Painting Tips Part 6

VI. Ragged Rebs (or painting irregular units in a regular way).

From the number of e-mail replies I've been getting since I started upon this fool's errand, it is apparent that a lot of folks out there have found my particular POV useful. It pleases me to be doing some good. So let the thread continue...

In the previous installment in what is starting to look like an on-goingseries, I gave an initial primer on methods for painting with stains. I'll assume that if you're still reading this, you also read the previous posts and so have some knowledge already about my ideas and my "method".

So now I'll tell you how I paint irregular, un-uniformed soldiers in a regular and systematic manner. Let's call it "painting-by-the-numbers".

To start with, you'll need to do at least 12 or 16 soldiers to make this worthwhile - I prefer to do 24, 36 or even 48 at any one time. In any case, arrange the figures in even rows upon your paint table - this is very important and must be done for the method to work. If I paint 24 figures, they will be arranged in three rows of 8 figures each. Now to work.

By 1863 large portions of the confederate army were ill-supplied and ill-uniformed. They wore the remnants of their old state milita uniforms, homemade clothes of natural hues (ie, butternut) and captured yankee uniforms (notably boots, pants and equipment). So this ragged mob is what I will try to represent.

Two Units of Ragged Rebs (click on thumbnails for full-size images).

Ragged Rebs front
Ragged Rebs back
Ragged Rebs 2 front
Ragged Rebs 2 back

The step-by-step method:

) Paint the base green.

b) Shoes: Select three colors - I use black, dark brown and a yellow natural leather. Starting with the first figure in the first row, paint its boots/shoes black. Count over three figures and paint its footwear black. Do this until you have passed through all three rows of figures. Then go to the second figure in the first row and paint his footwear dark brown, count over three figures and do it again. You should see the goal of the process by now - in the end all the figures will have one of three different shoe colors.

c) Pants: Select seven colors - I use cadet grey twice (representing the remnants of old milita uniforms), light blue twice (stripped-off a dead yankee) plus three other earthy tones (provided by the folks back at home). Let's say dull reddish brown, medium brown and a dull yellow-brown. Block in the first figure's pants cadet grey, count over seven figures and do it again. Etc, etc, etc. In the end the 24 figures will be arrayed in multiple-colored pants.

d) Jackets: Select eight colors - I will use cadet grey three (3) times plus a dull reddish brown, light tan, medium brown, dark brown and a dull yellow-brown. Block in the soldier's jackets - you should know what to do by now. When you are about to paint the jacket in the same color as you already used on its pants, don't paint the figure but turn it over and move-on. After you have finished with the original eight colors, I like to go back and do something special with the figures that are laying down. Maybe they'll get painted in a special ninth color or they'll get federal dark blue jackets or confederate full dress with sky blue collar and cuffs - in any case it adds a new random element.

e) Staining the blocked in colors - this process can look a bit daunting since there are so many different colors being used. But I start by making a light brown stain and using it first on any figures with earth yellow pants or jacket.

When finished, I'll add a little more water to the remaining light brown stain, then more dark brown paint to make a darker stain. The medium brown or red-brown pants and jackets get done. Finally more water and a little black paint will get added, then the dark brown tunics will be stained. Then I'll make a dark grey stain and do all the cadet grey pants and tunics. Etc..etc...etc.

Once finished the figures will be allowed the dry. Then its time to paint the equipment.

f) Waistbelts, webbing, cartridge pouches come in a multiple of variety of colors. For simplicity's sake I'll chose the same three colors I painted the shoes in: black, dark brown and yellowish leather brown. But black will be the dominant color so the first and fourth figures will have black equipment, the second figure dark brown and the third figure yellow leather brown webbing.

If you like you can mix-up the webbing so a figure can have black straps but a natural leather cartridge pouch. It is dependant upon how much trouble you wish to go to.

g) Blanket rolls will come in a multiples of colors - almost any shade of grey, brown or even brighter colors like red, green or blue can be used. Typically I'll pick at least eleven colors but I do NOT use the same cadet grey I used for pants or jackets. I'll instead select a darker grey or a blue-grey tone that will contrast with cadet grey.

h) Do any other equipment plus the gun - wood brown stock, pewter gun barrel, brass fittings.

Once the equipment and weaponry has dried, it should be washed with either black or brown. Dark colored equipment (dark blues, browns, greens) and the gun will get a careful black wash while brighter colors will get a brown wash. It is not necessary to mix-up special stains like you did when staining the pants or jacket - the equipment or blanket roll will get either a brown or black wash. Just use a reasonably small brush and try to stop the wash from going anywhere except where you want it.

i) Paint the flesh and blond hair - this is detailed previously. Stain the flesh with wood brown, then paint the remaining four hair colors (dark brown, dull black, dull red and medium brown).

j) Headgear: Rebs will have a mixture of kepis and slouch hats. I'll typically pick four or five colors such as black, dark brown, grey, tan and even white. Then one figure in each row will be randomly selected and his slouch hat painted in that color, taking care to pick a figure whose uniform will contrast well with that hat color. Then half the figures with kepis will be given a grey top while the remaining figure's kepis will be given a sky blue top to confrom to the CSA's dress regulations.

k) Buttons and buckles.

l) Finish with the bayonet in silver.

  • Gettin' Good: An introduction, explanation and disclaimer.
  • Part 1: How to get good at painting? A professional's opinion.
  • Part 2: How to get good at painting? Dissenting opinions are heard.
  • Part 3: The selection, care and feeding of brushes.
  • Part 4: Questions and answers from the gentle readers.
  • Part 5: A primer on using stains and washes.
  • Part 6: Ragged Rebs (or painting irregular units in a regular way).
  • Part 7: Painting Ponies I. Just what sort of beast is that, anyway?
  • Part 8: Painting Ponies II. Your basic black, brown and chestnut horses.
  • Part 9: Painting Ponies III. Fancies - whites, greys, duns and finishing touches.
  • Part 10: A primer on stripes, checks and tartan plaids.