Thursday, April 8, 2021

What Sun Fading Really Looks Like


Following up on my previous post about the color of British uniforms on campaign, I thought it would be a good idea to see actual examples of sun-faded red cloth taking on a pinkish hue. At the end of this article I have posted a picture of an actual Prussian Guard uniform.

The baseball cap shown in the picture above, is one that I wore for many years before realizing how much the color had faded. I turned out the inside of the cap so that you can see what the original red color looked like. The difference is rather startling.

Also, here is a picture of one of my blue caps that shows how the sun has faded the cloth.

Now it might be that the type and quality of the cloth makes a difference in the amount of fading. Also, the type of color dye can make a huge difference. Searching through my memory (something that is increasingly hard to do these days), I recall that the type of dye used makes a huge difference.

Some examples of actual Prussian uniforms and their sun damage. The IR15 Guards regiment waistcoat shows sun damage in the abdomen area which corresponds to the part of the garment that is exposed to sunlight when it is worn. You can see where the waist belt protected the cloth in the abdomen area. The rest of the waistcoat was covered by the coat when it was worn.

The blue coat shows the orignial blue color in the rear, compared to the fading on the front and sleeves.

IR15 Guard Uniform - Coat on the left and waistcoat on the right.

This provides a little bit of food for thought with respect to painting your wargame figures with a sun faded campaign appearance.


  1. Excellent pictorial account of the effect of sun on fading colors. Back in the 1960's an old factory in Hartford CT was scheduled for demolition. Before sending in the wrecking crews, a cursory inspection inside was carried out and a box marked "Union uniforms" (or somesuch) was discovered and inside was a bolt of Union deep blue wool material. What is relevant to this conversation is that the outside layers of the cloth bolt were faded to an almost sky blue color while that in the middle was clearly the original color. What had happened - at least to my poor understanding - was that exposure to oxygen actually contributed to the fading. This would have been accelerated with exposure to sunlight.
    Best regards as always,
    Jerry Lannigan

    1. Interesting story Jerry, thanks for posting.


  2. Interesting post Jim. I think I'll continue to paint my figures in their brand new parade issue garments and not worry. But still - painting everything white and then a thin wash of colour would be quicker.

  3. Agreed. Looking at all of this, it is fairly easy to see that fleshtone, dry-brushed carefully over the base colors, would provide a very convincing representation of fading from exposure and wear over time. At least for reds and blues. I believe you once suggested this to me in another post quite a few years ago now.

    Best Regards,


  4. To be honest, what attracts me to the period is the colorful uniforms. Seems that painting uniforms in a faded state, however accurate from a historical or realistic standpoint, defeats the whole reason for being in the period.