Vintage 40 mm semi-round Holger Eriksson figures, newly cast in Prince August rubber moulds, and painted with artists‘ acrylics. They are a French light infantry company attached to the Berchény Hussars, a.k.a. Chasseurs de Sombreuil, based individually on 0.2 mm steel bases for Charge! wargames. The miniatures were undercoated with Dupli-Color Deco Matt Acrylic »Chocolate Brown«, for several reasons:
- the chasseurs’ red breeches, waistcoat, and facings will be shaded by adding a touch of dark green to the madder red base colour, turning it a darker red-brown quite similar to the chocolate brown undercoat.
- the sky blue coat will be shaded by adding a touch of leather brown to the base colour (indigo lightened with titanium buff)
- musket stocks will be dark brown
- the drummer wears the brown livery of Ladislas Ignace de Bercheny, colonel-proprietor of the Bercheny hussars
- the commanding officer, Colonel de Sombreuil, rides a brown horse
Leave the undercoated figures to dry over night, if possible. Artist acrylic paint and acrylic spray paint adheres to miniatures very well, and stays flexible. If a miniature’s musket or sword is bent, the acrylic paint will follow the motion, compared to enamel paint which tends to break and chip off.
Paints and Brushes
To paint the Chasseurs de Sombreuil, we used ten acrylic colours and four different brushes
- Indigo, the choice for 16th to 18th century blue fabric dyed with woad or indigo
- Dark Green
- Neutral Grey
- Titanium Buff
- Yellow Ochre
- Bright Orange
- Raw Umber
- Burnt Umber
- Size 2 flat brush for underpainting
- Size 2 brush for highlighting, bandoliers, cartridge boxes, muskets, hats, etc.
- Size 1 brush for shading, musket barrels, etc.
- Size 0 brush for eyes, buttons, and buttonhole loops
Using a wet palette – a sandwich container with lid, lined with four to six layers of tissue paper and one layer of unwaxed baking paper on top, soaked with clean water – acrylic paint will stay fresh for weeks, if kept in the refrigerator. This is particularly helpful, if small batches of coat or facing colour are mixed from scratch and will be needed to touch up any mistakes later in the painting process.
1st Layer – Underpainting
Underpainting is done quickly, using a size 2 flat brush. Begin by underpainting hands and faces a light flesh colour. If batches of ten or more figures are painted at one time, the flesh colour of the first figures will be dry by the time the last figure has had its face and hands painted. Holding the flat brush sideways for a finer point, paint the neck stock and shoes neutral grey (don’t use black on miniatures, it’s out of scale and ruins everything). At this point, there is no need to worry about neutral grey paint spilling onto the figure’s chest, base or gaiters, the only precision we are concerned with is that straight upper edge of the neck stock, where it meets the exposed flesh of the neck.
Using the size 2 flat brush, underpaint breeches, cuffs, lapels, and turnbacks madder red. Again, it’s perfectly ok if red paint spills onto the coat or gaiters in places, the only critical area is the front edge of the cuff where it meets the hand. The Chasseurs de Sombreuil wear unusual pointed lapels; these are easy to paint if you view them as two distinct geometric shapes: a rectangle and a triangle below it, pointing down. With the rectangle in place, the pointed part is best painted using a size 1 brush, turning the figure upside down, drawing a roof-shape onto the rectangle, then filling it in. Full-sized rectangular lapels work well with Holger Eriksson figures which are fully facing the viewer, like the firing musketeers and grenadiers, the standing officer, the gunner with ramrod. The marching, advancing, and charging figures are modelled in perspective, and their lapels need to be painted with horizontal lines converging at the vanishing point (s. graphical perspective, and double point perspective).
Using the size 2 flat brush, start underpainting the coat sky blue (Indigo lightened with Titanium Buff), beginning with a band of sky blue colour around each lower arm where it meets the cuff, and where red paint is sure to have spilled onto the coat. Next, delineate the pointed lapels by holding the figure at the desired angle and drawing bands of sky blue colour straight down, past each of the four edges of the lapels. The narrow gap between the cartridge box and the right-hand turnback can be underpainted by turning the flat brush sideways and using its narrow edge. Use the same trick to underpaint the lower triangular section of each coat tail where it meets the red turnbacks. Leaving out the upper triangular section of the coat tails for now, finish underpainting the remainder of the coat with rapid strokes, not worrying about cartridge boxes, bandoliers, scabbards and other items which will receive some paint spill.
Using the size 1 brush, paint a sky blue standing collar where it meets the neutral grey neck stock, leaving the typical triangular opening at the throat. Paint the upper triangular section of the coat tails delineated by the turnbacks, as well as any other small sections of the coat which may have been missed earlier.
Using the size 1 and size 2 brushes, carefully paint the crossbelts and waistbelt neutral grey to prevent the red lapels and sky blue coat from bleeding into the titanium buff leather colour which will be applied to the belts and straps later.
2nd Layer – Shading and Highlighting
When shading and highlighting miniatures we always assume that the light source is above and to the left of the object. It is important to apply this principle to the front and back of the miniature so that the shading and highlighting of figures, vehicles, and terrain pieces will match, irrespective of the actual facing of an object in a game or diorama setting.
Using shaded madder red paint – mixed by adding a touch of dark green to a portion of the original madder red facing colour – and a size 2 brush, shade the lower and right-hand edges of cuffs, lapels, turnbacks, and breeches where the shadow falls on adjacent red cloth, as well as any folds in the cloth.
Using shaded sky blue paint – mixed by adding a touch of leather brown to a portion of the original sky blue coat colour – and a size 2 brush, shade the lower edges of folds in the coat, as well as the lower and right-hand edges of pockets, waist belts, bandoliers, cartridge boxes, scabbards, and other objects worn above the coat.
The actual width of these shaded areas depends on the height of the object casting the shadow onto the coat Accordingly, the shadow cast by lapels needs to be narrower than that cast by cuffs or cartridge boxes. Looking at the lapels of the Chasseurs de Sombreuil from the painters perspective, the left-hand edge of both lapels is highlighted red, the dividing centre line is shaded dark red-brown, and the right and lower right edges of the right lapel cast dark sky blue shadows onto the coat.
Using highlighted madder red paint – mixed by adding a touch of bright organge colour to a portion of the original madder red facing colour – and a size 2 brush, highlight any exposed upper surfaces of turnbacks, lapels, and breeches which can be hit by light from the upper left-hand light source.
Using highlighted sky blue paint – mixed by adding a touch of desert sand colour to a portion of the original sky blue coat colour – and a size 2 brush, highlight the shoulder, as well as any exposed upper surfaces of the right or left arm held horizontally and in line of the light source.
3rd Layer – Overpainting
Using the size 1 brush, carefully overpaint the crossbelts and waistbelt titanium buff. Dilute the paint to a milky consistency and paint the left and right top edges of the wider belts first. Draw the tip of the paintbrush along the left edge of the strap surface only, then turn the figure on its head and repeat the process, again painting only along the left top edge of the strap which is not obscured by the paintbrush handle, if you are right-handed. Once the edges are correctly painted, switch to the size 2 brush and paint the center section of each strap. Leave the narrow sides of the straps shaded; they tend to be sloped irregularly, rather than perpendicular, making it virtually impossible to paint them in a straight line.
Using the size 1 brush and titanium buff paint, carefully overpaint the lower edge of the gaiters where they meet the shoes. When this is done, switch to the size 2 flat brush and overpaint a titanium buff ring around the upper edge of the gaiters, where they meet the red breeches. With the edges properly delineated, paint the entire length of the gaiters with rapid strokes of the size 2 flat brush. If the titanium buff paint is used in a milky consistency, streaks of the neutral grey underpaint or the chocolate brown undercoat may shine through the gaiters. This is actually a desirable shading effect. Use a clean and moist size 1 brush to draw wet titanium buff paint out of the larger folds at the knees and ankles, which further accentuates these shadows.
Eyes and Hair
Using the size 0 brush and titanium buff paint, underpaint the eye socket. Once dry, use neutral grey to overpaint the pupil, simply drawing a narrow vertical line through the eye socket, dividing the white of the eye in two. If the white of the eye turned out too big, or the pupil was drawn too long, retouch the shape of the eye using light flesh paint.
Paint the hair and the tip of the braid a medium to dark brown. Field officers, senior NCOs, and some privates may have grey hair, representing either natural grey hair or a powdered wig. The bow around the braid is painted neutral grey.
Musket, Cartridge Box, Sword and Scabbard
Using the size 1 brush and neutral grey paint, underpaint the cartridge box, sword and scabbard, musket barrel, lock, butt plate, ramrod, and bayonet. If necessary, use raw umber paint to touch up the musket stock where light flesh, sky blue, or madder red may have spilled previously.
Using wrought iron paint – mixed by adding a touch of neutral grey to bright silver paint – overpaint the sword blade, musket barrel, lock, butt plate, ramrod, and bayonet.
The French infantry musket modèle 1728, popularly known as the Charleville, St. Étienne, Tulle or Maubeuge, has three steel barrel bands, and so does the standing firing musketeer carved by Holger Eriksson. Unterpaint these barrel bands using neutral grey. Let dry, then overpaint each barrel band with wrought iron paint, leaving a narrow shaded edge on either side of the barrel band. Use the standing firing musketeer as a guide for painting barrel bands on other musket-armed figures which do not seem to have them.
Paint the musket sling Russian leather – mixed by adding burnt umber, red, and titanium buff to a reddish brown colour.
Using brass paint, overpaint the sword hilt, scabbard throat, lockets (if visible), and drag.
Underpaint the knapsack a faded brown-grey, medium brown, or green-grey. Add titanium buff to the original colour and highlight the knapsack, using the number 2 flat brush.
Buttons and Boutonnières
Pewter buttons on miniatures with white gaiters will not be very obvious to a viewer, so actually painting them is a matter of choice. Using a size 1 brush and shaded white paint – mixed by adding a tiny amount of medium grey-green to the titanium buff base colour – place twelve to 15 small dots evenly spaced along the outer seem of each gaiter, three to four above the neutral grey knee strap, and nine to eleven below. Once the underpainting is dry, overpaint all spots with dull silver, slightly off center, so that a shaded edge remains around the bottom and right-hand edges of each button.
The uniform of the Chasseurs de Sombreuil has trefoil-shaped buttonhole loops. There are 22 of them altogether: six on each lapel, three on each pocket flap, and two on each cuff. The buttons are arranged in the usual fashion, on the outside edges of the lapels, on the horizontal pocket flap, and side-by-side at the top edge of each cuff. The boutonnières are arranged so that the button rests on the stem of the trefoil, i.e. facing toward the center of the lapels, toward the top of the pocket flap, and toward the bottom of the cuff. The easiest way to paint this is by drawing the stems of the trefoils first, placing the button over the stem, and then placing three titanium white dots around the other end of the stem. You can go overboard on this and paint even smaller red dots or sky blue dots over these dots to indicate that they are actually loops of cord with the facing and uniform colour showing through. Underpaint the stems, the buttons, and the trefoil shapes neutral grey first, to ensure that the facing and uniform colour does not bleed into the titanium buff loops.
Paint the bases a greenish ochre or olive drab colour – mixed by adding a small amount of Neutral Grey to Yellow Ochre.