Thursday, March 4, 2010

Painting Boom

Well, for me it's been a painting boom. I'm in one of my energetic painting phases and over the last two weeks I've finished some new Carlist Wars figures and something for my new 15mm SYW project. First up, the FCW. I've added another cavalry unit to my Isabellino (or government) army. I chose the later Christmas version of the light cavalry uniform, red and green. All of the government cavalry had been equipped with lances by 1835 but because I already have a heavy cavalry unit with lances, I decided to use the sword-armed light cavalry variants offered by the Perry brothers. This will hopefully provide a bit more variety in our games. You'll notice that the standard bearer has no standard. I'm in the process of ordering the flag from the brilliant Adolfo Ramos range.

Isabellino light cavalry.
Perry Miniatures.

Light cavalry with their 'heavy' brethren backing them up.

Second up are the first 15mm figures I've painted in at least ten years. I was once a fervent supporter of 15mm as the scale of choice for all gaming. I had an extensive (and I mean extensive) 15mm Napoleonic collection as well as a more modest Seven Years War project. But those were sold off years ago when I decided to move to the one true scale, 28mm. Recently, I've been persuaded to venture back into 15mm SYW to contribute to an ongoing club venture (see my previous post here). I ordered and received some Old Glory 15mm SYW French figures and promptly started experimenting with painting techniques. My over-riding objective here (besides creating an army, duh) was to find a satisfactory speed-painting technique. Ideally, this would allow me to pump out units at a fast rate with, at the very least, a moderate wargaming quality paint job. My first experiments were with white primer and a variety of washes. The majority of the uniforms in my French army will be white so this seemed a sensible beginning. After trying several different washes (including GW washes, watered down inks etc.), I found the best result was from Tamiya smoke, watered down 50-50. I've been using this mixture for years on my 28s for various purposes and it seemed to give a good effect on the 15mm white uniforms. Unfortunately, I found that when I began blocking in the other main colours (equipment, facing colours, etc) the white primer was not so conducive to my goal of speed-painting. I found that bocking in the colours with normal GW paint was quite time-consuming compared to my usual medium of choice, inks. I prefer to use inks whenever possible for two reasons. They tend to flow better than regular paints (such as GW or Vallejo) and they provide an illusion of depth to their finish that paints don't provide. Of course, I should point out that normally with a 28mm figure I do more than just slap on the inks:
  1. black prime
  2. dry-brush entire figure with medium grey
  3. dry-brush entire figure with white
  4. apply inks or washes
Now this is a simplified version but sets out the basics. The dry-brushing creates a ghost figure. When the inks or washes are applied over the dry-brushing, shading and depth are the result (if I'm ambitious, I'll post a series of photos laying out this technique). This sounds simple but in fact has taken several years to get a good handle on. Anyway, this is the technique I wanted to use with the 15mm SYW and a white primer just wasn't doing it for me. The reason I found was that over a white primer, inks tend not to cover properly and bubble and pool. Over a dry-brushed surface, they flow evenly and settle in the creases as expected. So, I switched to a black primer and the ghost technique and you can see the results below. Although they definitely aren't of museum quality, they meet my goals of a moderately good wargaming standard paint job. And the painting speed was up to snuff as well. Once I had figured out how I was going to do it, these 48 figures took only two evenings of 3 hours each to finish. And that included the basing!

Regiment du Roi in the foreground, Regiment Navarre to the rear.
Old Glory figures.


  1. Great work! I particularly like the FCW cavalry, but the 15mm figures are excellent too!

    Best wishes


  2. Thanks! I'm happy with the results. Now I just have to duplicate them several times over to get an army.