Review: Painting Wargames Figures – Early Imperial Romans

Having recently played the forthcoming ‘Infamy, Infamy!‘ rules from Too Fat Lardies, it seems an opportune moment to take a look at a book which gives a detailed painting guide for Early Imperial Romans.

18768.jpgWritten by the same author as WWII In The DesertPainting Wargaming Figures: Early Imperial Romans sees Andy Singleton tackle the subject of painting a single army in some depth.

As with his previous volume, the author makes no assumptions as to the experience, or lack thereof, of the reader so the first chapter of the book discusses the tools and techniques required for assembling and painting the miniatures discussed later in the book.

Since the painting guide deals with a single subject, the various chapters deal with how to paint different parts of each figure.

  • Weapons & Armour
  • Shields
  • Tunics, Helmet Crests and Cloaks
  • Flesh tones
  • Roman Cavalry – how to paint horses
  • Basing

Once again, the book also provides an appendix which details which manufacturers produce models in various scales, although this guide covers 28mm – 6mms and also includes suppliers of suitable scenery.

Each chapter is presented using several step-by-step guides, each of which is accompanied by a picture of the model, plus details of the size and type of brush used as well as the paint colour. Most paints used in the guide are from the Army Painter or Vallejo paint ranges.

Weapons & Armour

This chapter begins with a discussion of the typical equipment a legionairy of the period would be carrying, and includes details of how armour and weapons evolved over time in their use with the legions along with some tough timescales and discussion of sources of information. The guide then goes into detail how various types of armour can be painted, although the author is at pains to point out these ideas which the reader can use as a starting point for their own experimentation.  The techniques include

  • Clean Iron Mail
  • Tarnished Iron Mail
  • Clean Segmentata
  • Aged Segmentata
  • Weathered Segmentata
  • Bright Bronze or Copper Alloy Armour
  • Weathered Bronze/Copper Alloy
  • Blackened Armour
  • Tinned Armour
  • Wood fittings

Each of these techniques is handled in three of four steps.


This chapter discusses how shields were utilised by legionaries, and also discusses shape and probable colours. Three techniques are discussed:

  • Solid Shield Colour
  • Using transparent decals
  • Using Solid Colour decals

Tunics, Helmet Crests and Cloaks

Before the step-by-step guides, this chapter spends some time discussing both the different types of dress that you might encounter amongst legionaries and auxiliary troops, as well as the potential different colours and fabrics involved. It assumes that Auxiliary units are now equipped in the Principate fashion, rather than their native dress. The painting of three different colours are covered in detail

  • Off-white tunics
  • Brilliant white leather armour
  • Red tunics

Flesh tones

Since the Roman legion took it’s members from all parts of the empire, this chapter discusses ways of painting tanned skin, plus light and dark flesh.

There are some interesting ideas presented here, including the use of both green and purple washes to effect different skin colourations.

Painting horses

Cavalry was an important part of the Legion, so this chapter discusses briefly the different cavalry types and their roles. It then gives step-by-step guides for:

  • Chestnut brown horse
  • Grey horse
  • Black horse
  • Leather rack
  • Red leather rack

Although the guide does state that a ‘Brown horse’ covers a multitude of different variations, I was slightly surprised that the author chose a Chestnut rather than a Bay, which is probably far more prevalent.


The author gives details of how he creates three different types of bases: green grass, snow and arid. For this guide he uses textured paint as his starting material.


Andy has written a painting guide which is pretty comprehensive, though not exhaustive. It covers all the basics well – I think most gamers would expect to see a Roman Legion predominantly in red and white as colour other than their armour. Other colours are certainly discussed, but this doesn’t spoon feed the reader every last bit of information, though it does provide ample advice and detail on each subject so that it is a simple matter of extrapolation to work out how to approach colours that are not presented in the step-by-step guides.

The book is easy to read, the guides are simple to follow and are designed to give a finished result which is both quick to accomplish and pleasing on the eye. This result can be viewed as ‘wargames standard’  if you will – base colour plus one level of shade and highlighting.

If you were after a single source of how to paint your Roman Legion, this book is certainly worthy of your consideration – I was impressed by its accessibility and style of approach, and will certainly make use of it once my shopping list of figures has been finalised.

Painting Wargames Figures – Early Imperial Romans
Author: Andy Singleton
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
RRP: £14.99

The book is also available in both ePub and Kindle formats. More information can be found here

Rating: 4 stars


It is worthy of note that a companion volume to this one – Rome’s Northern Enemies: British, Celts, Germans and Dacians – is due for release in May 2020 and is currently available for pre-order from the Pen & Sword website

A copy of this book was provided by Pen & Sword for the purposes of this review.

2 Comments on Review: Painting Wargames Figures – Early Imperial Romans

  1. Gary Strombo // February 21, 2020 at 16:25 // Reply

    I just bought this book! Last night I just primed 240 Victrix and Warlord Imperial Roman Legionaires and Auxilary for a Hadrian’s Wall game that I am designing.

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