Thursday, October 25, 2018

Painting Tutorial: SYW Austrians

I was starting a new battalion of SYW Austrians so I thought that I would take a dozen figures aside and illustrate a step by step tutorial for how I paint Austrians. The Russian painting tutorial was well received so I hope that you will find this one useful too.

Twelve steps from primed figure (left) to finished musketeer (right)

Steps 1, 2 and 3
Steps 1 to 3: I start all of my painted figures with a coat of grey primer. I don't like how colors work with black primer and white primer oftentimes shows through for lighter colors such as red. Grey primer is a happy medium and works well for me.

I start the Austrian uniform with a coating of Ral Partha (or Iron Wind Miniatures - IWM paints, 77-707) "Light Grey" for my base coat (step 2). Next I apply a red brown color (IWM 77-713) for the flesh areas as the undercoats (step 3).

Steps 4, 5, and 6
Steps 4 through 6: The next step in the process (step 4) can be tediously time consuming and cause you to lose your will to live. However, it is probably the most important step in my painting procedure. I use a common craft paint black to black in the equipment on the figure. I apply black paint to the tricorn hat and the gaitors. I also apply black as an undercoat for all equipment items such as the musket and the fur pack. Remember how I don't like black primer? Well in this case, equipment items look much better underneath brown, which I use in step 6 for the musket stock, hair and fur pack.

Step 5 is the application of the red facing color on the cuffs and lapels. I use Reaper Pro Paints "Blood Red" (19002) for my basic red color on all of my figures. Through step 6, the figure still looks rather rough, but now that all of the base colors have been blocked in on the figure, the pace will pick up considerably from here on and make the painting of the figure fun and relaxing for me.

Step 6 is the application of all of the brown color (Reaper Master Series #09109) onto the musket stock, the hair and the fur pack.

Now the figures are starting to look like Austrian musketeers -
the transition from Step 7 through completion in Step 12
Steps 7 though 9: Now on step 7, I use some regular grey, mid-tone color for the hat lace and all of the cross belts. The grey is a common craft paint color. I also block in the dark yellow (P3 Rucksack Tan 93062) on the hat pom.

Step 8 is when we start to work on the final white uniform color of the Austrian coat. The white (P3 Morrow White 93073) is thinned down a little bit with a small drop of water to make the color flow that gives the coat color a consistent look. When I use the white paint straight out of the bottle I find that I sometimes get globs of pigment sticking to the figure in an uneven coat. Thinning down the white fixes this problem. I use white straight from the bottle for all of the cross belts because the thinning method doesn't work very well for smaller areas on the figure. I finish off the hat lace by using IWM Light Grey again - this time making small hash marks along the rim of the hat lace so that the darker grey underneath gives the lace some definition.

Step 9 is the application of red highlight color to the base red. I use Reaper Master Series Paint "Fire Red" #09004 for the highlight which helps to make the red "pop"!

Steps 7, 8 and 9.
 Steps 10 through 12 - finishing the figure

Step 10 is another one of my least favorite steps, the application of the metallic musket barrel and bayonet. I have yet to find a color that I really like, but for these models I used Reaper Master Series "Aged Pewter" #09196.

Step 11 is the application of brass (Valejo "Old Gold" #70.878) to butt of the musket, the buttons on the coat and the gaitor buttons, the hanger sword, the scabbard tip and any buckles that might appear on the figure. The gaitor buttons can be a bit of a pain to paint, but the Minden figures have raised buttons that are easy to paint by simply running the edge of your brush along the row of buttons.

Step 12 is when we add flesh highlights (Reaper Master Series "Dark Rose Skin" #09067), just dabbing a single dot on the tip of the nose, on the chin and on each cheek. I apply a couple of lines across the wrist of the figure. I don't paint knuckles, but some people like to do so. I also paint in the eyes by making a pin prick of white paint on each end of the eye socket, which I have previously painted black on Step 9. The final step is to paint the base of the figure dark green. Sometimes I will add some wood grain to the musket stock using Reaper Master Series "Oiled Leather" #09110 and use the same color as a highlight for the hair and fur pack.

Getting to the finish line: Steps 10, 11 and finally, 12.
In recent times I have stopped adding highlights to the muskets and fur packs on the theory that you can't discern the difference from afar. Also, I only use 2 colors rather than the triad paint system. One less color saves me a lot a time.

Steps 4 through 12 shows the progression of the painting after the initial base coats are painted.

I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and that it will help you with some of your own painting projects. At a future date I will do a Prussian tutorial.


  1. Very helpful. I shall try it out when I start my French in the new year.

  2. Ah, figures clothed in white. My own personal demon. A frustrating but necessary evil for SYW, Napoleonics, and other eras. However, you present doing it in a concise and easy to grasp way. Your finished product(s) look fantastic.

    Best Regards,


  3. Well done Jim.White has always been a difficult for me to paint effectively. Ive tried several methods including black lining, too thick. Dark grey, too harsh. Pale blue, too cold. Finally I went to the fountainhead and asked the man who painted a great number of figures for Peter Gilder, Tony Runkee. Tony kindly showed me that a wash over a basic white undercoat of Davys Grey provided an accurate shading effect. Davys Grey is an artists colour and I use the acrylic version supplied in a tube. Saying that your figures look great, so I think I will give your method a go to see the differences and the time expended.

  4. What a great tutorial- I am becoming smitten by these figures!

  5. Thanks for sharing- I'm going to give this a try!

  6. Jim, I found this very helpful..I have difficulty painting French, and your tips above have given me inspiration.

    For muskets, I use an dark wood brown from Life-Color (name has rubbed off the bottle) and GW Chainmail for the metal, then apply a wash of neat Peat Brown Ink from Windsor & Newton's drawing ink range. I find this useful also on belts, buff accoutrements & trousers, leather work and even over black at times. It dries with a slight sheen, and is a bit different to the GW and Army painter washes. It also works brilliantly on animal fur.

    Cheers, Rohan.

  7. Just what the Doctor ordered Jim. Thanks very much. When the Austrian Bde arrives from you I will give it a go. Thanks again, Ken

  8. I do my 10mm Austrians in much the same way.

    Basecoat the entire figures in light grey.

    Paint the face and hair, turnbacks, collars and lapels.

    Paint Musket, packs and straps.

    Highlight any remaining areas of grey with white on arms, legs, shoulders, torso.

    Paint any plumes or pompoms.