Tuesday, 21 April 2009

My painting style

Hi all,

For me, painting the figurines is a very important facet of the hobby. I tend to perfect my painting style by copying the work of others, studying their methods and using the same techniques. I enjoy painting, building a unit and watching the creation grow right before my eyes.

For me seeing bland tin soldiers turn into master pieces of dedication, animating them with colour and depth really encompasses what I find the most enjoyable aspect of the hobby. Seeing what others have done and trying to achieve the same results is very satisfying for me, after all, we all learn from each other. I might at times become bored with painting but when I gaze upon the finished product and its beauty I cannot help but pull out the next bunch of shinny tin figures and start all over again on the next project.

I paint predominately 15-18mm miniatures with a tendency towards AB figures, this brand of figure lends itself perfectly to the manipulation of the paint brush and an end result that can be amazing even for those less able to paint well. As can bee seen from the photos all of these figures I have painted are AB. I also enjoy painting Old Glory figures and at times prefer them because of the added animation they seem to have. A very well painted Old Glory unit can look just as good as an AB one and at times even more so. I also use a variety of other brands in my collection which I also favour due to the variety of figures I have acquired over the years and painted up.

Here are a few photos of some of my work both past and present:

This picture is of North Italian Infantry in formation on the attack, the North Italians have some of the most beautiful uniforms to paint in combinations of White, Red and Green, they make for a nice looking army once deployed in formation on a table top.

Here can be seen a formation of Highlanders I painted up for a friend a few years ago, I painted up the entire 3rd Division (Picton's) for him eventually.

Here also is another British unit painted up, that of a Line regiment of Picton's 3rd Division.

I also paint for myself and some of my best work is in here, I enjoy the French army and its uniforms filled with every kind of style and colour imaginable. Here are a couple of images of French Carabiniers I have painted over the last few years.

Now I will write out the procedure that I use :

Cleaning - First of all I clean the figure by getting rid of all excess metal, scrape the base so the figure will stand upright and generally make sure the figure is perfectly aligned with plumes standing upright and muskets/bayonets perfectly straight.

Base Undercoat - I then do a Black-wash using Humbrol 85 Satin Black over each figure, (I grew up with Enamels and prefer them over acrylics). This black wash is watered down with turpentine to turn the figure into a very dull grey colour with all of the black seeping into every crease and fold of the figure.

Baking - Next I set all the figures on a standing tray and leave them in the HOT sun for several hours, I turn them around so that the sun cooks all sides of the figures evenly. This is to bake the black wash onto the figures.

Bayonets/Swords - Next I take my hobby knife and run it along the edges of the bayonets, this chips off the black wash exposing the shinny metal of the figure. I only expose the long edges and other areas which would, if real weapons remain lighter and worn areas of metal. Doing this while leaving the other areas of the bayonets black gives a good illusion of worn metal. With swords I will scrape closely both sides of the sword, especially the sharpened edge of the blade. I leave the blood grove dark (black-wash) for depth and shading perception. Doing this really adds to the realism of the exposed metal edges giving a good effect.

Sealing - Next I spray Testors Model Master Lusterless (Flat) 1960 over the figures while still on the tray so that the clear coat covers all surfaces. I then place the figures back out in the sun to bake once more. I prefer to allow the black wash and the clear coat to set for another day or more depending on the weather. The purpose of the clear sealer is to seal the black wash on the figure so that once you begin to paint the figure the black will not cause problems with colours such as white, red or yellow etc.

Faces / Hands - I first paint all the faces only applying paint (flesh) to the tips of the noses and a triangle on each check. I will also paint on the chin and forehead where I need to. I will also paint on a curve for the ears if they show. I am very careful to not let the different parts of the face where I apply the flesh colour to touch. This is to show depth and shading.

Brass/Silver - Once the figures are ready I begin by painting all buttons, weapon parts, buckles and shako plates etc with the brass or silver paint as needed. These small areas come first.

Piping/Collars/Cuffs - Next I paint all of the turn backs, piping and collars etc of the figures the appropriate colours as needed making sure not to allow any colours to touch each other but leaving a fine black line between each colour where possible. This is not always possible due to the figure detail etc but when I can I do this.

Pants - I then proceed to paint the trousers and pants of the figures the proper colours. If the uniform is a campaign dress I tend to paint the figures in a variety of colours with an underlying theme of one particular colour with a few other colours amongst them. I leave creases and folds in the pants black to show depth and shading.

Jackets & Shirts - I tend to then begin to paint the jackets and shirts of the figures careful not to let the paint run into the creases and folds of the uniforms. I also leave a fine gap between the uniform and the straps to show depth and shading. Sometimes I will paint the straps and cross belts first, this depends on the figures being painted.

Cross belts, Backpacks and straps - Now I paint all of these areas making sure to be very careful not to let the paint run onto other areas such as the jackets and shirts. I make sure I leave a fine black line between each strap and never allow any of the colour of each strap to touch, again, this is to show depth and shading.

Plumes and Cords - Now I paint all of the plumes and cords the appropriate colours but blotching the paint so that small areas of black wash show through, again this is to show depth and shading.

Touching up - Once I feel the figure is almost done I go back over them touching up any areas that I might have made mistakes on. Cleaning them up and giving them the once over.

Basing - I then proceed to base up the figures and flock them as specified by the rules system into their units.

Clear Coat - Once the unit is totally finished I spray a good solid coat of matt clear over the entire unit and set them out once more in the hot sun to set and bake. This gives the finished product a strong coating that protects the paint from constant touching in war games.


David said...

Nice work mate. Make sure you add the Followers gadget as it allows people to "subscribe" so any updates notify them instantly. Good for those who want to "follow" your blog. Funny that!
Also make sure your labels are smart and easy to read, not just to you. This one was "op". Not sure what that is but years from now when I log on I would like to see all the posts for 15mm, Napoleonics, Painting, British, Commissions, Home Rules or whatever.

Anyway just some tips. See what others think. Also make sure post on TMP whenever you update your blog.

Shane Devries said...

thank you David, I will do these things indeed, I am very naive with blogging as of yet so I will need all the help I can get.

coupdecoeur said...

a small mark at the time of my passage on your very beautiful blog!
thanks for making us share your moments
you have a translation of my English space!

cordially from France
¸..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
((¸¸.·´ ..·´ -:¦:-
-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´* ~ Chris ~ -:¦:-

Andy McMaster said...

Very nice stuff. Not my period but I like the style. It'd be nice to see pictures to accompany each of the stages as well.

Look forward to following your blog.


Shane Devries said...


Brilliant idea, I will begin to paint a figure and photograph it step by step and put the images up.

Thank you.

Andy McMaster said...

Thanks for posting the pics. It's always good to see how people do things. Your sequence is a bit different from what I expected. I always start with the flesh and follow the 'work outwards' route so some of the detail you do early on I leave to the end.

Good stuff...