Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

… to my thirty followers and any other occasional readers of this mini-saga. I hope you all have a peaceful and relaxing time over the festive period.

Not the Three Wise Men …

Finally … the ox cart …

… or plaustrum, is finished! Two years in the making, completion spurred by a Christmas painting competition over on the Warlord Games’ forum (actually a Bolt Action thread).

In purist modelling terms it’s not perfect, for example I would have liked to make a better job of some of the smaller buckles on the harness. Nevertheless, overall I am pleased with it as a gaming piece – it’s quite impressive.

Wargames Foundry’s ox cart forms the basis of the model, enhanced with a brace of muscular North Star oxen, a load furnished by Baueda and Gripping Beast, and a pair of marching legionaries courtesy Warlord Games.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Baggage train, another centuria, and Baleares

As the ox cart nears completion I started work on the pack mules. Meanwhile, the Baleares are primed and the latest centuria begins to take shape.

The baggage train will eventually comprise the ox cart, three pack mules and two pack camels. Bauede seem to be working on a Centurion’s tent and ’Roman supplies’ to complement their Legionary tent … I feel a camp coming on too.

Work in progress: It is important to knot the scale rope twice in order to prevent it unravelling … at a fair rate of knots … did you see what I did there?

Work in progress: Scale rope applied to the beam and shaft. Just needs shading and varnishing. I will varnish the rope first to prevent it absorbing the Strong Tone ink … the results of that might be a bit unpredictable.

Work in progress: The pack mules harnessed to one-another with scale rope. I made a nose band first, and decided to base before painting in order to fix the rope – I just thought it might be too difficult to do after painting. The tricky bit will be painting the based figures – I haven’t tried this before.

Work in progress: Titus Antonius Secundus’ centuria begins to take shape. Behind it are Decimus Livius Saturninus’ Baleares.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Seasonal modelling and painting plans …

I will have a bit of time for this project over Christmas and New Year and I am hoping to complete two new units.

I have started another centuria, the one with the kneeling front rank armed with pila. I think this unit is going to look pretty good when finished. I also want to paint a unit of Baleares, as the slingers from the Balearic Islands were known. I just have to work out what sort of figure to use as an optio to complement the centurio I have already converted.

I plan to finish the ox cart this weekend – it only needs the addition of the scale rope.

Work in progress: Quintus Flavius Cerialis’centuria with the first application of Sandy Paste. I really love this stuff, even though it can be a bit tricky to apply sometimes. I always keep a wet brush handy to clean off the paste that strays onto the figures here and there.

Let’s hear it for Vallejo Sandy Paste … the finish is kinda sandy …

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Pleasantly surprised

I am always surprised at how the shading and varnishing improves the quality of the finish beyond my expectations.

I tend to be permanently disappointed by my painting – which I imagine to be an average gaming standard – so it can be a bit of a trial. Take my latest centuria: for ages these figures languished and every time I looked at them I didn’t feel like doing anything further … but here they are, shaded with The Army Painter’s Strong Tone ink and varnished with the amazing Testors Dullcote … suddenly they begin to look the part. And it is always so …

Work in progress: Quintus Flavius Cerialis’centuria based and ready for finishing. These fellows are the first to be clad in red tunicae. I armed them entirely with pila. The centurio and optio are Wargames Foundry figures. I have a small stock of these (no two the same) which gives each centuria a slightly different character.

Let’s hear it for Testors Dullcote … the finish is flatter than a very flat flat thing …

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Three pieces near completion

Firstly, I have to say how much I like The Army Painter’s Strong Tone ink. With the demise of Citadel’s Devlan Mud I was worrying about a substitute which would give an effortless match to the shading I had done so far.

One of the things I loved about Devlan Mud was the way it ‘bronzed’ my gunmetal with aluminium dry brush armour. I had read that the Strong Tone dip worked well with bright colours – toning them down. I have to report that I found the application of Strong Tone ink to be easier than Devlan Mud – I just brushed it on quite liberally, and it seemed to pool perfectly. I am delighted with the finish: dark enough, tones down the colours nicely, and bronzes the armour just how I like it.

Let’s hear it for The Army Painter’s Strong Tone ink.

Work in progress: Another centuria nears completion … the first to be shaded with Strong Tone ink … all I had to do was touch up the flesh here and there (I tend not to do highlighting).

Work in progress: Auxilia command and ox cart. The ox cart is now laden. The base needs a little more attention (around the rear wheels), dry brushing (okay, so I do highlight my bases) and application of a few tufts. Then I will wrap the scale rope and varnish the cart.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Plodding along …

Progress can seem quite rapid when there are a number of units approaching completion at the same time.

Last night I fixed the scuta to the legionaries and did a bit of retouching. I hope to shade these fellows today, varnish them tomorrow and base them on Sunday. But the priority has to be the ox cart since it is part of an informal painting challenge over on Warlord Games’ forum.

Work in progress: Quintus Flavius Cerialis’ centuria ready for shading, varnishing and basing.

Work in progress: The command vignette for my auxilia and the ox cart. The load for the latter is painted and shaded and ready to load, but I will add this and the scale rope once the base is finished.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Wonders will never cease …

… the scale rope arrived. I only ordered it just over a year ago. Anyhow, it’s here, so now I have no excuse for not finishing the vignette.

I had to look at my references again to work out how the shaft should connect with the beam, and settled on a curved profile for the oak since there is clearly no articulated joint with the bogie (which would seem to be the alternative).

Scale rope … I am pinching myself, but it is real.

Work in progress: Oxen, beam, shaft and bogie in position …

Work in progress: The cart loaded with a mix of Baueda and Wargames Foundry items.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Scuta and a vignette

I have a number of items on the workbench at the moment: a centuia awaiting shading, final assembly, varnishing, and basing; another centuria at colour blocking-in stage; the ox cart (of course) and a command vignette.

I really need to finish that centuria in order to make room for the Balearic slingers.

Work in progress: I always dread applying the waterside transfers to the scuta … always fiddly, but never as lengthy a task as I always imagine. I now have 24 scuta ready for final assembly …

Work in progress: The command vignette for my auxilia. A mix of Ebob (the camel), Gripping Beast, Wargames Foundry, and Warlord Games.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Twenty eight followers

Thank you for your interest. I have exchanged comments with some of you, and, although I know I miss some comments because I do not check-in often enough, I do value your views.

I seem to have quite an audience: Australia, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom, United States, with 13,272 page views since my first post in June 2011 – bonkers! And thank you!

While my oxen are bonding I spent a little bit of time making a visual upgrade to the blog: basically increasing the size of the images, but this entailed a bit of a struggle with the code here and there. I hope everything is now looking as I intended.

Friday, 6 December 2013


Still no scale rope but I am pressing on.

I have based the figures and applied Vallejo Sandy Paste around the bases. I need to paint and finish the area around the oxen and drover before fixing the beam to the yoke, otherwise I will never get a brush in.

By the way, I meant this to be a new post, but ended up editing and re-publishing Friday’s … hey-ho.

Work in progress: I just love Sandy Paste …

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

I needed a centurio …

… for my forthcoming balearic slingers, so I made this quick conversion of a Warlord Games’ centurio.

I have just received my new recruits from the Balearic Islands: 24 slingers, Warlord Games figures. I am really looking forward to getting cracking with these. But I had a conundrum: command figures. A bit of advice via Warlord’s forum gave rise to the idea for the conversion. I wanted to give the centurio a bit of character and make him fit visually with the slingers, so I decided he should be bare-headed, directing their aim. He’s beginning to look quite heroic!

Work in progress: Warlord Games’ plastic centurio, with a metal head swap, enlarged focale, and a parma, directing the aim of the slingers having thrust his gladius into the ground at his feet.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Magnificent beasts …

… that’s beasts … b e a s t s … 

This can only mean one thing: my scale rope is on its way, after ordering it almost a year ago!

Work in progress: North Star’s awesome oxen with scratch harnesses and
Wange yolks.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

At last … progress

I had a bit of free time over the last couple of days which allowed me to get to work on preparing another century of legionaries.

When Warlord Games released the plastic scorpion battery with kneeling figures I had visions of kneeling legionaries armed with pila preparing to receive an assault. Followers of this little saga may remember that I used one of the kneeling figures from the scorpion battery in my medicus vignette. In due course Warlord released a set of metal figures in the required pose, and I have combined these with some of the plastic figures for the new unit.

Work in progress: The kneeling figures come with gladius, sling or pilum, but there were not enough of the latter so some major surgery was required to provide arms in the correct attitude. Pila are from the plastic legionary sets.

Work in progress: The century as I plan to base it. There is still some filling to be done … I think they will look pretty good when finished.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

I got all my toys out today …

I thought it might be a good time to take stock and also to show some of the things I have finished recently.

This represents about a third of the legionaries, half the auxiliary infantry (I want to add Eastern archers and another century of infantry), two thirds of the mounted auxiliaries, all of the supporting troops apart from the baggage train, (which is still very much a work in progress as it expands to include mules and camels). I will add a century of Praetorians and maybe some mounted Praetorians …

Apologies for the carpet and skirting board … decorating my house is another work in progress …

The Legio VI Ferrata vexillation in a defensive position.

The Tessarius gives orders to the watch on the right flank.

View along the defensive ditch …

… where the engineers finish the defensive wall …

… I Augusta Thracum knock their arrows …

scorpiones determine the range.

My alter ego in broad stripe purple … I will name him in due course. The command group is in three parts to give more flexibility. The vexillum will get rub-down transfers in due course: I am still working on the artwork for these, which will be produced in opaque gold foil.

The first turma of I Thracum Herculanea supported by auxilia dromedarri.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Work in progress …

I still have a century of legionaries almost finished – no progress with this unit for over a year. I must press on!

I am working on another command vignette, for the auxiliary infantry this time, and my first century of sagittarii are in the process of being based.

Work in progress: A century of legionaries in the background, and the auxiliary
command group begins to take shape. The dismounted auxiliary dromedarii
will be based separately. On the right is my first Praetorian. I have settled on a
blue scheme and bronze armour.

Work in progress: Warlord Games’ western archers … nearly finished!

Reds and brushes

I have tried to use a range of reds to represent how dyes might colour different materials, eg wool or leather, or paint applied to wood.

I had a very old tin of Humbrol’s Authentics range British Crimson (MC5), sadly no longer manufactured. I was looking for a good match and came across an IPMS reference that suggested Humbrol matt 73 (wine). While researching a replacement colour I chose to expand my range of reds, and I am now using the following:


- matt 73 wine
- matt 60 scarlet
- gloss 20 crimson


- matt 174 signal red

Acrylic Authentic Rail Colours

- RC403 crimson lake
- RC423 carmine

Investigating reds

I have begun to use my new Windsor & Newton brushes. The Series 7 size 1 is an amazingly versatile brush, despite its size. I use it for blocking in and all except the finest detail. This is possible because of the very fine profile that the brush has – tipped with a small flexible point. In fact, I can imagine some folk being quite content to use this brush alone.

The Series 7 Miniature size 00 is the next most used, for getting paint into those otherwise impossible to reach places on a casting, and fine detailing. The Series 7 Miniature size 2 has been less used so far: it’s a funny stiff little brush – I am trying to work out what it’s really for.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

The painting pile …

This post is in response to a thread on Warlord Games’ forum … so here’s my stock of plastic and metal components and the much more honourable work in progress.

This is pretty much it for my Roman vexillation … apart from any small additions I might make … marines perhaps, a couple of small ships, possibly some more auxiliaries … like I said, pretty much it!

Work in progress and the plastic and metal stock. Not too daunting.

Friday, 1 March 2013

I’m no sculptor …

… but I've been wanting to make this figure since stumbling over Ebob’s camels, which surely were the basis for Warlord Games’ dromedarii.

I bought the kneeling camel and a couple of walking ones. The latter will be pressed into service in the baggage train later. The figure started life as a Gripping Beast signifer.

Some of the detail is overscale, so I will rework this. Not too shabby for my first attempt though …

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The mutt’s …

Firstly welcome to my new followers – I appreciate the interest of all my followers, of course. Thank you. 

I have just received some new brushes: Windsor & Newton Kolinsky sable.

Apparently these are the best brushes money can buy, variously and highly recommended by miniatures painters. These are my first – I will let you know how much I like them …

Windsor & Newton Series 7 number 1 and Series 7 Miniature numbers 00 and 2

Friday, 25 January 2013

Vexilla …

I have been working on designs for my miniature’s vexilla. There are only a few within the collection, but I want them to look the part. 

I bought some waterslide transfer paper and printed out some tests using my six colour Epson inkjet. The tests on transparent carrier were invisible when applied to the miniature. The tests on white carrier were a bit better. Overall it was a disappointment: the definition of the characters was just not sharp enough, due to the fact that the image is made up of dots of colour.

I have discoivered a source for rub-down transfers. These can be printed in ink or made using a foil. These promise superior definition, but may be tricky to apply. I am waiting on a sample.

Work in progress: Some of the vexilla designs I have prepared artwork for.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Apologies for the lateness of the greeting: I have been a bit busy with work and life, and, as you will see, have made some progress with my miniatures.

Firstly, the first of the cavalry from I Thracum Herculanea are nearly finished. The unit is the first of two turmae: the second will be armed with lancea

I have a few units on the work bench, primed, part painted or nearly finished: a century of legionaries (all armed with pila); a century of auxiliary sagittarri; and a few command figures, including the various standard bearers.

Work in progress: My first turma of cavalry: 1st Corps figures. The decurio has a Warlord Games’ head and Milliput focale. The shield transfers are by Little Big Men Studios, but I plan to add an inscription to the vexillum: a pair of ‘I’s either side of the eagle and ‘TRACVM HERC’ below it.

Work in progress: The various standard bearers and the watch begin to take shape.

Work in progress: All very well organised – I really do work like this.