Painting 15mm Hoplite Shields
By Neldoreth
April 27th, 2009

The following is a step-by-step tutorial or guide to paint 15mm Greek Hoplite shields. That being said, it can apply to painting pretty much any shield or freehand design from any hisorical, fantasy, or sci-fi genre. This one specifically focuses on a single colour design, but the method could easily be applied to multiple colour designs as well.

The method for painting the shields is pretty simple really. Overall it is identical to any layering type method that is commonly used in acrylic painting: you start with a dark base coat and then you move on to get successively lighter and lighter. Note that the above was done on a flat piece of sheet styrene as an example, but the scale is that of a 15mm Greek Hoplite shield from Xyston Miniatures. The following explains the steps:

  1. Apply a red brown base coat.
  2. Apply the first highlight to the top of the shield. Here we are assuming the light source is above the shield, but is relatively diffuse.
  3. Apply the second highlight. Be careful not to cover the first highlight completely, otherwise your first highlight was a waste! I know, it seems redundant, but I've done it more than a few times.
  4. Final highlight to the base shield colour by putting a very narrow dark pink line along the top of the rim.
  5. Paint the design on the shield in the base (dark) colour. The key to doing this well is knowing the design very well. Do it over and over again on a piece of plastic or card in the size you want until you can reproduce it as well as you want to... It takes practice, but eventually it gets easier! Even after all that practice, if you make a mistake, it is always an option to go back and fix it by painting the shield base colour over the mistakes.
  6. Put the first highlight onto the design (more or less) assuming the same light position as you did on the shield base colour. This first highlight is used to define (or start defining) the detail. Again, practice makes better :) Note that here I defined the feather shapes, as well as the circle-dot in the middle of the chest.
  7. Finally, with your last highlight reinforce the details you put on there with the first highlight. On this notice that I put little dots on the tail feather with the final highlight, instead of highlighting along the line edges; it added flavour and I thought it worked. Also, all of the highlights are on the top side of the detail with the exception of the wing feathers; there I decided that it would look better on the tips of the wing feathers than the base.

Just for reference, here are the colours I used for the shield base colour. The first on the left there is Red Brown from Ral Partha, now Iron Wind Metals old line of paints (they are now discontinued, much to my chagrin). I stocked up on bottles, so it should be a few more years until I need to find a match among the craft paints at my local craft store. The second colour is a mix of Americana True Red, P3's Khador Red and IWM's Red Brown. The third is Americana True Red from their craft paint line (sometimes called orange-red), and the final is a pink that I mixed myself with all types of different paints (P3, craft paints, some Red Brown) with a base of IWM/Ral Partha Pink (the original pink was way too light!). Recently I started using the cheap craft paints instead of the over priced miniature paints; I'm broke and I find that I like the ultra flat quality of that stuff.

And for completeness, here are the colours I used for the design. The dark colour is Americana Cocoa, the middle one is IWN/Ral Partha Dun - which matches very closely to Delta Ceramcoat Antique Gold, and the final one is Delta Ceramcoat ivroy, but is pretty much the same as any ivory. So, that's the entire story for painting shields!