I have recently enjoyed painting a few more of my French and Indians.
Painting in acrylics is undoubtedly cleaner and faster, however I must admit that I am a bit of a nostalgic of the good old HUMBROLs, and tried to reproduce in acrylics the same painting style and color schemes I was used to when painting with enamels (this said, not everyone out there may like the way I paint my figures, and certainly many do a better job than I do!).
In the title picture showing the three Canadian militia officers in shortened capotes, the man in the centre is painted in HUMBROLs, while the two at the sides in VALLEJO acrylics. I am quite happy with the end result, the difference between the old and the new painted figures being at first sight almost unnoticeable. However, closer observation will reveal the duller, slightly warmer hues that I could achieve with HUMBROL enamels.
I seldom use the paint directly from the pot, but rather mix two, sometimes three different references to obtain the desired color. As a rule, I favor rather dull hues as opposed to bright ones. For example, my base “red” is rather a “dark deep orange” obtained by mixing dark vermillion and red leather. My “blue” is a “faded blue-black” mix of dark Prussian blue, black, and cork brown.
While you can paint your French and Indians with almost any combination of colors, I always follow more or less the same scheme, consisting in painting every figure with some red, some blue, and some green.
For example, if I paint the cap of a Canadian red, I will paint his waist sash green, and his loincloth or leggings blue. Sometimes I break this rule, and paint a touque cap gray, or the leggings brown… Additional, smaller items, such as the strings supporting the powder horn or the gourd canteen, the leggings garters, or the flaps of the moccasins, afford further possibilities to add notes of color without much effort.
This way, even identical figures will look quite different, and, when grouped together, three or four French and Indians will make a very colorful, attractive lot.
In general, however, I avoid decorating belts, straps and pouches, and prefer to paint them a plain deerskin color, believing that the highly decorated native garments which have made it to this day were for the most part ceremonial items of dress not worn in battle…
As to my painting technique, I proceed as follows. First, I block in all the base colors; then I shade each base color with a darker hue, and highlight with a lighter one; this done, I apply a diluted coat of each base color, thus smoothening the contrast between the shades and the highlights; occasionally, I dry-brush extra-highlights in a few areas; and finally, I outline all the border areas between different colors and shapes, with diluted brown-black color. I apply a coat of matt protective varnish, and as I like my figures to have that childish, naïve look, I always finish them with a coat of semi-gloss, satin varnish…