Be Prepared

The Humbrol colours used in this section were:
H34: Matt White

The figure I chose for this tutorial was an extremely basic, home-cast version of an Alberken Austrian infantryman. Having been fooled into buying 98 of these, I thought I'd better try to make the best of this disaster by attempting to disguise paint some of them.

Figure 1 shows one of the original figures, complete with his original Humbrol paint job, alongside a stripped-down and cleaned-up example ready for repainting. The stripping was done by soaking the figure for a few days in a jar of Dettol, and then brushing the remains of the paint off with an old  toothbrush in warm water. Some figures need several soaking and brushing cycles to remove the paint.

Also required was a fair amount of cutting, filing, bending and straightening. For straightening I used a small pair of flat-jawed pliers. Particular attention was given to his musket, which looked more like an angry boa constrictor than a weapon.

Figure 2 shows the rear view. As can be seen, there was very little in the way of relief detail. The key thing, however, was that he was a reasonably well-shaped figure without too many outstanding flaws.

Once I was happy with the figure, the next step was simply to paint him white using a slightly thinned-down version of H34: Matt White.

Fig 3.
I undercoat in white because:
  • the figure becomes very easy to see, which can really be quite helpful when you're trying to paint them;
  • it will show up any outstanding bits of flash, mould lines and lumps that still need to be removed;
  • it provides a surface to which subsequent coats of paint will easily adhere; and
  • the white colour will shine through on those bits of the figure that you really want to show up - such as faces and hands, plumes, facings, lace, light-coloured clothing and equipment or indeed any other bits and pieces of highlighting that you may have planned.
I always leave my Humbrol white undercoat to dry for at least 24 hours. Humbrol white is amongst the slowest of the Humbrol colours to dry, in my experience, and if it's even only slighty damp it's liable to bleed through into anything you try to paint over it, which is generally not a very good thing.


  1. Thank you for the tutorial on cleaning and priming. Can you describe what Dettol is, for those of us in foreign parts of the world, where we may have a different name for the same substance? Thank you.

    1. I've no idea what the overseas equivalent would be, CN. It's a powerful anti-sceptic liquid which you can use for cleaning wounds or even the floor. Used neat it also works rather well as a paint stripper, although I'm sure this is not what it is intended for!