Choosing a Colour Scheme

As well as Saga I also play Chain of Command, a World War 2 skirmish game.  The Dark Ages and WW2 share something absent from most other historical gaming periods; the potential for very boring colour schemes.  There are some exceptions, but in general it’s not as visually stimulating on the wargames table as massed ranks of brightly coloured Napoleonic miniatures, or cohorts of imperial Romans.

One of the hardest parts of painting an army can be choosing a colour scheme, and even when the colours have been selected it’s important to get the best out of them.

In addition, a warband is made of multiple figures, so the colour scheme and painting style shouldn’t be solely focussed on making individual figures look good, it should give a great overall impression when the miniatures are massed together on the gaming table.  Ultimately though, the warband is yours as is the colour choice, so I can only talk from my own experience.

I’ve found that an interesting colour scheme makes the painting process much more enjoyable.  I also find I get the figures painted quicker as I don't dread picking up my paintbrush.  When I started painting my Anglo Danes I knew that I wouldn't be able to manage hour upon hour of staring at grey and brown paint as I painted my warband, I needed something more interesting.

With this in mind I decided to take my colour choice to the other extreme and try to choose colours that wouldn't have been seen before on a warband, but which colours?

There is plenty of inspiration available in nature, TV, on the internet, or from looking at painting armies at a local gaming club or show.  One of my preferred points for inspiration is the ‘Realm of Chaos’ books from Game Workshop.  Produced in 1988 and 1990 these were a huge influence upon me as I started gaming in my teenage years.  They are packed with colour photos of bizarre chaos creations, so can give plenty of ideas when looking for something out of the ordinary.

For my Anglo Danes, I eventually settled on two bright colours, green and pink, supported by grey and a couple of browns. 

As I was keen to get the models painted in a short period of time I decided to use a variant of the ‘Three Colour System’ where a base and two highlights are used for every colour.  To add some extra depth I also used a shade wash and occasional extra highlights by adding white to the final highlight.  I’m a fan of Games Workshops paints, so I made sure I had the three shades in each of my colours.

I’ve found that I can paint best and fastest when I’ve got everything to hand; I arranged all the paints I needed by colour in a handy box, and kept it with my brushes, palette and other essentials on a piece of plywood which I could grab when I had a spare 15 mins to paint.  When painting a lot of figures, this is the only way I can do it; have everything ready to go and grab a few minutes to paint at a time.


It took a lot of time to get them all painted, and on reflection, they are a bit bright, but I’m happy with them and they certainly stand out on the table.

There was a final surprise though; after choosing my colour scheme and painting my warband, I found this in the bathroom cabinet at home, I wonder where I really got my inspiration from?


Author: Frugal Dave
Frugal Dave lives in the south west of the UK and can be found on twitter @thefrugalgamer.


Andy Hobday

Ha ha, love it! I love bright saturated colors and this certainly checks the box. Nicely done.

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.

Continue shopping
Your Order

You have no items in your cart