December 26, 2015

Imperial Issue: Painting Strelets Mini-Roman Imperial Legion Ranks by Max McDougall

Hello one and all. My name is Max McDougall. By now the fine guys at MichToy have probably put up my Bio, but suffice to say I am a 13 year veteran of the hobby and an enthusiastic painter.  I run my own side business painting on commission, but I love to teach as well. Outside the hobby I am a historian and work in the educational field.

In this article I will demonstrate, step by step, how to paint Imperial Romans in ranks using a 1/72nd scale plastic set from Strelets STL-M100 Strelets Mini-Roman Imperial Legion Ranks and Vallejo Game Color paints. I will be painting these soldiers to a level 2 quality on my commission scale, which is what I call good tabletop quality. These are standard infantry, and even for the Roman Empire there will be a lot of them, so it makes sense to paint them efficiently. In further articles I will cover other Strelets sets, as well as the wider industry of 1/72nd miniatures beyond. To maintain absolute ease for the average gamer to pick up this set and paint it as described, all products used are available from the MichToy online store. Furthermore I have taken it upon myself to add small anecdotes of historical context where I have felt it necessary.

The set
To begin, here is a rundown of the set STL-M100 Roman Imperial Legion Ranks. In it, you get 40 Imperial Roman infantry in standing/ranked up poses. The set consists of multiples of two sprues, one with the infantry itself, the other with extra shields for those soldiers without them. Pictures of the box and the sprues are below:

All in all, a fairly compact boxed set, with a good amount of posing, enough to make a reasonably varied unit.

Step 1
After cleaning the figures of flash and washing them to remove any mold release agents I mounted them to temporary painting stands with blu-tack, I primed the models flat black.

Step 2
After allowing the primer to set, I began painting by applying two thinned coats of Game Color Off White (72101) to the fabric portions of the miniature, namely the tunic. The mixture was 3 parts paint to one part water. The decision to go with off white rather than the more "traditional" crimson is one I based on historical evidence. There has been a debate for several years on wether the roman army wore red or off white tunics while on campaign duty, and I am on the off white side of the fence. Several natural fabric blends are off white to begin with, but when you take that together with ease of acess and factor in wear and tear, I think the legions would have opted for it over continually having to source crimson dyed fabric.

Step 3 was the Calligae, or military sandals. These I painted with Game Color Beasty Brown. (72043). For these, I simply wet my brush and added some paint from my pallete, no mixing required.

Step 4
In this step I painted the legionary armor. All of these miniatures are clad in the Lorica Segmentata, or segmented curiass. This form of armor is a boon to painters, as it is simple to achieve a worthwile look. To do so, mix two parts Game Color Gunmetal (72054) to one part water, making sure not to make it too thin. Then, apply the paint to your brush, and brush a majority of the paint away onto your excess rag. Then, drybrush the gunmetal onto all the armored sections of the miniature. This includes going over the helmet/face completely. You should end up with something like the below photo:

Step 5
This step focuses upon the red areas of the miniature, namely the shield, or scutum. To accomplish a solid red with some depth, I used a two stage technique that includes elements of glazing. First, you will need to layer 2 coats of a 3/1 mix of Game Color Bloody Red (72010) with water. Once the shields are evenly coated and covered, apply a light glaze of Game Color Wash Red Shade to provide depth. Don't worry about covering the embelms on the shield face, as these will be dealt with next.

Step 6
Once the wash is completely dry, take a detail brush and pick up some Game Color Brassy Brass (72058). Once again, use a drybrushing method to take most of the paint off of your brush, then go over the details on the shield. It won't be 100% perfect, but from the average 3 feet away on a table (not to mention in ranks) it is decent quality. I also painted the shield edging in this color.

At this point you can also go over the hilts of the legionaries Gladius, as well as the apron/skirt/sporran that protected the groin region.

Step 7 and 8
In step 7, you will paint the flesh of the legionary, including the facial features you covered over with gunmetal earlier. In step 8, the haft of the pilum and back of the shield. To achieve an even skin tone, apply a layer of Game Color Rosy flesh with a wet detail brush. One coat should be all thats necessary, barring touch ups.

For the haft of the pilum and other wooden or leather parts, use Beastly brown at a 3/1 mix of paint/water. The main reason for using Beastly brown is a variation on shade from the earlier Leather brown, thus providing differentiation between parts.

Step 9
The final step to these roman legionaries (barring touch ups) is to provide depth to the cloth and skin, To do this, place one drop each of Game color Wash flesh wash and sepia shade in two seperate pallete wells. Then, taking a clean wet brush and dipping it in the shade of choice (flesh wash for the skin, sepia for the cloth of the tunic) apply a liberal wash to the specified portions of the miniatures. After an hour, your models should be dry and ready to pop off their painting stands.

There you have it, 4 Roman Legionaires waiting to be inspected by the Emperor or one of his Legatus Legions! 

For more painting advice, images, and to find commission information, please see my blog at:

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