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:
The technique is really simple. After basing the spear (or other long handled maiming device) with a dark colored base coat, add some strips of your mid tone color running along the length of the shaft, leaving the base coat showing between the bands. Then add a highlight to the inside of these bands. The trick to making this look super awesome is to take your dark base coat color and paint thin lines across the bands to represent dents and dings in the wood. Try and focus these on the part of the weapon that would brought down against your miniature warrior's miniature foes, as this side of the weapon would take the most damage. For your reference, the colors I used were Scorched Brown, Graveyard Earth and Kommando Khaki.