|Romans trimmed, scored,|
and ready for glue.
My current method evolved from past experience dabbling with other paper soldier periods Dennis provides, specifically his figure books for the American War of Independence (AWI) and American Civil War (ACW). I bought the latter shortly after its release thinking I might shrink the figures to 15mm scale or, ideally, 10mm to go with some similarly sized, pre-painted plastic figures I’d acquired (the manufacture having since vanished). Alas, my earliest dabblings proved 10mm scale paper figures were way too small to manipulate for gluing, scoring, and cutting, with most of Dennis’ excellent artwork reduced nearly beyond recognition. I later returned to the AWI period and found Wargame: The American Revolutionary War (Battle in America) an excellent resource for quickly assembling armies at the 25-28mm scale. Creating forces for this set gave me some experience in what to do and what not to do. Guidance from Peter Dennis’ excellent tips provided in the video and other bits on his Peter’s Paperboys website further improved my technique.
all the tools and other supplies on hand helps speed the process. I
have a good
metal straight edge, a
board, several sharp craft or utility knives, and
efforts relied on white glue for sticking the figure ranks together,
but I’ve since taken Dennis’ advice and purchased
Uhu All Purpose Adhesive. I’d found water-based white glue warped
flats before cutting, with Uhu providing a solid bond and just as
much structural support. A
roll of one-inch thick magnetic tape serves
a slightly weighted base with practical storage potential. A
sepia-toned brush marker helps
touch up cut edges. I
keep a large jar of Mod Podge, which is water-based, as
a final coating to protect finished stands of soldiers.
Supplies and legionary
print-out ready for assembly.
Copying: I have a few different weights of “cover sheet” stock, most of which prove sturdy enough given later reinforcement with glue. I’ve tried printing out sheets of paper soldiers using both a color laser printer and color inkjet printer. I find the inkjet printer provides deeper color; the laser-printed sheets sometimes shed their toner, particularly if slightly bending soldiers during trimming. Dennis’ size recommendation for American letter-sized paper is spot-on; copying or printing them at 93% ensures everything on the book page fits on the printed page. This provides good-looking stands of figures approximating the 25-28mm range.
Glue & Cut: Dennis
recommends coating the backs of spears and other weapons sticking up
from units with a bit of glue on the back before putting the ranks
together; this was another place where Uhu worked better, providing a
more flexible reinforcement than white glue, which got brittle during
the later cutting stages. I
use a sharp craft knife and straight edge to trim rank blocks
and score the fold lines, then glue everyone. Cutting remains the
most painstaking task, especially with fiddly bows and spears poking
up from figures. On more than one occasion I’ve lost a Roman pila
or German spear with
careless cuts. Once again Dennis’ video and other tips offer
in the cutting process.
I take a
few final steps in finishing my paper soldiers. I take a brush marker
and carefully go over all the cut edges so the white paper doesn’t
stand out. I’d
tried various tones of gray, which didn’t cover as nicely, but
settled on a sepia-tone brush marker I had around for other art
projects. The darker tone covers
the white and blends
nicely with the artwork. For
basing I also have a roll of one-inch thick magnetic tape (available
at most craft store or online), unrolled and tucked under the cutting
board to flatten out the curve. I
mount each stand on this (with some added glue to bolster the tape
adhesive), then trim it to fit. Units
with three ranks of soldiers just fit if carefully centered on the
tape’s width of 25mm, with the length trimming at about 40mm;
specialty units get custom bases and
leaders go on 25mm
of the rules I use call for leaders as separate pieces, so I don’t
single commanders on unit
though I’ll paste
a command group on one locator strip in three. This enables me to use
my paperboys for the two systems I enjoy: one or
per unit using Bob Cordery’s The
rules and three stands per unit (including
a command group) when using Neil Thomas’ One-Hour
each stand gets a coating of matte Mod Podge applied with a long
plastic palette knife. This applies a thick coat to the soldiers and
protruding weapons which, when fully dried, deepens
some of the colors and gives
them a bit of a plastic coated protection (and if
the water-based Mod Podge slightly warps the ranks I can gently
bend them back into shape without damaging the colors).
Front rank inked edges,
back rank white cut edges.
The magnetic tape bases serve two purposes: to add weight to each
stand so they don’t fall over maneuvering around the battlefield;
and to provide a method of orderly, protected storage. Given
that these are “just” paper figures, some
folks might simply
throw their armies into a box. Having
put a great deal of time and effort into constructing my paper
soldiers, I take
precautions to make them last.
from avoiding the inevitable tangle of protruding weapons, I like to
have everyone in tidy ranks so I can quickly muster my opposing
forces from the diverse selection of troop types. I
have several plastic bins 12 inches on a side and deep enough for
most stands (craft
containers for scrapbooking paper);
flat metal strapping – suitably spaced and glued to the bottom of
the bin – holds the magnetic bases in place. Right
now I have one box for my AWI figures and one for the ancients,
though I expect I’ll really need one box for each opposing force in
those conflicts as I construct more units.
We've been slimed!
(with a protective coat of Mod Podge)
|Ranks of tribesmen and Romans in storage.|
I expect I’ll continue constructing Roman and Germanic units as I explore the gaming possibilities in this period. My AWI armies could use some reinforcements; right now I have enough to play out my favorite Battle of Ridgefield scenario with The Portable Wargame, though I would like to try it with the One-Hour Wargames rules with a few more units. I expect my next project with paper minis will delve into the ACW period, for which I expect I’ll need a host of varied units. Other books in Dennis’ series have tempted me – and the Peter’s Paperboys website offers a diverse menu of additions to existing periods and new ones – but for now I have more than enough to keep me busy.