1066 And All That: Carl Marsden Paints His Normans in One Week!

Hi, I’m Paul, and welcome to Sculpting, Painting and Gaming, the blog of hobby life goals.

I bought my first miniatures in the mid-eighties, and those of you who know me in person won’t be surprised to hear most of them are still unpainted. Imagine then how envious I am of the likes of Carl Marsden. Having already contributed articles on painting Vikings and Saxons in a week to Sculpting, Painting and Gaming, he’s done it again with this, his new seven day wonder. Whilst this article may not contain any surprises—it pretty much does what it says on the proverbial tin— the question still remains…

…How on earth does he do it?!?



The Bayeux Tapestry. 1066 and all that. The 11th century invasion of England by Duke William II of Normandy changed the country forever. Not only did it end Anglo-Saxon rule and cripple the influence of the Scandinavian Vikings, it also changed the political and physical shape of England through the introduction of Feudalism and the building of castles. Norman rule in England and brought with it significant changes in military tactics and equipment, and heralded the dawn of the Middle Ages…

…At least that’s what I remember from my GCSEs. But enough of the history; let’s focus on historical miniatures instead! Having previously completed my Irish and Viking Saga warbands in a week, my next project saw attentions turn to Footsore Miniatures’ superb new Normans. Once again I set myself the challenge of painting and basing this new warband using the Army Painter products, and I would do it in just seven days.

The 4 point Saga warband shows the stark differences between the 11th century Viking warband and their Norman equivalents. Whereas the Viking army consists exclusively of infantry, the Norman warband provides a mounted Warlord and Bannerman, 16 Heavy Cavalrymen and eight crossbowmen. This allows for a lot of flexibility in a force, and the cavalrymen are supplied with hands suitable for lances, or an additional sprue of four hand weapons which can be easily attached to the models for added variation. I opted for two units of four Milites to act as hearthguards, and a unit of eight further Milites who count as a hard-hitting Warrior unit. With the additional Warrior unit coming in the form of the Crossbowmen, I began to assemble the figures and spray undercoat them.


I opted to paint the Crossbowmen first and try to get them done and dusted on day one. Learning from my mistakes with the unarmoured Viking figures, I spray undercoated these guys with Skeleton Bone, giving them a light starting shade and a colour that I intended to leave in place for some of the clothing.


I painted the boots In Oak Brown, the hands and faces in Barbarian Flesh and the helmets with Plate Mail Metal. The bolt quivers were painted Leather Brown and the belts, pouches and knife scabbards with Monster Brown and I was motoring along.  At this point I based the figures with my usual Brown Battlefield and left it to dry while I had some lunch.


Resuming I began with the cloth areas, opting for a range of mainly muted colours that I would replicate in the tunics of the mounted troops to add to the cohesion of the force. Crystal Blue, Desert Yellow, Ash Grey, Dragon Red and Scaly Hide were the main colours I opted for and the figures were ready for washing. Happy with my progress on day one, I left these guys to wait and spray undercoated the 18 Horsemen with Matt Black to end day one.


Days Two to Four: Cavalry

Eighteen Horsemen. Eighteen. Horsemen. Looking at the sheer volume of metal to cover and the excellent detail on the figures to pick out I was genuinely daunted and wondering if I was going to be able to complete them in the six remaining days. After a couple of very strong coffees, step one was to violently attack every figure with and aggressive and liberal drybrushing of Plate Mail Metal. Three hours of drybrushing is enough to drain anyone’s will to live, but, with the Heavy Cavalrymen being encased in chainmail hauberks, this step was essential for a lot of relatively quick progress. With the riders looking suitable metallic, I decided to switch my attentions to the largest areas of paint, the horses.



I’m not ashamed to say that the horses took me two and a half days. I began by painting the horses coats, tails and manes using Oak Brown, Monster Brown, Leather Brown, Desert Yellow, Matt Black and Uniform Grey. Once this was done, I went back and picked out the bridles and the saddles with a 50/50 mix of Leather Brown and Oak Brown so that it wouldn’t match any of the horse’s coats.  Once these were dry, I painted the cloths underneath the saddles in the selection of colours that I had used for the cloth areas of the Crossbowmen, with the addition of Alien Purple and Greenskin to give more variety. I then painted the hooves with Necromancer Cloak and at the end of day 4 I felt like I had literally made no progress!



Day Five: Finishing the Cavalry

The fifth day arrived and I had officially begun to panic. With the horses now 90% done I switched attention to the riders, starting by painting the hands and faces with Barbarian Flesh, the leather straps with Leather Brown and the boots / scabbards with Oak Brown. Getting all that done before lunchtime felt like it had given me a chance, and after lunch I waded into the cloth areas of the models, namely the tunics underneath their armour, hoods and trousers. I also elected to paint some of the helmets to make the figures stand out and used Crystal Blue, Desert Yellow, Ash Grey, Dragon Red, Scaly Hide, Alien Purple and Greenskin for these areas. That done, I painted all the lance shafts and weapon hafts with Oak Brown and based the figures with Battlefield Brown and an entire tube of superglue. Leaving them to dry overnight, they were at last starting to look like they were reaching the finishing line!


Day Six: Bases and Washes

I spent the sixth day almost entirely touching up the models and finishing off the smaller jobs. I added Glorious Gold to a few of the helmets and the sword details of the warlord, painted in the metal details of the Horses bridles with Shining Silver, and cleaned up any areas where I had splashed paint where it wasn’t welcome (of which there were many as I was panicking!) and used Skeleton Bone to finish the horses by adding in their socks and face details. Finally, I washed all of the figures with Strong Tone for the riders and the darker horses, and soft tone for the Crossbowmen and the grey/bay horses As they dried, I undercoated the 18 shields I had forgotten about (!) and left them as my final job for day seven. I completed the bases using the Army Painter Woodland Tufts, Meadow Flowers and Lowland Shrubs and called it a day!


Day Seven: Finishing Touches

The seventh and final day arrived, and using the Little Big Man Norman Kite Shield transfers I started the shields, applying the transfers before painting the rims and bosses with Plate Mail Metal and the shield backs with Monster Brown. I washed the shields with Strong Tone after gluing them to the figures (this encompassed a dash to the shops for a new pack of superglue!) and selected a suitable banner to finish off the warband.


The Viking shieldwall braces for impact as Norman cavalry closes in…


Overall, painting 18 cavalry and eight infantry in a week is tough. There were times I felt I was getting nowhere, but as the last couple of days arrived the warband really came to life and I’m delighted with how they came out for a week’s effort! Painting horses can be a difficult and long task but with a simple, neat paint scheme and some subtle variation of the colours they can look very effective. I’m a huge fan of the mounted models and their flexibility in terms of the weapon options included–having lances, axes and maces in the mix–makes the cavalry look particularly fierce and historically on the money. Lined up against the Vikings from my earlier project they look fantastic, and as a force for Saga they offer a hard hitting and visibly striking army for collectors and gamers. The speed and flexibility of the mounted troops is great for gameplay, and the figures are a fantastic representation of the Norman troops that carried Duke William to victory and the crown.



Footsore Miniatures Logo

Carl’s warband is composed of Normans 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 Skraelings to Saxons, Feudal Japanese to Vikings, 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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