Boots on the Table - Painting a new Army

I must admit to feeling a bit of a fraud writing this post – I’m definitely NOT a good painter. I would describe my style as ”work-man like” at best. Despite this I do enjoy painting, finding an hour with my brushes after work very relaxing.

A lot of my painting to date has also been small scale stuff (2, 6 & 10mm) and 15mm which has meant I have painted lots and lots of minis albeit teeny tiny ones. With the launch of the Too Fat Lardies “Infamy Infamy” I decided to change track and to do this game in 28mm, which will be my first 28mm project ever.

Another thing that I’m concerned about is time. I am a terribly slow painter. How could I possibly speed up and produce a table ready army in a reasonable period of time?

Initially I found the prospect of painting such large figures daunting (“They’ll show up my crappy painting!”) but to my surprise the 28mm minis are not taking much longer than my 15’s and a lot of the techniques I used for my smaller scale stuff (with modification) is applicable to the larger figures.

As a consequence I thought I’d share some of these tips in the hope it might be of help to others about to start a new army.

Paint in batches

It may be an obvious point but I paint in batches. For 28mm this tends to be a unit at a time. This enables me to vary the primer I use and also select a specific pallet for each type of unit (see later). Most importantly it also gives me the sense that I am making progress if I am able to break a project down into bite-size and more manageable chunks.

Use a Coloured Primer

Army Painter, PSC and Vallejo all offer ranges of coloured primers in rattle cans. I try to find a primer of the predominant colour of the army I am painting and as a consequence have a selection of Greens, Browns and Greys & specific ones like Dunklegelb. For Infamy I picked up a can of “Barbarian Flesh” from Army Painter.

Once I’ve given the minis a good blast I use this as a base colour and move on to the other colours and details. The picture below includes some minis I 3D printed (the stands of four) and an AWI 15mm mini from Peter Pig - they were base coated in Halfords Matt White.

Use a Limited Pallet

For uniformed armies the range of colours you use is naturally limited. For “Horde” type armies (like my Gauls for Infamy) without a uniform the range of colour options is enormous. Therefore I try to select a limited number of paints (maybe four or five) for the largest areas – the trousers, cloaks and shirts.

This gives me a decent number of colour combinations ensuring that the unit does not look uniform. As this is an Ancient army I’ve purposely chosen more muted colours on the assumption that, well, their textiles would have been more muted.

I then work through the unit pretty much at random painting all the beige shirts, trousers and cloaks before moving onto the next colour. It also helps to randomise how many items of each colour you paint.


After I’ve got my base colours down and my units are washed its time for highlighting. This is a process that can take ages but again I try to restrict this to only two or three colours. Typically for the Gaul’s this is the flesh and any metallics. For my AWI I did also use white on their straps and hats.

For larger areas like cloaks with lots of folds this is normally a quick dry brush.

Whilst highlighting is a bit of a faff and is by far the most time consuming part of the process it does produce some great results and really helps differentiate units types on the table – Armoured and Unarmoured Warriors for example.

Spray Varnish

In the past I have always used a brush on varnish (Vallejo Matt Acrylic) but it took ages to apply. After consulting chums on Twitter I invested in a can of Windsor & Newton Professional Matt Varnish and its proved to be a revelation!

I can now varnish a unit in seconds. This one is still drying;

I sprayed this lot over the course of an hour or so – with repeated breaks to do some other jobs.

Final Thoughts

This is not intended to be a painting tutorial by any means. You will no doubt have noticed that I don’t do anything like checks or patterned fabrics and I use very simple geometric patterns for shields. I do spend a little more time on specific miniatures like Warband Leaders for example but, to be honest, the end results don’t tend to be radically different.

Hopefully this post will provide a couple of useful tips to help you get your armies on the table a bit quicker.

Kind Regards, Andrew

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