Sunday, 8 January 2012


About undercoating for my 17th Century figures. Purely personal taste for this period and, like many, I use black for many other periods/ figures. But this seems to work for me and I like the results when figures are placed in units (as well as stand alone.)

Here's the process for foot and mounted riders:

1. Undercoat figure with Humbrol Matt 62 leather. Let dry thoroughly overnight.
2. Rowney Burnt Umber oil paint HEAVILY thinned with White Spirit (and I mean heavily thinned - very runny) and painted/ washed over whole figure with a largish brush (I use Humbrol president No. 4/5 or 6.) The oil will run all over the figure quite easily and hang in the detail.
3. After varying degrees of time (almost immediately after doing 5 or so figs or after about 10 mins - you need to experiment) use a piece of tee-shirt material or something similar to heavily wipe over the figure.
You'll see the detail stand out as the darker areas remain shaded. Play around with the wiping until you feel happy - don't worry about wiping off too much if it looks wrong just add more wash and rub again.

One point. I've painted hundreds and hundreds of figures usuing this method and I've never had a problem with drying times or mess. If I oil the figs in a morning or afternoon they are always ready to paint in the afternoon next day - certainly not much longer.
As I undercoat/ oil in batches on a regular basis there is always something to paint.

With this process the slow bit is painting the black metal work and dry brushing with Vallejo Oily steel (which I do once oil id dry) then it's plain sailing as you just paint the detail carefully.

I like this method because I sometimes find painting over a black undercoat difficult to see (my eyes are getting old and tired!!) whereas here the detail jumps out at you and begs to be painted.

I know this can seem a bit of a 'fiddly' method but once undercoated/oil rubbed the painting is a pleasure.

Left fig undercoated, right fig oil rubbed

Samples of oil rub and detail started
Sample Sedgemoor fig, horse to left and figs in background using method above.
Figs in background started before Xmas representing Newcastle's whitecoats as inspired By Dave Imrie's and Paul Darnell's Salute game last year.


  1. Great.

    I am embarking on an ECW project and also find the black undercoat hard to see to paint. So will try your method. Do you spray or brush coat the Humbrol on - and is it thinned at all?

    Will follow your blog with interest.

  2. I brush on the Humbrol after a good stir to ensure a matt finish (from a new tin.)Over time, as the paint thickens, I add a few drops of Humbrol thinners. Brush over once and if necessary a light second coat to cover the metal. The oil does the rest.
    Good luck. Let me know how you get on.

  3. very nice merhod and results. I might try this out. I have a box of the warlord plastics. I guess Army Painter Brown undercoat will work the same?

  4. Thanks. Army Painter Brown (or is there a leather?) should be fine and speed things up a bit. Don't use too dark a brown or results won't be as good. Once I've used my Humbrols up I'll be looking to use a good quality spray like Army Painter.
    I've also done a few Warlord plastic ECWs - I'll try post a pic when light is good enough to take photos.

  5. Marvellous looking figs and a very interesting blog. The pics are a fine advertisement for the method and I think I'll have to give it a try!

  6. Lovely ob on the figures (and not as labour intensive as it looks from the photographs)!! All to the good as far as I'm concerned.

    Have you ever tried Ivory Black or Payne's Grey over (say) a white or light grey undercoat? Yes, I'm being lazy - if you have then I won't need to experiment!


  7. I've tried Payne's Grey over white/ light grey but only on horses some years ago. Took an age to dry and looked 'grubby.' Not as satisfying to paint as my current method. My opinion only though.
    However, I'm always open to experimentation and thanks for the suggestion.

  8. Well, I can do a set of figures: grey and white u/coat and Ivory Black & Paynes Grey & one following your system. I'll let you know the outcome. Watch this space . . .


  9. Question... does the undercoating/washing have to be done with enamel/oil paint?