Friday, January 20, 2012

A Grognard's Face-Painting Contest

Spurred on by getting my French artillery finished, but in recognition I needed to get my eye back in before attempting a fully fledged unit for my Napoleonics, I plucked a skirmish unit/light company out of the mountain of lead.  A unit of Chasseurs a Pied.

A quick trawl of the interwebz soon supplied some painting guides:

Which I put into effect on a troop of six figures (models probably Foundry, but I can't be certain):

Being for the Peninsular there are naturally a couple chaps in local cloth replacements for their regular trews, but not too many patches in what would be a guard formation.

Six figures is enough to be significant in skirmish gaming terms, and allows me to field them as a detachment in Black Powder.  During the painting process I thought it would be good to record how I do flesh in detail; a chance for a little photo tutorial.  I don't use washes as they take too long and don't provide reliable results, they also feel hard to correct mistakes.  I'm more a fan of a good brush, a steady hand and a three-colour layering scheme.

First off, I paint the base tone; a mix of 3 parts Vallejo Medium Fleshtone (860) plus one part Cavalry Brown (982) - a very red brown:

Next, Medium Fleshtone is applied to the nose, cheeks, chin, backs of the hands, fingers and thumbs.  One can pick out the ears, lips and knuckles too as you wish.  This is done with a 000 brush and milky consistency paint using quick strokes, don't sweat minor mistakes!

Finally one part Basic Skintone (815) is added to one-two parts Medium Fleshtone (to your preference for subtle or exaggerated highlighting).  This is dabbed to the tip of the nose, tops of the cheeks, tip of the chin and the top half, thumb and first two fingers of the hand.  The aim is to give the impression of a sunlight source from above.  Again a 000 brush, but the paint will be a touch thicker; unless you are doing 24 or more figures in a row the likelihood is that the underlying flesh will still be moist, so you don't want a new wet coat to run!

Now it is time to start the hair and eyes.  A good dark brown is needed, I use Vallejo Hull Red (985), applied to the hair, sideburns, moustache and as thin line across each eye socket.  Still using a fine brush - I'll still be using the trusty 000.

Hair colour can be differentiated here, I like to include a mix of browns, redheads and blondes, with the odd grey haired gent for good measure, in a unit.

Finally it is time to bring the chap to life.  28mm models need eyes!  this is why you apply the brown lines though, as it makes it a damn sight easier to define the eyes, and get them to look ok.  It also hides mistakes better.  over the brown, add a line of white and then go back with a fine brush that holds a good point and add a dot of a milky thick black paint.  A tip on eyeballs, don't force the chap to look forwards; if the first eye goes on to one side, try to make to other match it, avoid sending you army in to battle cross eyed...

The chappy above got his right eye first and it dictated his look.  With practice, I find this a quick and effective process, certainly less than ten minutes for these six models.


  1. Nice figures but I have a known dislike of painted eyes on miniatures... base flesh covered by flesh wash would save you a lot of time.... :o))

  2. Very nice face work. That always seems to me to be the toughest part.

  3. Nice looking figures and great work on the faces, thanks for sharing!!

  4. Nice painting and loved the progressive paint photos - looks like you add white to the sides of the eyes. Dean

  5. Great looking mini, he resembles a certain Italian plumber I once met in a video game. He he. I always wanted to try my hand at some Napoleonics but could never get up the nerve.