Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Cavalry painting - part 2...

...just a short post to show me finishing off the cavalry unit I did the horse painting demo on last week...

Having looked at the pictures (!) I think it's worth me re-iterating my prime rule when it comes to painting the little metal men that throw themselves so bravely into the face of withering dice throws on my tabletop...
  • I'm not an artist - when painting my little metal men I largely ignore colour palettes, three (or even two) stage highlighting, or complex shading techniques - I'm not creating works of art but wargame units (and given this particular project, lots of them).
  • I've also recognised that while my skills improve the more I paint, I have no inherent talent in this direction as some figure painters do. I've always known that the key to reasonable figures on the table is a straight forward paint job, and a colourful (simple) basing effort... these guys are there to get their hands dirty rather than stand around the place preening**
  • I'm not a modeller - I have no interest in spending large amounts of time clipping, filing, gluing, and generally "fancifying" the figures I use on the table top - to be honest I do little more than file the bottom of the base flat, and trim off the more obvious lumps of metal that shouldn't be there.. I stand in awe (really) of those who sculpt extra equipment and such with Miliput etc.
** which in no way negates my delight in seeing the truly excellent pieces of work that others create - I'm thinking particularly here of the Grimsby Mariner, Tarletons Quarter and Minden Miniatures sites...

So - forewarned and forearmed, let's proceed.. you may remember we finished the last montage just after completing the horses, next step the riders.

First off I did the red for the coat which for me is not usual as I normally start with the flesh area's (one it makes the figure come alive, and two it means you can cover any mistakes later in the cycle). In this case I knew I'd be using the flesh stage to paint other equipment (more anon).

As usual you only paint the white highlighted area - red paint needs to be good and opaque to cover black, so the white in this case is providing the necessary undercoat.. you'll notice that I avoided the webbing over the shoulder.. the paint b.t.w is a budget bottle I bought at "To the Redoubt" some years ago - it's not too red, and is a reasonable thickness.. looks like I got a bit excited as the mane on the grey is suffering!

Next step was saddle cloth, cuffs, saddle roll & pistol covers - these are done in what is my take on the "sea green" that Grant tells me was the facing colour for this regiment. This paint was a Vallejo that I usually use for WWII German Infantry tunics...

Flesh next - Vallejo Basic Flesh Tone..

Then the "woodwork" - I use a Vallejo ink called "Woodgrain" that I discovered at the "Colours" show a couple of years ago - being an ink it is not opaque, and over black undercoat/white damp brush it looks curiously like the name on the bottle (as the adverts would say)..... I also use it for hair as being an ink it gives an excellent effect..

Black next - I used the Windsor & Newton black ink as it has good coverage over white - boots and sword scabbard completed, and I touched up the tricorns where the white damp brush may have covered a little too much.. For me, this is the step where I check all the figures for any bits missed or that need tidying up - the black ink is perfect as it covers a multitude of sins...I fixed the horses mane in this step.

Next step is edging - my least favourite step as I'm no good with fine lines. This squadron is destined to represent Wyndham's, and Grant mentions that they had silver edging for the tricorn, shabraque and cuffs. Rather than silver which is a little bright, I used GW "Bolt Gun Metal", that also allowed me to do the carbine barrels in the same stage...

This step on the other hand is second favourite only to the inkwash for the horse as both bring the figures to "life" - I use GW "Flesh Wash" over all flesh area's which saves me doing highlights, but gives good shading. I also use it to paint over white to represent the natural leather of webbing and straps, as in this era pipe clay was not at all prevalent...

With a spot of gold paint on the ends of the swords that's the unit complete.'s the squadron as a whole...

..preparation/painting time to date is I guess between 3 & 4 hours including the hour for the horses.

I'd call it four hours with basing, which for me is plastic card cut to size (30mm square), painted GW "Woodland Green", when dry glue the cavalry down, and when they are dry paint the entire upper surface of the base and figure stands with a water based PVA glue before covering in a flock and static grass mix before finally adding a few stones and Woodland Scenics flock (for bushes) and then standing back to admire.. the next post I'll give some unit details..


  1. Hi Steve,

    Don't sell yourself short! Those cavalry look awfully good to my eye.

    Best Regards,


  2. Steve,

    Actually you give your 15mm troops a bit more detailing than I do with my 25s . . . and the result is very nice . . . so don't sell yourself short as a figure painter.

    -- Jeff

  3. Excellent work Steve & thankee for the kind comments.

    Interesting mix of paints and manufacturers. Never used Vallejo but heard lots of good things about them.

    I'm sorely tempted by the new GW inks since over a white basecoat they seem to be the answer to lots of shading and highlighting. Unfortunately I'm too far down the road of my current projects to change - so maybe the next one!!

    I always use GW metallics. I've tried others and never found them to be any good. Boltgun is a standard and there are always two bottles on the shelf.

    But whatever you use as long as it's comfortable and the results are as good as these then go for it. And those figures do look very nice. One trick is to make the bases uniform. Good bases and all the same make a big difference to the appearance.

    Well done.

  4. ..thanks for the kind comments guys - just a coulle of comments based on your comments... if you know what I mean..

    Grimsby has it in one with his comment about basing - it can distract the eye from a multitude of sins if done sympathetically and in a uniform way - I compare it to the effect of a decent haircut on those makeover programs they have on the TV! :o))

    W.r.t inks, I think they are the finest thing since sliced bread - looking forward to checking out GW next time I'm near one, but I've always said that with a few exceptions, I would paint exclusively with them if I could just find enough colours - being thin and almost watery in consistancy they are so easy to "paint" with..

  5. Steve,

    I left the following note on Adik's site . . . but I figure that you'd want the information too.


    I use an "ink wash" on certain of my figures . . . also with a brush . . . but I do do one odd thing that I think might be of value to both of you.

    When I start my "ink wash", I turn the figures upside down (they are on painting sticks) and brush on my wash from feet down to the head . . . then turn it right-side up and brush the other way (although this often draws off excess wash as opposed to adding more.

    The particular value of this technique is . . . first, the wash gets in places that a top wash often misses . . . next, it generally leaves a slightly heavier wash in the shadow areas below belts, etc.

    Finally, it should be noted that for "ink washes" (and I presume for "the dip") that it looks like a disaster immediately after you do it . . . but when it dries, it looks great.

    Hope that this helps.

    -- Jeff