Sunday, April 17, 2011

Starting an Early Imperial Roman Army - the Helmet

After posting pictures of the Early Armenian army I built and painted I received quite a few comments, one of which was from my painter in Canada, Bob in Edmonton, who does all of my 15mm troops of late. When I posed to him the idea of painting a scratch-built army, he said he was game. So, now I am building an army, which for the first time will be painted by a painting service. I am excited.

Looking about in the DBA army lists - those that are an enemy to the Early Armenian army I just built - I see that the Early Imperial Roman army is listed. To be honest, I have never really fancied a Roman army after the Punic Wars, but given the iconic image of this army, I felt it was almost a must to use them.

So, what are some of the problems with making Romans? By and large it is the helmet. It is close fitting, can have a peak at the front, and has a neck guard at the back. One thing I have noticed is that there are several styles of helmet; it is not all uniform across history. The second problem is the curved shield, which almost curls protectingly around the soldier's left side. There are numerous shapes to use - rectangular, oval, oblong hexagonal, etc. - but for the legionnaires the shield is curved in this period. (For the auxilia the shield can be straight, which also helps distinguish between the two.)

Other iconic details include the segmented armor, which is detail simply painted on, and a mixture of pilum and gladius. This should be fun.

But first, I have to solve the problem of the helmet. I start with the standard micro shaker peg (a.k.a. the heart peg) and sand off the excess to make a simple rounded head. I then draw out the portions where the face and ears are exposed.

Using small bits I sand out a dent where the ear will be. Normally, I am against creating 'lines' which force where the painter must paint. The indentation where the ear is serves to mark the line where the neck guard ends. To create the neck guard I cut just above the line defining the bottom of the helmet. I then sanded a hollow out, creating a flare, then reshaped the head of the helmet. Although it does not show in the photographs below, I sanded below the flare, thinning the neck, giving further definition to the neck guard.

In the figure below you can see that I also sanded out the area for the face. Subsequently I stopped doing that, preferring to let the paint define those lines. Nonetheless, you can see the sort of effect it has if you want to expend the effort, say as with a single figure or a few for a skirmish game. In those cases I would also sand below the cheek guards to further thin the neck, giving the helmet greater definition.

I'll show more pictures later, of more variations, but suffice it to say that this design allows me to cover all of the legionnaires, auxiliaries, artillery, and cavalry. The only thing that looks different is the single element of LH, which represent Numidian cavalry, which will have a head shape similar to my LH Armenian horse archers (i.e. long hair).

The more I look at this, the more I realize that with a peak on the front, I have a pretty good pickelhaube for the 1860+ Prussians and Germans...

1 comment:

  1. This I look forward to. I have a squad of Romans made from wine corks I made a few years ago and I´m posting pics of them on my blog on Thursday as part of the A-Z challenge thing.




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