Help support TMP

"Painting Vikings and hitting the (shield) wall." Topic

18 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Medieval Painting Guides Message Board

Back to the Dark Ages Message Board

Areas of Interest


Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Ruleset

Featured Showcase Article

Fighting 15's Teutonic Order Command 1410

Command figures for the 1410 Teutonics.

1,826 hits since 11 Apr 2017
©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

ScottS11 Apr 2017 12:11 p.m. PST

I've got about 200 Foundry Vikings. They're all cleaned, de-mold-lined, primed, and glued to bases. I even did some pre-shading with an airbrush to bring out the shadows.

They're beautiful figures. They all have a lot of character. I could write a short saga on each of them.

But, so help me, I am intimidated at the prospect of painting them.

Every other army I've painted has been relatively uniform. I can look up photos or uniform guides and figure it out from there.

I've seen some good photos on-line of the colors available at the time. That's helpful, but I'm still a bit flummoxed. I'm concerned that any army I paint will look like a hodge-podge, and not in a good way.

Anyone else run into this?

Vigilant11 Apr 2017 12:24 p.m. PST

Know what you mean. My way of dealing with this is to pick a selection of several suitable colours, then paint a selection using 1 colour for a mixture of trousers tunics and any other clothes. Then I do the same with another colour and so on so that I have a variety of multi-coloured figures.

Frothers Did It And Ran Away11 Apr 2017 12:34 p.m. PST

I do the same as vigilant. Non-uniform figures look less circus like if you stick to a few colours repeated throughout the force, but throw in a few brightly coloured items now and then. I would also suggest using a particular colour to tie in their shields too, for instance I used green on all my Anglo Saxon shields, different greens, and varied designs obviously.

Porthos11 Apr 2017 12:47 p.m. PST

I used a system in my madness (;-)). The target was a group of Sassanid Persian levies of 50 figures. So I made 5 groups of ten and painted each group a different colour trousers (browns and greys mostly, one darkish green). Then I picked two figures of each group to make a new group and thus ended with five groups of ten, with no more than two trousers the same colour. After that each new group got a different colour of jackets (you can even use the same colours if you like, but for the Norsemen I would use less browns and greys, and more reds and greens). With careful picking I ended with 50 levies still looking dull, but also looking different (in this case "dull" is correct: someone used the discription of them "they stood huddled together until it was time to run away" !). And for finishing I would use Army Painter Quickshade, that takes away too bright colours !

TodCreasey Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2017 1:20 p.m. PST

Basically what they said. In this case I paint them all in 5 to 10 different sessions using different sets of colours each time and then base them all at the end to mix it up.

If you have more than one troop type to do it with mix it up even more by doing a mix of figures in each. For instance I am doing Anglo Dane cavalry and Vikings right now and I do 2 cavalrymen and 4 Vikings at each session.

Personal logo Unlucky General Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2017 2:20 p.m. PST


There's no doubt in my mind … painting irregular troops is a much greater challenge than uniform units. From what I've seen of most Viking styles, they are generally block colours with embroidered edges and collars (borders)- so not as bad as painting plaids like Celts or Scots. If you have different borders you can paint up to three or four figures with the same coloured pants and shirts and break it down that way. Before you know it, you'll achieve a horde of individuals.

Titchmonster11 Apr 2017 3:31 p.m. PST

I like to have characters or those that stand out in each smallish group, where you have used the same color pallet. I also find that by looking at the foundry website and a few others I get good ideas for those types. I've used several of the methods here on my WOR figs except for the livery coats. But breaking them into groups that you power through with the same pallet is the way to go. I paint units at a time and right now I'm half way through about 200 bowmen broken into sections of 20-25. Anyone going to Nashcon can see them in action Saturday Morning.

Mick the Metalsmith11 Apr 2017 3:57 p.m. PST

Personally I find the hodge podge nature to be the most realistic. This was not a time of heraldic livery and uniforms. Painting in the broad range of vegetable dyes for clothes and avoiding bright modern colours for the shields and you will find they will look uniformly gray or brown from a distance. Each and every figure will probably be a bit different. Undyed fabric for bondi will look pretty much grey or beige or ivory. Recent scholarship states that the vikings had a penchant for black cloth.

The idea of units and matching shields may not have any historical record to gainsay for or against. We really don't have much idea what colors they used or even the patterns/designs. Tribal units didn't need uniforms to recognize their friends in battle.

ScottS11 Apr 2017 5:22 p.m. PST

Recent scholarship states that the vikings had a penchant for black cloth.

I thought that was the Goths?


Cyrus the Great11 Apr 2017 8:01 p.m. PST

These might help.



goragrad11 Apr 2017 8:48 p.m. PST

Actually for ancients and medievals even for more regular troops I vary the shades in the groups. Not everyone gets issued or purchases clothing/livery/uniforms at the same time and colors fade with wear.

Benvartok11 Apr 2017 9:32 p.m. PST

Links from Cyrus are great and what I would suggest as well. There is also one called the viking age pallete listing common vs rare colours in the dark ages. A good guide.

BUT also remember the wargames rule of contrast at 2 foot! So use some bright colours as I don't think there are any vikings around to argue with….

For inspiration do some searches here for painting but also google Tom Weise. He is a German painter, golden daemon winner and damm good. He painted a lot of foundry vikings and others, heaps there for colour, contrast and pattern ideas. I did pencil drawings of about 15 different border ideas for cloaks from his website.

I am many years, ok 5 plus, into my 200 plus foundry vikings (kids and glasses causing delays). I paint a few using reaper triads and put those aside then paint a few more using other triads aiming to get variation rather than pick the same browns over and over.

All comes out in the basing anyway, you will mix the people up based on colours then find you have to put all the guys in white together because they don't fit on the bases….

Benvartok11 Apr 2017 9:51 p.m. PST

Oh and get into it! The foundry vikings paint so very well! Much better IMHO than gripping beast. I mixed a few artizan in for flags and horns plus if you are a fan then stronghold have Ragnar and others…..

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2017 9:57 p.m. PST

Especially for the unarmored Vikings, you should look into sheep colors. Sheep weren't all white: there were black, gray and brownish sheep, as well. Cloth would be made using wool of uniform colors, so that you came out with a variety of solid colors. The different sheep colors could also be used to make striped clothing. I am currently pursuing a plan of giving my poorer Vikings one piece of clothing in sheep colors, and one piece made from brighter, dyed cloth.

If you use paint triads, do some figures in the basic shade, and others in a lighter version of that shade, so their clothing looks faded. You can see how this works by Googling "touaregs," and looking at the images. Touaregs, like Vikings used an indigo based blue dye.


Frothers Did It And Ran Away11 Apr 2017 11:31 p.m. PST

Vary hair colour as well. I just painted a unit of archers, where I had multiples of the same pose I used different hair colour as well as different tunic colours.

CeruLucifus12 Apr 2017 11:03 a.m. PST

What Vigilant and everyone else said. Select a limited palette of colors and use those for all figures. Select a small group to receive the same color/clothing combination, then for the next group rotate the combinations. Rinse repeat until done. Then mix the finished figures all together.

IanKHemm12 Apr 2017 4:38 p.m. PST

Use earth colours predominantly and add more common colours in limited application. On the shields use brighter colours. When they are ranked up it's the shields that will make the army look good.

Benvartok12 Apr 2017 5:57 p.m. PST

Sitting at my painting desk now…not painting…could be but no….

Little big man do some fine viking shield decals and many different ones. And you can cut out some of the serpents etc put them onto the foundry cloaks and paint over the designs. I may claim freehand skills that I really don't have!

Remember power in viking lands didn't centralise till the 900s really and even then most vikings remained part time raiders and farmers. Hodge podge is fine. Back to the mill…..

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.