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Painting an Infernal Horde

Skull Hordes
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10 March 2000converted to new format
24 October 1997photos added
4 July 1997page first published

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©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
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(Note: For a full description of the miniatures used for this report, see our Showcase article.)

This has come close to being a life-changing event. Well, maybe that's an exageration, but some of my deeply held hobby beliefs have been challenged. :-)

Let me first explain what I did, and then I'll get to why I'm so surprised...

  1. First, I primed all the figures in black (indoor-outdoor spray enamel). To keep them from blowing away, I set them down on a strip of masking tape, then folded the ends of the masking tape to stick to a piece of clean cardboard. The little guys, primed in black, look like ants.
  2. Leaving the primed guys on the tape, I loaded a wide brush with white paint, brushed off most of it, and dry-brushed all of the figures (even their weapons and cloaks). The result: White skulls and major bones showing up against a black base. (Also, white highlights on the cloaks, white weapons... we'll fix all that.)
  3. Then I went back and painted the details, removing the figures from the tape so I could get at them. I initially tried some muted, earth-brown type colors, but found they were rather invisible at this scale. So I switched to more vivid colors -
    • Cobalt Blue - archers' cloaks
    • True Red - weapon hilts
    • Silver - sword blades, axe blades, pike ends
    • Yellow - whip
    • Sand - bows, shafts of weapons
    • Lime green - shields
    Horde on a stack of business cards

    (Just to emphasize how small these figures are - I dropped one of these guys while painting him, couldn't find him, looked everywhere, sat back down at my painting table, felt a pain in my foot, and found the missing figure riding in my sandal!)

  4. There were two miscasts in this pack. The miscast sword painted into a funky-looking dagger, and the headless-pike painted into a fine club.
  5. I then painted their bases brown, painting the stands a matching brown, glued figures to their stands, and then added some flocking (since I always do that). Some of the stand depressions are not large enough for the figure bases to fit into - or else I clogged them with too much paint? - so I had to "tack" some of the figures into the spots as best I could, with gap-filling superglue.

So what was so earth-shattering about this little experience?

Time. Priming took less than 5 minutes. Dry brushing maybe took 5 minutes. Detail painting on 20 figures took under an hour. I had always heard people say that the smaller the scale, the faster they are to paint, but I had never done fantasy figures in this scale before.

Which indicates that I could probably paint up an entire Undead fantasy army - 150 figures, roughly, using HOTT - over a weekend (8 hours of painting).

And it was a lot of fun to paint them. Frankly, at this scale it's not like master painting - all you're doing is precisely applying paint on tiny figures, with no concerns about shading, highlighting, etc. What you're trying to accomplish is an impression of a fantasy soldier, because it's not practical to paint these guys any other way.

Does this mean I'm ready to junk all my 15mm and 25mm armies, and switch to 6mm? Not quite. But it does mean that I'm more open-minded about considering 6mm, especially for periods I want to try out quickly, and for "minor" periods that I don't want to invest a lot of money in buying figures.

Are these Horde guys great figures? Frankly, I've never seen anything for fantasy in this scale. Comparing to 6mm moderns in my collection, these figures aren't as lumpy as the worst I've seen, but they could be better in posing and proportions. But at this scale, and at normal viewing range, they fit the bill perfectly.

Horde with Lieutenant and Archfiend

And when you stand an ArchFiend next to them, a Horde looks very, very puny...