Wednesday, September 3, 2014

10mm Dark Ages: Step by Step

After posting some Saxons and Late Roman Cataphract pictures on The Miniatures Page, two colleagues (Zargon and CPBelt) mentioned something about providing a tutorial of sorts on how I paint the 10mm figures. I doubt this series of photographs describing the process is all that informational, but here goes:

First step in process is to clean up the figures (filing flash, mold lines, etc.), rinsing them in soapy water to get any grease and dirt off, and gluing them to popsicle sticks. Below are two "sticks" of 10mm Irish.

Once the figures and glue are dry, I prime them tan. If I am out of tan, they can be primed grey or light green. Any lighter, neutral color will do.

After priming, I take Vallejo "Sepia" ink and give the figures a wash. This allows me to see all the details and provides a "black lining" of sorts in recesses which makes painting them much easier. In the case of the Irish, I forgot to take a photo of this stage, so here are some Arthurian cavalry in this stage as a proxy.

Next stage is the most time consuming. I "base-paint" the figures. I usually paint clothes, then flesh, then wood and leather and finally metallics, but it isn't always this order. Fine lines and details don't need to be perfect, no hi-lights, just paint each section the basic color I want it. I usually don't paint shield details or clothing trim yet.

Next up comes hi-light work and trim. Colored bands and borders around cuffs are added. Also, I take lighter versions of all the base colors are used on the figures and add some hi-lighting. Shield designs are painted hi-lighted in this stage. I should add here that I use a wet palette and most of my paints are those found in the eye-droppers (Reaper, Vallejo, etc.). Figures are given a gloss-varnish (I use Testor's) after hi-lighting is complete.

Once the varnish dries (ideally 24 hours but I am not normally that patient), I give them an "ink wash". I used to use a mix of Liquitex acrylic Payne's Gray mixed with Magic Floor Wash. More recently I have been using Army Painter "Soft Tone" from their eye-dropper paint series. It seems to really settle in recesses, even shallow ones. I often add some of my old Paynes/Magic wash to the "Soft Tone" to give it some black hue. The figures below have received this treatment.

After this dries (usually in a matter of minutes), I remove the figures from the popsicle sticks and glue them to bases, along with some pebbles. Below are the Irish alongside some Saxon pals...

Next up, I coat the bases with Liquitex Natural Sand textured gel, which goes on white and dries clear.

After the Liquitex gel dries, I use white glue to apply some Games Workshop loose gravel.

Next up is a base of watered-down brown paint. I use cheap craft paint for this stage. The pebbles are painted gray. I use beat up brushes for this work.

Finally, I drybrush the brown bases with a light tan, and use watered down white glue to add flocking in random patches. Once this is dry, I use super glue to add some Silflor bushes and then dull-coat varnish the stands. They are now complete!

I hope this is informative for some people, I apologize about the poor photos and the lack of detail. If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks!


  1. Excellent! I've never tried a lighter prime coat. I typically use black primer, which does indeed make the details harder to note when painting.
    Your shield work is excellent, particularly the bird motif.

  2. I note you said "most" of my paints are in dropper bottles. I have taken to buying empty dropper bottles on E bay and transfering "All" my paints to dropper bottles and adding a small ball bearing to each bottle. Combined with the wet pallette my paints now last forever. Gone are the days of throwing away bottles of dried paints.

  3. Smashing job as usual! Keep it up :)

  4. Great idea Robert! I may have to do that.

  5. Excellent tutorial! Maybe I will give painting 10mm a try. I like your idea of adding the sepia before painting as the details, even in 15mm, can be tricky to see.

  6. Excellent tutorial, found you via a link on the Pendraken Forum. Especially useful as I have never painted 10mm before. Thank you.