The one-minute-speedpainter: 912 toy soldiers in 7 days

A couple of years ago a Dutch wargamer I know, mr Gladmountain, sold me his surplus Leipzig 6mm project: a late Prussian Napoleonic army with extra line infantry, that I added to my lead pile. You can never have enough Prussians, as Wellington said – in June 1815, I believe.

Last week I finally opened the box and counted hundred and thirty two strips Prussian line infantry. 4×132=528 miniatures. I fainted.

Here’s a guide how to speedpaint them, max one quick minute per layer. Nothing new for the veteran 6mm-painter, useful for the occasional painter. My full Prussian uniform guide can be found here.

Step 1: undercoat line infantry in grey

Adler writes about primer:

Its not really necessary. In the old days, when any old metal was used to manufacture figures a coat of primer was necessary (…) With the up to date metals now in use this is no longer a problem. If the figures your painting are maily one colour or have a lot of white a coat of primer is probably a good idea.

The Baccus tutorial on the other hand advises black primer! I tried both but prefer grey or for other armies brown nowadays.

  • I can’t recommend white primer, because you always forget spots when painting a large batch of figures, so I was endlessly doing fine retouches.
  • Black can dim the colours, 6mm colours need to be bright.
  • Blue is not advisable either, except for maybe blue coated Landwehr.
  • Grey on the other hand blends in. Besides, if you prime Prussian line grey you can skip the shako, bandolier and trousers later.

Step 2: Black Wash

Wash deepens the shadows. Baccus and Adler don’t recommend wash. Others apply a wash after block painting the base colours, but these painters have to repaint their dulled first layer. I too tried that technique. and felt like I was painting the same figure twice. So I switched to shading the basecoated figure before adding the block colours, not after.

The wash above was darker than I planned, I should have thinned it more. I still see more contours than with a black primer, though.

Step 3-9: block colours.

I work inside out, the deepest features first, layer over layer. So I started with the brown rifles and highlighted the bandolier (diagonal grey blanket or greatcoat) last (3. brown rifle 4 blue jacket 5. flesh 6. white belt 7. red cuff, facings, collars 8. silver bayonet 9. light grey bandolier highlight.

Cuffs and collars are red, belts white, bandolier grey. If lazy you can skip the collar, belt and bandolier; but the striking red-blue-white-grey contrast defines the Prussian infantry from a distance.

And that’s it!

I clocked my painting. One strip – 4 soldiers – can be painted in one color in 30-60 seconds. But let’s round it up to 1 minute per layer. That’s max seven minutes per strip, 70 minutes for 10, 700 minutes for 100, 910 minutes for 130. That’s max 15 hours, in other words, a couple of empty evenings otherwise badly spent on television. I think I spent 10-12 hrs on this particular project.

Sometimes it was boring and then I hated mr Gladmountain. I hated the 80 strips that he – innocently – had primed in blue. I also hated RED DOTS. 1 collar, 2 cuffs and 2 red lines on a blue jacket = 5 red dots per miniature x 528 = 2640 red dots. A chore. But well.

“before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water”, master Buddha said.

I felt enlightened when painting, but I must say I felt more enlightened when finished.

The zen buddhist in me painted another 96 strips of Russians with the same red dots, btw. that was 384 Russians, about 10 hrs.

But in the end, after 7 evenings painting, I have 66 stands Russian & Prussian infantry painted.

With the 42 Prussian infantry stands that I painted 2 years ago I have suddenly A LOT of Prussians and Russians. Leipzig, the 1814 campaign in France and Waterloo seem feasible after just a week painting! 912 (P)Russians down, only some Landwehr, cavalry and artillery to go.

Gladmountain, what did you do?


2 thoughts on “The one-minute-speedpainter: 912 toy soldiers in 7 days

  1. They look really good. I wonder how a white primer shaded witha wash would work? It could give brightness with out white spots if you miss anything…?




  2. I tried. If you forget a collar you see a small white dot that is difficult to paint. Now it’s grey/dark, a mistake you don’t notice from a distance. But it’s a trade off, a dark (black) undercoat results in starker contrast and a dark lined shadow. Grey (or brown) is the best compromise.


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