Thursday, 13 December 2012

Matters of the Flesh

The above PB range Indian cavalryman mounted on the Indian horse came in the same box as the elephants. My usual policy with second hand figures is that if they are painted to a reasonable standard I leave them as they are. The vast majority are painted with Humbrol enamels in the sort of style favoured by wargamers in the 1970s and it gives them an authentic vintage look, plus they have a character all of their own and back story. I'll even copy the style to finish off units, though I use acrylics (I went over to them when my daughters was three and started to insist on "helping". Getting gloss red out of a pre-schooler's eyebrows with white spirit would tax the nerve of any man).

Since most ancient armies weren't uniform in appearance this heterogenous approach works fine. The Indians though are a bit of a problem because it seems that 40 years ago wargamers fell into two radically different camps when it came to what people from the sub-Continent looked like. The first felt that an Indian's skin is exactly the same as that of a Northern European, that is to say: Humbrol Flesh. The second was of the opinion that Indian flesh is - in the immortal words of Special Agent Dale Cooper - as black as midnight on a moonless night. The painter of the above figure was clearly of the latter school.

1 comment:

  1. Ah yes … I have to live with the embarrassment that my schoolboy-era Indians were painted in a Humbrol dark brown that might only be matched by a southern Indian who had been out in the field all year round. I believe that I was led astray by the black and white photos of Sue Laflin’s Minifigs Indians in Phil Barkers’ purple Airfix Guide.

    Nowadays I try for a compromise: the early PB figures respond quite nicely to a subtle combination of a ‘terracotta’ (marketed as leather, I believe) Humbrol undercoat, and a ‘stain’ of acrylic chocolate brown (but not so dilute as ‘wash’).

    The produces very subtle highlights that I find rather pleasing, although it is not really in the 1970s block painting tradition – and from a normal gaming distance looks no different to the latter.

    It is possible to vary the density of the stain, and/or use a sand undercoat, to give slightly lighter skin tones to the chariot and elephant-riding nobles.

    Perhaps something similar might work to darken those figures that have been painted with European ‘flesh’ colour ?

    Best wishes,