Friday, July 30, 2010

The Petulant Ones

Second semester of university is upon me, but before the end of my holidays i managed to complete another base for my Basic Impetus Patrician Romans. Don't look now, but it appears that I am in danger of actually finishing a project!

This base is the only Roman Heavy Infantry (FP in Impetus vernacular) base in the Patrician Roman army. According to the list these are supposed to be legionaries, but I have chosen to depict them up as Auxilia Palatina. By the 5th century the Auxilia had filled the role of the old legions, and the Palatina were the highest ranking, belonging to imperial field army. I recently finished reading Gore Vidal's superb novelisation of the emperor Julian's life. Inspired by this, I have painted these guys up as the Petulantes Seniores, the unit which proclaimed Julian Augustus and, according to Vidal at least, followed him East for his ill-fated campaigns against the Sassanid Persians. As usual the shield pattern is from the Notita Dignitatum. I tried something a little different, using some GW dark flesh to simulate dried blood. This was suggested by Count of Wymborn over on the Steve Dean forums and i think works a treat.

The figures are from Black Tree Designs, the exception being the commander who is from Gripping Beast. I wanted to give these guys a more veteran appearance than the pseudocomitatenses, and so besides choosing armoured and well equipped figures, I added a few extra and arranged them as an aggressive looking shield wall.

I'm now working on the last Roman unit of the army, a second base of lowly archers. I'm waiting on my tax return to put through an order to musketeer minis for some Gothic heavy cavalry and to Gripping Beast for some Frankish heavy infantry to finish off the army. I've also been looking through the basic impetus lists and have decided to do a couple of extra bases, one of Roman Equites heavy cavalry, a couple of Equites Illyricani light cavalry and one of Roman Equites Sagitarii horse archers. I may even end up doing another base of heavy infantry, as i'd love to paint up the Celtae Seniores, the sister regiment to the Petulantes. These additions will allow me to field not only a Patrician Roman force but also an Eastern and Western Late Roman one.

I've also finally settled on which army to field as opponents. I was tossing up between the various western barbarian lists, but I found the monotony of painting up loads of similar bases a rather daunting prospect. I ended up going for something completely different and quite interesting, the Sassanid Persians. These seem like an interesting army to paint up, with the cataphracts on brightly coloured barded horses, the Parthian and Iranian light horsemen, the hopelessly outclassed levy infantry and the elephants! A chunk of my tax refund will be going on these guys, mostly from Gripping Beast but with the elephant coming from Aventine miniatures.

Anyway, as usual please leave a comment or ask a question. Hopefully the Archers will be painted up in the next week and I'll be able to get some pictures posted.

I'm also still taking on commission work at the moment, for enquiries please email

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Big Guns

Here we are at the third post in as many days and still no sign of the project loosing steam. Its a pretty good achievement for me, especially as this base marks the half-way to completion point for my Basic Impetus Patrician Roman army.

The latest addition to my force is a base of elite Roman heavy cavalry, the Equites Catafractarii, argueably the forerunners of armoured knights. The Cataphracts were heavy armoured cavalrymen riding barded horses and armed with the huge 12 foot lance called the contos, and according to some sources also armed with a composite bow. The Romans adopted this style of armoured cavalry from the Sarmatians. During the reign of Constantius II, the Romans introduced another virtually identical type of heavy cavalry called Clibanarii. The main difference between the two being that while the catafractarii mostly drew recruits from Sarmatians and other Germanic horsemen, the clibanarii drew its recruits from the Armenians and Persians.

These figures are from Gripping Beast, and they paint up a treat. Wanting to give the unit a Germanic feel, I chose figures with the Germanic spangenhelm style of helmet rather than those with a more Eastern style of equipment.

The unit I chose to represent is the Equites catafractarii Ambianenses, basically because I love the city of Amiens. As the Notita Dignitatum has no shield patterns for any of the catafractarii units, I took a pattern of one of the Sarmatian named units and changed the colours around. The red-white-yellow theme was chosen by my girlfriend Laura, who has among her many talents a great eye for colour combinations :)

As these guys are the elite cavalry, I decided to keep the damage on the shields to a minimum, assuming that they folks in their prestigious position would have had the money and incentive to avoid scrappy looking kit.

Next up on the painting schedule are a unit of heavy armoured Roman infantry. I've only just undercoated them so hopefully I'll have them completed and get some pics up next week.

For now, enjoy and please feel free to leave comments or ask questions.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Poor Bloody Infantry and Horrible Huns

As promised, here is the remainder of my Late Roman army completed up to now. The Basic Impetus Patrician Roman list calls for one stand of Hunnic Mercenary horse archers and a base of Roman Light Infantry, so that's what I've done :)

For the Huns i used Gripping Beast figures. I love the figures but really am not too keen on the horse sculpts. Nonetheless, I'm pretty happy with how they came out, though i'm actually trying to find some decent replacement horses before i paint up any of the other Gripping Beast cavalry. I tried to go for some bright-yet-muted colour schemes on these guys, with the rationale that as they're in the pay of the Romans, they would most probably be pretty well cashed up and so would be wearing their Sunday best to show off their status. I strung the bows using some very fine gauge wire picked up from a sewing store.

The light infantry base is the first of two Roman infantry units in the army, the remainder being made up of Frankish allies. I've chosen to represent a poorly equipped, ragtag pseudocomitatenses unit. The Pseudocomitatenses were the static border units (Limitanei) which had been pressed into service with the mobile field army. The Black Tree Design figures gave me the right mix match of figures, and i swapped a couple of the oval late roman shields for round barbarian ones just to add to the lack of uniformity. This particular unit is the Defensores Seniores. The shield pattern is hand painted, the Defensores design copied from the Notita Dignitatum.

The wonderful mini-diorama style basing work of David Imrie really inspired me in this base. I really wanted to represent the image of a ragged shield wall barely holding against the enemy onslaught. The arrows in the shields are an idea taken from Mr. Imrie yet again. Perhaps you see a pattern developing here :)

Anyway, just put the last bit of paint on my next unit, some elite Equites cataphractarii, so a unit from the other end of the army's social ladder.

Enjoy the pics and please feel free to leave a comment.

Also, just a reminder that i am looking to take on some commission work. Any enquiries please email me at

Monday, July 12, 2010

And now for something completely different..

Gratuitous Monty Python references aside, I'm back!

Well, it's been a mighty long time since I've posted anything on here but better late than never, right? Well, full time study has turned out be a lot more time intensive than I had anticipated, and most of my time has been devoted to study rather than painting. Still, both Laura and I have managed to pass the first semester with flying colours and I'm now on my mid year break.
I never really did manage to get back on the proverbial painting horse with the Napoleonic 1809 project, and consequently that project has been shelved for the time being. I do apologise to those who were looking forward to whatever it was i was working on, but some day I'll get them finished. I have a feeling it was my efforts to perfect Non Metallic Metal that finally broke my morale :(

My modern history course was on medieval Western Europe, starting with the fall of Rome and going through to 1500. Apparently this is now modern history! Still, i'm definitely not one to complain as this era of 'Late Antiquity' is a personal favourite of mine. I've had a bunch of figures sitting around for a WAB Late Roman force which i purchased a few years ago, only to loose interest without painting a single figure. I swear i must have miniatures related ADD.
Anyway, with my interest piqued in this period i decided to dig these out and paint up an entire force for the much lauded Dadi & Piombo rule set Impetus. Going by fantastic reviews from the Wargames Journal and Neil from meeples and miniatures, these look to be great fun and a fast play set. I also have to admit that my decision to go for Impetus was in a large part influenced by the fantastic little dioramic bases popping up from time to time on TMP and the SD Forum.

I'm hoping to avoid disappointment by initially setting my sights low. I've only got a Patrician Roman force for Basic Impetus planned. This force breaks as follows:

2 x Heavy Cavalry (Roman Cataphracts and Gothic Foederati)
1 x Light Cavalry (Hunnic Mercenaries)
3 x Heavy Foot (Roman Auxilia Palatina and Frankish Foederati)
1 x Light Foot (Roman Pseudocomitatensis)
2 x Roman Foot Archers

Now, on to the good news. I'm actually some way through this force! I decided to do up a bunch of archers first, followed by a mostly decorative generals base. Inspiration came from a bunch of ospreys, the warrior series on horse and foot soldiers and the superb series on roman military clothing. I also heavily delved into an online copy of the Notita Dignitatum and WRG's Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome.
Without further ado, here are these first two bases. Note the lack of NMM. :) The shields are hand painted, the archers are all from Black Tree Design (BTD) and the General's base is a mix of Foundry, Gripping Beast and BTD. I think they work well together.

I've actually completed two more bases and am almost done with the third, but i'll break it up over a few posts. For now, please enjoy and feel free to leave comments.

On another note, after a fair bit of consideration I am interested in taking on commission work, both as I've now got a fair bit of time to paint and to supplement my pitiful student income :) So anyone interested please contact me at