member, 1443 posts
Wed 3 Oct 2018
at 18:30
Coloured / painted armour in fantasy fiction?
I have a question for all of you who are knowledgeable regarding historical armour, as well as fantasy fiction conventions and fantasy art.

I'm starting to paint some fantasy miniatures and I bumped into a question: can armour be painted as anything else than metallic grey or silver (with some possible golden additions)?

I looked at the painted minis in Games Workshop's catalogue (as I got myself some of these - although I won't be playing Age of Sigmar) and some of their minis have rather colourful plate armour. Khorne warriors are depicted in red plate, Stormcast Eternals are gold and blue... My question is: is this realistic and / or sensible? Is it actually conceiveable for a warrior to have colourful armour?

Is coloured armour something common in fantasy art or fiction? I tried looking some examples of fantasy art online - and most of the warriors wearing plate seem to have armour depicted as typical bare metal. As for fiction, I seem to recall that Jaime Lannister is supposed to be wearing white armour in ASOIAF, but does it mean his armour is literally painted white? I know that "white armour" can actually refer to polished, bare plate armour...

So, what's your opinion? Is coloured armour a real thing in fantasy, or is it something that only Games Workshop uses on their minis?
 member, 3 posts
Wed 3 Oct 2018
at 18:43
Coloured / painted armour in fantasy fiction?
In reply to Varsovian (msg # 1):

Historically they did all sort of decorating it seems, from just covering armor with cloth to lacquering, enameling, gilding, engraving etc.

This seems to be a good short read on it:

As for fantasy I'd imagine that if you're vain enough  to want it and rich enough to pay for it, then you could have pretty much anything you want on your armor, especially if you add magical means of decorating to the more conventional ones.

This message was last edited by the user at 18:47, Wed 03 Oct 2018.

 member, 7049 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Wed 3 Oct 2018
at 18:48
Coloured / painted armour in fantasy fiction?
It's an actual thing in fantasy literature.  Even just in Arthurian legend, you had The Black Knight, The Green Knight, and if I recall correctly, Mordred wore red armor in his final confrontation with Arthur.  If I recall, there were colored armors in the Dragonlance novels (it's been thirty years and change since I read any of them).  And it's not uncommon to see (non-GW) minis with colored's not the norm, no, but I've seen it on plenty of occasions.

Historically?  I don't know how common it was.  Enamelling is an old practice, but it would take a lot to cover an entire armor was typically only used for decorative touches, as far as I know.  I can't think of any medieval paints that would stick to metal very well, but I've seen a lot of SCA people use brass, copper, and alloyed steel sheets to add some color accents to armor (not to mention dyes on leather, which can easily be attached to the metal.)  If it was decorative armor for a special event, the issue of paint sticking to the metal is a minimal concern...if it was for battle, I don't know that it would matter much, either...

So, I say go for it...

This message was last edited by the user at 07:13, Thu 04 Oct 2018.

 member, 564 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Thu 4 Oct 2018
at 06:40
Coloured / painted armour in fantasy fiction?
As has already been mentioned, paint (enamel, mostly) cloth, and other materials have been used to decorate and thereby distinguish one's arms from those of his foes.

Heraldic emblems (arms) were not just borne on shields.

Custom-made armor was not so uncommon for nobility and members of the peerage.

For some truly fantastical miniatures and painting schemes, look into miniatures produced for gaming on M.A.R. Barker's Tekumel (Empire of The Petal Throne).