Thursday, 1 December 2011

Painting British Infantry – Part 3 (Mid-colours and Highlighting)

So, a couple of days further on and the figures are well on their way to being finished. I estimate I’m about 80 per cent. of the way to finishing these figures now.

After the shade colours, I gradually worked on mid-colouring and highlighting on the group of figures. Although I like to do the mid-colouring altogether, the way in which I do the highlighting means its often easier just to do the mid-colours and highlights at the same time.

OK, hang on, hang on. What on earth am I talking about ….. “mid-colours”? “Highlighting”? Pardon??

By “mid-colours” I mean the colour which is about halfway between the shade colour I applied last time and the colour which I want to use as a highlight. Some enterprising paint companies have brought out paint in three colours (shade, mid and highlight) and while I don’t use those particular paints, I like the thought behind them. In a similar fashion, I like to work from a shade colour (applied in Part 2 of this mini-series), through a mid-colour to a highlight colour. Take the section of riflemen in the photos below for example …

The shade colour on the packs and webbing was Vallejo Leather Brown. The mid-colour I then painted was a mix of Vallejo Leather Brown and Vallejo Khaki. The highlight was straight Vallejo Khaki mixed with a very small amount of Vallejo White. Shade, then mid-colour and then finally highlight.

As the mid-colour and highlight both involve the same colour (Vallejo Khaki), I found it fairly easy to do the mid-colour and then highlight on the figures as a group in consecutive order, instead of (say) painting the mid-colour and then doing something else (like the mid-colour on the rifles or the figures’ boots).

So, in turn, I painted mid-colour and highlight on the figures’ boots, puttees, leather jerkins (for the three figures which have them), rifles and then the webbing and packs. I had meant to do the actual uniforms (tunics and trousers) but I didn’t have time last night. However, this is the last major area on the figures to paint with mid-colour and highlight, with only the fine-detailing needed after that.

The command group I saved until the end of last night’s painting session, and these chap are therefore lagging behind a little. I did manage the map on Tuesday evening, being another chance to try and replicate the colours used on actual trench maps in the Great War.

A couple of final points in response to some of the comments left on previous Blog posts.

The glass lenses on the gas masks on the figures are very simple. A shade colour of Vallejo German Grey, and mid colour of Vallejo Neutral Grey (which covers almost all of the lens) and then two flat dabs of Vallejo White mixed with Vallejo Neutral Grey. Simple, but fairly effective from a distance. I have tried some crazy things with the lenses (such as trying to paint the eyes of the figure through the lens and trying to paint a reflection of the ground beneath the figure in the lens). These are nice things to try for a display-case model, but on a wargames table that kind of super-detailing gets lost (in my humble opinion). So kudos to the chaps who do that on their figures, but I wanted something simpler but hopefully still dramatic … hence the solution I’ve mentioned above.

Finally, the cardboard bases under the figures. This is just an old habit of mine. I simply cut a strip of artist’s mounting board, place a lump of Blu-Tac on the end and stick the figure onto it. I’ve seen all costs of holders used for figures (from spatulas, to wooden strips, to wine corks) but the artist’s mounting board and Blu-Tac works for me.

That’s all for now. Hopefully, tomorrow night or on Saturday I can post the finished figures.


  1. I have to admit to sharing your predilection for the three colour method, but I have to say there is something about your palette that just really appeals to me. Curious to see how the command base will come together; will you build up the texture to blend the individual basses together?

  2. Really interesting. I like how the figures are progressing.

  3. Great stuff again Sidney, its always good to see how other folk go about things.

  4. These posts are very interesting. Thanks Sidney.

  5. It still comes down to patience and your ability as one of the best figure painters out there Sidney...stunning.

  6. Yet super tutorial and those mini's are looking very nice!


  7. Thanks again for the series Mr. Roundwood, they have really offered (at least to me) a lot of useful tips and ideas. Incidentally, let me insist in that old idea developed some months ago of bundling together your different blog pieces on terrain making into a pdf.

  8. Thanks for teh tut mate. Im going to be painting some of these soon so it will help me alot.

  9. Thanks everyone for the comments, which are really appreciated:

    @Michael – having a definite idea of the colours you want to use helps. It took a bit of experimenting to get to this colour palette. Not quite sure I’ve got it perfect – it’s one of those things I keep adjusting. As for the command stand, the places where the figures will be glued have not been textured over. I usually add a little texturing on the base once they’re glued down, which will hopefully be this weekend.

    @Beccas, Phil, Rodger, Christopher and Flags – thank you all very much!

    @Angry – I’m not really. There are loads and loads of better painters out there - at least I think so! But I’m really chuffed (and very grateful) you said it all the same. Thanks Fran!

    @Anibal – my pleasure, Benito. Yes, I have not forgotten. I’ve just putting the finishing touches to an article in Rich’s Christmas Special tonight on Passchendaele. Then I’ve something I want to do in December which I'll post on this Blog when it's done. And after that, yes I’ll do a handy PDF on terrain making or else add it into the Mud & Blood supplement I’m (still) working on. Don’t worry, all projects are still on track. Sorry it’s taking so long! Work has a very annoying habit of getting in the way of our hobby!


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