Friday, 16 January 2009


OK well apart from varnishing the figures which I really, really hate doing and a few little bits, like the shako rosette thingies which I have forgotten to do... thats it!

I have tried to take a few better pictures as the last lot seemed to have been TANGO'd.

I have a few more batallions to do now and I hope that using my new black undercoat I can get them dont slightly faster than previously. Then I'm going to have a go at some cavalry so watch this space...

Painting the base

This is just the green on the base... sorry about the photo quality!This really isn’t that hard to do, it’s more a pain than anything else as you have to try and paint it all without redecorating the figures you have spent ages painting... I think the tip is to take your time with the first two colours and then the dry brushing won’t be a problem. I have found that if you paint the outside of the grass [string] first you can then pull it away from the figure a little bit to paint the back, and it stays where you put it. Then when finished push it back and spread it out a bit while it’s wet.

OK so now we have both the brown and green on the base, don’t worry if it looks VERY LOUD!!OK so here is how to do it. Pick a dark green, it can be quite bright I’m using GW paints and I’ll check the exact colour later and let you know what they are. I tend to paint the sections with finer sand on them in green and then the lumpier bits in brown, I don’t follow a pattern which I know some people do. Make sure when you are painting the grass that you open it up and paint the inside, you have to be quite thorough or you will end up with the base colour showing through.

Here is another view of the base with the base colours addedOnce you have done all the bases then you can start again painting the brown sections. You will probably find that you paint over bits of the uniforms but this is usually on the inner sections of the base and if it’s the brown it could be mud!!! It almost certainly won’t notice when they are finished.

Now you have to be quite brave with the bases, use quite dark colours for the green and brown as you are going to then dry brush colours over the top and this will soften them and make them not look quite so bright.

This one shows the yello dry brush effect on the grass...A TIP, I find dry brushing works much better if you follow a few simple rules. I use a short stubby water colour brush which has a wide head. Make sure the brush is DRY, dip it in the paint and then brush it on a DRY tissue or cloth to remove most of the paint. When you have finished and want to change colour use a different cloth to wipe the brush. Make sure the brush is DRY before you put different paint on it. So basically keep the brush dry and the cloth you are using to initially remove most of the paint. If they are wet the effect you get will not be as good. Lastly make sure the area you are dry brushing is DRY, don’t dry brush on wet paint it just smudges!

OK enough telling you how to suck eggs.

this one hopefully shows both the dry brush effects!The first colour we are going to dry brush with is yellow, yep YELLOW! Remove most of the paint from the brush and dry brush the green areas with yellow, for the grass you can leave a little more paint on the brush, especially on the top. The second colour is white and we are going to use this on the brown areas, it doesn’t matter if you cross over a little with eth dry brush colours as this will help to blend the sections a little. Well that’s it; you will want to just paint the edge of the bases I usually do it in brown but apart from that the bases are done.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

the sandy floor bit

OOPS, i forgot to upload these two exciting images of me dipping the PVA covered base into the sand and what it will look like once you have dipped it.

One thing to be aware of is that you dont want the metal base of the figure to form a step in the sand as this looks a bit pants. This is why you use a mix of course sand and fine sand. If you do have steps in the sand just dob a bit of PVA onto the area and dip it again this should fill it out a bit.

Dont try painting the sand until it is really dry as it will pull it off the base and you will ruin it!

Basing your figures

OK this is probably the bit that most people rush with a sort of “Just get it done” mentality, but that is a mistake, the bases are really important and can make or break how good the figures look.

The first thing I look at is the basic position of each figure on the base; you can really vary the look and feel of each battalion simply by mixing up the position of the figures on the base. For instance I tend to bunch up the voltigeurs more than I would the other companies. Spend a bit of time and plan out which figures are going on which base and in what position. If I can see a particular figure that has come out particularly well I’d try and put this in a prominent place. I use Evostick, or a flexible glue to stick the figures to the base, then leave this over night to harden.

Ok onto the materials, there are loads of different things you can use and for me the type of figure I am painting determines what sort of base I’m going to try and create. Fantasy figures can obviously have nearly any base style you like, but in this case for Napoleonic figures I like to use items of a more realistic nature.

So I’m going to use the following; fine sand, budgie grit, broken brick, string and twigs! You need to use the twisted string or twine as eventually you are going to unravel this. From these I’m going to make tufts of grass and large rocks then a general base.

Cut the string into sections longer than you need around 3cm. Then stick these to the base again using Evostick. Then add a couple of bits of brick and possibly a small twig. You can add these sorts of things to the base around 30 minutes after you have added the figures and let them all rest over night. Vary what you add to each stand but add one or two bits in different positions.

Ok when they have dried properly you will be able to make the string look more like grass, you untwist the threads and tease it apart a bit and it should now look like long grass. Then you need to decide how long you want the grass to be and mow it a bit with some scissors.

Right that’s all the larger bits and pieces added; now we need to get the rest of the base covered. For this I use a mixture of fine sand and budgie grit [or rougher sand!]. Paint the rest of the base with PVA glue, some people water this down, which probably makes it easier to add to the base but I don’t bother; I want the sand to STAY stuck. Once you have the base covered in PVA glue dip the base in your sand/grit mix and shake it about a bit to get a nice covering. Then shake of the excess and you should now have the base texture completed. You may need to touch this up a bit by adding more glue and more sand and but basically that’s it. You now need to leave this to dry properly or you will just remove the sand.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Adding the detail

Ok this is the bit that I enjoy, to be honest all the faffing around before hand to get to this stage bores me stupid! I suppose that I could also not even bother with this section, a lot of people would say that war gaming figures are fine painted to the level we have already got them to. But this for me is where all the enjoyment is and it is this stage that makes the figures look just that bit better...

So what are we going to try and do now, well we are going to try and soften off some of the harsh edges and then we are going to try and define parts of the figure and finally highlight them.

OK so what’s first! The first thing for me is to soften the figures a little especially on items like the back pack and bed roll [the thing on top of the pack!]. Now the way I do this is by using a light dry brush of white, in a similar way to the way we did the shako’s and boots at the start. So dry brush over the back pack, rifles stock, bed roll. You can see from the first three images how this breaks up the large blocks of colour and gives some nice edges to the areas. Actually you can't see it that well but that's because Im a crap photographer. You can actually see it better in the last image in this post.

I then use my first ink wash but if you don’t have inks you can use watered down colours. The first is a chestnut wash which I use on the face and hands, back pack and also the linen areas, bags and shako covers. This is quite hard to see in the photos above but you can just see it around the hands. Now I don’t just wash the colour over the whole area with a soding great brush, or dip it [MARK – lol]... Use the ink to paint into the recesses of the area you are working on. For example around the top of the back pack where it would be shadowed by the bed roll, or around the cuffs on the hands. You are just trying to bring out the detail.

Next I add the missing detail on the uniform if there is any, in this case white edges to the colours and cuffs. Don’t worry if this isn’t precise we are going to use another wash next which should help. Different uniforms will probably have different bits of detail you want to add!

Right now probably the most important part and that’s the black wash, again I’m not going to cover the figure in black ink wash, you paint with it to enhance the detail that's on the figures.... now I have been sitting here trying to work out what I do and to be honest I don’t have a set pattern, I just look at the figure and highlight it where I think it needs it; that’s a bit vague isn’t it! I have tried to show you what I mean in the images below. Take the cuff, a thin line of ink down the edges and between the buttons defines the area and makes it stand out. Then if you run a thin line between the white detail you added to the edges of the cuffs and collars, that enhances that as well. Also adding a dark edge where the hand meets the cuff increases the depth and layering effect. I just spend time [remember this is the bit I like doing – lol] making things stand out.

The final stage is to add some lighter tones to the blocks of colour, again to create depth, this looks great and it’s so easy to do. The areas on these figures that I’m going to highlight are the pale blue and the red on the officers. So get the base colour and mix white with it and apply this to the raised areas on the figure, you will be amazed how much this does stand out. You can probably best see this on the back tails of the uniform but it can even be effective in very small areas such as the edges of the cuffs. You will need to do a bit of experimentation and don’t be afraid to make the colour quite light, you want there to be a contrast. One thing I dont do is to try and replicate the light from one spot, you dont need to, you just want to add a splash of lighter colour to the most visible areas of the figure. A good tip is to just touch up the face of a figure with a a light flesh colour as this is a suprisingly visible area of the figure when they are on a table.

Well I think that pretty much covers painting the figures for me, I do sometimes go back over the figures and touch up things like buttons etc which can sometimes get lost during the ink wash stage especially if you are heavy handed, but other than that they are done!

Next it’s basing them! I'll try and get that done over the weekend, this is another very important part of the project, I was originally pants at basing but if you practice a bit you can get some good results and I have improved a little...

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Breaking down the process

Right, I have missed something VERY important... PLEASE, please, please if you are going to spend any time painting a figure; for god sake clean it first. It’s so disappointing to see a beautifully painted figure only to find it has a cast line or extra piece of flash on the side of its head... it’s not meant to be there REMOVE IT! OK rant over.

So I find that breaking down the process of painting in to stages helps me, my three stages are; Prep, Colours and Detail. We have been over Prep, this is cleaning the figures and then undercoating them. The next stage is adding colours, the base colours of the uniform. Once you have worked out what colours you are going to use and where they are going on the figure this stage is quite easy and to be honest boring!

There is usually a logical order to how you should lay down the colours and by painting a few figures first you can usually work this out. For the Cleve-Berg the colours went on like this; white [jackets & trousers], pale blue [collars & cuffs ], flesh, brown [backpack & musket], gunmetal [swords & muskets], Gold [gold stuff], red [officers], dark blue and bleached linen.

Now at this stage you don’t have to be ultra careful, follow the detail as much as you can but you are not looking to create the finished article, you are trying to get the base colours down. Make sure you save time, for instance don’t get another colour out for hair etc, just use the colours you have.

Above you can see each colour as it was painted step by step. At this stage the colours are all a bit in your face but in the next stage, my favourite, we will be adding the detail and softening everything up a bit.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Seeing the detail!!

OK the first problem I have looking at a black undercoated figure is that I can’t see all the detail. I thought about this a bit and looked at the figures I had already painted and realised that I had a solution.

When I paint items such as Shako’s and boots and anything else that would appear black I paint them black and then dry brush them white to show the highlights and give them a bit of depth. Looking at these areas on finished figures I realised that I could see the detail... so rather than finishing the figure with a dry brush of white I undercoated them black and then dry brushed them.

Bobs your aunt, I could see the detail... I had also completed the black sections of the figure.

The figures I’m painting for Noel at the moment are Cleve-Berg and they do lend themselves to this technique as they have white jackets and trousers but I’m sure I can use it again with different uniforms.

I have sinced tried it with a blue great coat and a green jacket and it seems fine.

Monday, 5 January 2009

The Undercoat

OK, so what I’m trying to do [just in case you had forgotten!] is to teach myself to paint using a different technique, to paint faster yet still keep the quality and the enjoyment.

So the first thing I decided to look at is the undercoat... there are generally two trains of thought here, I use a white undercoat and everyone else uses black!

I have always used a white undercoat for several reasons, firstly because I find the colours look better on it and secondly because I find that if you use a dark undercoat you can’t see the detail on the figure. I paint using blocks of colour and then highlighting and shading, which is hard to do if you can’t see the detail.

So anyway, the whole point of using a dark undercoat is so that you can cheat a bit on the painting, therefore making it easier to paint quicker. So if I’m going to paint quicker I need to change the colour of my undercoat... so black it is.

I have done some tests using a black undercoat, and have achieved almost identical results on some Burg infantry which I am painting for Noel. Here are a couple of figures, one painted with a white undercoat and one with black. The main difference is the time it takes, it’s definitely faster painting on black.

Now I don’t want to change the way I paint completely as I still want to enjoy it so I’m going to have to try and learn a few tricks of my own to make painting on black easier.

I have actually now finished my first battalion using a black undercoat and it looks great, was faster and I definately enjoyed the process... So the next few posts will break down the process and hopefully give you a few pointers.