Thursday, 23 May 2013

Fade to Grey

I'll apologise in advance as this is probably not very interesting to most people. But I have spent the evening trying out a new painting style (for me anyway) and thought I would share.

Basically I am going to be assembling a Covenanter ECW army in 28mm in the near future. I already have some figures, as per my earlier post, but I was concerned that my usual painting method of starting with a dark colour and lightening it up to a highlight (usually over 4 to 5 coats for a war-gaming figure, if I was painting a one of figure for my mini cabinet it might be way more) would result in me taking just way way to long to assemble the force. My fear was also that this technique would result in me suffering with project fatigue quite quickly.

So having spent some time looking over some Blogs and the usual hordes of information online I noticed that a lot of people seem to use the Tri-Colour technique to paint big groups of figures. What you  see above is an hour or so's messing around with some figures testing out the colour Grey using the Tri-Colour concept.

I don't have a proper "Tri- Colour" set so I just picked three Grey's from my paint collection that looked like a reasonable match. As such the finish will never look right on the above figures as the paints I have used are just that little bit to far apart tonally, but it let me try the technique and I can see if I am failing technically without needing the right colours.

(Yes I know this is basically a post about me painting Grey on trousers 5 times, dull huh)

So my first attempt at the technique is on the far right labeled as 1 and the last attempt is number 5 on the far left. Some close ups below. There pretty rough as this was just to try the technique not paint a figure for display or anything. Also I have only painted the trousers on each figure so the rest of the figure is just undercoat.

Now I think number 5 shows promise technically speaking as I think I have broadly grasped the way this Tri-Colour thingy should work. It's not super pretty or anything but I think with the right Tri-Colour set applied in this way I can quickly produce  blocks of ECW infantry that look pretty good, and will certainly meet the 2 feet does it look good on the table test.

As I said before colour wise this test set were doomed never to look right as I just didn't have colours that matched closely enough, but I think its enough to tell if I am getting it right or not.

If anyone has made it this far, thanks for reading, and if you have any comments, tips etc regarding Tri-Colour please do leave a comment.



  1. If you are painting Scots grey is great undercoat otherwise go for black the undercoat forms your black lining. first color cover total area send color broad highlights (keep thin for a better look) last color edge highlights. If you still want a blend look hit the whoel area with a wash of the right color before edge highlights.
    Good tip to get them to pop is dry brush the whole figure when complete with a very very dry brush of white (take a lot of practice) but gove a great final highlight.
    Peace James
    also check out steve-deam forum for loads of 3-tone examples

  2. Cheers James, that's really useful advice mate!

  3. Replies
    1. Indeed. The same technique works for lots of colours. I painted a large chunk of my ECW the same way, substituting a "dip" for the ink on all the warm colours.

  4. Interesting as I have some lead Scots who could do with a refresh...

  5. Good luck with that, looks a good system


  6. Pretty sound advice above, but for large blocks of numbers I've been impressed by the dip method. Not that I've tried it myself but I have seen some examples where one block colour is placed and then dipped, but highlights picked out afterwards - looked pretty good to me.

  7. Good luck there Mr Smillie, and they can look very good the three colour system. I think that you have got is about right maybe just a little more midtone, but otherwise spot on. I have an article in WSS mag have Dr Hendry using dips and painted highlights and they look amazing good and worth thinking about. You would even know that they are done using dips they are that good.

  8. I've heard of this dipping thing I'm just not sure is all, might have to try it just block in the colours do a dip and then paint in my highlights.