Thursday, 11 June 2015

Painting Armour

If you are a regular you will know that over the past year I have sold five medieval armies, and that is a lot of armour I have burnished since I began those troops way back in the '70's, and all of it has been painted the same way. No, I lie,my memory is coming back, my original stuff was merely block painted with Humbrol steel or something along that line, however shortly after that I did spend some thirty years painting the armoured bits black then dry brushing them with steel. I continued this with the new armies, the Romano-British and Early Saxons although at times I dry brushed a second time with silver, and on the rich guys bronze or brass then gold, but always I have started with a black undercoat on the armour. Well, no more and it is better late than never.

I have waxed lyrical about one of the Roman armies I saw at the last W&C tournament and the finish on the armour, it really was lovely so I got in touch with the owner and have decided to use his method. The really great thing for me with this is that I do not have to paint the armour black first, I have only ever used white or grey as an undercoat, so picking out the armour was always a bit of a chore. Now I simply paint the armour steel or silver, it really doesn't matter at this stage, then give it a coat of Tamiya Smoke X-19, I have no idea where the X-19 part comes from or why it should sound like a secret formula and if you tell anyone you will be killed. What you get is a better representation of armour than what I have been doing, because for the first time ever I actually checked and did not leave it to my failing memory. Once you have coated the figure with the X-19 and it has dried you can if you wish just go over it with a soft dry brushing of silver or gold for highlights.

 Real stuff above, the shine on plate armour of any kind always makes me wonder how well these guys actually looked after their stuff on a campaign, something no doubt we can only guess at.


The first figure was painted steel, the second silver and then both coated with formula X-19, the other two are Saxon riders taken from the tray where they are being worked on at the moment using my normal method. Obviously as a former Radio Operator I do not make a great photographer and although the riders seem very dark, once they are completed the armour does look fine and blends in better than the stark picture you see before you, you just have to look at past pictures of my armies to see this. The point I am labouring to make is that the two on the left bear more of a likeness to the real stuff above. The smoke gives a much more delicate shading and looks especially good on the helmets with their ridges etc. so this is the way forward for me now, I better get more of that X-19 fast before someone bans it for just having a cool name.


  1. That is fascinating! I must try that! I undercoat white and then have to paint the metal bits black too. A real chore.

    1. Some people thin X-19 down and others say it can take paint off, my friend has never had the latter problem and I used it neat from the bottle for my examples. Being Tamiya I think these 'problems' could come from the world of modelling rather than its wargame use. I plan to do a whole cataphract unit in July after my hols, so you will get a better idea then of the overall look.

  2. I've heard a lot of people say good things about Tamiya smoke, although I've not tried it myself. Most of my Saxons were white then paint the armour black, etc. Definitely a bother, which has led me to switch back to a black undercoat. I get the best results (for me!?) by heavily drybrushing GW Chainmail, then a wash or two with thinned black ink, followed by careful highlights of Chainmail and Mithril. But it is a bit laborious.

  3. I have never used black although it is very popular, when it comes to a lot of armour I wonder what the armour sprays are like e.g. Army Painter Mail, followed by a wash, now that would save a serious lot of time.