Saturday, 15 April 2017

The Problem with Platemail

Sir Stefan was determined to win this year's game of statues.
Morning all, if indeed it is morning at all when you are reading this. Today is my birthday and I am 38 years old and so have a little extra leeway today to get some hobby in. So I have used this advantage to write up yesterday's painting which, for me at least, was incredible as I finished four figures in a single sitting, a feat I have never before achieved! 

When I was last at Foundry I bought a few of the ex-Citadel Perry medievals on a whim. I fancied a challenge and eagerly ripped them from their blister pack and set to work. What followed was a 'knightmare' - see what I did there!? 

Painting single figures encased entirely in steel results in, to my eye at least, pretty dull models, even if they can be completed in about thirty minutes. I wasn't happy with the results at all and popped over to see what the examples on the Foundry website looked like. 

Not any better really, as the same problem occurred despite the nice basing tying the models together. So what to do? I tried edge highlighting next but that just looked silly and I abandoned the attempt pretty quickly and realised why painters in the '80s quickly moved to different colours to paint armour. It is much more interesting. 

In the end, I opted for a second shade to contrast against the silver. Inspired by the Nilfgaardians in the Witcher games, I went for black and after a little fiddling around found that just painting the helmets in this shade and ensuring that the scabbards gave some bright contrast the results were much improved. About a week or so ago I had admired the blacks on Jean-Baptiste's Noise Marine and wanted to try something similar, so drybrushed over the jet black with various shades of grey before adding a few edge highlights. 

The assualt on Trumpton was going well.
To break up the black further, on a couple of the models I added a few white additions, either on the helm itself or on a knee. Gold was used for the hilts of the double handers and the sidearms just to contrast against the silver further. Finding the pure silver a little garish still, as a final touch I gave all of the steel (save the sword blades) a couple of blue ink glazes to get the 'cold' look I was after. 

Simon Cowell's 'next big thing' were unsure of their latest makeover.
Having managed to get couple of suitable shots of two of the models, my camera battery gave up the ghost and by the time it had charged the light quality had changed, hence why the group shot is a little bleached out but it gives you a general idea of work so far. I still have the four remaining figures in the set to finish and they are all in various states of completion. I hope to get the unit complete at some point over the Easter weekend. 

One thing I am interested in though is dealing with the 'problem of platemail' a little further. I still feel there is much improvement to make to this particular skill and would like to hear other enthusiasts' methods and colour recipes. I will share mine in detail below so you can understand how I achieved my results in turn. 

1) Base in black. 
2) Drybrush in medium silver.
3) Black ink wash. 
4) Paint plates carefully in medium silver, leaving thin black lines between each piece.
5) Highlight plates in the centre with a bright silver. 
6) Wash over with blue ink glaze. 

Hopefully, I will hear from some of you soon and can apply your advice to the next batch!! 



  1. Happy Birthday mate and good job, I hate painting metal colours myself almost as much as human flesh.

    1. Human flesh! I too had a hatred of that but have since conquered it. Perhaps I should do a little posty-wosty-woo to help old Chico-Chops out?

  2. When I want to achieve a bright silver armor, this is my receipt:

    1. White basecoat
    2. Vallejo Liquid Silver alcoholic paint
    3. Blacklining with a Topic 0.05 fineliner

    1. Thanks for the tip, Florian. I think I am more than qualified to work with alcoholic paint too! (:

  3. Habby B-day from a long term reader!

    I use the following recipe, adapted from fellow dane (and famous painter!) Jacob Rune Nielsen:
    1. Base in Boltgun Metal
    2. Glaze/wash with a mix of Tamiya Clear Orange, Chestnut Ink and Chaos Black
    3. Highlight with Chainmail and Mithril Silver
    4. Glaze with a very thin mix of green and purple ink
    5. Reapply top highlights in Mithril Silver and maybe Vallejo Metal Medium

    Jacob has some wonderful examples on his website, JRN-Works -especially his Orc Warlord.


    1. Green and purple ink glaze? I would have never thought of that particular combination and will try it out shortly. Thanks.

  4. It seems interesting to me. I usually don´t use metallic colours, but this technique gives it a curious dirty finish.

    1. Nice and dirty- the campaign look I guess. In truth, those suits of armour must have been filthy most of the time and a nightmare to clean.

  5. Painted sallet helms are actually quite a common thing historically. A google image search for 'black sallet' should show up quite a few examples. Might be a good excuse to test your freehand.

    I particularly like this example:

    1. Thanks for the link too! Very useful as it looks like I am leaning towards a medieval/Empire army.

  6. Happy birthday for yesterday,hope you had a good day.A good post again

  7. Happy birthday for yesterday,hope you had a good day.A good post again

  8. Happy Birthday :) Yes, a miniature with only plate & mail armor could be boring.
    Then as many before me I paint the helmets to break the monotony.

    here my recipe:

    primer white base,
    base of boltgun metal
    wash of citadel black wash
    highlights of boltgun metal
    highlights of chainmail metal
    highlights of silver
    some little washes of black wash

    1. So you opt for a white primer? I have never used white for metallics but will give you recipe a go too. Looks like I will be painting a fair bit of armour over the next few weeks.

  9. Happy birthday Orlygg! The classic black base and silver drybrush method reminds me of what I used to do. It improved when I stopped drybrushing and start using whashes instead. This tutorial has a good explanation on TMM

    1. Hello there Dreamfish (he is one of the ORIGINAL Oldhammerers) and thank you for that link. I too fell out with drybrushing for quite a long time, but I think it has a place on my painting station again. Its a hard techique to master once you are committed to decent looking models. Thanks.

  10. Happy Birthday Orlygg! Your are only 38?! You are a baby. Wait until you get old and decrepit like me (i.e. 41) -- your spine curves and your penis falls off.Enjoy life while you can.

    In any case, I appreciate you sharing your recipe -- I have already saved it because I really like the effect that you achieve. You call it boring, but I think it's got a real snap to it. My own technique is similar to yours, except that I generally skip steps #3-6. No wonder yours look so much better!

    1. Thank you Matthew - I am glad you found it useful in your own work. We shall face the years of decrepitude with solidarity! (: