I have used black undercoat on my figures for years. But I often read that people don’t like black undercoats because they make it hard to:
- see the details you’re painting
- paint bright colours on top of the black undercoat.
I have neither problem, but that is because of a ‘secret’ step I add to the process, which I’m now about to spill the beans on …
I’m currently working on some Perry Miniatures British infantry for my 1860s New Zealand Wars project. My aim is that the finished figures will be coloured as per the above painting from of the The Waikato War Driving Tour website. But before I get anywhere near that stage, I have to undercoat the figures.
As mentioned in my previous post, I start by spraying the figures with black automotive primer. This makes the figures a deep coal black, which if I left it at that, would indeed have the two disadvantages I listed at the start. In fact, the lighting in my photo above has brightened the black, making it is easier to see the detail than in real life.
Now comes the secret step. Once the black is completely dry, I lightly dry-brush it with a medium grey acrylic paint. This highlights all the details, making them much easier to pick out. And because the grey has lightened the black, it also makes it easier to paint bright colours over the top.
In the above picture, the figure on the left has had this treatment, whilst the one on the right hasn’t (and also looks brighter in this photo than it does in real life).
These officers have both had the grey dry-brush treatment. As you can see, the intricate frogging now really stands out. In fact as this frogging will be black, if I can carefully paint the dark blue uniform colour between the cords, I won’t have to paint the frogging at all, because the grey has perfectly highlighted the black. The same applies to boots, cartridge boxes, scabbards or anything else that needs to stay black.
So there it is. Add a quick grey dry-brush, and you solve any problems that a jet black undercoat might cause. And it’s actually a very enjoyable part of the painting process as the figures really ‘pop’ when you apply the grey.
If you’re interested to see how these figures turn our, keep watching this blog …