Saturday, 28 March 2020

Thirty Years War 6mm progress 7: Faces

Faces: Visible from 15" at a low angle.
When it came to adding detail to these 6mm Thirty Years War figures, I had to think long and hard about the painting sequence. After horse flesh the most prominent features are hats and other headgear, but these are easy to access and best left till later. There is, therefore, some tension between wanting to cover the most prominent features and needing to paint the more awkward areas first.

My friend Ian had already established to my satisfaction that it wasn't worth painting hands on 6mm figures. I thought I might take this a stage further and dodge painting faces. As an experiment I painted - well, dabbed - faces on a couple of blocks as as experiment and then placed these at various 'tabletop' distances to see what could actually be seen.

At a distance the faces did show as specs of lightness, but close up they didn't show because with the higher viewing angle the faces were obscured by the broad-brimmed hats. How ironic!

Anyway, I decided I would paint faces where I could. The figures fell into three categories:
  • Cuirassiers, Lobster-pot wearers, Horse trumpeters and Foot 'shooters' either didn't have faces or enough exposed face to be painted.
  • The front-rank pike-and-shot block figures got faces but the rear ranks were inaccessible. That reflected the limitation of basing before painting and cramming the figures together. Many will consider this unacceptable, but I expect the hats and other headgear will detract from the omission and that it will not be detectable at normal playing distance.
  • Other Horse, Dragoons and Artillerymen did get faces.


  1. I tend to paint in the faces (and the hands) on all my 6mm figures. However, I do go for a lighter flesh tone than would be used with figures in larger scales as our 6mm chaps need the extra help to have the details stand out. I work on the basis of what would be visible in real life and my view is that we are drawn to identifying faces, or at least the place where we know a face should be. Because of that I think that adding a pale flesh face helps the figures look more like real soldiers at a distance, plus it helps me tell which way they are facing!

    1. Thanks very much for your perspective. I can see you are a much better painter of detail than I am. I’m really struggling just to see the detail on these 6mm figures.

      If I can get to the detail I have the option of adding more later. It just depends on whether I feel it’s worth it.

  2. I always base first and only paint what I can reach. Simply explained as light travels in straight lines what can't be reached is unlikely to be seen anyway. This applies in all scales in my collection.

    1. What a brilliant observation! It should be inscribed above my painting area.

      I’ve only pre-based multiple figures in 10mm and 6mm so far but next year I’ve got some 15mm Irregular Wars armies I want to tackle. I was inclined to base them before painting. You’ve now convinced me.