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"How do you paint bearskin Grenadier hats(caps)?" Topic

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John the OFM06 Jun 2021 12:09 p.m. PST

Do you paint it black and then dry brush lightly with brown?
Do you paint it brown and stain with black, heavily?
Or do you just paint it black?

I'm not going into the regiment that had a one time supply of polar bear skins.

42flanker06 Jun 2021 12:41 p.m. PST

1) That

A)Polar bear skins poss. a myth, so stand easy

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2021 1:32 p.m. PST

Just paint them black…

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2021 1:42 p.m. PST

Like the Rolling Stones…
Paint it Black…

But then dry brush brown as a highlight.

Melanin is the responsible pigment in nature and it simply is not black. At its most concentrated it is still a very dark brown. Melanomas may be black, but that is the addition of haemosiderin (US hemosiderin) a breakdown product of blood in the tumour (or US Tumor).

No such thing as black horse/bear/goat if you get up close enough

John the OFM06 Jun 2021 2:31 p.m. PST

Mine are already painted black. But surviving artifacts show a brown tinge. However, a black bear is REALLY black. grin
I'm curious how others handle this, or if they care.

Funny thing. I read an article ages ago that pointed out at least 20 ways that color manifests itself.
For example, birds do not have dye in their feathers. The barbs etc are spaced in such a way that light is reflected in that wavelength.
Polar bears aren't white. The hairs are hollow to allow sunlight to get to the skin, to help in synthesis of vitamin D.

SHaT198406 Jun 2021 2:44 p.m. PST

Basic black, regardless.
But in later times I've taken to creating that 'sheen', not with shiny varnish, simply adding a dash of grey or white streaks on portions of the surface (~very minor less than 10% strokes).
Despite some browns in illustrations, I believe most will have been black overall. Existing old skins/ furs in both military form and 'other uses' do show a lot of fade.

Howver, it is on record that the 3e Legere carabiniers did in fact wear brown bearskins, so my small portion of them shall appear likewise. Coming soon to a post near you…

Korvessa06 Jun 2021 4:03 p.m. PST

For what it is worth
I have seen many different highlights for black (usually a shade of grey), but that never looked quite right to me.

I have two black Labrador retrievers. As often as not, their highlights look blueish to me. I have been experimenting with that lately.

Old Contemptible06 Jun 2021 4:17 p.m. PST

But surviving artifacts show a brown tinge.

That brown tinge could be the result of over 240 years of ageing. Black from that period has a tendency to fade to a brownish color. I paint mine black, I might do a little shading.

Old Contemptible06 Jun 2021 4:43 p.m. PST

It also depends on how the headgear was stored. If it was exposed constantly to UV light, like florescent lights or worse daylight, it will result in fading especially with black.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2021 5:59 p.m. PST

I just paint them black.

dantheman Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2021 6:16 p.m. PST

I paint black with a little grey mixed in. I then lightly apply a white drybrush.

Emphasis in little and light. Small goes a long way.

historygamer06 Jun 2021 7:50 p.m. PST

Black, dry brushed brown

SHaT198406 Jun 2021 8:01 p.m. PST

Yeah the fury the museums got into when you used a flash- and now they scan sensitive documentation with stuff that is probably 1000 times more powerful- all in the name of 'preservation'.

On bearskins- as i work with a poor type of casting, I will add- I've taken to 'scoring' both bearskins and colpacks vertically or in a 'sweep' around shape, particularly the lower edge around faces, and find these extra grooves help enormously.

I add to the effect, sometimes by stroking a major groove over parts of cords; but mostly by minimising the amount of paint. I use much lighter application (of say white- having the highest contrast) and make alternate strokes suggesting a twisted cord.

Of course the 'Old Guard' had double twisted cords all round so theirs and a few others WERE more pronounced than single cordage line troops. Just things as simple as twin tassels give a better appearance etc. (where these existed).
cheers v.II

Old Contemptible06 Jun 2021 9:04 p.m. PST

There would be no reason to scan a document more than once. You scan it into your collection database. Put the scan into a file. That way if you need to provide someone with a scan you have it on hand. You don't have to take the document out of archival storage. The original document is not handled as much and it is not expose to UV light.

Jeffers06 Jun 2021 11:36 p.m. PST

With Vallejo, undercoat black then heavy dry brush with Black Grey.

Andyuk07 Jun 2021 4:50 a.m. PST

Think some British drummers had white fire caps during late 18th century. Don't know where they got the fur from.

DHautpol07 Jun 2021 5:04 a.m. PST

I've been happy the the result of dry-brushing with a thinned down layer of Howard Hues 1719 Panzer Grey.
using the artists' colour Paynes Grey might give you the blueish tinge referred to by Korvessa.

Whether to use grey or brown will depend on whether you're looking to recreate the colour of the bearskin or the sheen given off by the brushed fur.

The result, inevitably, depends on how deeply the fur texture has been etched (Minifigs, as I recall, were always relatively smooth). However, using a thinned paint allows me to add another coat until I'm happy with the result, whereas a heavier coat at the outset may mean I have to re-do them if the result is too dramatic.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP07 Jun 2021 5:07 a.m. PST

I think so, too, but I can't think of those that did. If I find them, I'll post it.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP07 Jun 2021 5:23 a.m. PST

Some French line units had certain uniform distinctions, so that was not the sole province of the Imperial Guard.

For example, the 5th Chasseurs a Cheval wore buff-colored leather equipment instead of the normal white. The 5th Dragoons wore white plumes and epaulets, as well as white aiguellettes in full dress.

The 'transition' uniform of the Trumpet Major of the 2d Carabiniers in 1810 not only had a white bearskin with a white-over-red plume, but also wore the new cuirass.

Light infantry regiments sported bright yellow collars instead of the regulation buff and some had red cuffs instead of the regulation blue. Colpacks were also worn by the voligeur companies, officers and enlisted alike.

Voltigeur companies in the ligne regiments were just as showy and ignored the current regulations just as eagerly.

Bearskin cords in the grenadier and chasseur companies were not always white, but red.

Then there were the variously, and colorfully, uniformed heads of column (sapeurs, drummers, etc.).

All Sir Garnett07 Jun 2021 6:44 a.m. PST

When bearskin caps get old they get a very slight brownish tinge; as mine did being a Victorian original issued to me in 1979.

Martin Rapier07 Jun 2021 7:11 a.m. PST

I just paint them black. They weren't 200 years old in 1812.

John the OFM07 Jun 2021 7:51 a.m. PST

Ok. Thanks. So the "brownish tinge" was due to the artifacts being very old. grin

epturner Supporting Member of TMP07 Jun 2021 9:35 a.m. PST

With a brush, John…


IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP07 Jun 2021 9:42 a.m. PST

Black bears come in variety of colors from black to shades of brown and even gray and white. So, I paint my bearskins black then a dry brush of burnt umber.

Widowson07 Jun 2021 4:01 p.m. PST

My understanding is that there were so few black bears left in existance in this period that goat was actually used, and dyed. So all bets are off.

Normal Guy Supporting Member of TMP07 Jun 2021 6:11 p.m. PST

I put down a first coat of black followed by a dry brush of of Vallejo Neutral Gray.

Chimpy07 Jun 2021 8:10 p.m. PST

Black highlighted Vallejo Panzer Grey. Same as I do all black.

Erzherzog Johann08 Jun 2021 3:16 a.m. PST

I wonder if black, then a drybrush of Vallejo German Camouflage Black (a very dark black-brown) might be good. I might have to get my Austrian grenadiers out and look at them again.

Can anyone point us to illustrations of the 3rd Legere carabinieres in their brown bearskins? They sound intriguing and the 3rd legere are on my 1809 list.


Virginia Tory08 Jun 2021 5:32 a.m. PST

Or just paint them in round hats, depending on the regiment and where they are serving. :)

I'm doing Burgoyne's grenadiers…no bearskins on the campaign, apparently.

Au pas de Charge Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2021 8:44 a.m. PST

My understanding is that there were so few black bears left in existance in this period that goat was actually used, and dyed. So all bets are off.

To the relief of cats everyhere.

Although, apparently even "Black" bear pelts have to be dyed.

42flanker08 Jun 2021 11:15 a.m. PST

The hairy feral goats of North wales may have been the source of the brief fashion, seen in a few regiments, for having drummers in white fur caps, that began in the mid-1760s; ditto the reported white fur trim on the grenadier caps of the 40th Regt, equally brief.

Au pas de Charge Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2021 2:53 p.m. PST

Wales is large enough to have an official north part to it?



Fred Mills08 Jun 2021 3:33 p.m. PST

John Edmundson,
Please see the attached link for 3e légère carabiniers and other data and images.
Could not figure out how to do that "lnk" thing, but cut-and-paste works.

Erzherzog Johann08 Jun 2021 4:18 p.m. PST

Thanks Fred. Very useful, and forces me to brush up n my high school French :-)

SHaT198408 Jun 2021 4:31 p.m. PST

'Bear' in mind that only the 3eme Legere have a formal record of wearing 'brown'. Few others get as much publicity.
Though I see a Russian reenactment group for the 7eme Legere currently wears them. Find via yandex…

Although, if you regularly review Job/ Rigo/ others you will find some Consular units with brown washes on them as well; even Garde Consulaire.
cheers d

Fred Mills08 Jun 2021 5:53 p.m. PST

John, you're very welcome, or 'avec plaisir'.

42flanker08 Jun 2021 11:00 p.m. PST

Wales is large enough to have an official north part to it?

You don't know the half of it

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP09 Jun 2021 3:29 a.m. PST

I believe getting too 'artistic' when painting miniature figures tends to take away from any realism you're trying to achieve.

Having seen the collection, which includes bearskins, in the Musee de l'armee in the Invalides, the conclusion that I came to was to keep the painting simple and yet effective.

If anyone has, or has the opportunity, to get or look at the following three books published by the Musee I believe it would be very beneficial in both uniform study and painting your figures. The three books essentially have the entire Napoleonic and Revolutionary Wars collection photographed and contained in them. They are highly recommended. I bought them at the Musee in 1994.

-Les Armees Francaises a l'Epoque Revolutionnaire 1789-1804 by Georges Le Diberder; Collections Historique de Musee de l'Armee.

-Napoleon et ses Soldats Volume I (1804-1809) by Paul Willing, Conservateur au musee de l'Armee, Preface by Victor-Andre Massena, Prince d'Essling; Collections du Musee de l'Armee.

-Napoleon et ses Soldats Volume II (1809-1815) de Wagram a Waterloo by Paul Willing, preface by Napoleon Suchet, comte d'Albufera.

The three books contain uniforms, portraits, paintings, weapons, eagles, trophies, artillery, etc.

Fred Mills09 Jun 2021 7:30 a.m. PST

Brechtel198, many thanks for those references! Excellent.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP09 Jun 2021 8:19 a.m. PST

You're welcome.

John the OFM09 Jun 2021 8:44 a.m. PST

I often painted full lace and miter caps on FIW British Grenadiers. It took me the longest time to realize that nobody cared but me.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP09 Jun 2021 8:49 a.m. PST

The only person you need to please with your painting is you. Well done for the effort.

Widowson11 Jun 2021 1:11 p.m. PST

I'm thinking I might experiment with black, brown ink wash, near-white highlights. Brown ink over black paint should make for a very subdued brown influence, which is what I'd be looking for. Might also work on "black" horses.

von Schwartz ver 204 Jul 2021 6:45 a.m. PST

When is "Black" not "Black"?

Whenever anyone opens up a thread discussing painting and colors on TMP!!

SHaT198404 Jul 2021 4:18 p.m. PST

>>When is "Black" not "Black"?

Like a 'Black Hole' no light is emitted.
However, if you view gaming figures, or model cars, trains or anything at a distance (and this IS the perspective we have looking at deployed miniatures, not up close…) there is a softening of the colour and light reflects, glistens or shades depending upon other aspects.

So too, looking at any of HM Foot Guards parades you will see the 'silvery' effect (probably oils applied) when they move, blow or turn in different lighting conditions.

A good reason to show 'some' highlighting of some portions on models. Just as NOT completely filling in cords and accessories, gives a better impression of them, than otherwise. IMHO,
regards d

42flanker04 Jul 2021 11:41 p.m. PST

There seems to be a distinction to be made between 'how they were' and how they appear to be on the table. Showbusiness, really.

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