12 February 2014

My Way to paint 30 mm ‘Flat’ Miniatures – Might serve as a Tutorial

Having been asked so often how I arrive at my painting results, I thought of putting the below tutorial together. I'll invite you to follow me painting a set of 15 SYW French infantry miniatures. I have chosen to turn them into the roughnecks of Aquitaine (template seen in the right background). As my late reading implies, it was one of Frances more formidable fighting units. In fact, it was considered among the finest line regiments of the army, as noted in the history of the Hannoverian Army by Sichart. It had its day of Glory at Wilhemsthal June 1762, where it saved the army with its resolute and determined fight alongside the grenadiers as part of Stainville's corps. A true must have. Can't believe I set my eye on this regiment only recently. The flag design will be a challenge, and I'm already getting quite excited as to how it will turn out.
While thinking on how to present my method of painting miniatures, I realised I don't have much of what would deserve to be entitled a ‘deliberate technique’. I guess I'm a loose gun sort of bloke - talented - possibly - but rather instinctively painting away at random. 
That's why I decided to let the pics speak for themselves with only a minimum of supporting information. Besides, as I'm no native English speaker, I'm missing most of the needed technical terms anyway.
The priming I do with a white universal paint - that's what the label says, at least.

A good old German brand. The multi lingual text on its label indicates you can buy it basically anywhere across the globe.
I tried priming with black - once, but that was no good for my way of painting. I stay with white. Its so much better. Actually when applied to the metal, it'll turn light grey, really.
I should note, that I use artists fine oils with the required additives and also modeller's matt enamels.
Both can also be mixed quite well. Such a mix I often use as initial base coating, as it dries more quickly and allows for a more speedy progress. If you aren't in a hurry, you don't need them.
Given the slow drying of oil colours, they are best prepared in a little box that can be closed to keep annoying dust off.
The first step is simply to apply a base cover to every part of the figure. I'll cover the coat, vest, breeches, and gaiters, etc. The faces and hands, I do in a flipped manner. I start off dark with a red-brown – ‘English Red’, I find best here – and then work in the lights with white.
I add white onto the forehead, nose, the cheeks, and the chin. This works best while the initial red coating hasn't dried yet. Unfortunately, here I was too slow, so that the white didn't mix with the red so well. I have done this better before. No worries. I'm only starting. Plenty of opportunities to correct later if you happen to have your brush loaded with the right shade of colour at a later stage.  Really, seeing the figures at this vastly increased scale, my paint work looks terribly inaccurate. A lot more then it actually is. The real figure, seen from about a foot distant, looks perfectly fine.
Initial coating of the figures is continued. I also do the cartridge bags, the rucksacks, etc. Do you notice the flag. It looks awesome. Must be a design by Yves Saint-Laurent or Missoni. How stylish it is. That's what I love with the French army.  Prussian ones manufactured by this obscure Bunzelockwitz Silk Painters Ltd. located at Berlin Hackische Höfe will never be a match. 
I also started the first shading with the drum. Before you engage into the shading part of the paint work, you'll have to decide at what level of 3D appeal you want to arrive. The below sketch will illustrate the issue with an odd cylinder (Fig. I) – Yes, that is a cylinder. 
It will be more obvious if you illustrate it as Fig. II and even more so as with Fig. III. I usually seek to arrive at Fig. III. This sketch also serves as a good eye-ball calibrator if you do it for yourself before starting to paint. That said you can now see how I do it when sculpting the coats, to begin with. I dash off rather boldly and line out the dark parts in a rather sketchy manner. 

Right after that I use the coats initial base colour again and mix it into the dark creating gradients from darker to lighter where I want it.
This way works better then painting the dark parts into the cover while it is still wet in order to arrive at the gradients. You have better control of what you are doing. Too much dark can be easily removed with a brush stroke of cleaner instead of colour. You can't do that when painting into the wet cover.
The result is seen below.

With pretty much the same method, I did the shading and lightening of the two tambours blue coats. Different to the white coats, I started off with applying the light parts first. Not too much to avoid arriving at a light blue coat. The dark parts are applied only after. Less detail is needed here since both coats will receive a lot of lace later.
Next, I place some light onto the rucksack and cartridge bags. Again this is done rather sketchy with its initial step. 
Thereafter I paint in the gradients much the same way as it was done with the coats. The same way, I model the tricornes. I add the lightening with a light blue, and by using a dark brown, I also took the time to give the sabers including the hilts a dark brown cover. The same colour I also used to outline the muskets as well as the cartridge bags. 
I also gave the red parts of the tambours some further treatment by adding lights as well as the darker parts. Muskets as well as the flag bar and officers esponton do also receive a light lining.
Now also the gaiters will receive more attention. Again, the dark parts are added as seen below. 

Thereafter meleed into the white as done before.
As next major step, the rucksacks are added the dark parts and the white coats and gaiters will receice a highlight cover. This is oncemore an opportunity to increase the 3D appearance of the figures. 

Not sure if you can see it on the photo, but I aimed at arriving at two different shades of white - or better an off-white. More yellowish for the coats, and more cool greyish for the gaiters. I have tried this several times before, but with poor outcome. You could hardly tell in the end. This time, it has worked quite well. After this step, the job is nearly done. Last comes the buttons and lace. As can be seen, I have already started here. Also the belts will receive more light and darker shading as well as outlining. Below see an image of the entire unit in its present nearly finished state.

Indeed, the God of Battle watching seems to be pleased – and – I guess he is seriously reconsidering the flag design of his Garde Impériale.
Aquitaine paint job completed. I'm pleased. To the right we see the Hannoverian regiment Hardenberg. It can hardly await the moment of first contact to exchange fire with Aquitaine. 
Aquitaine based and in company of Frances most tested SYW fighting units in Germany. Left 2 are Auvergne, the other is Belzunce (one stand missing with the photo). Auvergne is formally La Reine. I overpainted la Reine and turned it into this regiment, as la Reine belongs to Americas annals, not so much to the war in Germany. I need Auvergne for Minden as well as for my 1760 campaign project.