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Painting 2mm hoplites

I like to paint my 2mm using the “expressionist” style of which a main interpreter is Mark Backhouse, of Strenght and Honour. This style is about mass effect, with no regard whatsoever for individual figures. You just paint the whole group with random dots from a selected color palette, to give the impression of a bunch of people seen at long distance. Very effective.

Problem is, these Project wargaming ancient pieces are great and are so detailed that they scream to be painted properly. Each hoplites’ block even have dozens of tiny individual spears, which are way cool but also a physical obstacle between your brush and the body of troops. It took me a while to find out an approach which works with them, so I figured I would share the lessons learned.

First of all, I base colour black, all of them. Then I apply a first round of dots, in white, using a toothpic (1). Then a second round of dots in a skin colour (2, I use Vallejo basic skintone) and finally a third round of gold (3), which is more visible than bronze. Take care not to overlap the dots, always leave some black between them. You will find it’s impossible to paint the troops without putting half of the paint on the raised spears!

Don’t be frustrated. Here is the first trick. Do NOT correct by painting in brown the vertical spears. Let them remain half-painted with white, skin and gold. Just paint those spears which are protruding horizontally from the front of the formation (4). The final result will look messy from close up, but perfectly balanced from playing distance! If you paint brown all of the spears, as your obsessive instincts tell you to, it will look “wrong” (I know you are obsessive because you are interested in 2mm miniatures).

The final painting step, and the second trick, is to paint with silver the tip of the spears – all of them, vertical and horizontal. To paint the tips of the vertical spears, just splash a generous amount of silver paint on the surface of one of those flat coffee stirrers, and apply it horizontally on the hoplite formation. This way all the tips of the vertical spears will get some paint. This will nicely “tie” together the appearence of the unit and provide some degree of overall uniformity, which balances neatly the messy coloured dots underneath. The unit is done!

Now, for the bases. I base my hoplites on dry terrain, which I guess works for Greece or Anatolia or similar climates. I have a very minimalist approach and go for very light colors, which are a good match for the pretty dark miniatures blocks. First of all, cover the base with white glue and lightly sprinkle the margins of it with some fine-grained sand. I mix two different sizes.

Then paint the whole base with a sandy colour and highlight it (I use Vallejo tan yellow, and then beige). I then apply large patches of white glue again and cover with Woodland scenics Fine Turf Yellow grass, which gives the appearence of a light growth on soil. Glue the figures on and add the final touch: apply dots of white glue to add sparse green bushes. I use Army Painter Grass green. There you go!

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