Hey little man so spick and span...
Shields are definitely one the cool things about painting Vikings. Along with any banners, they are one of the main focal points. Depending on how many you have, shields can also be a big pain in the ass. They offer up the chance to add an orgy of different colors and patterns, making a shield wall an impressive sight on the table top. Still someone has to paint all those buggers. Decals/transfers have become popular choice to not only speed things up, but really adding to the visuals with colorful complex designs.
Of course the downside of decals are that they are popular, so your army/warband tends to look like everyone else's. Of course the same can be said for hand painted shields. They are historicals after all, I mean, doesn't every 1815 French army look the same?... Well, it doesn't have to be that way.
I'm not going to go down the road of historical accuracy, but will say that there really isn't that much authentic information to go on. The decals, while very nice looking, seem overly ornate for the most part. As if each Viking was not only a gifted artist, but had the time and materials to paint up such beautiful shields. That leaves me with the hand painted option, but even then I wanted to do something unique.
...where were you when the shit hit the fan?
After seeing an impressive Anglo-Danish warband on the Stronghold Terrain website that had only black and white shields, I thought I would give it a try myself. Using a limited color palette would be more unique, tie the whole force together, and allow the Vikings themselves (colorful in their own right) to stand out a bit more.
At first I was going to go with a combo red, black, and white scheme, but soon decided to try and have blood splatter take the place of the red against a black and white background. The four models above are my first try, figuring I could always go with a multi-color approach later and just mix them in if it didn't work. I also need to find my smaller toothbrush so I can better control the "splatter area." I didn't plan to gore up the weapons, but I supposed having some blood on the axes and swords would only make sense now.
So, what do you think?? Let me know. :-)
UPDATE: Included second picture of more WIP Vikings.