Painting Norman cavalry: The horses

During my recent reintroduction to playing Saga I was reminded, as my bowfire continued to be countered by Dave Luff’s Vikings and his use of Odin and Asgard abilities, that I needed more cavalry – specifically mounted Warriors. The Norman battleboard gives very little benefit to foot troops, so you might as well take mounted warriors – plus they double up nicely for use as a Breton warband.

NormanKnights360I had already planned for this, and had a couple of extra boxes of plastic Conquest Norman Knights at my disposal – these are pretty decent figures and ideal for producing a large mounted force whilst on a budget. Cavalry look great, but can be a drain on the wallet!

If you’ve seen my latest painting table update, you will have seen that I have now put together and primed 32 mounted Normans – enough for four units of Warriors. Coupled with my existing three units of Mounted Hearthguard this should be enough to strike fear into the heart of any opponent.

There is only one fly in this particular ointment – I don’t like painting horses. (Many have already pointed out the other major fly in the ointment, in that I’ve already glued my riders to the horses before I started painting, which is, apparently, a big mistake. HUGE. These are stuck with plastic glue, so they are not coming off – I’ll just have to live with the consequences)


My previous efforts in this area were pretty rudimentary – to be honest after looking at those knights I really want to go back and revisit them (in my defence, I was rushing to finish them for a tournament) but the markings on the horses are pretty much non-existent, and I think they would look so much better given a bit of attention.

Painting Horses Mike McveyAt the time of painting this first batch of horses my main two sources for painting horses came from Games Workshop.

Back in WD 199, Mike McVey published an article on painting horses. You can find it here. It’s got some great ideas and advice in it, although some of the choices of points (mane, tail, legs, ears) colours in the article is, shall we say, open to artistic licence.

Painting Horses MordhiemA more recent Games Workshop article about painting horses was written after Mordheim was released. Whilst it uses some material that appeared in the Mike McVey article, it is generally more detailed on both horse colours, and using accurate points colours. Perhaps on the downside, the colour shades are described solely using GW paint colours – some of which may now be defunct as the paint range has changed at least twice since this article was written.

You can find it here.

wp-1470648177961.jpgThere are several other colour charts available on the web. Henry Hyde very helpfully provided this one from his excellent book, The Wargaming Compendium, online.

Whilst the picture gives some very useful pointers, it’s really to be used in conjunction with the chapter in which Henry talks about painting your army, which includes several pages on our four legged friends, so it’s really worth buying the book. (Actually, this is an excellent book on wargaming, and it should really be in everyone’s book collection).

Gareth Beamish (@ADCPainting on Twitter) also very helpfully pointed me in the direction of this incredibly comprehensive chart, which has most of the information that you will ever need.


Of course, if you want to paint the horses quickly (something with which I’m very tempted) you could follow the Army Painter guides to painting Norman Cavalry that can be found here and here.

Finally, fellow Podcaster Mike Whitaker has produced a series of 11 articles on painting horses which is incredibly in depth (it helps that he’s married to a vet!) which go into all details about the genetics of horse colouring and what sort of colour distribution your average cavalry unit should have before you get anywhere near any sort of painting guide. This is a fantastic series of articles and very much worth reading.


4 Comments on Painting Norman cavalry: The horses

  1. I really enjoyed Mr Whitaker’s article on painting horses. I have taken the the knowledge he imparted, and painted the majority of horses as bays.

  2. Good set of links, thanks!

  3. Can you post a link to the big chart. When I download the JPEG and try to zoom the detail is unreadable.

  4. Babs Babage // April 6, 2020 at 07:20 // Reply

    This has been very, very helpful and amazing. I was searching for Mike McVey’s 199 article on horses, but didn’t even know that is what I was looking for. You solved that for me. Amazing – thanks!

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