Tuesday 5 June 2012

Arcane Armorials: 80s Shield Designs the Easy Way

Hello one and all,

Today I want to talk about shields. Those of you who have read my Warseer project log or spent time here with this blog will know that painting shields were, for a long time, the bane of my painting life. I was absolutely hopeless at them. I mean, truly dreadful... I just couldn't get the technique no matter how I tried.

Then, quite by accident (and with the help of an old 'Eavy Metal article) I painted a shield; a 'citadelesque' John Blanche face, and stuck it on one of my favourite beastmen models.

Here it is...

Now I love shield designs. Freehand painting is challenging but very rewarding. Over the last few months I have  painted up Khorne, Nurgle, Tzeentch and Slaanesh style shields- not to mention a few generic ones. Old issues of WD are stuffed with inspiration (look out for this in a future post) to get the creative juices flowing. However, sometimes I just cannot be bothered to paint up a shield- or, I am faced with the gruelling prospect of having to paint 20+ shields that are exactly the same. Its bad enough having to paint up fairly identical miniatures en mass, but the shields as well - surely a bridge (or brush, perhaps?) too far?

I returned to the Arcane Armorials that I discussed a few months ago.

They were a very expensive purchase but I had never seen them for sale before, or indeed since, so was prepared to expend 'top dollar' for them. I scanned them (and they are available to other enthusiasts here on my scribd page, Arcane-Armorials) and then promptly forgot about them. Someone mentioned the possibility of printing them off on transfer paper but I was unable to locate any of this for a decent price. So, instead, I just printed them off my basic deskjet printer and was impressed with the results- I have yet to use a proper inkjet or photopaper, but I assume the quality of the images will be even greater. Additionally, the colour seems a little lack lustre but again, I imagine a superior printer will produce superior results.

Modern technology inconceivable in 1987, a laptop with a scanned copy of Arcane Armorials. No need to buy additional copies these days...

Just a cheap £30 deskjet but it did the job rather well really...

So, how to cut them out effectively? I used a sharp blade to slice the designs off the paper before using some kitchen scissors to trim of the edges as neatly as possible.

The tools of the trade; hobby knife, print out, cutting board and old citadel shields...

The shields are cut out with the blade and finished off with scissors...

Painting some grey shields black, I first attempted to attach the design by placing it on the wet paint, however I found it hard to move the image to an optimal position.

 Chaos Black undercoat (though quite why I just didn't use the masses of black plastic shields I own- hindsight is a wonderful thing!) waiting for the trimmed designs...
Attached designs (you can probably observe the colour distortion caused by the wet paint soaking through)...

Then I tried to use PVA glue. This worked much better but I used a little too much water in the mix and some of the printer colours ran. This was, obviously, not acceptable so I squirted out a little more PVA and left the glue to dry for about 5mins. This I then applied directly onto an unpainted shield. There was just enough movement in the glue for me to slide the design to the optimal position. The resulting shield, once dry, did not suffer from any colour separation from water damage and could easily be tidied up with black paint (and silver nails) to give good results.

Tidied up designs- these could do with a layer or two of highlights!

Perfecting the technique, gummy PVA with the designs carefully slid on...

After reading the bumpf that came with the original transfers, I attempted to touch up the designs through additional higlighting. This too, was very effective and I was able to undo the water damaged designs with a little brush work. Really very easy (but the more complex, fiddly designs took a little concentration) to finish off.

 Quick highlighting experiment- this took about 3mins, I really rushed but you can see the improvement clearly!

Here are the finished designs. I know that the images are not perfect and simple 'look and snap' cameras tend to wash out colour. Later one, when the weather is a little brighter (nothing like natural light for photographing miniatures, eh?) I have another go at recording the results.

Note: The top design was heavily highlighted with a range of colours while the design at the bottom has had no additional work done, it is simply just a print out on a shield. The black was painted on once the PVA was dry and the silver nails were added later on...

What do you guys think?

I better get back to the roast dinner now. Chicken, veg and lovely gravy await me. Drop me a line if you have a go at using this old shield designs yourself. I'd be interested to see what other painters/gamers do with them. I expect, the more you work with them to more you can achieve. As I type this, I have just thought about the possibilities of cutting out small components from different shields to create unique designs.

The possibilities are limitless, really!



  1. Nice work on that Beastman shield.

    I agree - freehand can definitely be a pain but definitely rewarding.

    Having noticed a lot of the shield designs used for Ruglud's Armoured Orcs, I might have to take advantage of your generosity and go back and paper over my slightly amateur attempts...

  2. the "someone" who mentioned the printable transfer paper was i Orlygg!!!!!

    seriously though...you weren't able to find it from a local hobby shop, or from the companies website? i think it was only a couple of dollars, but postage to the U.K. i'm not sure of. The sheets i purchased here in AUS were from a hobby shop that specialised in model trains.

    Even so, i think the results that you've gotten with the printer are more than adequate. Probably not even worth chasing after the transfer paper after all?

    well done.

  3. Awesome! I have some few of these knocking about but no full sheets such as this. Very kind of you sir.

  4. Once you've printed the shiled designs, spray the printed sheet with matt acrylic varnish (e.g. Vallejo varnish) and hey, presto, your designs will be waterproof. :-)

    I suggest lightly spraying the sheet 4 or 5 times, turning the sheet 90 degrees each time to get uniform coverage.

    Printing onto lightweight (say 170gsm) matt inkjet photo paper will get you a much better finish that using ordinary printer paper.

    You can also use this technique for flags.

    Hope this helps.