Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Bit of background...

To begin with, I must say that as far as wargaming goes, sadly, my involvement over the years has been somewhat limited. However, it would be difficult to describe myself as a figure painter, as since my introduction to this hobby back in the mid 1970's, I have amassed a large collection of part finished units, shelves full of rulebooks and various source books etc. It would seem that my main problem lies in being easily attracted by pictures in magazines or, more recently, websites, the prettier the picture the greater the attraction. So overall, I seem to be suffering from, to coin a phrase, 'Butterflyism'.

In the beginning I was attracted to the English Civil War, a period that still pulls me back yet always seems to end with a similar disappointment. Sometimes its the rules, sometimes the figure, but mostly, I guess, me. Whatever it is it always seem to follow a similar pattern, I restart then quickly lose impetus. Unfortunately, this pattern seems to apply to most of my started wargames projects, I spend money, paint a few figures, slowly lose interest, then move on to the next period.

I tried to analyse the reasons for this and came across a post on the 'League of Augsburg' site. It was suggested that we might be overpainting our figures, and that as painting techniques allied with improvements in figure design developed, it becomes harder to sustain the levels of discipline needed to turn out masses of intricately painted figures. I though this could be it and resolved to simplify my technique, reduce the number of highlights etc. Sounds simple, but often the temptation to add just one more highlight proved difficult to resist, after all it had taken me years to develop my skills.

Then, again on the same website, I came across a discussion concerning the Army Painter dip system, and one post, in particular, caught my eye. Clarence Harrison was showing how he had used the aforesaid Army Painter dip on some Napoleonic figures. He had painted them in basic colours, given them a wash of the dip, then finished with highlights. Perhaps, I thought, this could be the answer, so using some old Reiver figures I had a go. Over a white undercoat I block painted the figure, shading only the flesh, then once dry I washed the figure with a 'Miracle Wash' solution, waited until dry then highlighted before finally Matt varnishing. Hey presto, it worked, suddenly instead of finishing a couple of figures a week I found I could complete a battalion. Okay, so maybe the finish isn't up to the quality of some of the top notch painters, but for me they work. Plus the upside is that suddenly I'm beginning to produce finished units rather than small groups, now all I have to find is a simpler method for bases.

Anyway, I will let the figures speak for themselves...

Okay so they're not WSS, but they were painted using the above technique!


  1. They look really good! I really must try this dip thingy.. do you use plain army painter or your own recipe??

    One suggestion I did read on someone elses blog was to save the flesh highlight until after the dip - but your guys prove it's not essential...

  2. Steve,
    I've described the wash in the blog, hope you find it useful. I'm not sure how it would work on 15mm, but its always worth a try. One useful ink for a wash in 15mm is 'Winsor & Newton' the Peat Brown. Again the finish is shiny, but it looks good.