Monday, 21 March 2016

The Battlefield Colours of Old

My army had been painted back in the day with Ral Partha's Navy Blue. Citadel didn't have quite the blue I wanted, and I liked the flatter finish of the Ral Partha Paints. They didn't seem to be available anywhere locally, but internet to the rescue!

Some time later the paint arrived from England, and as I was setting up to do some painting I made a disappointing discovery. They had changed the formulation of their Navy, and it was a much different hue. It had a greenish or teal kind of hue that was especially apparent when you started mixing in white for the highlights. It seemed that this was nothing a little mixing wouldn't fix, and I had it in mind that some preparatory mixing was going to be on the agenda anyway.

When I painted the army originally, I had used the base coat, and just built the highlights up with white,wd  drybrushing as I went with individual models or small batches of them. this didn't give me the best or the most consistent results, so I decided I was going to get more methodical about it this time. The plan was to have 5 stages of colour:

-The base coat for the recessed areas and lining the creases
-A slightly lighter shade for the shaded and downward facing areas
-A median shade for the up-and-down surfaces that were perpendicular to the base
-A light highlight for upward facing surfaces
-An extreme highlight for picking out the edges

I tried to acquire ready-to-go colors that worked for some of the different stages, but although I managed to get a good light-to-dark graduation, the relative hues of the different paints were a little all over the place. There was some Tamiya paint that was the only thing I seemed to be able to find that was suitable for the extreme highlight was almost impossible to work with, and would tun to rubber in your brush before you could even get it on the model!

I needed to match the basecoat as faithfully as possible, and I would have to take the best of the paints I had tried to use for the highlight stages, and incorporate them as best and simply I could.  To complicate matters, it became apparent that at some point during the painting of the original army Ral Partha had made another change to the hue of their Navy, and not all the models were quite the same. The whole thing kind of spiraled into a huge mixing project. In the end, it probably ended up a lot more convoluted than it needed to be...

After a bunch of messing around with some test miniatures, I came to a mix that would work relatively seamlessly where I needed to touch up any of the old models, and had the look I was going for. I did my best to record what proportions I had used, but I was using syringes and pipettes to transfer the paints, which were in varying levels of dryness/ pigment-density, so the proportions I came to where certainly an approximation at best. When I have to mix more paint, there will certainly be some tweaking required to get a match... I bought some graduated cylinders from a lab supply place, so hopefully next time, I can be more precise. Here's what I came up with.

Base:      86% RP Navy, 14% Mephiston Red

Shade:    72% RP Navy, 17% Macragge Blue, 10% Mephiston Red, 1% Ceramite White

Median:  55% RP Navy, 33% Macragge Blue, 9% Mephiston Red, 3% Ceramite White

Highlight: 46% RP Navy, 25% Macragge Blue, 14% Calgar Blue, 7% MephistonRed,
               4% Altdorf Guard Blue, 4% Ceramite White

Edging:    37% RP Navy, 27% Calgar Blue, 9% Altdorf Guard Blue, 7% Creamite White,
               6% Mephiston Red

Since then, I've just discovered that these mixed paints I created separate to a degree that giving them a good shake before a painting session isn't enough to fully reincorporate them. This came up when I went in to touch up some panels on a Drop Pod I'm working on that I had blocked out with stages 2-4 some time ago and was just lining and edging with 1 and 5 just now. After some remixing and rechecking, It seems if I don't go in with a stir stick and physically scrape the bottom, I will start to see the shade shift on me within as little as 24 hours. I thought this might be some incompatibility between the Citadel and Ral Partha paints, but I've seen some shade shifting on the greys that I'm using for the interior as well and that was all Citadel stuff. I really like having the 5 stages I can go to as I'm painting, but I don't think I'll mess around with any more mixing than absolutely necessary on any future projects...

That said, I'm quite happy with the end result. Here's a shot of the first batch of marines I painted/ touched up.