A study in blue – British for the colonial NZ Wars


After using the black undercoating method I described here, the next step on my Perry Miniatures British infantry for the colonial New Zealand Wars was to get the basic uniform colour right.

In New Zealand during the 1860s, the British infantry discarded their traditional red jackets, and instead wore blue jumpers or ‘smocks’. As General J E Alexander later stated:

“Troops were now frequently paraded and inspected, and the skirts of the men’s great coats were cut off to enable them to wear them in skirmishing in the bush and scrub. This plan I did not think well of, and afterwards when preparing some of the 14th Regiment for fighting, I gave them blue smocks over which the great coat was worn, neatly rolled horse-collar fashion, and ready for the evening’s bivouac; a man cannot sleep well if his legs are not covered with the skirts of his coat.”

So how to reproduce a deep dark blue, which I always find one of the most problematic colours to paint?


I selected the two darkest blues I could find amongst my paints. One was a pottle of Vallejo Prussian blue, the other a Tamiya greyish-dark blue-black intended for painting aircraft camouflage. I painted the smocks with the former, and the trousers with the latter, as I wanted the blues to be slightly different.

I highlighted the edges of the smocks and hats and some of the more obvious creases with a lighter shade of blue. I also dry-brushed the greyish blue-black trousers with a slightly bluer shade.

In the end, I still felt the overall effect was too light, so I gave everything a wash of black ink. The result came out to an almost blackish blue. But in these photos, (as usual when photographing blue) it looks lighter than in real life – I don’t know why blue always does that in photos.


The two officers have black frogging on their patrol jackets. Black decoration on very dark blue would be hard to make out. So I picked out the frogging with medium grey, then washed it all over with black ink to delineate the edges. The result is subtle, yet still visible.

You’ll also note I’ve also blocked in the faces at this early stage, rather than doing this step last as many painters prefer to do. I like my figures to have character right from the start of my painting process. With the painted faces, along with the superbly life-like animation of the sculpting, each figure is already starting to tell a story.


Finally, I painted white stripes on the trousers. These stripes ( or ‘welts’) will later be over-painted with red. I find doing them in white first makes the red welts stand out a lot more.

Next step? The weapons and equipment … watch this space!

2 thoughts on “A study in blue – British for the colonial NZ Wars

    1. They’re really nice figures, Michael.

      Whilst I was over-painting those welts in red tonight, I wondered why they had suddenly appeared on uniform trousers of many nations sometime between the Napoleonic Wars and the 1840s?

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