Painting Poorly: A Song of Ice & Fire - House Bolton Flayed Men

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by CMON Games

"The Boltons Have Always Been as Cruel as They Were Cunning..."

When this game launched, there was a particular unit that I saw make its way into just about EVERY ARMY LIST.  And that unit was the Bolton Flayed Men.

They hit hard for a TON of damage, move pretty fast, and can really take a beating and keep coming back for more.  The FLayed Men are just absolute MONSTERS on the field (though their stock is sure to drop with the addition of new units that deal automatic wounds like the Pyromancers).

Their paint job is actually pretty simple, but they are mounted which means a LOT of strange nooks and crannies to paint the underside of the horse, so while they may not be that DIFFICULT to paint, they can be a little time consuming.  I'm going to try to give you the step by step instructions to MINIMIZE the amount of touch ups you'll have to do, but you won't get away without having to do at least a few, so don't freak out if you get paint someplace you don't want it.

Before we start, though, if you have been looking forward to me taking on these guys, thank my Patrons!  In a recent poll, they elected for me to start on the Cavalry Units, so you should be seeing those in the next few weeks.  If you're wanting something specific after that, consider becoming a Patron and letting your voice be heard!

1. Gameplan, Prep, and Prime

If you read my entry on the Bolton Cutthroats, you know that there will be no pink in this tutorial.  Sorry.

I'm going to be basing my colors off of the HBO series, which I found a decent digital picture of the Bolton Banner:

As you can see, the banner is a mix between black and blue, and while the emblem is not anywhere near the same as what's on the figures, I'll be trying to bring those color elements to the banner.

I will also be using the awesome cover art for inspiration as well.

There are four units, and trying to keep with the dark color theme, they'll be riding two, and only two, different colors of horse, chocolate brown, like The Mountain That Rides, and black, which we'll be learning together today.

As such, I've assembled the following paints:

There's a bit going on here, but it's not TOO bad.  From Vallejo we have Dark Sand, Gunmetal Grey, Field Blue, Chocolate Brown, and Flat Earth, though any tan, dark brown, and standard brown will be a good substitute for Dark Sand, Chocolate Brown, and Flat Earth Respectively, as those colors aren't really the stars of the show.  I do recommend spending the money on the Field Blue, however, if you want to stay close to the above color pallette.

Next we have Necron Compound by Citadel...  Yes, yes, I know, I NEVER use Citadel because I think they're overpriced, and I still think that, but I was at my FLGS and the guy was talking to me about how his business has been struggling since he relocated, so I kind of felt like I HAD to buy something.  SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GAME STORE, Y'ALL!  (BTW, Plate Mail Metal by The Army Painter will work as a cheaper substitute).

From the craft store/Target, I have my black and white for our 50/50 black/white mix, and dark red, the same dark red I've been using for my Lannisters.

I've gone ahead and primed them all with matt white spray on primer by The Army Painter and we're ready to start painting!

2. The Armor

So, the first thing we're going to be painting will actually be all of the plate armor.

Mix up your 50/50 black/white mix and paint anything that looks like plate mail.  This includes the shield, armor on the horse (except for the chainmail on the neck), most of rider's upper body, and the grieves (shin armor).

Once that's dry (and I mean DRY, let it stand for a bit), you'll take your Necron Compound and drybrush all of that over the black armor.

This gives the plate mail a metallic finish without actually using that much metallic paint, and keeps it looking BLACKENED.  We're doing this before anything else because when you drybrush, there's a tendency to get the paint in places you don't want, so this way, we can cover up any of the unwanted Necron Compound drybrush during the basecoat stage.

You can drybrush as much as you like, for as bright a metallic highlight as you want, however, if you do it too much, the armor will simply start to look silver, so don't go overboard.  Once you're done with this, it's time to do the basecoats!

3. Basecoats

Quick reminder to thin all of your paints 50/50 with water unless otherwise noted.  Now that we got that out of the way, we're going to start with the horses themselves.  For our chocolate brown horses, you'll be using, guess what?  Chocolate Brown (mind blown)!

And for the black horses, you'll be using our 50/50 black/white mix:

Use whatever color you like to paint the body of the horse, but don't forget to paint their ears sticking through the armor on the top of their head or their mouths sticking out from underneath the front of their armor.

And while these horses may have different coats, all of their tails and hooves should be painted with the 50/50 black/white mix.

Do the best you can with the undercarriage of the horse.  You WILL be getting bits of color in unwanted places, so don't worry too much about it, you can always go back over it later.

Once the horses are painted, we'll be taking our field blue and painting the riders' cloaks, the horses' caparisons (drapings), the flag, and bits of the riders' tabards that stick out from the bottom of their armor:

This is one of those instances where you'll inevitably get a little color on the horse (especially when painting the underside of the caparison).  Again, don't sweat it, you can always cover it back up.

Don't be afraid of doing two coats with this color, either.  You want it to be a nice smooth application, so wait for it all to dry, look at it and ask yourself if you should add another coat.  If you think even remotely close to "Maybe" the answer is actually "Yes".

Now, using your chocolate brown, you'll paint the sleeves and pants of the riders as well as the handles of their flails.  Nothing fancy here, just make sure you try to avoid any of the field blue that's already been laid down.

Next you'll be getting your 50/50 black/white mix again and painting all of the remaining black leather sections.  This includes the saddle, the straps holding the horses' helmet on, the horses' reins, the riders' boots and gloves, and in the above model's case, the leather straps hanging down from the horse's breastplate.

Time to make this thing look like an album cover.  Using your gunmetal grey, paint the horses' chainmail, the metallic portions of the flails (including the pommel and the tip), the stirrups, and the chains dangling from the horses' armor (along with the bolts in the leather straps of that one particular model).

This also includes the metal portions of the flag, such as the shackles and chains on the flayed man, the tip and base of the pole, and the bolts holding the flag in place.

We're pretty much done with basecoats, we just need to finish up the flag!  I wanted to get a good, SINEWY look for the flayed man, but I didn't particularly want to clog up my internet history with the interesting pictures that would arise from Googling "SKINLESS FACE", so I went with something that would be a little more easy on the psyche:

I went with the Colossal Titan from Attack on Titan.  I know, not the most anatomically correct example, but I figured it'd get my point across.  If you have more accurate knowledge of what a skinless face looks like, please, call the police and turn yourself in.


Take your dark red and paint the blood drops and the fleshy bits of the face, the eyeballs themselves, and hands, ignoring the raised portions surrounding the eye sockets and the recessed portion at the top of the skull.

Now, take your white and paint all of the border and swirls on the flag.  Use your detail brush and go slowly.  You can also turn your brush and use the side of the brush and not the point, as a way to have the detail of the mini catch the paint off of the brush, similar to how I suggest doing eyebrows.

The last thing you'll do is take your dark sand or tan and paint the recessed skull portion, the raised eye sockets and nose, along with the upper and a little bit of the lower lip.  I also added two small bits of tan on either side of the chin to simulate the jawbone coming through.

If you're really crazy, like me, you can even try to paint the tendons running down the back of the hand to the knuckles at this stage, though you don't have to.

You'd also use this time and color to paint all the wrappings on the flail handles and flag pole before letting that dry and moving onto shading!

4. Shading

We're going Highlander style in this mofo today!  There can only be one!

Dark Tone by The Army Painter is the sole wash we'll be using, but these models are big, and there are four of them, so we'll be needing a decent amount of it.

Go section by section (right arm, then left arm, then cloak, etc.) applying the dark tone to EVERYTHING.  The horse, the rider, the armor, the flag, the flails, the wraps, EVERYTHING.

Once that's dry, it's time for highlights.

5. Highlights and Finishing Touches

So, the first thing we'll be highlighting will be all of the cloth (the horses' caparison, cloaks, etc.).

Some of you have stated that you have a hard time determining where to put the highlights, so I'm going to be using this graphic of one of the models in hopes to that it helps you figure out where to put them on the others as well.

Using your field blue, you'll apply highlights to the areas that are, well, in blue from above...

And this will hopefully give you an idea of where to put them on the side of the model.  The basic idea is that whenever there's a fold in the cloth or fabric that's billowing outward or upward, or would just catch the light, you want to highlight that area.

When you're done, it should look something like this.

Now, we'll move onto the brown highlights.  Here's an example of the top:

And here's an example of the side profile:

Following the yellow markings, you'll use your flat earth on the flail handle, flagpole, leggings of the rider, and on the CHOCOLATE BROWN horses.

You can still use these highlight guides on the black horses, of course, but you wouldn't want to use the flat earth.  Don't worry, we'll get there.

As you can see, we're just giving those sections a pop of color, while leaving the base color nice and dark in the recesses.  This can help keep a model looking interesting when it has a relatively dark or monochromatic color palette.  When you're finished, it should look something like this:

Next we'll move onto highlighting the black portions.

Mixing up a lighter version of our black/white mix (roughly 1/2 now) you'll apply highlights to the black horses (similar to the example above), hooves of ALL the horses, and the black reins, saddle, boots, gloves, and straps.  Highlight any of the portions that have folds or features that bulge outward or upward, such as on the folds of the boots and the ridges of the saddle.  These are very subtle highlights, but especially when it comes to the boots and saddles, can really help give the portions of the mini that are black a necessary pop.

You can also mix this black/white mix even LIGHTER and drybrush it onto the top and sides of the horses' tails, and it'll just look gangbusters.

The last thing we'll be highlighting will be the flag.  Take some of your white highlight the portions of the border that billow towards you before moving onto your dark red and hitting the round part of the blood drops.  For the face and hands, just do a very light highlight over the exposed muscles, trying to only get the ridges that stick out.

For the skull, use your dark sand to get the very top of the skull and just the outermost portions of the nose, eye sockets, and lips.  You'll also probably want to touch up the chin and tendons on the back of the hand.

6. Spread Fear!

And you're done!  Spray these guys with your matte spray, base them, and get them on the battlefield to inspire fear in both the other figures and the other players!

I hope you guys found this guide helpful.  As always, all of my tutorials for the A Song of Ice & Fire Miniatures Game can be found on my blog here, and if you like what you see, or want to be eligible for awesome giveaways, or even if you want a bit of control in what content comes out next, consider becoming a Patron.  Every dollar helps keep this blog ad-free and delivering quality weekly content.

See you soon, Westerosi!

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