A close up of the finished cohort. All that remains to do here is dull down the green of the base with a light greenish-yellow, spray varnish (two coats: one gloss, one matte), and flock.

    The total time used on these four cohorts was maybe an hour… and I am a slow painter. That hour was spread out in five to fifteen minute increments over two days.

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

    #133612
    Thomaston
    Participant

    I like the green. Why the gloss varnish?

    Tired is enough.
    I like tiny miniatures

    #133615

    It just protects the figures more. I have been two-coating — gloss, followed by matte — ever since I started painting miniatures. You have to have a lighter touch on the spray can with 3mm, though.

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

    #133617

    Whoops! I noticed in that photo that I forgot to finish the shields of the command group.

     

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

    #133618

    So, that’s roughly 8.00 dollars of figures on display there for four cohorts. Now, obviously, this can’t compete with 28mm in terms of detail. But it can in terms of size and spectacle. With an outlay of around 200 USD, I have bought enough figures and terrain to do any ancient Imperial Rome battle I want. A half-sized DBA kit would cost you probably about thirty dollars.

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

    #133620
    MattH
    Participant

    This is great Thaddeus, thanks for taking the time to post it. I’ve been trying to decide what scale to do Chile vs Peru 1879 – 10mm, 6mm or 3mm – and you’ve convinced me that 3mm is the way to go.

    #133621

    Yep. 3mm is GREAT for one off or odd projects. Easy to convert through simple painting, too. And you can play it on a coffee table wih homemade terrain that can be specifically built for whatever battle you want at low cost, quickly, and with easy storage. Just paint the battlefield on a piece of canvas and use some scatter terrain.

     

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

    #133622

    The one major rule for painting 3mm is this: always paint in lighter shades than you think you will need. Particularly the base.

    The base needs to reflect as much light up into the figures as possible. So with ancients I go for a bright medium green, heavily drybrushed with a yellow green and the  lightly drybrushed with a pale yellow.

    I flock in sparse clumps, using the brightest or palest green flocking I can find, and always let a lot of base color show through. Here are the Germans, all varnished up and ready to flock. The group on the right has already been flocked and is finished.

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

    #133660
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    Amazing work, sir!  Especially those barbarians, that is a great looking horde.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #133662
    Thomaston
    Participant

    I like the horde look more than teh organized cohorts, just feels right somehow.

    Tired is enough.
    I like tiny miniatures

    #133673

    The hordes are a bitch to paint (relatively speaking) because the whole process needs to be on the popsicle stick. The hordes and the regulars look good together on the tabletop, however, as you can immediately see who is who.

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

    #133723
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    When I first looked at the close up of the horde I thought the dragon standard was one of those inflatable dinosaur costumes for some reason!  I really like how you have the van being wedge shaped,which you can remove when the 2 sides meet, very clever!

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

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