Saturday, 21 March 2020

Thirty Years War 6mm progress 6: The horses

Not Thiry Years War and not 6mm, but indicative
of what actually shows up in smaller scales.
Since last Monday 'social distancing' has restricted outdoor activity to walks with the dog and provided an unprecedented opportunity for painting. Last month was 1798, this month it's the Thirty Years War.

I've now started to paint the actual figures, but rather than show you that straight away I'd like you to look at the picture (right) of my 10mm American Civil War figures.

This photo was taken during a game and shows what figure detail is actually visible. In fact, the photo is a bit of a close-up so please sit back.

What you can see is little more than the ground around the figures and  their hats. Some other bits do show up but only if they are very light and contrast with the dark brown. For my 6mm TYW figure blocks I am taking this lesson further by committing myself to painting only the bits that will show up.

The main purpose of adding any further paint is not to indulge the individual figures as would be the case with larger scales and other approaches, but just to contrast with and lighten each figure block as a whole.

The other thing to point out is that there is no preconceived end point. I will add paint/detail only until the blocks 'look painted' from a distance. I must also keep in mind that 6mm figures require much lighter and brighter colours in any event, and this is particularly so with the dark brown background approach.

Now let's look at some 6mm TYW figures. I'm prioritising the horses because after the ground the horses represent the largest and most significant area of paint.

Swedish Horse: the chestnuts are painted with Coat d'Arms Chestnut Horse Tone brightened with Burnt Orange. The brush shown is a Number 1 size but it's too small and requires too many dabs. I subsequently switched to a Number 3.

Without making it too obvious, I thought I'd also use horse colours to further distinguish the three types of horse, i.e. Cuirassiers, (Swedish) Horsemen and Arquebusiers. The photo above shows the Swedish Horse with some Chestnuts added. This was inspired by the Swedish folk art Dala horse toys.

The Cuirassiers will have a lot of dark armour so I decided to paint them in light colours (Greys, Light Bays) for contrast. The Arquebusiers would be fairly colourful so they were to retain the basic Charred Brown coat representing Dark Bays.This plan was somewhat modified.

I had originally intended to leave most horses in the dark brown base coat but as painting proceeded I realised that the blocks looked better if all the horses were overpainted with lighter colours.

The Coat d'Arms horse tone colours are all a bit on the dark side and need lightening for this particular project. Simply adding white is not necessarily the answer. I should research this question properly but the quickest solution is to imagine what a lighter version would look like and then pick a ready-made colour that matches that perception.

All horse colours completed and the sun is shining.

All the horseflesh is now picked out but the blocks still look too dark. I am thus relying on coats, armour and headgear to add further brightness.

On the plus side I should point out that at this scale and using this overall technique, each individual horse needed only one colour. Apart from the flank figures, the front rank required only head, front legs and the top of the back to be painted. The rear rank required paint only on the head and hind-quarters.

This was very economical in terms of time and effort, though I do confess that at my age it's quite difficult to see the detail on such small figures and this has made me wonder whether I should do another 6mm army. I do have a magnifying glass...perhaps I should try to use it.


  1. Very exciting to see progress

  2. And your ACW kit looks amazing

    1. Thanks! I know there are sceptics out there but the ACW figures are proof this painting approach works!