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"What blue color for French Line and Legere units?" Topic

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Christer06 Aug 2014 12:15 p.m. PST

Hello everyone, after somewhat of a hiatus I am picking up on this wonderful hobby of painting miniatures again. Having to start from scratch, color-wise, I wondered if someone could help me with the best blue color for painting French Line and Legere figures? I know the blue on "Les Bleus" could vary wildly, from almost black to a sickly green after prolonged campaigning, but I seek a color that would say "French Line Infantry!" to even the untrained eye. I am painting plastic figures in the 1/72 range which I prime White and give a 50/50 mixed wash of black wash and water. So far I have tried out Vallejo's RLM 24 Medium Blue (too shiny when dry) and GW's Kantor Blue (too dark when dry). Any good suggestions on what color I can use? My local hobby store has the Vallejo range included the Air products as well as the latest range of GW paints. Any help will be greatly appreciated! Best regards,Christer

14th Brooklyn06 Aug 2014 12:30 p.m. PST

I found that French blue was rather greyish. I have mixed my own colours to match. If you want an off the shelf solution, I would say that Vallejos "Luftwaffe Uniform WWII" is pretty close. Not quiet on spot, but it should be close enough for your needs!

MajorB06 Aug 2014 12:30 p.m. PST

Dark blue. I use Coat d'Arms Royal Blue.

Fizzypickles06 Aug 2014 12:50 p.m. PST

Blues: Dk Prussian/Dk Sea Blue/Black approx 3:1:1
Dk Prussian neat
Dk Prussian/Intense Blue/Lt Grey approx 5:2:1

Is what I used on this chap.


Fizzypickles06 Aug 2014 12:52 p.m. PST

Having said that I have painted French line using ultramarine blue and black mixed.

Dogged06 Aug 2014 1:26 p.m. PST

The French used a blue which faded to a slightly violet shaded blue.

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2014 1:36 p.m. PST

Darker than the above -more like this:


Don't bother trying to simulate whatever weather may be affecting the color. Go for the ideal -we know what that is supposed to be- it should be dark. A lot darker than most people do it.

Trying to guess how the sun is going to fade this batch of indigo is just an excuse to not do it right, especially since we know darn well what the color looked like new. The rest is silly supposition and guess work. Why guess when you have the best answer?

Fizzypickles06 Aug 2014 1:48 p.m. PST

The thing is Peter, if you paint miniatures the exact same hue and shade as the actual dye they will simply look black because of scale.

Whilst Indigo was used initially, as soon as British blockades started to bite the French had to revert to using Woad. Authenticity is often a bit of a red herring, it's all about tabletop aesthetics imo.

It was discussed here most recently. TMP link

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2014 2:26 p.m. PST

I use Tamiya Dark Blue with a light wash

Personal logo Cardinal Hawkwood Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2014 5:44 p.m. PST

might be the right blue but altogether a bit ug with that slatish hue to it.

Fizzypickles06 Aug 2014 5:50 p.m. PST

How do you differentiate between the French Blue and the Prussian Blue?

ernieR06 Aug 2014 7:43 p.m. PST

i always use a matte varnish over finished models so shiny paint doesn't matter .

Meiczyslaw06 Aug 2014 9:55 p.m. PST

How do you differentiate between the French Blue and the Prussian Blue?

For me, I go with a pure blue (or close to it) for the French, and a blue shade (blue/black) for the Prussians. But then, I've also been priming black and painting up, which tends to darken the paints, as well.

Personal logo Gonsalvo Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2014 3:40 a.m. PST

I like an Ultramarine blue for my French infantry coats. It is more "blue" than the actual uniforms, but as many have noted, when painting minitaures in dark colors it is often wise to go a shade brighter than the actual for a better visual effect. You may want to paint a few test figures before deciding. Of course, given the variable effects of dye lots, weathering, Indigo shortages, etc., some variation in shade from unit to unit would hardly be a serious flaw!

Personal logo Stosstruppen Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2014 8:21 a.m. PST

I use Ceramcoat Blueberry over black primer. It gives a shade similar to Fizzypickles finished figure, and somewhat lighter than Flashman's print.

DaleWill Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2014 8:40 a.m. PST

Here's my rule of thumb that I downloaded from TMP many years ago:

French Blue = Navy Blue, so dark as to almost appear black.

British Blue (including infantry facings, cavalry uniforms, and uniforms sent to Portugal and Prussia) = Royal Blue, very rich. Think medium Testors blue.

Prussian Blue = French Blue with light grey added. French Blue is certainly darker.

Adjust to scale.


Littlearmies07 Aug 2014 8:46 a.m. PST

I use a white undercoat with Vallejo 965 Prussian Blue washed over the top, and then AP Dark Tone painted over the finished figure. Whilst I feel the need to go back and highlight white crossbelts and trousers I think the blue uniform looks dark enough for wargames.

As commented above if you use the accurate colour then in 15/18mm (I paint AB's mostly) it will look too dark. Here is a link to an old post on my blog – third picture in has some Legere painted using this method: link

Mike the Analyst07 Aug 2014 1:25 p.m. PST

I still use enamels and miss the old Humbrol MC8. I have recently tracked down a dark blue that is very close to the old French blue.

Phoenix Precision are a range of model railway paints – very authentic to the original liveries.

The colour is P70 LNER Oxford Blue. The finish is semi-gloss but that soon disappears under a matt varnish coat.

Some of the browns make for horse colours as well.

Sapeur18 Aug 2014 10:36 p.m. PST

Hi there
Slightly off subject but which manufacturer makes the fanion bearer and in what scale please?

WeeWars23 Aug 2014 1:16 a.m. PST

How do you differentiate between the French Blue and the Prussian Blue?

By using Foundry's French Blue for French and Foundry's Prussian Blue for Prussians.

Footslogger27 Aug 2014 6:30 a.m. PST

@ Disposalman, that looks like a 28mm Victrix plastic figure to me.

Sapeur27 Aug 2014 12:30 p.m. PST

@ Footslogger.
Thank you, my search is over.

Tyler32613 Oct 2014 8:37 a.m. PST

Depending on what you are trying to accomplish the shade of blue can be dark bklue or even a lighter shade. Remember that the dyeing techniques were not as good as they are today.And even today , dark colors still fade … especially after washing and constant use. The uniforms may have started dark blue, but faded after that . So even in a line company the colors varied. I wouldn't bang my head against the wall too much on this issue.

zaevor200015 Oct 2014 7:38 p.m. PST

For my 6mm, I primer in white and find that Navy Blue gives a good approximation of the shade of blue for my French Ligne and Legere from typical wargaming distance with 6mm figures…YMMV


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