Built in a Day: Dicky Boyd on his Gangs of Rome Table (part 3)

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

Regular readers of Sculpting, Painting and Gaming will already be aware of Dicky Boyd. His continuing articles on how he built not only War Banner’s epic Gangs of Rome demo table for Salute (using only Sarissa Precision’s excellent Streets of Rome range of MDF buildings and some chewing gum), but also Sarissa’s awesome Dark Ages Longship have elevated Dicky to the heady heights of wooden wizardry that should be beyond the reach of us mortal humans…

…But fear ye not, for Dicky is here once again to regale and educate with this, the third part of his guide to not only building an MDF microcosm of Rome, but how to paint it. But fair warning, my friends, because Dicky’s language is about to get a little … colourful.



Rome is many things to many people, and in this article we will look at one way to paint MDF kits from Sarissa Precision’s excellent Streets of Rome range.

Whilst constructing the many and varied buildings required for War Banner’s Gangs of Rome table I considered the choices to be made vis-a-vis painting. Historical evidence tells us that Rome was a colourful place so, and not the boring collection of beige and creams we see in film and TV. With that in mind, I determined to give a more flamboyant flavour to the streets of Rome…

…But where to begin? With such a large number of buildings to prepare, the task of painting them all seemed daunting. At this stage it seemed wise to use spray paints. Therefore, my first piece of advise is to use spray paints, at least for an undercoat; it’s quicker, easier, and you’ll be rewarded with a more even finish without the need of an undercoat. It is, as youths say these days, a no-brainer.


I began with a basic red on external walls and roofing. I used the red produced by Montana Gold, and as sold on Sarissa’s website. This rich red covers areas well and provides a good start to the classic red of Roman plaster work.

Following the red came a masking of the areas which were to remain red, followed by a liberal spraying of white and marble to add texture. Any bleeding between the red and the white areas can be hidden with a broad stripe in a colour of your choice.

Dicky’s Top Tip #6: paint your door and window frames separately and stick them to your kit once the paint has dried. It may sound like extra work, but it’s worth it. Also, add depth to your window and door frames use a darker wash of the colour you have chosen.

Following spraying I could have left the colours flat, but I firmly believe a little extra time reaps greater rewards. For me the walls needed more texture to give depth and history to them. To achieve this look I needed an old, big brush that had splayed.

Stippling in this way allowed me to use a mixture of greys and whites. I worked with about three greys and a white to pick out details, and I used the MDF detailing on the external walls to help structure the stippling. Once you start its surprisingly quick. A wide flat brush can be used to help accentuate your windows and doors.

When stippling I advises using colours that are tonally linked to your base colour and repeating this stippling process for any flat colours. These aqueducts have all been completed using this technique:


Many of the models come with columns which are brilliant features on the buildings. To allow quick painting I used masking tape in stages to achieve the best results. I then began to paint your column. This can be done in the spraying phase. In this example the base has been painted black over the red undercoat, then masked off to allow the upper section of the column to be painted green.

I then masked off the column from the capitol, allowing me to vigorously apply the final colour choice (in this case gold). I then applied an earthy wash to the gold. Seeking more fefination, I added a final piece of masking tape to create a band of colour between the bottom colour and the main body of colour in the column.

I then removed the masking tape and touched up the areas where the masking tape had not done its job.


Normally I would add corrugated card to my roofs to create a more realist effect. But, time being of the essence in this case, I simply stippled colours on the flat card following the application of terracotta paint over the red undercoat. This is the technique I used:

Stipple down but sweep at the end of the run.

Posted by Dicky Boyd on Wednesday, 28 March 2018


That lovely rich red provided an excellent base for my terracotta roof tiles. I used a tester pot of mango emulsion paint to set the roof off. This was followed by liberal coats of washes to bring out the detail. Picking out a few tiles with these colour choices when this is dry really helps bring the roof to life. Just a few blue tiles and a few beige followed by a bright orange dry brush is all it takes. Use a light wash if your tiles need toning done a little.

Dicky’s Top Tip #7: add character to your buildings by personalising them with graffiti and wall paintings, thus making your own little Rome even more unique. It also serves to not only reflect your interests, but also to weave your Gangs of Rome fighters and Incola into the narrative of your city.

I’ll show how to do this in more detail next week, but in the interim, here’s a preview of what we have in store. Until then…

Vale, amici mei.



The entirety of Dicky’s Gangs of Rome table has been built using Sarissa Precision’s excellent Street of Rome MDF kits. You can see the Streets of Rome range on Sarissa’s webstore, as well as a smorgasbord of other collections in almost every conceivable time period and setting. Their expansive catalogue offers you buildings and accessories for games as diverse as Test of Honour, Star Wars: LegionSaga and many more.

Better yet, postage is only £2.50 worldwide, whatever you order, wherever you live.



Long before he established Dicky Boyd Builds—a bespoke terrain building service for for gaming companies and individuals—Dicky’s first models were cut from card and coloured with felt tip pens. He progressed to Airfix kits in the 1970s, and discovered the mysterious world of role playing games in the 1980s.

Dicky has previously worked for private clients and companies in the wargaming industry (including War Banner!)



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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

1 Comment on "Built in a Day: Dicky Boyd on his Gangs of Rome Table (part 3)"

  1. Thanks for the Tips and really nice table !

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