Here we have the primed figure.


Fist stage of blocking in the colours........paint the blue tunic, try to leave the turnbacks and lapels white, saves time later.

Painting of the shako, paint carefully so as to leave the cords white........



backpack and then the blanlet roll..............

then paint the shoes


Paint the turnbacks and cuffs red..............


Paint the musket you should be able to leave the sling white without too much trouble.....


Paint the flesh...............



Paint the collar red. You can use a pen to do this if you prefer.

Paint the base around the feet..........


The wash........see how it outlines the detail and gives the figure contrast.

Once the wash is dry time to tidy up any mistakes. Paint the turnbacks white leaving a thin eding of red.


Paint the cockade and the pom pom and paint the haversack straps.

Using a dryish brush run it across the eagle plate on the shako.


Paint the bayonet and musket barrel, dry brush a little blue on the arms and then tidy up/highlight the coss belts


There you go you have a complete strip of figures


When the figures are dry time to base.

I'll go into more detail about basing techniques and materials later but for now its a simple matter of taking each strip, run a little UHU or similar to the bottom of the strip, then place the first strip on base, then slightly off setting place the second strip and then again off setting place the third strip. There you have a three rank base of figures.


Please note these pictures are taken at 6 times actual size which leads to some distortions. For more scale size pictures go to the Gallery pages.


Basic Materials

The system outlined was developed for use with enamel paints. It works using acrylics with some obvious changes.

Brushes, ah now there is a subject! First factor is Sable or Nylon. Personally I think sables are unnecessary for any scale under 90mm. I use the Daler "Dalon 77 " series brushes but I'm sure there are lots of other ones just as good. Art shops in general sell a much wider range of brushes than the average model shop.

The second factor is size. Don't be misled, just because your painting small figures doesn't mean you should use a handle with two hairs on it! For general painting No 2 and 1 are required with 00 and 000 used for the more fiddly bits. The more hairs a brush has the better it keeps its point and the more paint it can hold before needing to reload.

Brushes can be cleaned using normal domestic white spirit but should always receive a final wash out in proper Enamel thinners. If you're not going to use the brush for a while it's a good idea to coat the hairs lightly with a soap (say Fairy Liquid) this protective coat stops them from drying out.

We will also need some pens in order to cheat a little. Best ones Ive found are called ARTLINE they come in various colours and sizes. Cult pens at have a great selection of pens. Another type thats useful are Faber Castell Pitt artist pensAlso worth mentioning light. Daylight is the best of course but we cant all paint like that so Daylight bulbs ( I find the old fashioned tungsten blue glass types are best, see Amazon) are a good investment.


Basic priciples

The two most common problems people encounter when painting are getting the sequence of the various `levels' wrong and incorrect paint consistency. By `levels' I mean the different layers of detail. If you look at a figure carefully (this process is aided by an black oil wash) you'll see it's made up of layers of detail. Some detail is higher than others. Taking FN 3C for instance it's obvious that the trousers are further `back' than the tunic. The shako cords are further `out' than the shako.

The differences in elevation form natural brush guides. The trick is to get these natural guides to work for you rather than against. If you get the sequence right the brush will follow these natural lines and save you loads of time going back to touch up.

The consistency of the paint is crucial. If the paint is too thin it will not cover and spread all over the shop. Paint that's too thick leads to inaccurate and `scrubby' painting.

Enamels should always be thinned using proper thinners, NOT by white spirit. If using acylics make sure you have mixing mediums handy. I know it seems obvious but all paints dry out as you're using them. As they do so you must add more paint or thinners to regain the right consistency. If the paint consistency is right it will flow into into `tight' areas saving you the trouble of getting in there with a brush.

This is the reason why you shouldn't use very small brushes, they don't hold enough paint to allow it to flow.

The subject of paint consistency leads us to the subject of washes. The consistency of the wash will depend on the job it's intended to do. It's better to err on the side of too thin, you can always give the figures a second go. Use large brushes (No 2 or 3 at least) and don't scrub. Use proper thinners for thinning down (and in case anybody is wondering I don't have shares in Humbrol!). You can make up and store washes from session to session in something like an airbrush jar. For acrylics there are lots of ready to go ink washes around.

Another point worth mentioning here is the scale factor. The smaller the figure the less light is being reflected back from it. Therefore you must use brighter colours the smaller the scale. A Prussian `blue' that looks fine in 15mm will be way too dark on a 1/300th scale Prussian. Apart from anything else you want to spot the little buggers in the woods!

Having got all that out of the way it's time to actually to set brush to figure!


After cleaning up the figures it's time to think of how we are going to hold the figures while we paint them. Many people base the figures before painting thereby using the base to hold the figures. This isn't very practical with Napoleonics as the formations used were very dense (21" frontage per real man!) making it impossible to get around the figures properly.

The second option is just to hold the figures by their base. Personally this gives me acute cramp after a shortwhile and does threaten to rub off paint as fast as you put it on! The other problem is that if you're using washes you need to keep the figures upright so as to allow the washes to flow properly.

The method I use requires a little investment in time and money but I find the result immensely worthwhile. What you need is a length of dowel. This needs to be cut into 3" lengths. If you've got a 90 degree cut mitre all the better. Now you can make an elaborate rack to hold the dowels or for speed and cheapness just get a cardbord box ( man size tissue boxes are good) and cut square holes into it big enough to take the diameter of the dowel. You can use old paint pots, blank cotton reels etc.

Having got your `handle' it's now time to fix the strips onto them. The stuff to use is Sticky fixers, available from stationers, W.H.Smiths etc. These little self adhesive pads stick like certain substances to a blanket! There are also smaller pads designed for card making etc which work well.

Just cut each pad into three and stick them to the top of each length of dowel. Now you can secure the strips to the dowel.

Never try to paint too many figures at a time, personally I never try more than about 30 strips at a time. Mainly this is because I like to see results (i.e. a whole Rgt painted) as fast as possible (if you paint say a Division at a time it's a long time before you see anything finished) but keeping the numbers down also alleviates the problem of the paint drying up as outlined above.

Now that we have the strip securely held we can begin the real job of painting! However before we go on in one last point needs discussion, to prime or not to prime?

Its not really necessary. In the old days, when any old metal was used to manufacture figures a coat of primer was necessary to seal the metal from the paint and the air, not to do so was to risk a reaction called lead rot. With the up to date metals now in use this is no longer a problem.

If the figures your painting are maily one colour or have a lot of white a coat of primer is probably a good idea. I've tried the Army painter primer but prefer Halfords car paint primer myeslf.

I always prime horses ( except for Cuirassiers of which more later) as I use an ink wash for horse colours.