Post by bessiere on May 11, 2019 4:16:47 GMT
Building Napoleonic armies from scratch is no small venture. One must decide why they are painting figures (for gaming or for dioramas), which nation they want an army for and lastly, what period they want an army from (ex; the wars of 2nd coalition/ Waterloo/1812 Russian invasion, etc).
You've made your choices; let's say French army 1815- that precludes any of the pre-Bardin uniforms limiting your choices to uniforms to 1812 on. Alas! no bicorne hats! A little research is in order on your part to prevent you from buying boxes of figures you ultimately cannot use. For example this website gives you most of the uniforms of all the armies during the 100 days (1815)- centjours.mont-saint-jean.com/index.php
You will have many questions and this and other forums are good places to get answers from experienced painters.
Ok, so you have your tools, your paints and research in hand and are dying to paint. Before you even cut the first figure from the sprue read the tips here: www.hat.com/Tips.html
Regardless of what kind of paint you are going to use you will need to wash your figures first. This is best accomplished while still on the sprue; soak in very hot water with dish detergent and scrub with a soft brush. Take care to not scrub so hard you break swords and bayonets off. The relative softness or hardness of the plastic will dictate how vigorously you can do this chore. Lastly, rise them off with more hot water to remove any soap residue. When figures are cast the molds are lined with a release agent to prevent the plastic from sticking to the metal molds - this is why you must bathe your figures first or you will likely find your hard work flaking off bit by bit every time you touch it.
Not all Exacto (razor craft knife) blades are created equally. The quality control on the sharpening process varies wildly and you may find there's not a razor sharp blade in a whole pack (this can be due to a multitude of factors). You will know you have a sharp blade when it simply glides through thin flash with little to no resistance. Mark that blade with a permanent marker and ONLY use it for cleaning up the flash and thinner mold lines from your figures. Keep your sharpest blades separated in a small box. Wipe them with a soft cloth and little machine oil or WD40 every few months to help preserve the edge. Trimming and cleaning your figures is an art in itself and using improper tools can waste tremendous amounts of time you'd rather spend painting!
One last thing before you paint! (and it's critical) You're going to want to prime them (an undercoat to help your paint adhere). You can spray it or brush it on and use any variety of colors. How you apply and what color will be a matter of personal taste though using a white primer will keep your colors brighter. Detail can be hard to pick out if you use very dark colors. Experiment to find what works for you by using the leftover sprue instead of your valuable figures.
Think that sprue is waste? It's a gift! Not only can you experiment with different primers to see which holds paint best but you can also test to see how well it finishes, what it's melting point is and how hard it is to cut. A little experimentation with sprues can give you the best possible results. If you should have a very rare set I strongly suggest spending time experimenting so your figures come out looking the best they possibly can.
Get good brushes for detail work. Red sable Kolinsky size 0 have worked well for me. Care for them well and they will pay you back in easier work and gratifying results. Use cheaper ones for drybrush work which is horribly abusive of brushes
Use paint thinner, especially if mixing small amounts of color. It's pricey but so is wasted paint that dries in minutes. I find it flows better from the brush when I use thinner instead of water and for small, hard to reach spots there is no substitute.
One final tip; write down what colors you use and on what parts you painted it with. This way you can be consistent if you paint a few figures from a set and get distracted only to come back later and wonder if those Austrian gun carriages were Valejo Yellow Ochre Model color or was it Heavy Gold Brown Game color? (this is from personal experience where I "touched up" 8 guns only to discover I had used the wrong paint!) The advantage is you can come back later and paint up another unit to match exactly with those you painted previously. Oh, use good model paints. The large bottles of cheap, hobby store stuff rarely cover well but are great for terrain builds.
I'm just returning to painting miniatures after a 45 year hiatus. I was getting bored with retirement until I remembered how much I enjoyed painting small plastic armies. If anyone has better methods please post and help me and everyone else who is just getting started in this fun and rewarding hobby. (Is it a hobby or an obsession? Methinks the latter - too late! I am afraid I'm infected and frankly I've never been happier). I have learned a great deal from the members here and I thank you for your contributions. I look forward to learning much, much more from all of you.