Washing day!

 A recent short discussion on the Mongrel prompted me to put up some 15's that have been painted in slightly different methods (if you can paint in a method!)  to show the effect of the options for shading. Put very simply, you know the Army Painter stuff? Well for years and years I've had my own formula which is Ivory Black oil paint mixed with non yellowing gloss varnish and let down with while spirit. Mix it good and thin, splash it on the figure and it shows plenty of detail and shading. The details on the figures is pretty easy to pick out just like on a 28, but it take less time, but often aren't worth the bother. Field officers and commanders get a more refined treatment and are actually properly painted and shaded, but the rank and file get blocked in and washed. Course, this depends on the uniform colour as some need highlighting, but, generally, they're fast as lightning compared to 28's.

A lot also depends on the sculptor in question. AB are hardest to paint because of the temptation to go into fine detail on every figure, but they wash just as well as anybody else's. Probably the best examples of good figures for washing are the impending Napoleonic ranges from Blue Moon. Not as finely detailed as AB, but more deeply sculpted with exaggerated relief on cross belts and the like. I need to finish my Russian division and their early Russian types will do the job nicely - as well as being less than half the price of AB's range.

So, you can get as much detail as you feel you want/need on the figures and they look fine without having to paint in all the piping if you don't want to. My French have their lapel and turnback piping, but only the light infantry have collar piping. When I do the foreign regiments I've planned, only the ones with distinctive piping will get it. For example, the Swiss battalions will need piping because they had it in  pretty strong contrasting colours, whereas the French line don't get collars piped and some don't even get their cuffs piped. As an aside, hussars of any nationality are surprisingly easy to paint because of their frogging - an easy dry-brushing job.

Now then, I bought some Dark Tone Army Painter and it's pretty much like my own oil paint formula, except mine doesn't cost 17 quid. I've done some figures in this (but I let it down to minimise the staining on raised surfaces and improve its lining qualities) and some in my old stuff for comparison. posted below. I have to confess that  I sometimes do a little highlighting, but I tend to keep this to a minimum with units just to save time.

First off are some brigadiers who've been painted 'properly, without any washes The photos are a bit bright so you can't see all the shading properly :

These are all AB: the infantry brigadiers are just the ones from last time based.

 O.K., now some Saxon Infantry who've been essentially dry brushed over black undercoat with a few edges tidied up. They've had the 'oil paint wash' a, followed by matt varnish. They're actually some old French infantry I had knocking around, but who's to know the difference?

 Next an Austrian staff officer and an Austrian battery, both done as above, but the horse had a little dry brushing and the gunners did too here and there:

 And now, ladies and gentlemen, without the use of safety nets, some Examples from the French 1st Hussars. However, before reading on, decide which have been dome with the 'oil paint wash' and which with the thinned Army Shader Dark Tone. All the horses have been shaded to some extent beforehand, but nothing too drastic:

 The elite company troopers have the Army Shader on and the command group has the 'oil paint wash'. I can't see that there's much difference other than the elite company figures are about fifteen years younger (and a damn' site more expensive!) and so are better castings.
I've also bought some black wood stain (ebony, I think) and some mahogany wood stain and I'll do some figures in those too for comparison. When I've got the comparisons I'll bung them on here blog so people can see and decide for themselves which they prefer - unless I forget . . . .

Oh yeah, while I'm at it, I bought some Coat d'Arms supposedly 'dried earth' shade basetex stuff a couple of weeks ago and it was a disaster. Coverage is crap and it dries with a distinctly green hue. I had to over-paint the whole bloody lot - not impressed. You can get the original Basetex stuff from Trevor Holland at Coritani (nice bloke), but I think I'll stick to my tried and trusted sharp sand over PVA. It takes a little longer to finish the bases, but at least you can control the colours.


  1. Flying thru these 18mm's mate? lovely work and interesting.RE coat D arms i got their version of dip,they should re name it "dip of shite" it was like working with flubber.


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  3. I'm sorry but all I saw was really nice figures, really well painted to me, I use Windsor and Newton peat brown slightly diluted. Good work sir.

  4. I've jusy recently started with Army Painter. In all honesty, I don't think it works that well on 28 scale, but I love how it looks on my 15's.

  5. Interesting article. I'm currently experimenting with different products (Diluted Woodstain, GW Devlan Mud Wash, Vallejo 'Smokey' Ink and Winsor & Newton 'Peat Brown' Ink) to see which works best on 15mm WWII figures. I haven't tried Army Painter yet but will probably give it a go too.

    I've never used any of these products before so this is all new to me. For 25 years I've largely been a 28mm figure painter and I'm finding moving down to 15mm something of a challenge. I need to learn some new painting techniques, especially if I want to build armies quickly.

  6. Dear All,

    Thanks for the compliments etc.

    The thoughts of Chairman Gaz are that I'm one of the laziest painters I know and if there's a shortcut I'll take it, especially with 15's which are forgiving souls anyway.

    Much of the detail is brought out by the washing technique, so you don't have to be Michelangelo. Use of drybrushing is a n easy way to pick out detail and supports my idle approach.

    One thing to bear in mind though is to paint a lighter shade than you would with a 28mm figure. This is because colour intensifies on a small surface (knew that Art 'O'level would come in handy one day) and because the staining wash will darked the figure to some extent. There's also the 'scale distance' to take into consideration which is that the further away something is, the paler it looks. So a 15mm figure is really what we'd see looking at a bloke about 50 yards away. To be honest though, by the time I get to that stage I couldn't give a bugger - it's a toy soldier who's going to tramp across a wargames board with hundreds of his mates (usually in the wrong direction) and I've got lots of'em to paint!

  7. An enjoyable array of miniatures and an interesting blog (and profile) in general, keep up the good work!

  8. Great post, I also use the Windsor and Newton Peat Brown ink, it works very well, although sometimes it can settle on a raised area, I them matt matt varnish them rubbing most of the ink back off and leaving it in the crevices. I tried that basetex stuff years ago, I don't like it either, you can't beat the effect of PVA and sharp sand, £4 a bag and it lasts a lifetime!!

  9. I'm into 15mm ww2 all makes and GW devlan mud works great for me,but as you say gaz go a shade lighter than you would normally.
    Only prob with gw devlan is the price if you washing tanks as well?


  10. You could always use woodstain instead. I used the oil paint wash on my old stuff and then overpainted. I've got some STUGs somewhere I'll dig out and photograph so you can see the result. Tell you what though, I've got some MkIV's to do which are part of my resurrected WII stuff. I'll knock'em out using that brown woodstain I've bought and photo the result. I paint the basecoat, stain with diluted wash, redo the basecoat and then highlight etc as normal. When I did the STUGs I had to use very much thinned Liquitex Paynes Grey to line in joints and bends etc to give more detail. I'll have an experiment this weekend and see what happens. Might take longer though depending on the drying time of the woodstain and building the tanks of course!

  11. they may be 15's but they are as well painted as any 28mm i know great job


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