Highlanders toy soldiers 54mm 1/32 War Austrian Succession SYW FIW
Highlanders – Experimenting with acrylics
29 Jan 2020 / Nino /

Ever since I was a young kid I have been painting my toy soldiers and figurines in HUMBROL enamels. I was well aware that most people now paint in acrylics, but being a rather inertial person, I was reluctant to changing my painting habits and stubbornly stuck to enamels…

However, over time I have developed some sort of allergy to the solvent I use with my HUMBROLs, and in the event resorted to trying and painting some of my toy soldiers in acrylics.

I choose VALLEJO model colors on account of their extensive range and ready availability in my area.

The first issue I faced was of course sorting out a suitable correspondence between my favorite enamel colors and the new acrylic ones. As I use a rather narrow color palette, this was not too difficult, although having to proceed by trial-and-error, in the process I purchased a few VALLEJOs that I reckon I will seldom use in the future…

The second, and slightly more challenging issue was to understand how to do shading, highlighting and lining with the new medium, but again this proved less difficult that I had anticipated.

Same as with HUMBROLs, in order to achieve the desired shades I ended up mixing two or three color references, and this is where using a wet palette as seen in many online tutorials has dramatically improved my painting.

All in all, I am quite happy with the results. Painting in acrylics is by far faster and cleaner than in enamels. After some initial stumbles, I managed reproducing nearly the same shades and technique I had developed when painting in HUMBROL enamels. The colors are slightly more vibrant, though, which enhances the overall look of the figures. In the pictures, out of the ten Highlanders deployed, three had been painted in HUMBROLs (see more pictures here) while the remaining seven in VALLEJOs. It is difficult to say which are which, except perhaps in the picture with the two firing Highlanders seen from the back, where the figure on the left is painted in enamels and the one on the right in acrylics.

As a deserved tribute to HUMBROL and a life-time of painting out of their distinctive tin pots, I will continue to use their matt varnish # 49 as a protective coat before applying to my toy soldiers the final, semi-gloss acrylic finish…

  1. Hi Nino. The figures look really nice painted in this style. I will send you a message in a bit. I have been working on a set of figures of my own.

  2. Thank you Mike.

    I have seen your Anglo-Saxon figures in your site, they are truly great! Congratulations!

  3. Hi

    Pleased to discover your site.
    What lovely figures and I admire your patience! Not one of my attributes, I’m afraid :0)
    I’ll bookmark and look in from time to Tim, if I may? :0)

  4. Thank you!