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Author Topic: Napoleonic blues, 15/18mm  (Read 686 times)

Offline Fred Mills

  • Assistant
  • Posts: 34
Napoleonic blues, 15/18mm
« on: August 10, 2022, 10:12:44 PM »
Hi there,

For French uniform blue, I use Humbrol Matt Oxford Blue, which is nice and dark, but I'm moving beyond this into other period armies that also wore blue. My question is: what blues do you use to help distinguish various blue uniformed troops on the table top? So far, I've used those that follow, but I'd welcome suggestions, from any paint range. Or perhaps you don't worry about the colours per se, and differentiate with flags etc.? All help welcome!!

Hesse-Darmstadt (used Howard Hues French Blue)
Prussia (used VMC Prussian Blue and Dark Prussian Blue)
Bavaria (will be going a funkier blue, more Cornflower, even though I know it's way too bright)
Baden (undecided)
Poland (undecided)
Netherlands (undecided)
Württemberg (undecided)


Offline Tony Barton

  • Student
  • Posts: 19
Re: Napoleonic blues, 15/18mm
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2022, 05:48:13 PM »
I think the blue dye used at the time( Indigo ) would give very similar shades regardless of the national origin of the dyers. Most model painters use blues which are MUCH too light : real Indigo blue as used by the French,for instance,and referred to as Imperial Blue,  was virtually black.
If you look at original uniforms in museums you will grasp what I mean. And Indigo fades very little over time, unlike yellow and some red dyes.
 Part of the problem for modellers is that the paint manufacturers, especially of acrylics don't make anything suitable,because they use that cheap electric blue pigment, but the easiest fix for that is to take the darkest blue you can find and add some red. It's amazing how well that can work with Vallejo paint :take Dark Prussian Blue and add Flat Red . That's what I use for painting all my figures for my reference collection.
The mid blues used by the Bavarians were perhaps darker than you think, and the same can be said for Bleu Celeste as used by various French cavalry units: it was a mid-blue, NOT what we call in English a Sky Blue.

Offline Aethelflaeda was framed

  • Assistant
  • Posts: 39
Re: Napoleonic blues, 15/18mm
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2022, 06:19:00 PM »
One just has to laugh when someone says “you have painted the wrong shade of blue, old chap.”. As a GI, I could stand with a platoon of soldiers in uniform and see 30 different shades, from lot differences in the dyes and to age and wear, and these were modern uniforms with very good colorfast dyes.  Napoleonic forces could not ensure that each bolt of cloth was identical in color even when brand new, and wear and tear will induce a color change as any blue jean wearer can attest. 

If we can’t be sure of what tint or shade of blue the Spanish uniforms had, We can safely say that it’s just as hard to be absolutely sure of a French or Prussian official blue might look like when it was fresh from the depot. i have done some dyeing of textiles and getting dark colors from vegetable dyes takes a lot of work. Not every mill might be willing to put in the required effort and time.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2022, 07:25:40 PM by Aethelflaeda was framed »

Offline Fred Mills

  • Assistant
  • Posts: 34
Re: Napoleonic blues, 15/18mm
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2022, 12:15:35 AM »
Thanks Tony B and Aethelflaeda for the great comments. Really appreciated. I love the 'add flat red' suggestion for Vallejo dark blues, which I will try.

I work in museums and so have a reasonably good sense of the real-life material culture and what happens to it (or doesn't) over time. I was looking at a rack of Commonwealth battledress Tuesday; barely 70 years old and no two precisely alike in colour, fabric lie, or badges etc (three different types of shoulder flashes for the same regiment in the same campaign, e.g.). Having exhibited French Napoleonic kit before, it is very, very dark, as suggested above, and of course in 15/18mm it looks nearly black, even up close and under good lighting. Same for the Prussians.

I'll still try for some minor differences in tone and brightness among the little lads on the table, I think, even if it risks being too differentiated from a strictly historical perspective.

All suggestions welcome. Thanks ever so much for reading and chiming in!!


Offline Khusru2

  • Bookworm
  • Posts: 60
Re: Napoleonic blues, 15/18mm
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2022, 06:40:31 AM »
I've searched for cornflower blue and can't find any that make it. If anyone has any suggestions for manufacturers it would be welcome.

Offline Fred Mills

  • Assistant
  • Posts: 34
Re: Napoleonic blues, 15/18mm
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2022, 02:12:57 PM »
Hi Khusru2,
While cornflower is really bright, and probably WAY too bright for period Bavarians, it does look good and helps differentiate visually them from other troops wearing similar headgear, many of whom also wore medium or dark blue. Vallejo Military Colour Deep Sky Blue 70.844 is super-bright, almost cartoonish, but it has real pop. Vallejo Game Colour Electric Blue 72.023, despite the title, is much deeper and a nice compromise between dark blue and sky blue. I am prepping some Bavarians now and this will be first attempted colour with them.

Sticking to the Vallejo range, Magic Blue VGC 72.021 is deeper still than 72.023 but also more vibrant, like a royal blue. At scale distance, this will look closer to other period uniforms but should still have some sheen and variety.

Good luck!

Offline Fighting15s

  • Scientist
  • Posts: 217
    • Fighting 15s
Re: Napoleonic blues, 15/18mm
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2022, 09:35:49 AM »
Most model painters use blues which are MUCH too light : real Indigo blue as used by the French,for instance,and referred to as Imperial Blue,  was virtually black.

As you and I have previously discussed, model painters use lighter blues so that at 3ft plus on a table they are identifiable as the troops they are supposed to represent at that distance. Otherwise, for viewing, we could simply paint dark-uniformed figures black with white trousers and cross-straps, and they would be the right shade for a real-life effect at 3ft. :-) The right colour depends on the wanted effect at the required viewing distance for the lighting conditions.

I remember trying to demonstrate this to you using some cuirassiers that had been painted for you. Close-up wrong; at a distance, right. :-)

Of course, if you have a discussion with someone about the right colour and they finish the figure off by dunking it in something brown, then you get a figure that is "something brown".

Best, Ian
« Last Edit: August 18, 2022, 08:23:38 AM by Fighting15s »
Ian
Fighting 15s
Gladiator Miniatures, Fighting 15s Flags, Martian Empires and Flashing Blade Miniatures
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Offline Khusru2

  • Bookworm
  • Posts: 60
Re: Napoleonic blues, 15/18mm
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2022, 10:01:11 PM »
Fred, thank you for your thoughts. I think I have 7 different blues at the moment, from navy to sky blue or light blue which is almost white. It was easier in hhe old days when I last did Bavarians. They had Cornflower blue paint then.

Offline Baron von Wreckedoften

  • Mad Scientist
  • Posts: 687
Re: Napoleonic blues, 15/18mm
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2022, 12:19:17 PM »
The mid blues used by the Bavarians were perhaps darker than you think, and the same can be said for Bleu Celeste as used by various French cavalry units: it was a mid-blue, NOT what we call in English a Sky Blue.

There are surviving bolts of cloth, and actual "pattern" uniforms, in the Bavarian Army museum at Ingoldstadt; these have been kept away from sunlight for the intervening 200+ years and so are probably as close to the moment of issue as it is possible to have today.  The colour is, indeed, much darker - and duller - than is usually seen on the wargames table, even allowing for the "three foot" rule.

It probably doesn't help that blue is an extremely difficult colour to photograph accurately (I'm not sure exactly why this is - someone did explain it to me, but I think my eyes glazed over after about 20 minutes.....).
« Last Edit: August 18, 2022, 12:23:56 PM by Baron von Wreckedoften »
No plan survives first contact with the dice.

Offline TomMcC

  • Student
  • Posts: 17
Re: Napoleonic blues, 15/18mm
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2022, 01:03:12 PM »
An interesting discussion.

My view has changed over the years. Many years ago, "when I were a lad", I would try to get the most accurate blue (or other colour) I could find. That meant a very dark blue for French uniforms. I have vague memories of Humbrol or someone doing a French Blue.

Now I'm much more relaxed about it and my main concern is to see my figures from 3 foot or more across the table. I've recently been rebasing some of my old vintage figures and tidying up the old paint job as I go. That has meant highlighting the dark blue with a mid tone on the sleeves and more visible blue parts of the tunics.

As a related issue, I recently painted some WW2 germans for a friend and there's a great picture online somewhere that shows the wide range of different shades of field-grey. 

regards,
Tom 




Offline NickNascati

  • Scatterbrained Genius
  • Posts: 2035
Re: Napoleonic blues, 15/18mm
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2022, 06:30:18 PM »
Great seeing Tony Barton weigh in.  I tend to paint 15mm figures in a lighter shade of blue than I would 28mm.  Otherwise after washing, they just look too dark.

 

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