Monday, 3 March 2014

10mm ACW: visible progress at last

Union infantry after washing and drybrushing
Keen to generate some space for starting work on my 15mm Irregular Wars armies, I'm having a real drive to finish my 10mm ACW ones. Since my last post on this subject I decided the figures looked rather dark, so I chose very light colours for any finishing details, especially Confederate hats and caps. Although these are relatively small areas, this really lifted the appearance of the stands.

Driven by a combination of painting fatigue and common sense, I reduced the level of detail originally planned. I decided, for example, to leave all the horses in their brown undercoat except for adding black tails and the odd white face. I began to paint black manes and legs, but they scarcely showed so I gave up.

Having finished the painting, I gave them a very light black wash made from Klear and enough GW Black Ink to turn the mixture black. Klear is not the formula it was, but it seems to work. The wash was almost imperceptible but it seemed to make the figures sharper. That may have been the slight gloss effect rather than the black in the mixture. Whilst I don't like to see figures in a super-gloss finish, Phil Barker once pointed out that gloss reflects natural highlights and I'm with him there.

The next step was to add an overall featherlight dry brush of GW Ushabti Bone. I was a bit nervous about this but my friend Ian advised me that when it comes to dry-brushing you can only do too much and never too little. The affect is interesting. At the moment it has made the figures look dusty but I hope and expect that once the final Ardcoat is sprayed on there will be a very good light-and-shade effect. This is more impressionistic than I would normally attempt but then the whole approach with the method I've followed here (principally 'basing-before-painting') is all about viewing at arm's length. In that respect the models project a certain sense of reality that I wouldn't have achieved with a more accurate but flatter conventional approaches.

I wouldn't like to say that I will never base-before-painting again, but I found 'keyhole' painting difficult and I didn't seem to gain any increase in overall speed. Perhaps I wasn't ruthless enough. I might, however, use this approach again for 6mm or smaller figures depending on how they are actually based.


  1. Really a nice "mass" effect... :-)


    1. Hi Marzio

      It's surprising what you can get away with! I've just started adding static grass which has given them a further lift for very little investment in skill.

      Once they're finished I'll do a comprehensive photo feature and we'll see if they stand up to the camera's scrutiny!