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"color of spear shafts" Topic

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Daniel Pickering23 Feb 2016 1:17 p.m. PST

What color should wooden spear shafts be painted in ?
I've seen very dark brown to very light yellow. I'm guessing that spears handled a lot would get darker over time and newly made javelins (to be thrown and maybe not ever retrieved) would be a light tan.

Who asked this joker23 Feb 2016 1:24 p.m. PST

Mine are usually medium to dark brown. I've seen them as tan and they do look nice that way.

evilgong23 Feb 2016 1:50 p.m. PST

Go and have a look at the colour of wood on your garden rake, spade etc ?

David F Brown

GarrisonMiniatures23 Feb 2016 1:56 p.m. PST

That's going to depend on a number of factors – type of wood, age of wood, any treatments. I tend to just use Model Colour Flat Earth these days.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP23 Feb 2016 1:57 p.m. PST

I would hope that warriors take better care of their spears than I do of my rake.

Musket Miniatures (I believe) used to make a paint called "wood" which I liked a lot. It was more on the lighter end of the browns.

The color will depend on the wood type, as well as oils. Use what looks good to you.

Coyotepunc and Hatshepsuut23 Feb 2016 2:40 p.m. PST

The smaller the scale, the darker rhe brown you should use. It's all about contrast, and as figures get smaller it becomes more difficult to tell where the hand ends and spear begins. I go mediym brown in 28mm, dark brown in 15mm.

wrgmr123 Feb 2016 3:44 p.m. PST

I use Delta Ceramcoat Autumn Brown as a base, then dry brush Walnut. Works for me.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP23 Feb 2016 4:11 p.m. PST

Agreeing with the consensus here: I expect there was a rainbow of browns from pale tan to deep brown, depending on the age, the wood used, and any treatments protecting the wood. A weapon made by an armorer for repeated reuse (spears, pikes, axes, maces, hammers, whatever) will be made from properly seasoned and carefully selected wood and oiled, varnished, or otherwise "made nice" for presentability (esp. for a richer client), so will probably look darker. However, country living quickly demonstrates that wooden shafts are replaceable parts, so field-repaired hand weapons or mass-produced expendable weapons (javelins, arrows, darts) are more likely to be made to a lesser "good enough" standard from whatever wood is quickly available, thus probably paler or lighter.

I've tried various painting techniques and am happiest with the shaft painted some variation of tan or light brown and stained with a watery brown ink wash.

I'm least happy with shafts painted a uniform mid brown or dark brown, because the result is just sort of flat and uninteresting.

Dry-brushing a darker brown base color with lighter brown or tan can work, but it's difficult to drybrush a shaft.

Interestingly, I've occasionally had nice results by overpainting a too-dark shaft with a tan or lighter brown paint with poor coverage (like the el-cheapo acrylic "craft" paints from crafting stores like Michaels, Joann's, Beverly's, Hobby Lobby, etc.); the mottled result full of brush stroke patterns gives the impression from a distance of a kind of "wood grain" appearance.

- Ix

mwindsorfw23 Feb 2016 5:12 p.m. PST

Of course, they might have been using pine tar for a better grip, in which case a few guys would have it all over their spear, the front and sides of their tunic, and even the front of their helmet.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP23 Feb 2016 7:31 p.m. PST

LOL! "Ewww… my spear sneezed!"

leidang23 Feb 2016 8:06 p.m. PST

As someone above said I very mine for contrast with what I am painting. Sometimes Grey, Tan, Brown, etc.

TKindred Supporting Member of TMP23 Feb 2016 9:31 p.m. PST

Most of the time I use a light tan or ochre for javelins & spears. For my pike-armed Macedonians, however, I decided to give them colored shafts. Each unit has their pike shafts in the same color: red, blue,yellow,green, or purple. I reserve the purple for Hypaspists and other "elite" units.

I use a spray paint to do all the pikes at one time. I use North Sar pikes, so I invert them and push the pike point into a strip of soft wood. Then I spray the lot of them at one time, and let them dry.

I also don't like the look of medium to dark wood for spears, etc. I think it muddles up the overall look of the minis, so I use either a light tan or some color.

goragrad23 Feb 2016 11:03 p.m. PST

Testors brown for a few, just to be different. Model Master wood for most – rather a tannish color, fits with a lot of lighter woods.

Just did some ankuses for a Classical Indian army with a very dark brown as an oiled teak.

On the other hand my osprey notes Romans as having painted the shafts of their spears and javelins red. Same with bows.

Osprey also shows Roman cataphracts with multicolored lances – blue and yellow.

There is the caveat in the Osprey that on campaign replacement shafts were probably not painted.

Henrix23 Feb 2016 11:12 p.m. PST

Ash seems to have been a popular wood for spears, at least from classical Greece to vikings.

It also looks good on the minis.


Ping Pong24 Feb 2016 6:38 a.m. PST

I had not thought about pine tar on spears…or other weapons. If they had access to it then why not? Seems completely sensible.

Martin Rapier25 Feb 2016 6:02 a.m. PST

I do mine in Humbrol natural leather which is a warm mid-light brown, then washed with dark brown.

Looks OK and contrasts with the hands.

goragrad25 Feb 2016 12:12 p.m. PST

Actually Martin I often use the MM Wood for natural leather items as it is so similar in color.

Daniel Pickering26 Feb 2016 7:42 a.m. PST

Thanks everybody. Good comments. I like the link to images of ash tree wood grains !

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