Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Style adjustments

Posted by Martin on February 20, 2007

It’s been a while since I last had free time with a paintbrush and I suspect that a period of time without practical wielding of the brush leads to more theoretical thought about what you might be doing than action itself.

In my case, I’ve been impressed by two things I’ve seen done by other experienced painters and wondered if I can emulate them.

Firstly, NMM (Non Metallic Metals or something like that): this is the idea of painting things that are supposed to look metallic but using “normal” paints rather than metallic ones. I’ve been especially taken by golds and bronzes done this way. A good example is the gold edging on the saddle cloth of this mounted Napoleon painted by Kevin Dallimore:

Dallimore Napoleon

I’ve reproduced one of the photos here but you can see several more on Kevin’s site and there’s a discussion thread with good info about the paints he used to achieve this result in Steve Dean’s forum. It’s all done with GW Snakebite Leather, with six stages of highlight by added white up to pure white. For my experiments with this I’ve followed a recipe based on layers of Vallejo paints beginning with a Flat Earth basecoat and finishing with the merest hint of a final highlight of Ivory. I’ll get round to posting a paint chart when I upload some work-in-progress photos.

The second thing that’s held my attention lately is the way 54mm (and above) modellers paint horses. Now, of course, many of them use oil paints and do extensive blending and there’s all sorts of reasons I don’t want to go down that route. However, I have been wondering if I can adjust my layered acrylic techniques. Consider Doug Lee’s masterful brushwork and you’ll see what I mean. His award winning Polish cavalry in 1939 (!) is absolutely fantastic.

So I’m aiming to increase the number of layers I use, place greater contrast on the deepest shadows and somehow paint more “loosely” though I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t yet worked out what I mean by that last statement. I was trying all this out on a bay horse over the weekend, so watch this space.

One Response to “Style adjustments”

  1. Giles said

    I know exactly what you mean re the horses. I used to mainly dry-brush and then add a couple of final layered highlights but decided recently that this method just doesn’t look right. So for the Nap cavalry I am working on at the moment I decided to adopt what I described to myself as a “looser” way of painting, starting from a much darker base coat and then mixing the paints on the horse as I go along. I use 3-4 basic layers but they all blend in to a smaller or greater extent so there is more tonal variety than the standard 3-colour system. I take about 45 mins per horse (just for the coat, never mind the furniture) and the result is nowhere near the examples above, but it looks better than what I was doing before. Sometimes it pays to free oneself from the 3-layer rule!

    Looking forward to seeing some photos.


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