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The North Remembers…
Hey, everyone, today we’ve got a VERY special edition of Painting Poorly coming at you! Mike Meeple has partnered up with MeepleGamers and will be sharing EXCLUSIVE painting tutorial content through them! And today we’re looking at one of the units from the A Song of Ice & Fire Miniatures Game: The Stark Sworn Swords!
These guys are the base Stark unit that come with the Stark vs. Lannister Starter set, so I figured it was about time for us to get into the nitty gritty of getting them painted up and ready for the battlefield!
For those of you who are my returning followers, a reminder that you will still be able to find all of the painting tutorials for any of the named characters, such as Jaime Lannister or Robb Stark on my blog here, but if you’re looking Unit tutorials, MeepleGamers is where it’s at! Now, for those of you who are just now tuning into Painting Poorly, I want to let you know that this series of tutorials is EXACTLY what it sounds like! I’m going to be showing you some basic techniques that will let you get your minis ready for the tabletop, without spending a TON of money on name brand paints. Target, Michael’s, hell, the bottom of your wife’s craft drawer! Wherever you can find the paint, just paint it. If you haven’t done so already, you may want to review my posts on the Basics before we dive into this figure specific tutorial!
If you’re all set, let’s jump in!
1. Gameplan, Prep, and Prime
So, my basic gameplan for all my painting is to duplicate what’s already out there. Sometimes it’s something from the HBO series, and others it’s attempting to replicate the amazing in-game art. For today, it’s going to be the in-game art.
The Unit card from the game gives me a pretty good idea of how to paint the soldiers, and as such, I’ve assembled the following colors:
The pale grayish blue was from the craft store as well as some white and black which are not pictured above. I’ll be using Chocolate Brown, Flat Earth, and Basic Skin Tone by Vallejo, but any dark and standard brown will work, along with whatever skin tone you want to use. For the money, however, I do recommend springing for the Plate Mail Metal by The Army Painter. It’s not TOO expensive, but it’s got great smooth coverage, and I’ll be using just that for our metallic portions.
So, as you can see, I’ve already primed my Sworn Swords with Matt White spray-on primer by The Army Painter, which, if you’re going to spend the money on anything, it should be your primer. Let’s get to basecoats!
In general, when you’re painting units like this, you don’t want to paint more than about 4 figures at one time, as your paint will start to dry out in your palette, and you’ll start to forget which step you’re on. The unique thing about this game, however, is that each Unit has 3 to 4 different poses/sculpts, so I’ll try to go over each one as the steps come to it.
We’ll be starting with the grayish blue on the tabard. You’ll want your paint thinned 50/50 with water, which will give you more control of the color and intensity. It will also help smooth out your paint and prevent you from leaving the imprint of your brush on your figure. If it seems too thin, don’t worry, you can always add another layer once it’s dried. Take the time to paint all the tabards, front and back. Nothing too fancy or difficult here, and don’t worry if you get blue on the wolf icon on the chest, as it’s easily covered.
Next, you’ll be using the plate mail metal and painting all the metal portions. I normally wouldn’t say to thin the plate mail metal with any water, but you’ll need to in order to paint this many figures at once, otherwise the paint will start to dry in your palette before you ever get it onto a figure!
So, apply this to the sword, the helmet, the pauldron (shoulder armor), the chainmail on the shoulders, arms, and upper legs, and the shield. If you’re painting the model above, simply painting the metal banding and the wolf will suffice, but if you’re working on the ones carrying a metal shield, it may look more like this:
And if you’re painting the standard bearer, you’ll want to paint the spear at the end of his flag, and the small metallic portion at the bottom as well.
Now, we’ll move onto the brown. Using your brown, you’ll paint all of the leather straps, the wooden flag pole, and the straps of the shield. This also includes the bits of clothing that stick out below the armor, such as on the knees or at the sleeve.
Once that’s done, you can move onto the faces. You’ll take your basic skin tone, thinned, and paint their faces. Don’t worry if you get their facial hair, skin tone is very easy to cover up.
I am not painting their hands, as they’re Northmen, and in my mind, they know that in the snow you’ll want to wear gloves. Speaking of which…
The next thing you’ll be doing is the black boots, gloves, and wolf emblem. Now, I NEVER use PURE black when I’m painting miniatures. I always use a 50/50 black/white mix, thinned with equal parts water, so, I guess it’s actually 25/25/50 black/white/water, so that it gives the appearance of black, but it also has depth to it. Be patient with this part, as the glove behind the shield is one of the HARDEST AREAS I’ve ever had to paint. You will probably make a boo-boo, and that’s okay. We can always touch up later.
For the wooden shields, you’ll also want to paint the wood grain rear of them now, since you’ll be able to cover up any mistakes you’ve made.
One of the last things you’ll want to do is paint the beards/porn ‘staches. This can be any color you want, and really, if there’s a diversity between white, brown, black, and blonde, it’ll just make your unit look that much more realistic.
Before we head on to shading, however, we need to address the wooden shields and flag. I am a late adopter to the world of Westeros, only starting with the HBO series, so when I think of a Stark Banner, I think of this:
So, I’ve assembled some weirdo green and tannish paint from Target and the craft store.
So, just like all of our other paints, you’ll want to thin these 50/50 with water, and I started out by painting the entirety of the wooden shield/flag with the tan, and then I went in and painted the green points once that dried.
The VERY last thing would be to use your plate mail metal and do the wolf on the flag, and your soldier’s belt buckles. Once that’s dry, it’s time to throw some shade!
Again, if you’re new to my tutorials, you should know that the thing you really want to spend the money on, other than primer, is a good shade or wash. I pretty much only use The Army Painter, but your shades and washes are going to be worth it in the long run. You CAN make it on your own, but the amount of money that you save vs. the amount of effort you have to put in/mess you make.
I’m only going to be using 3: Flesh Wash, Strong Tone, and Dark Tone, all by The Army Painter.
Start with the flesh wash. Apply it to the entirety of the face, and don’t worry about it getting on the facial hair.
Next, you’ll apply strong tone to the tabard. This will mute the bright blue of the color and give us more the color that we’re looking for.
Then you’ll use your dark tone to wash EVERYTHING else. The shields, the metals, the boots, the gloves, the sword, the flag, EVERYTHING. With the dark tone, it can be tempting to use a TON, but you don’t want to let it pool in any one particular area, just provide some darkness to the grooves. Once that’s all dry, and I mean, COMPLETELY dry, we can move onto highlights.
4. Highlights and Finishing Touches
Okay, so this next part is COMPLETELY optional when you’re painting soldiers or minions, but it can help give your minis that extra POP. We’re just going to be using the same paints that we have been, so it won’t be too hard, but it is time consuming to do so many.
First, using your basic skin tone, you’ll highlight the faces. Just the nose, cheekbones, and chin, and make sure to leave the edges that are darkened by the wash as they are, to provide depth and roundness.
Then, we’re going to use our bluish gray to highlight the tabard. Focus mainly on hitting the lightest folds of the fabric, leaving the darkened areas. And again, make sure you thin your paints so you have a good control over the gradient of dark to light. The last highlight we’re going to do is the flag.
Using our tan, we’re just going to hit the parts of the flag that are billowing outward, and the top of it. This may look a little bright up close, but on the table, it looks just fine. And that’s it!
5. Reclaim the North!
You’re done! Base it however you like, spray it with your matt spray, and get those suckers on the battlefield!
Hopefully you found this helpful for you, and you can always find all of my tutorials on my blog and make sure you keep checking in both here at MeepleGamers and on my blog because there will be new tutorials posted on a weekly basis between the two sites! I’m looking forward to journeying with you as we make our way through the land of Westeros!