Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Posts Tagged ‘paint’

Sunglasses on!

Posted by Martin on April 1, 2012

The brand new and frighteningly bright Andrea yellow paint set.

The brand new and frighteningly bright Andrea yellow paint set.

Just spotted this today, hot off the presses: the new paint set from Andrea is yellow. And, boy, is it yellow! The set follows the usual format of the ones already available in other colours – white, red, blue, green etc. And, from the picture, it looks to offer sensible degrees of contrast between each shade. Of course, it’s hard to be certain just by looking at a photograph. But yellow was the obvious missing link in these sets, so it’s good to see it made available.

If only there were as many retailers and stands at wargames shows selling Andrea paints as there are ones selling Vallejo. In all my years of attending Salute, Colours, Partizan and our local show in Devizes (Attack!) I’ve never seen anybody selling Andrea paints. So I have to rely on Historex as the only online supplier that I know of in the UK. If anybody knows of a trader at Salute later this month who’ll be selling Andrea paints, now is the time to post a comment here.

Posted in Forward Patrol, Paint and Equipment | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Modest progress

Posted by Martin on March 15, 2012

Completed French drummer and officer montage.

Completed French drummer and officer montage.

The minimum number of figures required for my La Bricole painting competition entry is eighteen. With two weeks to go, the total completed stands at two! Only sixteen more required then. Not much chance of that by the deadline I’m afraid so I bet the other entrants are breathing a sigh of relief 🙂

At least I’ve been able to use the competition of carry out some successful experiments and brush up on my uniform research. One of the most useful resources I’ve relied on are the Rousselot plates (which, frankly, deserve a whole posting of their own) but even they are silent on some detailed subjects. A case in point being sword knots. Yes, it’s easy enough to pick up the colour of these for officers (gold), grenadiers (red) and voltigeurs (green or yellow) but what about the members of fusilier companies that are armed with a sword, such as NCOs or drummers? One contender appears to be white but another option is the company colour (i.e. green, sky blue, aurore or violet).

Given that I’m looking for a bit of colour to spice up the greatcoated campaign look figures I’m painting at present, I’ve decided to opt for the latter. So the drummer above has got a fetching sky blue sword knot (not to mention the the cord on his water bottle and some gratuitous cuff piping in the same colour) to help reinforce his membership of the second company of the battalion. In a way, I think it’s only fair to give him these splashes because by being bareheaded, he’s missing out on his shako lentille.

The officer is painted in an almost entirely conventional way. He closely follows one of the illustrations in the Rousselot plate that covers line infantry officers (Planche No. 62) which shows the grey trousers that were popular with officers on campaign. The small satchel worn by the officer is mentioned in Rousselot’s notes but strangely not illustrated in any of his Napoleonic plates though I’m told it does make an appearance in one of his Restoration period plates.

All of this work is also grist to the mill for the painting guide to go with the Calpe French infantry range. Peter F. has got most of the uniform references sown up from all his research for sculpting the figures so I’m hoping I’ll be able to contribute a good range of paint suggestions. I also feel a posting coming on about paint dilution and additives in which I’ll share the recipe for the little glass jar of stuff I’ve mixed up and have been using successfully over the last couple of months.

UPDATE: I’ve received an e-mail from Peter F. on the topic of sword knots. He concurs that Rousselot doesn’t really cover the topic but mentions that Rigo does address it in his series of plates. According to Rigo, sword knots for fusiliers carrying sabres should have been in company colours with senior NCOs having the addition of relevant gold threads and decorations. However, Rigo then goes on to say that this regulation was honoured in the breach because each regiment appears to have had its own tradition. Rigo himself has documented wide variation from one regiment to another. Peter F. finished his e-mail to me by saying that Rigo’s comment is essentially “God only knows!”. So I think that pretty much gives each of us the opportunity to follow his own preference.

Posted in French Infantry, On the Workbench, Paint and Equipment | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Blue is the colour

Posted by Martin on February 19, 2012

The Andrea Blue Set in all its glory.

The Andrea Blue Set in all its glory.

My involvement in the La Bricole painting competition was, in part, intended as an opportunity to experiment and one of the areas I wanted to investigate further was how to achieve the most pleasing result for the blue of French infantry uniforms. My existing palette for Prussian blue has served well over the last couple of years: Vallejo Dark Prussian Blue (VMC889), Vallejo Prussian Blue (VMC965) and Vallejo Medium Blue (VMC963). But when I tried to adapt the same palette for French uniforms, I found it unsatisfactory.

The main problem is that the blue of French uniforms is actually rather dark. And that means that you need a really dark blue basecoat for highlight layers to show up clearly enough without them making the whole effect too light. After a lot of consideration, I reached the conclusion that Vallejo Dark Prussian Blue isn’t dark enough a starting point.

The secondary problem is with Vallejo Medium Blue as a final highlight. It seems too bright and, to my eyes, to contain too much green whereas I was looking for a greyer blue. I’ve tried various other blues in the Vallejo range as a replacement and none of them quite hit the mark. Plus, with both its fellows under scrutiny, I has also started to wonder about Vallejo Prussian Blue’s suitability.

So what was to be done? Answer: time to experiment outside the Vallejo range. When I previously had problems with my white palette I ultimately found the solution in the form of the Andrea White Paint Set – or at least with some of the colours from that set. So the logical step was to try the Andrea Blue Paint Set, not least because I’d seen Sascha Herm’s success with it. Like other sets in the same range, the Andrea Blue Paint Set comprises six shades: a basecoat, two shadows and three highlights. Visual inspection of the bottles suggests that the change in shade from one colour to the next is subtle to say the least until you get to what appears to be quite a jump from the second highlight to the third highlight.

Further, three of the colours seem very close to the Vallejo shades mentioned above. In certain lights, the basecoat colour is close to Vallejo Dark Prussian Blue and there’s a marked similarity between the second highlight and Vallejo Prussian Blue. In particular, the third highlight looks very similar to Vallejo Medium Blue. So I was initially a little disheartened about the prospects of finding a solution with this set. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So I decided to take the plunge.

New blue palette on French officer's habit-veste.

New blue palette on French officer's habit-veste.

I started out by applying a basecoat using the second shadow (i.e. the darkest colour in the set). Experience has taught me that Andrea colours work best with two thin coats for the basecoat and, in doing this, it became instantly clear that this was a colour to be reckoned with. It really is a deep black blue with an exceptionally matt finish that flows smoothly on to the figure. Of course, some of the mattness may be down to the inclusion of Tamiya X-21 Flat Base in my new mix for diluting paints (more of that experiment in a future posting) but I suspect that is only a modest factor in the case of this particular paint.

Next I tried the the second highlight as a first highlight (I know, confusing isn’t it?) on the basis that my test application of many blues on some white card showed this to be sufficiently lighter to show up as a highlight and rather similar to the Vallejo Prussian Blue that I know so well. This wasn’t so successful because this paint didn’t seem to have quite enough covering power to complete with the dark base coat. To be fair, I did skip several of the intermediate colours in the set and perhaps if I had layered up through them, that might have made a difference. So I switched to the Vallejo Prussian Blue as a first highlight instead – bingo! A most pleasing effect: clearly visible highlights without being too light or drifting tonally to green.

Emboldened by this success, I moved on to a second highlight using the third highlight colour (i.e. the lightest colour in the Andrea set). Now I was worried about how similar this would be to Vallejo Medium Blue but I was reassured by a comparison of the two on my white test card. I think my initial impression must have been skewed by the fact that the bottles are not completely transparent and therefore give a slightly false idea of the actual paint colour. This colour also seems to lack totally solid covering power but, in this instance, that turns out to be an advantage because if it did provide too effective coverage it would be too bright a shade. In reality, a degree of transparency to let the previous layer show through slightly helps provide a more subtle final highlight and means that I can control how intense I want it to be by painting on additional brush strokes of the colour if needed.

In terms of finding a new palette to use for French blue, I think this has been a successful experiment but I need to use it on more figures to really understand the properties of these Andrea colours and how they interact with the Vallejo Prussian Blue. On the downside, as it stands, I’ll only be using two colours out of a set of six paints, so it hardly qualifies as the most cost-effective solution. Still, I live in hope that the other four colours will one day come in useful for something!

Posted in French Infantry, On the Workbench, Paint and Equipment | Tagged: , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Should I get agitated?

Posted by Martin on August 13, 2011

I’m just gearing up to resume my seat at the painting table after my Summer holiday and one small irritating detail is lurking at the back of my mind. I just know that quite a few of my Vallejo paints will need a very vigorous shake (to say the least) to get them back in to shape ready for use, even though I store them all upside down. I know that if I don’t shake the paints thoroughly, the pigment and the carrier won’t mix properly and then bad things will happen – poor coverage, failure to dry with a flat matt finish and so on.

The trouble is that I hate shaking paints. I especially hate shaking them when I’m already in the middle of a painting session because it disrupts the creative flow (ooh, get him duckie!). The question is, what can I do to avoid spraining a wrist from a monster afternoon-long paint shaking session? And even if I do shake them all thoroughly, I know that the pigment and carrier will start to separate again the minute my back is turned.

Well, a possible solution has presented itself after a smidgeon of idle Googling. And the magic search was: paint agitators. Originally, when I typed this, I was thinking of those little machines that vibrate and shake things because I had this nebulous recollection of cheap ones sometimes being sold by DIY stores and those German supermarket chains like Aldi and Lidl. As it happened, and as so often happens with Google, I didn’t find what I was looking for but found something else equally interesting instead. My interest was piqued by these two links: one from the Warhammer Forum and the other from the Dakka Dakka painting website.

If you read these, you’ll see there are several commonalities but they’re basically about the idea of inserting something heavy inside the paint bottle that moves around and efficiently mixes the paint when the bottle is shaken, making the chore much less arduous. In truth, this isn’t a new idea and it isn’t even a new idea in the world of miniature paints – both sources assert that Reaper Miniatures used to include little white metal skulls (yes, skulls) in their bottles of paint. Of course, it doesn’t surprise me to learn that the skulls are no longer used because of concerns about the lead content and, apparently, Reaper has switched to beads.

Both sources also mention the use of steel ball bearings but caution against them because of the risk of rust contamination of the paint. The final commonality is the mention of beads (either glass or stone) as the best option. Received wisdom appears to be that beads offer the best combination of inertness, weight and value for money. So that seems to settle it except for the small matter of where to acquire suitable beads. And I think I have a potential answer to that question too (at least here in the UK): Hobbycraft. On checking out the Hobbycraft online shop, I’ve discovered that the jewellery making section includes a category for glass beads in which there are packs of said beads of 4mm, 6mm and 8mm diameters for under a fiver (though it isn’t clear how many beads you get for your money). All I need to do is decide which size to go for.

However, I’m a cautious soul, so before I try out this innovation, I’d like to know if any of you have experience of doing this and have any tips for me.

Posted in Paint and Equipment | Tagged: , | 10 Comments »