Friday, 24 February 2012

How I paint 'Red'

I use many different ways to paint red depending on what I’m painting and the finished effect I’m after. Most of these I’ve acquired over the years from other painters like many of you out there.
Thought I’d show you how I do red coats like those on my Sedgemoor and ECW units. I’m going to use Kirke’s grenadier company as an example. I need to paint these grenadiers to complete the unit so this will ‘kill two birds with one stone.’ What follows will also show the process I use for painting figs generally.

 As you know by now I work from a brown undercoat (see tutorial on this blog) so the colours I use below work well for me. From a black undercoat I tackle reds slightly differently – mainly using Vallejo Cavalry brown before following the details below.

Kirke’s Regiment – Grenadiers.
Kirke’s grenadiers had fur caps with red bags (as opposed to cloth caps.) I have about 9 of these but will only complete 4 for this demo and this will be more than enough for the small units I’m doing. The rest will be completed later and used in various ways.

Firstly figs undercoated/ oil washed (see earlier posting/tutorial.) Noticed how this batch of oil washed figs has dried a bit shiny – I mentioned this happens from time to time (not sure why) but does not affect the painting at all, in my opinion.

Figs oil washed

Next I paint the matt black areas (metal work/ leather/ shoes ..)

Black areas painted

After dry drushing the metalwork with Vallejo Oily Steel and the other black areas with a mid grey (Vallejo Dark Sea Grey) I then block paint the detail – flesh, belts, cuffs, socks ...
Then highlight the detail. (I've skipped through this bit quickly.)

Block colours and highlighting

Then paint the red coat using Vallejo Vermillion/ Red 947. Fairly thin covering at first letting the brown undercoat give the shading. As it dries work a little more over the highlights leaving the deeper/ shaded areas darker.

The grenadiers above have a coat of 947 only whereas the figs on the right are completed – just to show the difference at this stage. (Sorry pics are a little blurred here!)

Then use Gamecolor Hot Orange 9 (or Vallejo light orange) to highlight. I put a thin coat on first  by adding a little water (blends better.)

First thin coat of Hot Orange

Add the lacing, silver buttons etc

Further detail added

Then final touches including a fine coat of Gamecolor Hot orange 9 (neat from bottle) as a final highlight on raised areas. Other finishing touches are on the green, flesh etc.

Final touches

The completed figs – give or take a bit wood grain detail on the muskets which I’ve noticed I missed (these were done very quickly so I need to quality control them before basing!)

Finished Grenadiers

And that’s my red coats.

Describing how to paint in words is always a bit lengthy and a little tricky. From experience I have found that once I know the paints/ colours to use and an idea of the method someone has used it is sufficient for me to work out how to do it successfully.

I’m sure that if you try this method I’ve outlined here you will get the results you are after. There are no missing bits to mislead you only the way I work the colours to get it the way I want it i.e. paint consistency, where you apply the highlights. These things you need to experiment with until you are happy.

Just took a pick of the completed figs (muskets done)

Grenadiers complete ready for basing

Some examples of  red coats I've painted using the method above:

Sedgemoor - King's Officers

Keeping an eye out

The 'Big' guns

King's Lifeguard

Hope this will be of some help to those of you who are interested. I continue to try out the methods you decscribe on your blogs etc. and enjoy trying new ways of painting figs/ colours...


  1. They look fantastic!!! Red's always a hard colour to get right, funnily enough, when I painted my mates Sedgemoor figures I used cavalry brown first, then the red over the top. I don't like the Vallejo vermillion though, its always too wishy washy for me.

  2. A great little guide, even better, I already have those colours so I'll be rolling this out when I need to paint red cloth in the future, great stuff1

  3. A SUPERB tutorial; I don't think I have seen any better.

    The King's Lifeguard look gorgeous!

    No, must not buy ECW, NO!!!

  4. I've just stumbled across your blog and whilst it's not my period of interest at all I've read it in it's entirety as your painting and narrative just speaks for itself, i'm hooked !

    All the best