Just Regular Guys!

I’ve now slowly started to get on with finishing the figures I block-painted earlier in the year!  The plan would have been to get them ready so that I could finish them off over some weekends at our caravan, but the lock-down in the UK means they’ll get painted at home instead.

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First to be finished are a unit of French line infantry for the Franco-Prussian War, actually my first unit of “proper” French line infantry for this conflict.  Years ago I made the decision when painting some early-WW1 French infantry to leave their kepis red so that they could double as FPW troops as well, but this latest unit are in correct uniforms for the start of the conflict (later in the Franco-Prussian War, French infantry stopped wearing coloured fringed epaulettes and white summer gaiters, and more variation in coat colours occurred, so early-WW1 French don’t look out of place).

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These are nice plastic 1/72 figures by Emhar and are quite finely detailed, with separate packs and very little flash.  I found this detail really hard going and I thought that heavy coats should not really have had as many folds or creases in them, but it could just be a case of a bad workman blaming his tools and his eyesight!  I spent ages agonising over the blue for the coats and in the end went for Humbrol RAF blue, the colour I used on some 1880s Foreign Legion figures a long time ago.  The coats are described as gris de fer bleute, or blued iron-grey, and near-contemporary colour illustrations and some other references show them as a distinctly blue grey colour, so that’s what I’ve gone for.  The coats for my early-WW1 French are in a distinctly blue tone, but I believe that is more correct for the later period (although shortages during the Franco-Prussian War meant that coats of bluer shades were worn).

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Anyway, I’m pleased with how they’ve come out.  I really need some more in this uniform, but need to push on with other figures before I even think about that.  With this unit, and the chasseurs, turcos and zoauves I’d already painted, I’ve got enough French infantry to get me started, and I can add in the odd unit of WW1 French to bolster numbers.

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Last figures shown here are a bit of an experiment!  They’re a couple of plastic WW2 US Marines, painted simply, covered with a Vallejo black wash, faces and belts touched up and uniforms lightly dry-brushed over in olive green.  Years ago I painted up a US Marine battalion quickly for my great nephew to use against my Japanese, but he’s no longer interested in wargames, so I thought I’d try out a quick method that would let me shade and tidy up those figures.  These are two extra guys I did from scratch, but the finish is good enough for me, so I’ll have to try and get them all done some time (they’re a bit on the dark side, but in deference to Games Workshop I did try a Nuln Oil wash and found it didn’t really work in the much finer folds and creases on 1/72 figures).

The bases of these two were also done in a completely different way to my usual methods.  I read this post over at the despertaferres blog that showed the method being used on 6mm figures and I thought it looked both fast and good so gave it a try.  I used some Vallejo natural stone texture to roughly conceal the thicker bases of the 1/72 figures and then painted the whole base in Burnt Umber.  Brushed PVA glue over the lot, being careful around boots, then covered it in Woodland Scenics fine brown ballast and let it dry (painting the base brown before adding the ballast means it doesn’t really need a dark wash, and if some of the ballast brushes off it still looks OK).  After that, all I did was lightly dry-brush it with Vallejo Dark Sand and add scatter grass.  So it’s quick and easy and looks pretty good I think, so I’m going to try it out on some more figures!

29 comments

  1. Great choices on the colours for your French John, and like what you’ve done on your marines, always nice to give a new lease of life on a old project

    Liked by 4 people

    • I like the colors on the French infantry as well, and I like how your Marine experiment turned out. They sort of look like they wouldn’t be out of place in a night time diorama.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Thanks Ann! 🙂 I always think French infantry look quite striking, with red, blue and white all thrown in! The marines are darker than I’d have liked, but I can live with it. I maybe owe you an apology, since I’ve now chucked another basing method into the mix, but I know you were happy with how your latest experiments were going. I think I still prefer the Vallejo basing material over the PVA+ballast, since the Vallejo texture is quite strong and flexible, but the ballast method is quite good for using with figures that need simple bases quickly!

        Liked by 3 people

        • Indeed, the French are known for having style and these guys are no exception to that general rule! Haha, no apology needed; I know where to look if I need a basing tutorial. 🙂

          I’m finding that I prefer the Vallejo texture as well so far, though as you say there is something to be said for getting bases done quickly — I’m thinking of those times where you are trying to get a new unit up to snuff for a tournament, con, or game the next day.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. i think they look amazing John, i must admit i thought they were Zouves when i first looked, as i nearly bought some similar to go with my ACW models. As Nuln is too dark for you try Agrax earthshade as its not as potent, you can then apply more coats should you wish, (old dog-new tricks ect..) I think the marines look really good, and as you say dont take hours to do, great..

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thanks Steve! 🙂 The colours give a very similar impression to zouaves from a distance!
      Nuln Oil is the right shade, but too thin and left next to no shading because of the thin folds on the minis. I didn’t think more coats would work either, so opted for the Vallejo wash, which is “thicker”! In my eyes, Agrax is too brown to use as a shade for olive green, hence going with black. The idea was to have a quick way to get basic painted figures with a bit more shade/highlight on them.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Those French units are fab, mate, and I think the bases on the WW2 Marines look good too.
    Interesting what you say about Vallejo washes being ‘thicker’. I’ve found them to be fairly inconsistent compared to GW’s – some are quite thick whilst others too watery and thin. I’m in the process of obtaining more of the GW range, as I’m not happy with the Vallejo ones, though they still have their uses.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thanks Justin! 🙂 Interesting what you’ve said about the washes, so there does appear to be some inconsistency. To be fair, outside of the shading/muckying washes I mix myself for vehicles, I don’t use them much, probably because I don’t have the patience to experiment with them or apply different numbers of washes to figures! As you say, they have their uses!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Always impressed by your figures but the painting on these is really great. I do like the way you shade and highlight. I do have some Emhar figures in the loft (Zouaves and Russians I think) but I’ve never got around to having a go. If when I do, mine look like these I’ll be very happy.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. All very nicely done John. I love the French Foreign Legion figures. The red really makes the uniform so cool in my opinion. The way you painted the marines is very neat as well and the basing method has really worked well too. If you have plans to do more then I see no reason to adopt a different approach.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Nice work there John, I bought some of the Emhar French some time ago I think I could use them as foreign legion guys at the time . I wont go into washes, they have been a worry for me for so long now I only bother with the mix of Nuln and Agrax earthshade that I think young IRO put me onto.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Pat! 🙂 I think the Emhar French infantry only have limited use as Foreign Legion – they’re not wearing kepi covers and the fringed epaulettes were dropped from service dress in the early 1880s I think. All your washes seem to come out very well I must admit!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for that mate I’ll have to think of doing something else with them , fortunately that won’t have to be in the near future , so many other projects to before then 🤔😳😅

        Liked by 2 people

  7. That’s a fantastic unit of Frenchmen there, John. The bright colours work really nicely and by contrast the Marines look nice and dull, though I can see where the dark wash has been a little too “effective” on them. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Azazel! 🙂 French 19th Century armies are quite colourful, you’ve got to give them that! I don’t like mixing washes, ’cause I’m poor at repeating it reliably, but maybe 50% Vallejo black wash with 50% Nuln Oil might be worth a try!

      Liked by 1 person

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