This is a simple 10 stage guide to painting 1/72 scale plastic ancient Gaul & Celtic warriors. I have used Italeri's set #6022 Gaul Warriors for the pictures to illustrate my text. However the same principles can be applied to a wide range of similar ancient and medieval period sets. To see what is available across all the manufacturers, including sprue pictures and reviews, visit plasticsoldierreview.com. If you are looking to purchase figures (or materials) most of these sets can be found in my eBay store: Drum & Flag. (All paint number references below are for Vallejo Game Color acrylics)
Guide last updated: April 2008
Stage 1.) This is where it all starts with your new box or boxes of figures.
Stage 2.) This is how the figures look when newly removed from the box. They require washing in soapy water to remove the mould release agent used in the manufacturing process. If this is not done the paint will not adhere properly. Rinse and allow to dry.
Stage 3.) Using a sharp knife and/or clipper remove the figures from the sprue. Then decide how you want your units to look in terms of pose numbers and variety. You may wish to combined two or more sets to get the look you want. You will also need to decide on how you are going to base your figures. For purposes of this guide I selected 12 identical figures from two boxes worth of figures - I would not wargame with a whole unit like this as to my mind Gallic units should be more mixed. The figures are based on 2cm square pieces of Javis plastic building card. This base size is ideal for Warhammer Historical. It's also good for my own version of Fire & Fury which as I am a simple soul I adapt and use across a variey of historical periods. This style of basing also give you an ideal handhold for painting. I use Super Glue to fix figure to base. The movement tray is also made from the same plastic card material and makes it a lot easier to marshall your troops. Take care with glues as some may warp your base, particularly if using larger sizes. Once glued to the bases I undercoat with Vallejo matt black. You can also use a brush and bottled paint. Some may prefer white as an undercoat which has it's own advantages / problems.
Stage 4.) The chainmail areas of the figures have now been dry brushed using an old paint brush. I use #54 gunmetal, highlighted with #53 chainmail for this. Other metal areas such as swords and helmets are also painted at this time. An alternative to dry brushing armour is to fully paint the metallic area and then when dry apply a black ink wash which runs into the gaps in chainmail for example and looks as good.
Stage 5.) Next I do the skin. Using Dwarf Flesh (#41) as a base tone, then skin wash (#93) and lastly highlights of elf skintone (#04).
Stage 6.) Now it's on to the clothing. Unlike may units where colours are limited by uniforms you can let your imagination go a bit with these chaps and use lots of bright colours that may usually hide in the far corners of you painting station! Some of the colours I chose included Desert Yellow (#63), Gold Yellow (#07), Goblin Green (#30), Scab Red (#12), Imperial Blue (#20) and Magic Blue (#21). You can get a finish that most gamers would be happy with by remembering the holy trinity of base colour, highlight and shade. You can do this in two ways - start with your darkest colour and then apply two layers of highlights the second lighter and less pervasive than the first or alternatively you can apply a base colour and then shade in the indented areas and highlight the raised areas. You can use manufacturers colours for base/shade/highlight or you can take a colour and add black/white/other colours to mix your own colours and change what you started with as you wish. If you do this and want to use the colours again make a note of how you did it or you may never get the alchemy right again!
The troops in the picture are all well clothed and armoured so would probably have been amongst the higher echelons of tribal society. Across the warband clothing and equipment would have varied from man to man and would have included items taken from the vanquished with higher ranking leaders wearing better and more clothes and weapons, jewelry, armour etc...This variety means that multi-coloured units like these Gallic warbands take longer to paint as they should be varied/random to give best presentation. Whereas Romans by contrast are more uniform in both clothing, weapons and colour scheme and therefore are quicker to paint. (The same goes when I paint American Civil War Union and Confederate units - the well uniformed Northern boys take less time than the more varied rebels).
Stage 7.) Having done the main clothing there is still much to do: hair, tattoos/war paint, weapons, belts, boots, furs/animal skins, jewellry etc.. For leather/hair I like to use Charred Brown (#45), Beasty Brown (#43) and Cobra Leather (#40). Hair and fur can be dry brushed to five a good finish.
Stage 8.) Shields. It is up to you whether you paint these on or off the sprue. I start them off still attached to the sprue and then finish the job when the shields have been removed from the sprue and Superglued to the figure. I further widened my colour palette for these figures by using Bloody Red (#10), Hot Orange (#08), Dark Green (#28) and Electric Blue (#23) on the shields. For the pattern, boss and edging I use metallic colours such as Mithril Silver (#52), Brassy Brass (#58) and Glorious Gold (#56). For the back of the shields I used the browns mentioned in Stage 7 above.
Stage 9.) The figures are now nearly ready and all the hard work really begins to show through as your units come together. Here the bases have been painted brown (use whatever browns or greens you fancy as ground colours) as has the movement tray.
Stage 10.) To complete the process use PVA glue to affix your flock and then once dry varnish with Vallejo matt spray varnish. You may also wish to varnish with gloss first if you want a particularly hard, durable coating.
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