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"French uniform colour" Topic

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Fox66611120 Jul 2018 4:43 a.m. PST

Hi, I did some research on french uniforms and they dyed their uniforms with indigo. This blue is almost black and to imitate that on my miniatures, i use Imperial blue from vallejo, and black wash for shades. But what about highlights? Should i use lighter blue? Wont that be too light?

I thought about using vallejo Night blue as base and Imperial blue as highlight.

What do you think about that?

jeffreyw320 Jul 2018 4:47 a.m. PST

These should get you started:
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Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP20 Jul 2018 7:07 a.m. PST

For wargames figures I use Vallejo 050 Dark Prussian Blue and highlight with a dry brush of 057 Medium Blue. That seems to work quite well.

jwebster20 Jul 2018 8:05 a.m. PST

You need to account for the fact that colours on models appear darker. So your base needs to be lighter, particularly if you prime in black. How much lighter is matter of taste

Look at these – this is some of the finest painting in 15mm that you will ever see

TMP link

Good luck


Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP20 Jul 2018 10:21 a.m. PST

There should never be anything near medium blue on French uniforms. Indigo fades, if it does at all, to gray or light purple, not bright blue.

Here's an actual habit-veste: link

Campaign look is also to gray:


Dark is the way to go:


You will continually find that in every defense of medium blue are three claims:

1) Uniforms fade. But people exclusively do this for French and French alone never Russians, never British, never Briish Rifles. Only the French get this treatment why? Partly because it's a hard color to pull off with the ubiquitous Vallejo Prussian Blue or Citadel's Ultramarine Blue for space marines everywhere. Start with black and highlight with Navy if you must.

2) Dye lots were not consistent. Again, people exclusively do this for French and French alone never Russians, never British. Every army is treated ideally, except for French where one must invent fanciful colors to represent them. When indigo was in short supply, Napoleon switched to white in 1807 until it's resupply was assured.

3) You have to take into account distance and therefore lighten them more than you ordinarily would. Again this only applies to French, and further, only to French Napoleonics. Never hear this advice in Ancients or ACW, or WW2 wargaming forums.

Assuming they are correct, one can at least "fade" or lighten in the right direction. Moving to medium or sky blue is probably never correct, not even once for indigo which, by Imperial decree, had white threads woven into it not dissimilar to denim or chambray. Fading and sun just does not get you where people want to frequently take it. Rather highlight up with gray.

I say go subtle and keep it dark:


Incidentally, the final in the World Cup the French uniforms were the same color blue (sans the shoulders and arms). Look here for highlights: link

Here's my recent pic of French Engineers:


My current and preferred recipe seen here on the coat of this officer is (all from Reaper Master Series):
Shadow: Nighshade Purple
Base: Midnight Blue
Highlight: Twilight Blue


Look at reenactment sites to see what they may look like in the field. Go dark:



Even in sunlight to gray not bright blue:




Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Jul 2018 10:28 a.m. PST

My utilities (fatigues in the army) in the USMC were dark green when issued. Within a year in the tropics they actually looked white at a short distance?
Do not know if this applies?

Russ Dunaway

rmaker21 Jul 2018 8:18 a.m. PST

Indigo, as used pre-20th Century, was NOT "almost black". That is an artifact of modern mordants (which also tend to retard fading).

jwebster21 Jul 2018 8:26 a.m. PST


Nice pictures and painting

Your point (3) about never lightening for anything else is not true – it's just that the French blue is asked about more than anything else. Prussian blue ought to be the next question and it is shocking (in a good way) how bright some people paint their ancients, given information on the dyes available ..

Indigo fades, if it does at all, to gray or light purple, not bright blue

This is important, it does not take away from needing to look brighter for the table top, particularly at smaller scales (15mm for instance)

TMP link

I agree that the blue is too medium here and should look more purple, it is partly a matter of taste – these are 15/18mm figures.

In my opinion your models are too dark and lack contrast, and will appear more so at a distance on the table top rather than in the excellent photos. Very nicely painted though, and I hesitate to give that opinion. If they were 54mm display figures I would say that you nailed it.

To go back to (3)
If you don't lighten up uniform colours then at 1 foot (let alone 3 foot), all nationalities will look the same. I first realised this painting 10mm figures with black primer – at a small distance everything looked black …


Fox66611123 Jul 2018 12:07 a.m. PST

Thank you Flashman. The colour scheme is just what I was looking for. I use Vallejo colours on my 15mm french, so I will do it like this:
Shadow: Black
Base: Midnight blue
Highlight: Oxford blue (its purple-greyish)

barcah200118 Sep 2018 6:00 a.m. PST

Google The paintings of Detaille, the famous painter of the French army, known for his accuracy. Also try the books of the Invalides Museum in Paris. Go directly to the source!

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