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"Difference in Colors of Red ?" Topic

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Terry3719 Jan 2018 8:37 p.m. PST

Trying to settle exactly what the difference is between Madder red, Poppy Red and Primary Red. I see the first two listed often, but am not really sure what the difference is or how they compare to Primary red. I recall once reading that Madder Red was a darker more brownish red and Poppy Red was a more yellow red, but nothing finite.

Does anybody have anything on this?



Wu Tian19 Jan 2018 9:13 p.m. PST

Enrico Acerbi has written something in napoleon-series.

Glengarry519 Jan 2018 9:19 p.m. PST

It's a tricky business, colours. There can be slightly different shades of red with the same name, or reds of the same shade under different names. This has to do with different traditions and manufacturers, sometimes it seems to be in the eye of the beholder. Not to mention variations in colour from batch to batch and the effects or weathering. Try Googling Image a colour and you'll see what I mean. From what I understand Madder red is indeed a darker, brownish brick red, poppy red a mid to bright red (think Flanders fields and the poppies we wear in November) and Primary red is supposed to be a pure red colour.

Cacique Caribe19 Jan 2018 10:14 p.m. PST

Lol. Is that table for real?

Maybe it's better if I stay away from this period. :)


John Edmundson19 Jan 2018 10:40 p.m. PST

Also look at for one person's idea of how to get the colours right using Vallejo paints and link for links to what they look like according to Dave Hollins.

Personally I thin the papelgrun (Parrot green) in Loki's table looks too grey but his chart is useful because it lists the Line Infantry regiments that had those colours and I think most of them look pretty accurate.

Bear in mind of course that a) colours would have varied a lot in reality (as noted by Glengarry5 above) and b) colours will vary a lot on people's monitors and printers.


ps. I doubt Loki really is based in New Zealand; it seems to link to because that's where I live. This may be boring news that everyone already knows . . .

von Winterfeldt20 Jan 2018 12:13 a.m. PST

go for contemporary sources

ERROR - no url for link

dball5320 Jan 2018 4:26 a.m. PST

I agree that exact shades of various colours can be very subjective, personally I value what I see in well produced uniform books over images on a computer screen. The quality of your monitor and the way it is set up will greatly influence what you actually see and therefore the depth of any particular colour can be deceptive.

I would strongly recommend as examples the various books by Liliane & Fred Funcken on uniform details and colours, beautifully illustrated and full of useful information, out of print now I believe and only written in French unfortunately, unless anyone knows of newer versions?

Winston Smith20 Jan 2018 6:44 a.m. PST

I'm afraid that I consider the "proper shade" to be the bottle that is closest within reach.
I've read that a newly uniformed fresh British regiment had pink belts, because they were stained by the red dye running during a heavy rain.
And also that British "scarlet" was not a handicap in the FIW because it faded to a brownish hue. Perfect for the forest!

Winston Smith20 Jan 2018 6:50 a.m. PST

Having said the above, I have gone nuts trying to find the "proper shade of green" for the 5th Foot. Gosling Green should look like fresh goose crap.
Thanks to a whine I made on The Enemy Site, an exiled former TMPer set me straight on a Vallejo bottle. Next regiment up!

Only a cad would point out that you painted facings that fade in the weather incorrectly. Alas, there are many know it all cads around. Tell him to buy figures painted "properly", and give them to you, and you will let him play.
The only one it should matter to is the painter.

Blue facings on a generic Loyalist unit? The closest bottle on the table. Ditto "Continental Blue" for the coat.

Terry3720 Jan 2018 11:00 a.m. PST

Thank you for the replies. I agree that there are many things that affect the "proper" shade of color, but I am trying to find the consensus of a shade. I am specifically looking at the Prussian army of the 1813-14 period.

Regarding the Austrians, I wrote this article with input from Dave Hollins confirming my selections several years ago, but I believe the site it appeared on is now gone.

Austrian Napoleonic Facing Colors
Matched to Vallejo Paint Colors
by Dave Hollins and Terry Webb

This project is an attempt to match the various facing colors used by the Austrians during the Napoleonic Wars, with an emphasis on the 1st and 2nd Coalition time periods. It is the result of a joint effort by Dave Hollins and Terry Webb. While Terry bought numerous bottles of paint and made many, many sample paint chip cards to match to color chips Dave shared his exceptional knowledge on the subject of the Austrian army during this time period, advising on the validity of the paint match, and shared numerous sources to help in the validation.

We do not claim that this is an absolute final effort as the subject of facing colors made of dyed fabrics several hundred years ago can only be open to far too many interpretations. The many reasons for such interpretations is not of importance to this effort as for the most part, they are probably already understood, and the focus is really a useable color chart of existing paints to go by. And lastly, it must be said that for a couple of the facing colors there were no exact or even close matches found in the Vallejo line of paints, and this will be identified. However were possible the closest match possible is made. Therefore, we feel this is a valid reference source for use by wargamers, model makers and reenactors. We gladly accept any responsible criticism, or input, be it positive or negative.

In the list below we will identify the Austrian facing color, then the Vallejo paint color and lastly the Vallejo paint number.

Austrian Facing Color Vallejo Paint Color Vallejo Paint Number

Sky Blue Deep Sky Blue 844

Bleumorant Sky Blue 961

French Blue Dark Blue 930

Dark Blue Prussian Blue 965

Sea Green (1) No Paint Match ***

Apple Green Lime Green 827

Grass Green – early (2) Intermediate Green 891

Grass Green – late (2) Flat Green 968

Steel Green Gunship Green 895

Austrian Facing Color Vallejo Paint Color Vallejo Paint Number

Scarlet Scarlet 817

Red Flat Red 031

Carmine Sunset Red 802

Pompadour Magenta 945

Sulfur Yellow German Yellow 806

Kaiser Yellow Flat Yellow 953

Orange Gold Yellow (fantasy) 007

Crab Red Light Brown 929

Light Brown Ochre Brown 856

Dark Brown Saddle Brown 940

Gris de Lin (3) No Paint Match ***

Rose Pink Rose 958

Light Pike Gray (4) Pale Blue 906

Black Black 950

Parrot Green (5) Dead Flesh 035

Violet Violet 960

1. Sea Green -There is no real Vallejo match for this color. It is best described as a light green-blue color.

2. Grass green is a color that changed during the period of our discussion. It was originally a lighter shade than it became later in the Napoleonic period, thus the two different Vallejo paint references.

3. Gris de Lin – There is no Vallejo match for this color. It is a light mauve color.

4. Light Pike Gray – the subject of the pike gray color used for uniforms and the light pike gray of the facing color is one often misrepresented as a strong gray shade. To better understand this color it is necessary to understand the origin of the term "pike" used in this color reference. Most probably assume it comes from the pole weapon, a pike, and thus expect it to be a strong gray color of the metal point, or assume that it will match the color of the very late war uniforms of this color or of even of the post Napoleonic War period. However, it derives from the German word "Hecht" that was used for the Pike Fish, and more specifically the blue that was found in the body of this fish. It did over time acquire more of a gray tint, but for the uniforms of the period covered by our effort it was a definite blue shade. The best match for the uniform color is Andrea Blue 841 during the 1st Coalition period and the closest match for the 2nd Coalition period is Pastel Blue 901. Thus the use of Pale Blue 906 is best to represent the Light Pike Gray of the uniform facing color.

5. Parrot Green – This, probably more than any other color, will cause the most issue. Every source I've ever seen except two, shows this color to a light, bright green, with the emphasis on the green coloring. However the period schematics show this color to be a very strong yellowish green, with the emphasis more on the yellow than the green. The first source which seems to correctly reflect this color I found in plate 21 in the book European Military Uniforms, a Short History by Paul Martin published by Spring Books 1967, and originally published in German under the title Der Bunte Rocke in 1963. The text accompanying this plate showing Austrian Hussars of the 4th Hessen-Homburg Regiment done by Adam von Bartsch (1757-1821) and Wilhelm von Kobell (1776-1855) says "The uniform shown here is that of the Austrian Hussar Regiment Hessen-Homburg No. 4, worn from 1767 with few changes until the first third of the 19th century. The green color of the pelisse shows up as yellow on the print, in the detachment on the march in the background." . The second source I've found which correctly reflects this color is the wonderful set of prints done by Mollo, which show an officer and a trooper of the Hessen-Homburg Regiment No. 4. Both of these sources reflect the parrot green to be a really sort of ugly yellowish green color and matches very well to the Vallejo color listed above. The color selected, Vallejo Game Color Dead Flesh, is not a great match, but the best out of bottle match I could find. It is a good shade for wargaming figures, but a bit toward the gray side than the yellow side. Ideally I think it would be better were it a mix of Dead Flesh and Vallejo German Yellow 806, but the intent of this effort it to identify out of the bottle matches.

Winston, may I ask what color you were advised to use for Gosling Green?


von Winterfeldt20 Jan 2018 11:48 a.m. PST

Can you tell me what infantry units did use Parrot Green?

In the above chart I can see only Pappelgrün.

Mick the Metalsmith20 Jan 2018 12:03 p.m. PST

The contemporary source is problematic, pigments fade and oxidize over time.

Nine pound round20 Jan 2018 12:04 p.m. PST

Ah, it's not Napoleonic, but perhaps the most famous of all the Dual Monarchy's regiments wore parrot-green facings: the 91st Infantry Regiment, immortalized in Jeroslav Hasek's tragicomedy, "The Good Soldier Svejk." The text contains jibing references to the color, which the translator explains- although I doubt many of the readers today know what facings are.

jwebster20 Jan 2018 1:43 p.m. PST

You might also want to consider that when painting small things like miniatures the colour will appear darker, so you would want a brighter colour than would be shown in even a contemporary source, even assuming that source hasn't faded (different pigments fade at different rates)

The above means that it is judgement call. Which could equally mean the nearest bottle that is about right.


von Winterfeldt20 Jan 2018 1:55 p.m. PST

"The contemporary source is problematic, pigments fade and oxidize over time."

No more problematic than modern ideas of how a colour looked like in the 18th century.
Those colours then were hand coloured into a tableau and usually not presented to light. I deem them much superior than any modern ones.

Of course they will provide only a trend – but this trend is sufficient to get an idea how about the colour should look like.

What do I use, I try to match approximatley what my contemporary sources shows, the quality of the colour is the most important thing, is it a yellowish green, or a whitish, is it rather light or dark, or bluish, that will do.

Terry3720 Jan 2018 7:29 p.m. PST

The 10th an 26th regiments had parrot Green facings

This reference may be helpful



dibble20 Jan 2018 11:03 p.m. PST

Winston Smith:

Having said the above, I have gone nuts trying to find the "proper shade of green" for the 5th Foot. Gosling Green should look like fresh goose crap.

I've posted before on this topic but here are some contemporary Miniature portraits etc. Notice that all are different. So go for as nearest a hue. I'm sure that though quality control was good in those days, the dying process wasn't as exacting as it is today. Also remember, the hue of the colour would vary with the age of the uniform after exposure to the sun and weather.

A 1768 sample from a lace pattern book.

How I see it, there were some variations in the shade of green depending on the age/issue of new uniforms.

Paul :)

von Winterfeldt21 Jan 2018 12:43 a.m. PST

the Austrian 1792 – beware the numbers given are not the regimental numbers but are related to the text of the book from where the tableau is taken

von Winterfeldt21 Jan 2018 12:49 a.m. PST

the Schematismus of 1805 gives

Paperlgrün for regiments 10 and 26

The same for the Schematismus of 1812 – and also that of 1814 – I cannot find so far any parrot green, this may have changed later.

John Edmundson21 Jan 2018 3:10 a.m. PST

My understanding is that Papelgrün is parrot green – that Papel is an old Austrian dialect word for parrot, whereas the standard word is Papagei. I think I saw that on a thread here once. That means Papelgrün is parrot green, not poplar green as sometimes translated. Someone might be able to correct me.


Supercilius Maximus21 Jan 2018 3:35 a.m. PST

With regard to the 5th Foot's "green" facings, I gather that during most of the Napoleonic Wars, the regiment's musicians (including fifes and drums) were dressed in white coats because one regimental colonel was so disgusted at the sight of the genuine "reversed colour" look.

(I think that the colour was referred to as "goosey Bleeped text greene" in Tudor times.)

Prince of Essling21 Jan 2018 5:09 a.m. PST

A couple of further colour charts for Austria:

Oliver Schmidt21 Jan 2018 6:50 a.m. PST

The Austrian word for a little parrot is "Paperl" (with an "R"):


According to Grimm's great German dictionary, "Papel" is a spelling variant of "Pappel" (poplar):




"papel-grün" and "seladon-grün" (celadon green) are equated, and characterised as a yellowish green, a colour indicating in the book's context that a flax plant isn't growing well.

Oliver Schmidt21 Jan 2018 6:53 a.m. PST

And here (in 1813):


the colour of Malachite is given as "papelgrün".

A photo of a malachite at Wikipedia:

von Winterfeldt21 Jan 2018 7:06 a.m. PST

in the 1815 tableau by Mollo – it finally says Papageigrün.

von Winterfeldt21 Jan 2018 7:30 a.m. PST

the book – from where the Monturstabelle – see above is from, for download


here at the end of the work a fully illustrated part two is advertised, did anybody find that??

Oliver Schmidt21 Jan 2018 7:52 a.m. PST

in the 1815 tableau by Mollo – it finally says Papageigrün.


Funny, the 1791 Monturstabelle shown above by v.W. writes "Pappelgrün" (with a double-p, so definitely poplar green is meant there). There seems to have been a confusion about the name 200 years ago as well.

At least the shades of green are quite similar, whatever the colour was called.

von Winterfeldt21 Jan 2018 8:17 a.m. PST

Yes – also the Militärschematismus says till 1814 Papelgrün, the changing of the name of the green colour into Papageigrün must have occured in 1815, I did check the Schematismus only up to 1814

John Edmundson21 Jan 2018 8:24 p.m. PST

The Austrian word for a little parrot is "Paperl" (with an "R"):

Yes, apologies for the typo. I forgot to go back and fix it.

Fascinating discussion – and all this under a heading about different reds! :-)

Oliver Schmidt22 Jan 2018 12:39 a.m. PST

The following is just to share the state of semantic confusion I have attained.

In 1800, a German author, who put together definitions for a better classification of animals, made a difference between

- sittggrün or papageigrün (psittacine or parrot green), "a yellowish but fresh green", and

- pappelgrün (poplar green), a "dark green, a bit yellowish brown":


A dictionary of the Bavarian dialect of 1820 gives papperl-grün and pappel-grün as synonyms, and defines them as "of parrot green colour":


I have a weak form of red–green colour blindness, so it is fine for me to discuss both colours here ;-)

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