Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Captain of the Hussars Part 1

This is a figure I've been wanting to do for a while.  It's a 75mm mounted French Hussar from Pegaso.  I started assembling him back in 2014, but other projects too priority and I never got around to doing any actual painting on the figure.  Now that I'm done with Crystal Brush and don't really have any pressing projects (no contests I'm worrying about, no commission pieces, etc), I thought perhaps I'd actually try to put some paint on this one!

This post will be a little different than my usual starts to a figure.  This time I want to share how I actually begin my historical projects.  Basically, what do I do before I start painting?  Obviously the first step is to pick a figure.  This is the sculpt for the kit.  It's a beautiful piece of work and has tons of details, so I think it will be a great project.

The next step is planning out the colors.  With a historical piece you can decide for yourself how historically accurate you want to be.  For medieval and ancient figures you've got the freedom to pick a lot of different colors.  Things weren't all that uniform back then, so it's harder to say if something is actually incorrect.  For more modern figures like Napoleonics, regiments had specific colors.  You don't necessarily have to follow that.  If you're only painting for yourself, then you can do what you want.  Even if you're planning to compete, most figure shows don't judge you based on historical accuracy.  But, that being said, it's still nice to go with reality if you're painting a historical.  Okay, so what are the options for a hussar?
If you're interested in painting multiple figures from the same era, it can be worth investing in some reference books.  Osprey Publishing has many reference books for a huge number of historical topics.  Of course, the internet and various forums are also a great place for information.  All the images here came from basic online searches.  Okay, back to this figure.  There were 12 regiments in the French army during the Napoleonic era and these images shows the basic colors for each of them.  Red, Green, Blue (light and dark), Brown, and Grey are the main colors.  I also look around at the box art and other examples of this figure.  The 4th and 6th color schemes are very popular... so I decided to go a different route.  I opted for the 5th Hussars.  The figure will be done with a light blue, gold/red details, and a white coat.

Now I start to look up images for that particular regiment.  Often these are drawings but if you can find images of the actual uniforms (museum pieces), that's even better.  I don't worry about getting certain colors 100% correct, but it's still nice to be somewhat close to how the colors should look.

So there you have it.  I've got the figure and a basic idea of what colors I want to paint him.  As I go I may find some details or pieces of equipment where I'll need to go back and check my sources to find out the color.  But, in general, I've got enough information to start painting the figure.

Again, the level of detail you need to go into for the background research is dependent on the era of the figure and how historically accurate you want to be.  For a Napoleonic piece, I want to make sure I'm using colors that actually match the regiment I want to paint.  I'm a little more flexible on the exact color (this shade of blue vs that shade), just as long as it's close.  For medieval and ancient figures, my general goal is to have the color scheme be plausible.  Finding proof for something like that is just too difficult.  As long as it doesn't look unreasonable, I'm happy to just start painting.

Just remember, this is art and you have the freedom to do whatever you want.  If I really wanted to paint this guy in purple, no one is going to come and confiscate my brushes.  If all I want to do is paint a neat looking figure (and I don't mind some people online complaining about the accuracy), then I can do whatever I want.


  1. Don't forget, if you're going for historical accuracy look up the mount as well. You wouldn't want to paint a spotted horse when at the time in Europe those were seen as horses for nobility so they would never be in an army.

    When you look at the makeup of a regiment you see they were broken up into 3 or 4 squadrons with 2 companies in each. During peacetime they had strict rules on what color horses were used (of course during wartime some people gave up the rules and took whatever they could get). It broke down like this:

    I Squadron: 1st 'elite' company rode on blacks, 5th company on browns and blacks
    II Squadron: 2nd company rode on bays, 6th company on bays
    III Squadron: 3rd company on chestnuts, 7th company on chestnuts
    IV Squadron: 4th and 8th company on grays and whites

    1. Great info. Thank you, Derek! I will definitely keep this in mind when I get to that stage