Thursday, 13 December 2012

Tutorial: Black Watch Tartan in 28mm

When I started my British Napoleonic project this spring I decided to muster some English as well as some Scots units. The thing I feared to by most difficult was the kilt. It turned out to be easier than I thought, but before I started to paint, I searched the world wide web for some help. There are only a few tutorials about tartan painting on 28mm miniatures, but John O'Brien's article from 2001 (read it here) was very useful for me.

To make things a bit easier for those who are as much beginner as I am on this domain, I want to present my way of painting the Black Watch tartan step-by-step. Please ignore the other parts of the miniatures since they are highly WIP. I'll post some pictures of the finished ones around Christmas I hope.

1.) Basecoat:

Basecoat of VMC 050 "Dark Pruss. Blue"
The basecoat of the Black Watch Tartan, the so called Gouvernment Set, is a dark blue. After some experiments I decided to use Vallejo Model Colour 050 "Dark Prussian Blue" on white undercoat.

Check of Citadel "Dark Angels Green"

2.) Green Bands:
Next to paint is the dark green check. Don't mind when they aren't completely identical on each and every soldier. You will not notice that when the unit is completed. I used Citadel "Dark Angels Green" for the stripes bot the corresponding Vallejo Game Colour "Dark Green" should match as well.

3.) Light Green Squares
Center squares in VMC "Deep Green"
To outline the crossover of the warp and weft I painted the areas where horizontal and vertical stripes met in a lighter green tone: Vallejo Model Colour 072 "Deep Green".

Blacklining along the check.
4.) Black Lining
As last step to complete the tartan I used a small 0000 brush and blacklined the horizontal and vertical green line with black. In addition I decided to ignore the thin black check which should lie above the green check. Actually because I was afraid that my humble hands would ruin the nice look with wiggly lines. On the other hands I didn't want to overburden the small 28mm figure because I want to be able to recognise the pattern from gaming distance and not see a dark area only.

After that I proceeded with the boys as usual. That means I painted Armypainter Quickshade "Dark Tone" on them and painted some highlights on the uniform. On the kilt I was very careful to ensure a thin layer of Quickshade because I didn't want to shade the tartan further more.

Here's a picture of some finished Scotsmen:
Three completely finished highlanders.
To my mind those Scots turned out very well. The tartan is recognisable and anything more would be beyond my skill. I'm not sure how to pass the challenge to paint the yellow overcheck on 92nd Rgt. of Foot (Gordon Highlanders - look here).

Last but not least here is a short update concerning the progress:
The last eight figures are on the best way to get finished around Christmas. Finally!
Simultaneously I'm working on my hussars (horses nearly finished) and prepare the finishing touches (basing, flags) for the Black Watch. The first ensign carrying the regimental colour is already completed:
First ensign for my Black Watch.
This time I didn't paint the flag by myself but used an excellent one made by GMB Designs. The flag is a bit larger than 1:56 scale would be arithmatically but it's worth every inch. The printing quality is outstanding and it tolerated my treatment with paper glue, wood glue, varnish and paint very well. It looks so much better than my self-printed colours of the 44th Rgt. of Foot that I will definitely will equip the following units with GMB's flags. And GBP 3.25 for a set of colours sounds rather fair priced to me...


  1. Very good tutorial and a fantastic result. It occurred to me that, if I were trying it, I might do a wide check pattern in black and then the green parts slightly thinner. Then I wouldn't have to worry about unsteady hands for the black lining.

  2. Good stuff Monty, and that standard looks great! I have enough things in life trying to drive me insane without trying to tackle tartans. :-)


  3. Congratulations of the very nicely detailed painted troops.

  4. Excellent stuff Monty.
    Looks easy on one figure, but its got to a brave man who sets out to do a unit of 30 odd figures!

    1. And I have still enough miniatures left for a second unit...

  5. Thats blooming useful and very effective.

  6. Thanks for sharing, they look superb.

  7. Must have missed this the first time around, a very effective look! Nice one Monty!