Ragging Hoplite Shields

Updated: Nov 18

I have been having great fun playing around with different shield designs for my next unit of Greek Hoplites.

Most are hand painted but I also used a few Little Bigman Studio’s transfers. I am not a big fan of shield transfers as they tend to look too pristine. So where I have used them I overpainted to make them look less digital. With the hand painted shields I experimented painting directly on a polished bronze face and also on a background colour. Once painted I used Liquitex Raw Umber to give them a weathered look.

To achieve the weathering patina I used a ragging technique suggested to me by my partner Caroline who is an artist. This involved scrunching up a bit of loo paper, dipping the scrunched up end in a very watered down raw umber and then dabbing that onto the painted shield faces. I was afraid at first that there would be too much paint going onto the shield but the paper had absorbed most of it, leaving just little splatters.

I used super glue to fix the shields onto the painted hoplites. Epoxy would be stronger but too fiddly when fixing 20 shields. I then touched up the ends of the rims which inevitably in places will have had bits missed off when painting them on the flat.

My usual weathering technique is to apply a very thin wash of raw umber all over the figures. This picks out the detail and creates outline, as is especially noticeable on the hoplites’ pteruges. This works very well on textured surfaces but less well on smooth ones such as the shield faces. I am now sold on the ragging technique for doing the latter.

Here is the finished unit. I gave them all black plumes to give some sort of coherence to the unit. I also limited the number of colours on their tunics and linen armour. They are mounted on a movement tray with magnetic bases which I then textured to match the bases.

I am a movement tray neophyte but I soon learned that when bases are cut and textured they will rarely fit a tray made to the exact theoretical measurements. Technically my 20 hoplites in two ranks, with each man having a 15mm frontage, should take up 15 cms. They don’t. So I custom ordered 15.5cm wide bases (from Warbases) and asked them to leave off the rear rim so as not to have depth issues. These work very well.


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