Footsore Flashback: Early Saxon Army in a Week

Hi, I’m Paul, and welcome to Sculpting, Painting and Gaming.

Footsore Miniatures have recently released their amazing Viking and Norman warbands for use with Saga. I’m thrilled to tell you the living legend that is Carl Marsden is, as we speak, composing two new articles on how to paint each of these awesome warbands in only one week. In celebration, therefore, I’m dusting off the following article from the Footsore Miniatures blog, in which Carl details how he painted his Early Saxon Saga warband in just seven days.

Those of you who know Carl and his work will know exactly what to expect, and those of you who don’t, well…

…You’re in for a treat.



A new wargaming project can have one of several results. It can be a glorious addition to your ever growing collection; a poorly painted, disappointing blot on the hobby landscape; or, worst of all, a box of treasures consigned to the ever-growing pile of stuff that has been earmarked ‘to paint’. As a hobbyist who has made a habit of always having far too many amazing figures in that final bracket and a graveyard of unopened boxes nagging at my conscience every day, I was determined that my next army would not fall to the same miserable fate. So, after ordering my new Early Saxon Skirmish Warband, I set myself the somewhat ambitious goal of completing the whole lot—from bare metal to ready for the battlefield—in a week. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it’s not as easy as I’d thought…

The Early Saxon warband consists of a leader and four core units, providing you with a solid four point army with which to get started. My army arrived on the same day as the accompanying shield and banner transfers I’d ordered from Little Big Men Studios, and I set about getting my project underway. The army consists of a Saxon Warlord and his attendant Banner Bearer. Both are suitably resplendent in the finest armour available and two figures I had wanted to paint since first laying eyes on them a long time ago. They are joined by two four-man units of spear wielding, chainmail clad Thegns (which count as Hearthguard units for Saga). The set is finished off with two eight-man units of Fyrd . These unarmoured spearmen comprise the bulk of the force and give you two solid units of warriors for your Saga battles.


As I unpacked the box and cleaned the figures up, I was impressed by the minimal mould lines and lack of flash, whilst being equally happy with the range of figures in the set. This ensured my units would not look too similar on the battlefield. After a few hours spent cleaning up and basing the figures, a black spray undercoat had them ready for day two and the beginning of the basecoats.

I grew up as a Warhammer painter and had the discipline (and lack of money!) to be content painting figures one at a time, completing one blister pack of minis whilst saving up for the next one. Batch painting was never even a thought for me, but the benefits certainly became more obvious as I moved on to larger and larger projects. I’d recently finished my Late Romans (as featured in my this article) using the same method, so decided to stick with the same formula.


Over the black basecoat, I gave all the figures a solid drybrushing with silver to highlight all the metal areas – armour, buckles, rings, sword and scabbard parts, which makes the rest of the model much easier. I then painted the flesh areas (26 faces and 52 hands over the course of a couple of hours and my vision began to blur) which brought me to the end of day two.


Day three saw the boots, pouches and spearshafts all done in various shades of brown, before beginning work on some of the large cloth areas. I tried to stick to the colours from the excellent demo figures on the Footsore website, with the mix of pale, natural tones a good representation of the natural dyes that would have been available at the time. Finishing the trousers, cloaks and tunics took me through to the end of day four, and the figures were really starting to come to life.


Day five was ‘beards and hair morning’, various tones to offer enough variety whilst being realistic, and I began work on the shields in the afternoon, firstly applying a white basecoat before adding the shield transfers over the top.


Day six I began to panic that I wouldn’t get finished; there still seemed so much to do. The morning was spent starting the bases. I use Army Painter basing materials and began with their Brown Battlefield gravel to start with, before spending the afternoon checking through all the models and painting over any slips or bits I had missed (including, unbelievably, two pairs of trousers), before giving all the figures a liberal dark brown wash and leaving them to dry overnight.


Day seven came and I had plenty of little finishing-off jobs to do. I started by completing the bases. I used a mix of flowers and tufts to add some colour and match the figures up with the Late Romans they will soon be battling. The next task was completing the shields by painting the metal bosses before carefully completing the rims in colours to match the transfers. Gluing the completed shields to the figures made the miniatures look complete, and as early afternoon came I took my foot off the gas a little as I applied the excellent standards to the warlord and banner bearer and sat back to look at a job well done.





I’m delighted with the outcome. They’re far from ‘pro-painted’ as so many eBay listings will claim, but I’m happy with how they look and the figures—as I’ve found all Footsore minis have been in the past—were an absolute pleasure to paint. I’ll add more miniatures to the force by picking up a unit of twelve Early Saxon archers to give my spearmen some missile support, and another point of Warrior Fyrd with eight of the Young Saxon Warriors. I’m going to mix these in with my current warrior units to add even more figure variety to them, and those extra units will bring me up to a solid six point Saga force. While the new recruits are getting trained (painted) up for war, we’ll see how my new army stand up to the challenge on the battlefield as they try to carve out a new kingdom for themselves on the British shores. I’m looking forward to taking these guys out onto the battlefield; they have a date on the battlefield with some Romans and possibly a horde of marauding Picts…



About Carl Mardens

A writer based in York, UK, Carl has been painting and wargaming for the last 25 years.

His main obsession is Saga (as fuelled by an unhealthy obsession with history) with occasional sorties into Malifaux and Guildball.


Footsore Miniatures Logo

Carl’s warband is composed of Early Saxons from Footsore Miniatures. Just one of Footsore’s extensive range of historical miniatures, these Saxons are typical of the quality and attention to details our sculptors lavish on each and every one of our models.

From the Armies of the Caliphates to Vikings, Feudal Japanese to Normans, Early WWI British and more, Footsore Miniatures bring you the very best in historical wargaming. See the webstore for their complete range, special offers and deals.



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About the Author

Paul L. Mathews
A born-again wargamer since 2015, Paul L. Mathews is now the editor at War Banner. He is also the head honcho at his own freelance enterprise, Tabletop Creative. A dull boy, Paul's interests include editing and staying up past his bedtime

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