Army in a Week: Carl Marsden Paints his Saga Vikings in Less Than Seven Days!

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

So, you’ve enjoyed seven days’ worth of peace and quiet without me shouting in your ear about some hobby awesome or other. And what did you do with your time? Did you invest it wisely? Did you, for instance, take the opportunity to paint an entire Saga warband? No, me neither. But Carl Marsden did.

Yes, you read that correctly; Carl painted an entire Viking warband for Saga in only seven days. Don’t believe me? Well here’s the proof:



Nothing says Saga to me as loudly and fiercely as the word ‘Vikings’.

I’ve faced The fury of the Northmen many times when playing Saga, often whilst suffering another crushing defeat. So when I finally had the opportunity to paint a Viking warband of my own I jumped at the chance. The force in question was Footsore Miniature’s Viking Skirmish Warband which is specifically designed to be a perfect starting point for a Saga force. Coming with a Warlord and Bannerman, two units of 4 Hirdmen for your Hearthguard options, and two Bondi units of 8 Warriors apiece, it’s a solid and flexible force on its own and a great nucleus for future expansion as your Warband grows.

With 26 figures in total my task was to demonstrate how you can get this force from box to battlefield within a week, and to accomplish this I’ll be using the fantastic range of sprays, paints and basing materials from The Army Painter.

As always when Footsore’s miniatures arrive I spend time admiring the quality of the sculpts. They really are superb and, with no repetitions of models in the box, I took some time deciding which weapons to attach to each individual miniature. The figures come with a selection of swords and hand axes, and I added in a good dose of spears to add even more variety to the warband. Adding the sword and axe hands required clipping off the empty hand already attached to the model, and a bit of drilling and pinning to attach the new appendage. The spear hands needed holes drilling in them to accommodate the weapon. After a few hours of this, the figures were ready to be started! Here are the models I would be painting:

The Warlord and and his Bannerman…

…Two units of four Hirdmen (Hearthguard)…

…And two units of eight Bondi (Warriors)


Day One: Preparatory Work

After cleaning up the models and gluing them to their MDF bases I sprayed them with a Matt Black undercoat … and immediately realised my mistake. When batch painting I usually spray heavily armoured figures like the Warlord and Hearthguard in black to make the whole process quicker, but the lightly armoured Bondi would have been much faster to finish with an undercoat of Matt White or Skeleton Bone. The paler coloured clothes in which they are dressed are much quicker and easier to cover on a light undercoat, so I’d already sabotaged my own quest for speed!

Cursing my eagerness, I began paining the miniatures with a liberal drybrush of Plate Mail Metal. The chainmail armour for the heavy guys takes it very well on a black undercoat and I made sure to catch all metallic areas on all the figures: helmets, brooches, belt buckles et al as well as weapons. In terms of time this first step is the foundation for everything else, defining the boundaries of the cloth areas that surround the armour and killing several birds with the same silvery-coloured stone.


Once the metallic areas were dry, I carefully picked out the warriors’ skin with Barbarian Flesh. This mid-tone is a great starting point for shading / highlighting, and I took care not to spill any onto the metal areas, whilst not worrying too much if the paint spread onto the other areas of the models that were yet to be painted.

With the skin areas done, I moved on to the mid-brown areas of the models, namely the boots, spear shafts and axe hafts and scabbards. This brought me to the end of day one and the warband was beginning to come together.



Days Two and Three: Fabric

Days two and three were devoted solely to the largest areas of coverage, namely the tunics, trousers and cloaks. I painted the fur areas first, using Oak Brown, Uniform Grey and Ash Grey to layer on the black undercoat and give the texture some depth. For the cloth areas I chose Scaly Hide, Skeleton Bone, Moon Dust (mixed 2:1 with Matt White) Crystal Blue, Voidshield Blue, and Dragon Red for the clothing, and Mummy Robes for the linen Gambesons. I tried to limit the palette to paler, natural shades which would have been suitable for the natural dyes of the times, and split the figures equally to try and make sure that no single colour was dominant amongst the figures…

…Or at least that was the plan. As the end of day two approached and I realised that I had managed to paint half of the Bondi in yellow shirts. A few repaints were required to even the numbers out. With the mustard monstrosities sorted out, the bulk of the base-coating was done, and I was ready for day four.



Day Four: Accessories and Hair

With the clothing done it was time to bring the basecoating to a close and concentrate on the hair, beards, leather pouches and belts. The hair I split between several shades to add variety: Oak Brown, Monster Brown, Ash Grey, Lava Orange and Moon Dust (the last two both mixed 2:1 with Matt White).

Whilst these basecoats were drying I started the bases. I used Brown Battleground to cover the bases and give a good contrast with the brighter colours of the figures themselves. While the glue was drying, I picked out a few areas on the warlord and Bannerman with Greedy Gold and called it a day.



Day Five: Bases and Shields

I began day five by adding tufts to the bases; this was the first step toward really bringing the figures to life. I used a mix of different tufts including Lowland Shrubs, Meadow Flowers and Woodland Tufts.


Once these had been added to all the bases I spent a few hours checking every figure for mistakes, including bits I had missed and any areas where the paint had strayed into areas it wasn’t wanted. Once I was happy that they were all clean and tidy I gave all the figures a liberal dose of Strong Tone wash to darken the colours and add some depth to the textures of the models.

With the figures left to dry, I began work on the shields. The figures are supplied with standard round shields, and I invested in some of the excellent Little Big Man shield transfers which always look so good on completed figures! After undercoating the shields and applying the transfers, I painted around the rims of the shields to continue the transfer pattern before painting the wooden planks on the back with Oak Brown and the boss / handle with Plate Mail Metal. A late night of shield gluing ensued and, once all the shields were in place, I washed the bosses and shield backs with Dark Tone and retired to contemplate the prospect of finishing the project a day early!




Day Six: Finishing Touches

The first task on day six was the banner, another item picked up from Little Big Man (and also available here from Footsore Miniatures!) and such an important part of pulling the warband together both from a gameplay and a visual point of view.

With the banner done, I turned my attention to the highlights and applying the finishing touches to the figures. With the wash now dry, I concentrated on the faces and hands first, picking out the raised areas with the original Barbarian Flesh to contrast them with the darker shaded recesses. I then did the same with the cloaks and clothing. This stage really lifts the figures and brightens them back up after the dulling affect of the wash, whilst at the same time keeping the shading in the deeper areas in place. A few brighter highlights on the metallics followed, and the last step was to give some attention to the severed head that seems to be in deep conversation with the Warlord. Years of painting Zombicide figures has left me well aware of the great effect that Glistening Blood paint has and with a few splashes of that applied to finish the model off I was happy to call it a day!




I’m really happy with the way the figures turned out, and to finish them in six days was a surprising bonus. Footsore’s miniatures are always a joy to paint, and I’m pleased with the final result: a warband that looks individual in its variety of sculpt and weapon options and colours, whilst having the coherence to make them appear as a united force. Footsore Miniatures’ Viking starter force is a great option for Saga players, be they newcomers to the game or seasoned veterans looking for a new army to lead into battle.



My next ‘Army In A Week’ article will follow soon, and as the Vikings muster for war I hear the rumble of hooves in the distance…

…The Normans are coming!



Footsore Miniatures Logo

Carl’s warband is composed of Viking’s from Footsore Miniatures. Just one of Footsore’s extensive range of historical miniatures, they 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.



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.



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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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