Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Army building - deciding on a paint scheme!

Howdy all, hope you're well and full of positivity for the hobby today!

It's been a little while since I wrote an army building post, so I thought I'd push on with the third post in the painting category - this time I'm going to look at developing a paint scheme.

Now I know there are several ways this can be done, so in an effort to prevent the post from spiralling way out of control, I'm going to look at one particular method - basing your colour scheme on the 'real world'.

First, let me explain what I mean by that - I don't mean that to use this method you have to copy an existing military uniform (though that will be what I'm doing). There's no reason why you couldn't use this method to copy a scheme from some other media such as film & tv etc. What I really mean by 'real world' is that you're using existing images to decide on what colours to use where in your new scheme.

Now as luck would have it (anyone remember Blue Peter? I seem to have prepared this one earlier...) I'm looking at developing a new paint scheme for my next army. I've used various methods before, my Space Marines are based off a GW described scheme, my Dark Eldar are uniquely created by myself and my Tau used the influence of a particular colour variation within a rock (you really can find inspiration for a colour scheme anywhere!)

My new army however is going to be Astra Militarum, and in my head these guys always look best when based off a realistic colour scheme. I wanted to do a different colour to my other armies though, and whilst the Tau are a nice, simple distraction from the complexity of my Dark Eldar scheme, I wanted a scheme that was going to take some time to paint (the Tau scheme is nice and quick, enabling me to really build up a gaming army very quickly).

Where better to look for influence then than genuine military uniforms. There was only one place for me to start I'm afraid, the iconic military uniform that always stands out to me is the redcoat British Infantrymen, made famous more than anything else these days by representation in the classic film 'Zulu'.

Now I'm sure a lot of hobbyists will be familiar with this film, indeed it's also the influence behind the praetorian guardsmen models GW released many years ago, used as part of the Games Day display 'Massacre at Big Toof River' (which I had the pleasure of seeing many times first-hand during my time working at the Warhammer World store whilst I was at Uni)

With that in mind therefore I set about roughing out the basic colours to see if they would work, and came up with this (I only had one guard model lying around, and it's one my brother left me with a few years ago - ignore the flag that's a remnant of his previous paint job).
I was pretty happy with that in principle, so when I was in my local toy shop the other day I picked up a box of push fit guardsmen so I could really knuckle down and work out the details of the scheme.

The internet comes in extremely handy here, as I have been able to do a lot of research on the original uniforms, including the variations between the details of the uniform according to rank, the common field adaptations undertaken by the soldiers, and all the other little minutiae that you tend to miss or gloss over when just diving straight into a paint job (my Tau scheme in particular is guilty of being very 'quick and dirty' and leaving a lot of details fairly bland).

So, whilst it doesn't look massively exciting at this stage, here's the latest on the guardsmen
I know, don't tell me, it looks pretty similar to the last picture, but trust me when I say there's much more detail on this one. The red has not only been washed with agrax earthshade but it's had a first highlight layer applied. The fatigues have been painted black and then highlighted grey on the raised areas. This will be washed back to tone those highlights down a bit, before they get a red stripe down the sides and the boots get a coat of gloss varnish before they get weathered.

For the officers, the jacket will get a white piping edge to it with golden shoulder pads and a gold badge on the helmet, where the rank and file will have silver badges, and dirtier helmets. I'm thinking about the lasgun stock, and at the moment I'm still inclined to go with a brown colour to represent a wooden body, though depending on how it looks I may strip that back and go either black or all silver. 

Update: I didn't actually intend to do any more on the above guardsman until after this post had been published, but yesterday I got sidetracked so here the latest, latest pictures!

Ok so those of you who read yesterday's post will have seen them already, but hey, it's my blog and I'll re-use the content if I want to, haha!

As you can see, I've gone with black for the lasgun stock and the belt, mainly because I discovered I actually don't have many good browns in my paint collection at the moment (next time I'm in the shop I'll have to correct that, especially if I'm going to weather these guys properly). 

Next step - get the variations in uniform done - there'll need to be versions for sergeants, and officers, plus I'm thinking the vox bearers need to be denoted in some way - I might even look at a post-horn type iconography on the shoulder pad maybe?

I'll also need to decide how the regiment number is going to be displayed - definitely going on a should pad but I want to decide on font and colour, as well as whether I should use roman numerals or some other method.

All these details are the little things that will really put a scheme together and unify it on the tabletop despite a varied set of ingredients. If you want a really well thought out scheme, then it's definitely worth putting in the hours to bottom out these sort of elements before you really get cracking on painting models. Hopefully this post has illustrated how you can inspire yourself to create a colour scheme from a real world influence, making all the little changes and subtle variations realistic by observing and understanding how military uniforms are put together (I think it's clear from the models that the sculptors do - there's no other explanation for the piping being modelled onto the jacket as far as I can tell).

Till next time!