I've always been a bit beguiled when it comes to painting weapon shafts - you know, spears, flails, etc. It's easy to do a simple highlight but with that large amount of blank, cylindrical space, I always felt that a wood grain texture gives the model more life. The problem I've had is finding a way to paint such for a 20+ figure unit in way that looks good and is efficient - the latter of which is always a constant struggle for me. I've tried something before with my Saurus Calvary, but it was too tedious and I wasn't terribly excited about the results.
I had one of those lovely Eureka moments while reading a recent post on Dave Taylor's blog - who is a much more prolific painter and blogger than I. There's a nice close up one of Dave's Empire Flagellants, who's wielding a flail with a dinged up wooden shaft. With that close up, I was able to break down Dave's technique and realize that this is the solution I'd been looking for.
After making some crude post-it diagrams breaking down the necessary steps (my best thinking is usually transcribed on these yellow squares), I grabbed a few Temple Guard and went to work: