Mark J guides through his painting technique for 6mm HYW figures.
This article follows on from my first 6mm painting guide, “Painting 6mm Romans” which appeared on the Maidstone Wargames Society Blog in May 2020. So, it’s been a while since my last blog, but I’ve been busy painting more 6mm over the last 12 months or so. This article covers my English 100 Years War army. This is another FoG army, we still play 2nd edition at the club, however I have also built the army to use with MeG and you could use it with any rules system that doesn’t stipulate base sizes.
The army is loosely based on that which fought at Crécy, very loosely as I just wanted to pick a point in history to use, my army commander is painted as the Black Prince.
The figures are from Baccus, while they are listed as 6mm, they’re closer to 8mm. I really like them and there’s a wide range of periods available which continues to expand. The painting method I’m going to take you through is block painting, which begins with the application of a dark undercoat and then adding brighter colours to bring out detail, while retaining some of the dark undercoat to emphasise shadow.
I use a black undercoat as I find it works well at this scale, however you need to be careful not to overuse the base colour otherwise your figures will look like dark blobs on the battlefield. The idea with block painting is to trick the eye; this is where the brighter colours come in, as you’ll see below, I’ve used quite vibrant colours on the longbowmen. This would look odd on a larger scale but is a must at 6mm.
So, start by washing your figures in warm soapy water and then gently dry them off with a tea towel or just leave them somewhere warm or in sunlight to dry; this will remove any casting residue which can interfere with the paint and stop an even coat forming. I then spray my figures black with an acrylic spray, I use a matt black spray from a national hardware chain, it’s cheap and works very well. Always wear a mask and ensure you’re in a ventilated room when doing this.
I’m going to start with a unit of longbowmen, there are 64 figures in each unit, I find I can paint one unit in a couple of hours, ready to base. Once the figures have dried I, begin by painting the main part of the body, in this case the tunic working with a strip of 4 figures I paint the front of the tunic remembering to leave some parts black, the belt, collar quiver, scabbard and under the arms. You don’t need to be really accurate here, paint your first strip and then look at the figures from about 3 feet away, if they look right then you have accomplished the first part of the ‘trick’.
Carry on painting each strip and then repeat the process on the other side of the tunic, you’ll notice that Baccus longbowmen are not all the same, some carry their arrows to the front others to the back, some have small shields. Just follow the principle of using the undercoat and leave these black for the moment. Remember to go bright, a general rule of thumb is to go 2-3 times brighter than you would at 28mm. You can see from the picture below how I’ve used a bright pale blue and yellow with one unit and an orange with the other. Both can be seen from the battlefield and don’t look out of place. They would look out of place at a larger scale for this period, but the rules of painting are different for 6mm, trick the eye with bright colours.
Once you’ve completed the tunic it’s now time to move onto the bow, quiver and scabbard. I use the same colour brown for these, again this would not work with a larger scale but is fine for 6mm. You can use differing colours, but they won’t really stand out and will take longer. I find a light yellowish brown works very well. Again, follow the front and then back method that I describe above, I find this gets me into a good rhythm, which gets me through a unit quickly but means I achieve the effect I’m looking for. This method also works well if you’re painting multiple units. I tend to do 3 at a time and can complete three units, fully based in around two evenings, 1 evening at a push.
Massed Longbows WIP
Once you’ve completed the bow and leatherwork it’s time to work on the metal parts, for the longbowmen this is their helms, shields if they have them and sword hilt, note that the sword hilt is optional, the figures will look fine without this. Again, apply to each strip front first and then back. With the helms it’s really important not to overdo things, too much silver and it will look like a huge silver blob, this is where your skill with a brush comes in and using the undercoat to provide shadow. I tend to use a semi dry brush when applying the silver, not as dry as I would when dry brushing, general rule of thumb is to apply enough paint to your brush to cover a couple of helms lightly.
It’s now time to move onto the flesh, I use a light pink flesh colour, those often used to highlight larger scale figures’ flesh. Again, front first then onto the back, you’ll see with the longbowmen that most of the work is covered from the front of the figure but it’s worth checking the back just to ensure that the flesh can be seen from all relevant angles. Paint the flesh in the same way you painted the silver, less is more. Try and keep a gap between the hands and cuffs and face and neck, this is where the dark undercoat really works well, this sounds hard, but it’s easily done with a little practice. Don’t worry if you don’t achieve this on every figure, remember you’re looking for an overall effect that will usually be viewed from the battlefield, tricking the eye with shadow and bright colours.
Once the flesh is done, then figures are complete, I usually quickly check each strip as you can miss some parts when painting large numbers of figures. Once dry, I then varnish the figures with a matt varnish. I spray my figures, if you do the same then make sure you’re not doing this in a cold room as the spray reacts to cooler temperatures and can fog, giving your figures a dusty look, which is a complete disaster at this scale as it obscures all your hard work. If this does happen, let the figures dry and then apply gloss varnish and another light coat of matt. I find a quick spray does the trick, again less is more. If it feels too cold don’t spray!
Basing next, I use a similar method to the Baccus basing, I apply a ready mixed earth texture paint first, make sure to apply up to the base not over it. Once this has been applied it is time to highlight. I use the Baccus 3 colour system, which starts with a dark beige colour moving up to an almost bone white, simply dry brush the bases. Once this is done it’s time to add some static grass, you’ll need the smaller grade, 3mm I believe. Apply some watered down PVA to the front and rear of the figures and where there are any gaps along the line. Once done sprinkle some static grass over the figure; what you’re looking for here is enough to hide any of the metal base while not covering the figure. The picture below shows how it should look.
OK so that’s how I paint 6mm longbowmen, for the men at arms use the same principles but when doing the armour ensure to use the undercoat well, leaving gaps works really well with armour. Use the same brown for any wood or leather and the same method for flesh. If you have any troops with padding, then apply this using the bright colour and shadow approach, you can see some mine below.
Finally, I painted the generals and camp using the same method, took a bit more time on some detail, but the same rules apply re tricking the eye. Up close they look a little messy, on the table they look the part.
The camp was done using a white undercoat and special contrast paints for the tents, the pigs, fires, well and baggage have a black undercoat with a block technique applied.
The next few photos provide some completed units, in all there are 6 of longbow (8 bases each) and 6 of men at arms (4 bases each).
A selection of the retinue
You’ll also notice some stakes placed in front of the longbowmen, these were scratch built using wire and Milliput. I cut the wire into 10mm long pieces, placed some Milliput onto a base and then added the wire to the Milliput at around a 30 to 40 degree angle. It was then a case of painting the stakes dark brown with bone white tips, and then basing using the same method described above. The stakes are bigger than they would have been relatively speaking but this is required to catch the eye and look right on the battlefield.
I hope this has been helpful, I hope to have another guide out soon covering my 6mm Spanish Napoleonic.