Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Palette experiments

Posted by Martin on May 4, 2009

Yellow, white and green palettes

Yellow, white and green palettes

I’m still trying to sort out the colour palettes that I’m going to use the paint my Calpe Saxon musketeers. The “problem” colours are yellow, white and green. Especially white. There’s an awful lot of white on those Saxons! And the yellow and the green are the facing colours of the regiments in the division I’m planning.

So what I decided to do was get out some black paper and daub a few layers of paint to see how they’d look as palettes. I chose black paper because I work from a black undercoat.

The palette that probably needed least thought was yellow. Previously, I’ve used a four-colour palette but I wanted to change to a darker basecoat for greater contrast on some of the larger areas of the figures (i.e. the lapels) and I was sure that would be Flat Earth (V983). I also knew I wanted to keep the two yellows that I previously used as the second and third highlights: Flat Yellow (V953) and Lemon Yellow (V952). What I needed to experiment with was what paint should be the first highlight. I took a look at two colours I knew well: Ochre Brown (V856) and Yellow Ochre (V913) but neither seemed quite right with the new darker basecoat. So I decided to try out Gold Brown (V877) and that’s what you can see here.

White has been giving me trouble for a long time now – ever since I decided that I needed a penultimaute highlight of a pale grey between Light Grey (V990) and White (V951) itself. I had hoped that the Foundry Arctic Grey (F33B) would be the solution and it is indeed just the right shade. The trouble is that the coverage doesn’t seem to be very good and the paint has a plasticky feel that I just don’t seem to get on with. So I’ve been trying out various alternatives without, it has to be said, much success. So this experiment was by way of being a final throw of the dice. I kept Neutral Grey (V992) basecoat, Light Grey (V990) first highlight and White (V951) third highlight. The experiment was to try Silver Grey (V883) as the second highlight. If this didn’t work out, I was on the verge of contemplating mixing up a bottle full of 50% Light Grey and 50% White.

The green situation was slightly different. For this, a three-colour palette was the plan and the basecoat of Black Green (V980) and first highlight of Flat Green (V968) were retained from my old green palette but I wanted to see the effect of dispensing with the second highlight of Intermediate Green (V891) and going straight to Light Green (V942) instead.

So what’s the conclusion? Well ,you can form your own views based on the picture above and nothing can be certain until paint is applied to actual 3D figures rather than 2D paper. But, for what it’s worth, here’s my take:

  • Yellow: success! I think the Gold Brown is in to stay as a good intermediary between the Flat Earth and the yellows.
  • White: promising. I was worried that the Silver Grey wouldn’t be different enough to the shades either side of it but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Still, I’ll remain cautious because I’ve had so many false dawns with my white palette over the years.
  • Green: hard to tell. Sometimes I think it looks just right, other times I think the Light Green is too pastel-like. I think it’ll probably work if I use it sparingly on the very highest highlights.

6 Responses to “Palette experiments”

  1. Harry the Elder said

    I’ve had good success with Andrea paints. They have a very nice 6 color white set. Check it out. It doesn’t have a chalk problem that Vallejo white does. Can’t judge Foundry since I don’t use their brand.
    I’ve always used an Earth color to base coat my figures. White or black leave visible edges where colors don’t don’t come together where uniform edges meet.

  2. joe said

    I’ve been through Vallejo, GW and andrea but now use Foundry ochre. The best coverage I’ve found.

    I like Andrea Napoleonic green as the shade and vallejo flat green as a highlight the same as you.

    White is a problem. I was thinking of trying Foundry Austrian White, but am waiting for some reviews first.

  3. Murray said

    Hi Martin
    I agree re: Andrea paints. Best black, blues and browns in the business also.
    I also wonder why you choose three separate commercial paints, rather than two, with the middle tone being a mix. Alternatively, all three stages could be blends of some predetermined colours. I find you get much smother transition this way.
    My 2 cents

  4. Martin said

    Thanks everybody – helpful input.

    @Harry: I don’t know why I didn’t think of trying Andrea paints before. I must have had some kind of weird blind spot. I suppose that should apply to more than just whites. Now all I need to do is locate a UK supplier. Any suggestions?

    @Murray: on the not paint mixing thing, it’s fundamentally about two things for me. First, getting consistent colours and second, I’m lazy. OK, mostly, it’s about me being lazy. You’d be surprised how well you can do if you can team up the right combinations of ready-mixed commercial paints.

  5. Murray said

    My 2 cents, I often find more variation in colour across commercial paint runs than I do my mixed paints! Variations in colour through mixing are minor and might even add to the effect. But, really it’s about what works for us all.
    Best and good post by the way.

  6. Matthew Coles said

    If you are looking for a UK supplier of Andrea paints I can suggest Historex agents, I have brought Andrea paint from them and I agree they are very good paint

    hope this helps


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