Other Bits

The Humbrol colours used is this section were:
H186: Brown
H 62: Leather
H145: Medium Grey
H63: Sand
H11: Silver
H54: Brass
H33: Matt Black
H34: Matt White
H80: Grass Green

None of the final steps when completing a figure are particulary complicated, but they're quite time consuming nonetheless. The temptation is to rush, but it pays to take one's time as accuracy really is the key thing if you're looking for high quality results.

There isn't really any particular order that these need to be done, but I tend to stick to the following pattern:

Step 9: paint the headdress details.

In this case all I needed to do was to apply a few simple brass details to the helmet. Believe it or not, the easiest part was the brass reinforcement on the visor, which was applied using the edge of the brush. While I was about it I also painted his musket butt plate.

I almost never use Humbrol gold on my figures as I find it too garish. On the few occasions when I do it's generally only very sparingly applied as a highlighter on gold sashes, epaulette fringes and the like.

Step 10: paint muskets, packs and any other appropriate parts, brown.

Figure 15 shows the figure after this stage. After painting his musket stock brown I retouched the metal parts in black just to make sure that I had good straight edges. I usually paint the musket slings at this point too.

Fig 15.
Also painted brown were his hair, moustache and pack. As can be seen in Figure 16, the technique I favoured here was to leave thin black lines to show where the various leather panels making up the pack would have joined. A little H63 Sand was then added to the brown to create a highlight colour which I added to the back and side panels of the pack.

Fig 16.
Step 11: paint other equipment details.

For my Austrian, this meant his greatcoat-roll and water bottle. The bottle was painted H62 Leather and then highlighted with H62 + H63 Sand. The distinctive water-bottle straps were dark brown in real life, but I decided to go for a simple black as this created a greater contrast.

The greatcoat roll was painted H145 Medium Grey, and then highlighted with H145 + H34 Matt White. The final step (and always very fiddly!) is to then redefine the pack straps in black and then in pure white. I didn't get everything as neat and straight as I prefer this time round, but I would normally spend a little time on this as it is a very prominent detail, particular when viewed from above

Step 12: paint the musket barrel and straps.

I invariably do this with a mixture of H11 Silver and H33 Matt Black as Humbrol Silver on its own doesn't even look like silver, let alone something steelier.

The aim here was to leave narrow black lines at every metallic edge to create the illusion of light reflections and to pick out the detail. If necessary, I'll go through my whole batch of 12 figures after painting the metallics just to clear up areas where there has been a little accidental over painting. It's a bit of a chore, but worth the effort.

Step 13: paint the base, green.

Once again, I like to take a bit of care when doing this, as there is nothing more annoying when on the cusp of completing a batch of figures than having to go over them all again to deal with any over painting. The trick here is to allow the paint to bleed off the front edge of the brush very gently until the pigment meets the edges of the boots and forms natural straight edges. Figure 17 shows the result.

Fig 17.
Step 14: varnish.

I use a clear, high-gloss artist's acrylic for this. It's not cheap, but it produces the most brilliant clear results and, when dry, a really tough protective coating. The other main effect is that it really deepens the colour contrasts - highlights leap out and shadows go very much darker.

Step 15: leave to dry.

If you're anything like me, this is the hardest part of all as the temptation to start picking them off their bottle tops and mounting them onto their unit bases can be overwhelming. Suffice to say, every time I've succumbed to this it has not ended well!

Figure 18 shows the final result in all his shiny glory. The other main advantage of shininess, of course, is that it's very forgiving. Your audience will be too captivated by the dazzling colours and sparkling black detailing to notice all the wobbly bits.

Fig 18.
So that's it for the basic figure. There's more, of course, and I'll add details to a forthcoming "Top Tips" page as they crop up. A special page on flag construction and painting is also in preparation.

Happy painting,



  1. A great 'how to' series posts - and all with Humbrols. I ordered some more on-line recently but as ever they didn't have all the colours I wanted in stock including H25 Matt Blue! Where do you buy yours?
    On the other hand I did find a pot of H145 (insignia yellow) in my paint draw, just never opened. Until now that is and it's really vibrant must find someone to daub it on.

    1. Reading through Robbie Rodiss's recent posts of Peter Gilder articles on painting, I can see that there's nothing here that wasn't spelt out by the great man himself 45 years ago, Rob.

      Humbrols are not at all hard to come by in Wellington - a little too easy, perhaps - because they're stocked by all the big toy shops. Revell Email Colours, I've been assured, are very much better, but I've yet to find any in NZ. I'm seriously considering ordering some online as many Humbrol colours (many of which were never all that great to begin with) have declined in quality a bit in my experience. I've managed to avoid this problem to some extent because of a large stash of ancient tins that was given to me by a friend, but this supply is now almost exhausted!

  2. Have you tried H56 aluminium (?) as steel?

    1. Do you know, I think I did, decades ago, and didn't like the results at all! This prejudice has lived with me ever since.

      I worry about getting steel right a lot. There's a regiment of unpainted cuirassiers glaring at me that I haven't had the courage to attempt yet. Maybe I'll give H56 another go...

  3. It is a very flat colour. What you could try for Austrian cuirassiers is to undercoat in black and highlight in H56.

  4. Bravo on the tutorial. We can always use a few tips, even if we are not using Humbrols. Some of these tips and techniques should work just fine with acrylics.