Monday, 13 October 2014

Five Armies- Tips, Prepping, Finishing

Ares Games recently released the next game in their War of the Ring line, The Battle of Five Armies. These posts are about how I tackled painting it. They're aimed a little bit more at the boardgamer who's thinking of enhancing their game than at the experienced painter.

This post covers a few pointers, then provides info on how I prepped the figures. Prepping is preparing your figures for painting by cleaning etc., and is a necessary pain. It does allow you to get a look at the figures and plan your painting by thinking about colour combos, tricky to reach areas, etc. I've also put up a bit on how I based and varnished them when they were painted. 

I felt well prepared going in. I tackled War of the Ring in 2012. I used that experience to dive right into BoFA. Many of the figures are the same sculpts, but I'd decided I wouldn't be painting them the same as WotR. Furthermore, BoFA only has 126 figures compared to WotR's 205!

War of the Ring- worth the time and effort.


Only 126 figures to go!
Here are a few random things I thought I'd get down for less experienced painters.

  • This project is daunting. Discipline and perseverance will get you there. Just plug away, and you'll eventually have an army (or five!). A half-painted army can be a bit disheartening- just keep going! Reward yourself with a character every now and then. I tackled the orcs early as they're forgiving of errors, and with them out of the way you're almost 30% there.
  • Having your figures on sticks makes them a lot easier to handle and paint. I can quickly paint, say, five left hands, then five legs, etc., rather than having to paint one figure, put it down, pick up another figure and paint it, etc. It will really speed up your painting. A lot of this project must be done in an assembly-line fashion.
  • I tend to paint inside-to-out. This means I paint the deeper, harder to reach areas first.
  • I have deliberately tried not to name paint brands and colours- suffice to say, I use a variety of manufacturers and not all these paints are made anymore. I really don't think it matters if your orc skin is Derivan MiNiS GI green or Citadel Catachan Green or Warpaints Army Green or Game Color Camouflage Green- they're all close enough, don't get wrapped around the axles looking for a precise match! So, if I say paint the orcs green, just pick the closest green you have at hand and go for it!
  • The brown basecoat saves time with the spraying, and colours areas such as leather so I don't have to later. It also means I don't have to paint the ground.
  • I tried not to use pure black as it is too dark- there are a few exceptions- I usually use dark grey instead.
  • A lot of the 'heavy lifting' is done with washes, which are watery pigments. The wash sinks into the deep areas of the figure and gives you quick and effective shading to make your figure 'pop' on the tabletop. You should paint the underlying colours a bit brighter than you expect so they don't get dulled down. I will name names here- I use the Army Painter Warpaints and their Soft, Strong and Dark Tones. These are sepia, umber and black washes by any other name and other companies make equivalent products.
  • 95% of the painting was with a #2 size brush. Sometimes I used a #4 for washes or a bigger area such as a Great Orc or warg. Even for the eyes, I don't use teeny brushes- the paint tends to dry on them before I can use it.


First things first- prepping. I still hate prepping. I didn't do any de-flashing. Unlike WotR, there were no bent lances etc. to unbend, which was nice. I chucked the miniatures into soapy water (to clean them and remove mold release agent) and left them to dry. Next, I PVA'd sand onto their bases and then PVA'd the figures onto wooden paddles for spraying. The sand gives extra texture and realism to the figures.

An unexpected soaping.

I used the Army Painter spray Leather Brown. Finally, I drybrushed a cream colour onto their bases to bring out a bit of contrast. Pick out rocks in grey. Total time to get to this stage (excluding the drying): a bit over 2h.
Now paint your figures! Details in the following posts.


Once the figures have been painted, I added some flock (Woodland Scenics T50 Earth Blend) using PVA glue. I then painted a sandy green colour around the rim. 
Add flock, paint base rim.


Once the basing was dry I varnished in two stages. First a protective coat of gloss varnish, then a coat of Testors Dullcote to remove the sheen.
Based and varnished

And now you're done!

Next: How I painted the Shadow Armies.

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