Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Posts Tagged ‘Painting’

Paint-in #5: below the waist

Posted by Martin on April 28, 2013

A variety of white, grey and blue trousers plus boots and shoes weathered with mud.

A variety of white, grey and blue trousers plus boots and shoes weathered with mud.

Sorry, I’ve fallen behind with posting paint-ins, so some of you may have already completed painting yours. Let’s see if I can start to catch up. This session covers painting trousers and footwear with the added fun of painting on my favourite battlefield mud for that grubby campaign look.

Soldiers of the artillery train often wore grey cavalry overalls though there were variations with red stripes on the outer seam. Grey was not the only colour used for overalls: others include cream and a beige shade commonly referred to as Paris Mud. For both my artillery train figures, I kept it simple with the grey. This is built up from a basecoat of Vallejo Dark Grey (VMC994), followed by a first highlight of Vallejo Neutral Grey (VMC992) and a second highlight of Vallejo Light Grey (VMC990).

By 1813, shortages meant that Marie Louises were equipped with trousers in a huge variety of colours from white through to many shades of linen, brown, grey and even blue. In this case I opted for white, mainly because I already intended to use those other colours across the set of figures. The base coat is the Second Shadow from the Andrea White Set and the first highlight is the Base from the same set. Both these paints benefit from being applied in two thin coats and make sure you leave adequate drying time between each coat. The second highlight is Vallejo White (VMC951) which can be an awkward paint to work with but gives a nice bright result for which I have a weakness. A few tips for using this paint are shake it really thoroughly, be prepared to use more than one coat to build up coverage, don’t overwork the paint and let it dry completely between coats to avoid the risk of a chalky finish.

Lastly, we come to the drummer. It’s important to remember that he’s an artillery drummer, so white trousers are not really appropriate. Most reliable illustrators show artillery drummers wearing blue trousers though one of Rousselot’s plates (Planche 55, Artillerie a Pied, 1805-1815 (II)) shows a drummer in Imperial Livery wearing green trousers, so that would make a nice variation for you to consider. I painted my drummer’s trousers blue using the same paints that I used for the Marie Louise’s pokalem. Drum aprons were white leather, so I used the same paints as described for the white trousers above.

After all that work it may seem odd to choose to obscure it by painting over mud effects but I always try the represent soldiers as they would have appeared on campaign. I know of several other painters who also apply mud effects and most of them seem to go for random relatively uncontrolled techniques like flicking a loaded paint brush to splatter the figures with brown paint. That way of doing things isn’t for me – I like to know precisely where the paint is going to be placed on my figures. So I actually paint on areas of mud very deliberately. I use a Vallejo Burnt Umber (VMC941) base coat, followed by Vallejo Beige (VMC875) and finally Vallejo Cork Brown (VMC843) which is one of my favourite colours in the whole range. The effect I aim for is one of mud starting to lighten as it dries out.

So that’s it for this time. In the next paint-in, I’ll turn attention to coats and jackets.

Advertisements

Posted in BfK Limited Edition Figures, On the Workbench, Paint and Equipment, Tutorials | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Painting competition

Posted by Martin on March 24, 2013

I’ve been toying with this idea for a while now and the tipping point came at the end of last week when I found out that some of you (Giles take a bow) have actually got a lot further than me and have completed painting and basing all the figures in the pack.

So here goes… This is the formal announcement of the start of the BfK Limited Edition Figures painting competition. At the moment, it’s a “just for the fun of it” competition with the only guaranteed prize for the winner being the honour of victory and the accompanying bragging rights. If, however, I can come up with a suitably apt prize (or some kind sponsor donates one) then the stakes may get raised. l’ll let you know if that comes to pass.

Of course, I know you are all honourable BfKers but a few simple rules of engagement are in order:

1). The competition entry must comprise the four figures and campfire/marmite castings from the BfK 2012 Limited Edition Figures pack. Many of you already have one or more of these packs in your hot little hands but those of you who haven’t can still order them from me.

2). You may base the figures individually, or on one or more bases of whatever dimensions suit your preferences.

3). All the painting, varnishing and basing must be substantially your own work. If you use something that isn’t (such as a pre-printed flag or decals, you should declare it as part of your entry).

4). The closing date for entries is 31 May 2013. I think that just over two months should be plenty of time but squeal in the comments if you think I’m being to restrictive.

5). Entries should be submitted in the form of a single jpg image file of width exactly 550 pixels and up to 550 pixels deep. The image may be a collage of multiple photographs. You can send them to me via e-mail attachments or suggest other ways. For example, I may set up a Dropbox folder where you can upload your entries.

6). Judging will be by a voting poll on BfK to be held shortly after the closing date. I will keep the poll open for about a week and anonymise the entries.

I can’t think of anything else essential at this stage but feel free to post questions as comments below. It only remains for me to wish you “bon chances, mes amis!”.

Posted in Announcements, BfK Limited Edition Figures | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Paint-in #4: heads, hair and hats

Posted by Martin on March 17, 2013

Finished faces, hair and hats.

Finished faces, hair and hats.

So, after a brief diversion, it’s back to the painting table to finish off the faces (having done the eyes in the last painting session) and to deal with hair and hats (of various sorts).

The equipment checklist is the same as for the last session with the addition of a size 0 Da Vinci Maestro Series 10 brush. The chart below lists the paints I used in this session:

Colour Basecoat Highlight 1 Highlight 2 Highlight 3
Black Black VMC950 Dark Grey VMC994 Neutral Grey VMC992 Light Grey VMC990
Red Hull Red VMC985 Red VMC926 Carmine Red VMC908 Orange Red VMC910
Flesh Burnt Umber VMC941 Red Leather VMC818 Flat Flesh VMC955 Light Flesh VMC928
Iron Grey Field Blue VMC964 (Grey Blue VMC943) Union Blue NAC24 Azure Grey NAC17
Red Hair Burnt Umber VMC941 Cavalry Brown VMC982 Red Leather VMC818 Orange Brown VMC981
Dark Blue Andrea Blue Set 2nd Shadow Prussian Blue VMC965 Andrea Blue Set 3rd Light

In addition to those, I used Burnt Umber VMC941 and Gold VMC996 for yellow metal items; Dark Grey VMC994 and Natural Steel VMC864 for white metal items; and Old Rose VMC944 for lips.

I started with the faces and a first highlight of Red Leather over all but the deepest recesses (like eye sockets, open mouths, under the chins and so on). Remember that we already had a base coat of Burnt Umber on the faces. The next colour is Flat Flesh which again covers most of the Red Leather while trying to leave lines that represent furrows and wrinkles. The final highlight is Light Flesh which should only go on the highest points like the top of the nose, chin, cheekbones and brow. If you overdo this last step you run the risk of making your soldiers look like the undead! The finishing touch for the faces is a narrow line of Old Rose for the lower lip.

Two of the four figures in the set wear covered shakos (and a third carries one). This offers the opportunity for a choice of colours for the shako covers and, if I were doing line infantry or soldiers fighting in the Peninsular, I’d be tempted by canvas/linen shades. However, I’ve stuck to straight dark oilskin covers this time around. Before going for the shako covers themselves, I like to deal with the details on the shakos. Here that means the metal chinscales and the pompoms.

The train soldiers’ lentille pompoms are iron grey, so that’s a simple overall bascoat of Field Blue followed by successive highlights of the other colours listed above. You’ll notice that I’ve put brackets around Grey Blue in the chart. That’s because I didn’t actually use it on these pompoms – partly because I was experimenting and partly because the pompoms are so small that there’s not much benefit to be had from using a fourth colour. The artillery drummer has a nice bright red tufted pompom for which I mostly followed my traditional red palette but using Carmine Red instead of Scarlet for the second highlight. At the moment, I favour this approach because there’s a slightly more obvious difference between the Carmine Red and the Orange Red. For the chinscales, I basecoat in a dark non-metallic shade and then paint the metallic colour over the top. If it needs it, I then use an extremely watered down wash of the non-metallic colour and retouch with the metallic colour for highlights.

Black can be a very difficult colour to highlight effectively. Luckily, these shako covers are a relatively small area, Peter has sculpted plenty of folds into them and they’re the kind of item that I think gets dusty and faded. All that makes highlighting with increasingly lighter shades of grey quite forgiving though the important thing is to avoid making the whole look grey rather than black. To ensure this doesn’t happen, I leave plenty of the black basecoat showing through and, after the final highlight, this is one of the few occasions when I’d recommend some judicious blacklining.

That leaves us with one of my favourite uniform items from the Bardin regulations: the pokelem, which replaced the previously used bonnet de police as the forage cap. Many Marie-Louise’s didn’t receive a proper shako and had to make do with the pokelem instead though I suspect it was a more comfortable item to wear and had the benefit of fold-down flaps to keep the ears warm. The colours I used for the red and blue are listed above. Of note here is that I strongly recommend the 2nd Shadow from the Andrea Blue Set. It gives a dead matt and truly deep dark blue which is an ideal starting point for French blue – more of this in later paint-in sessions. The second point to note is my approach to the piping. I paint the piping first and I don’t worry too much if the lines are too thick or wobbly to begin with as I work up through the successive highlights. Once I’ve done that, I then paint up to the line of piping that I want with the blue basecoat. It’s much easier to get a consistent, neat thin line of piping that way round. Once I’m happy with the piping, I then go on to the highlights for the blue.

While I’m doing the pokalem’s piping, I also tackle the regimental number that typically appeared in red in the middle of the front panel. Let’s face it, it’s too small to attempt to paint actual numbers, so don’t bother! Simply paint a small red patch to give the impression of a number being present.

To finish up, I’ll leave you with a relevant video that Toby Thornton of Artmaster Studio posted recently on YouTube. It’s serendipitously appropriate and well worth watching. The approach to face painting is broadly similar to mine apart from using a slightly different palette of colours and tackling the eyes last rather than first. In the next paint-in session, I’ll turn my attention to trousers and footwear.

 

Posted in BfK Limited Edition Figures, On the Workbench, Paint and Equipment, Tutorials | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Paint-in #2: the eyes

Posted by Martin on January 23, 2013

Eyes: extreme (non-flattering) close-ups!

Eyes: extreme (non-flattering) close-ups!

If you ask most people which part of painting figures they hate the most, you can be sure of a fair smattering of answers involving eyes. So much so, that there are many who simply don’t bother with them. So that’s the issue I’m going to tackle in this second paint-in.

Before we begin, here’s a cheklist of the paint and equipment I used for this session:

I always begin every painting session by using the pipette to dispense some of my paint diluting mixture into one of the wells of the palette and mixing a little X-21 Flat Base into it – see my video review of X-21.

The first paint we’re going to use is the white, so put a small amount on the palette and dilute it a little with the cocktail of filtered water, flow improver and X-21 to achieve a thin but not runny consistency. Use the 00000 brush to paint the eye sockets white on all four figures. It’s best to use a thin coat of paint; by the time you’ve done the fourth figure, the first one will probably be dry enough for a second coat. At this stage there’s no need to get stressed about accuracy because it doesn’t matter if white paint gets on to other parts of the faces.

Now wash your brush in the jar of water and washing-up liquid and dry it off gently on the kitchen towel. Looking after your brushes as you work is one of the secrets of getting a good long working life out of them and is well worth the effort if you use expensive Kolinsky sable brushes like I do.

The next colour is burnt umber which we’re going to use to basecoat the faces of all the figures and the hair of most of them – I’ve decided one chap will have grey hair, so he won’t get his basecoated with burnt umber. Prepare some paint as before and apply it with the 000 brush, starting with areas of the face well away from the eyes. This way you can get attuned to how both paint and brush are behaving before attempting the more delicate business of painting around the whites of the eyes. As before, don’t worry too much if some burnt umber strays off the faces onto collars or headwear. That’s easily tidied up later.

Now paint as close up to the whites of the eyes as you are comfortable doing with the 000 brush. Some of you might be able to do all of this step with the 000 brush, while others may prefer to switch to the 00000 brush. Either way, you are aiming for narrow almond-shaped whites of the eyes. To avoid that goggle-eyed effect, these almonds need to be thinner than you think. As before, be prepared to apply paint in two or more thin layers rather than one thick one. You’ll get a smoother finish that way as long as you let each layer dry before applying the next. With four figures to work round, drying times shouldn’t be an issue anyway.

Don’t be afraid of mistakes. We all make them and I had to make a number of corrections as I went along to get the results shown here. Just let the burnt umber mistakes dry before going back over them with white and repeating the above steps until you have eye shapes you’re satisfied with. Don’t forget to keep cleaning your brushes as you go along.

Next it’s the pupils of the eyes and we’re going to use black for these. Prepare a small amount of black paint on the palette and load the 00000 brush with only a little paint. Now go for one confident thin vertical stripe down the middle of an eye. Notice how I’m not suggesting that you dot the pupil. To do that successfully requires a much steadier hand and risks spoiling the work you’ve done so far if you misjudge how firmly you press the brush tip on to the eye. The vertical stripe technique is much easier to master and delivers equally good results at this scale. Now all you have to do is repeat it another seven times!

The only drawback of this method is that your black lines will probably extend beyond the eyes and on to the burnt umber basecoat. So one final round of tidying up with burnt umber will be required to finish the job. That’s all for this time. In the next session I’ll move on to finishing off the faces and maybe even starting on the headwear.

Posted in BfK Limited Edition Figures, On the Workbench, Paint and Equipment, Tutorials | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »