Issue 14 seems to have been very well received indeed, with Bob Barnetson’s calm and reasoned article on figure piracy and Barry Hilton’s suggestions for rapid painting techniques receiving particular praise.
One reader, Steve Burt, went a step further, adding some suggestions of his own:
“I very much enjoyed this (and the whole issue, in fact), but I was surprised that Barry didn’t say anything about undercoats in colours other than black or white, and nor did he mention the best base texturing material.
Some years ago I switched over to a sandy brown undercoat (I use Liquitex Bronze Yellow), followed by a burnt umber wash. Not only does this show detail on the casting in a way not possible with black or white, but it does not dull colours down as black does, and missed areas look like wood/leather so do not stand out like a white undercoat.
Indeed, for Dark Age figures, you can just paint flesh and shields and the figure is pretty much usable on the table straight away.
I notice that Barry seems to favour model paints; I personally find artists’ acrylics better quality and cheaper, especially for things like undercoats. The Liquitex medium viscosity range (now renamed soft body) are fluid, so don’t need to be diluted like the tube paints; they come in little squeezy bottles.
For plastic figures I find that acrylic paint from a tube is perfect; it covers the plastics and shrinks slightly on drying to form a skin, perfect for further paint. It’s much easier than using PVA in my experience.
Finally, Barry should also have a look in an art shop for his basing material. Acrylic texture paste is clear (so can be mixed with whatever colour you wish), dries slightly flexible, does not shrink or crack, and does not cause warping. The plain clear texture gel is perfect for water effects. The various sand textures are great for basing.
Thanks for a great issue, and I hope the tips above are of some use to others.”
I forwarded his comments to Barry, adding:
I am copying this reply to Barry, who I’m certain will appreciate the feedback and excellent ideas, and will find a home for them on the Battlegames website. And, of course, I’m going to try them out myself! I’m sure we have all noticed, of course, the recent publicity by Army Painter who prescribe coloured undercoat sprays, chosen according to the final colour scheme of your army, though it would seem very strange to me to undercoat an army of plastic legionaries with silver! (Though Bob Barnetson, as you will have noticed from his previous article, probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid as he often doesn’t undercoat metal figures at all.)
Yes, thank you both. Interesting ideas, Steve. I too have experimented with different colour undercoats including blue, tan and grey. My article was mainly focusing on a very pragmatic comparison of a particular figure type and differing production methods so I kept the writing frame quite tight. I suppose if Henry had wanted a few extra pages I may have been able to oblige! Hope the omissions did not spoil your enjoyment too much.
I’m quite certain that everyone realises that a contributor has to focus on one particular aspect when writing and article — otherwise, it quickly becomes a book! I personally found Barry’s piece incredibly valuable, especially since I am embarking on a couple of major projects myself, a view shared by reader (and previous contributor) Ian Allen:
Barry Hilton’s painting article was particularly interesting as I’d recently been agonizing over not painting figures ‘properly’ any more, but my 15mm C18th look good on the table en masse from a sensible distance even though they are just flat painted, no highlights etc. I think that for skirmishing type games, more time should be taken to make each figure look as good as possible, as with my “Thrilling Tales!” collection, but for massed troops and units a simpler approach works well.
Steve Burt then sent a postscript to his earlier email:
Actually I should have said that black is a very good undercoat colour for figures which are mostly armoured, such as cataphracts or medieval knights. I just find brown tones better with most other figures. The ‘undercoat in main uniform colour’ trick is one I’ve used with success for WW2 figures. I did experiment with no undercoat a while back, but was disappointed with the results.
Anyway, if you’ve got any thoughts to add, then by all means leave comments of your own below. I find that there are as many painting techniques as there are wargamers, but that a piece like Barry’s has value in challenging us all to think about why we paint the way we do, forcing us to consider the results we achieve relative to the time and effort invested. I know that I’ll be making some changes! In the final analysis, we have to simply consider whether we are happy with what we achieve, and if so, that’s the most we can ask.