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Over the past few years I have been playing with the big kids. Now I am revisiting my 6 mil ancients. My motivation is the Society of Ancients Battle Day (24 March 2024) featuring the Battle of Ilipa (206 BC).

With over 100,000 Romans, Carthaginians and Spanish involved in the battle, 6mm seems to be the obvious scale to stage such a large game. It helps that I have all the Romans I need in that scale. What I need are a few more Carthaginians and a lot more of Spanish — large numbers of whom fought on both sides. So to work...

It has been a while since I have painted tiny troops and my eyes are not as good as they were (not that they were ever very good). Key to success is good lighting (I use an artists’ daylight lamp), strong close-up glasses, and good quality brushes with fine un-frayed points.

I am painting in batches of 24 figures which will be ½ of the 48 strong units. The figures are a mix of Baccus and Rapier. After glueing them to a piece of wood, spraying with a white undercoat, I then apply a thin wash of raw umber.

The initial raw umber wash defines the highlights and lowlights so I can see what I am painting. It also fills in the undercuts so that the follow-on painting can be simple dabs of colour. I find this much better than using a black undercoat as that dulls down the colours. With small figures you need bright, bold colours to stand out on the tabletop from a distance.

I had forgotten just how quick and easy it is to paint 6 mil figures in this way. It took me only an hour (after prep) to finish painting the first batch of 24. It would have taken me very much longer to do only half a dozen 28 mil figures. Once painted I give another very thin wash of raw umber to bring out the details — this also gives some facial features to the figures.

Basing is rather fiddly with such small figures. It takes longer than the actual painting. I also prepare a movement tray (from Warbases). I cover the bases and edges of the movement trays with a water based wood filler, adding a sprinkling of sand. Leaving them overnight to completely dry, I then give them a wash of raw umber. A sandstone colour dry-brush picks out the details. The bases have magnetic strips underneath and the movement trays have metal strips — both from Magnetic Displays.

Here is the finished unit after applying a few dabs of flocking to the bases and movement tray. What may look like fine outlining was achieved by the simple raw umber wash. Three more Spanish units to go!

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