Saturday, 18 May 2019

42nd Highlanders part 2 - tackling the kilts.

With the white now painted on the straps, belts, lace etc it's time to tackle those kilts. I have been looking around for a good representation of the tartan pattern worn by the 42nd, and settled on the references you see below. My favourite is of the 1/6th scale model, made by Anthony Barton (of AB figures) who is a collector of these large 'Action Man' size figures which are simply amazing. Andrew's site (click here), is well worth a visit, he works in wool, wood and metal, makes his own hands and heads and the range of heads are available to buy along with numerous other bits and pieces for collectors. Given Anthony's insistence on accurate uniform detail I doubt I will find a better painting guide than this one. (Used without permission, copyright owned by Tony Barton).

Many images show the tartan being far too bright, the one below is another good representation I feel:

Again the white looped lace is something I am going to have to try to tackle once the basic painting is completed, but it is surprising how many images of wargame units representing the 42nd have square lace to coats and cuffs in 28mm, not a major issue in that scale.

This example shows the pattern clearly, although it does appear far too bright to my eyes.

Another image borrowed from the web. Nice crisp tartan.

 Key is I think to keep the overall look quite dark for this regiment.

OK, so it took a fair bit of trial and error to get to something that begins to look like the Government Tartan! First attempt was a disaster and a waste of an hour or so, but it's a learning process, I repainted the base coat dark green and on the second attempt painted broad (Dark Prussian Blue) checks before slightly highlighting the green with Luftwaffe green to try to build up the pattern. I then applied thin black lines in a check pattern, but the result was the black was lost against the Prussian Blue over the basecoat, I re applied the back check pattern but same result, I think the black was a little thinned down to keep the flow steady. Unsure of how to improve it I then decided to bring the blue checks up a little with Vallejo Intense Blue. Looking at the overall effect from a foot or so away at this stage I'm fairly happy and now that I have a method the next lot will be far easier. The main thing is the contrast with the 92nd regiment looks about right to me.

Still fair way to go yet, muskets, socks, gaiters, faces, bonnets to finish off, challenging but rewarding are the Highlanders!

Edit: Following the comments below I decided to try a thin black wash to knock the brightness of the pattern back a little more. I think it's an improvement (below) BUT...... Robs description of the pattern as more diagonal has helped a lot, I have trouble seeing tartan patterns for some reason, they just don't seem to register with me, so might be worth another shot to see if I can get closer.


  1. Nice work,I think you could give the kilt a dark wash and it would knock it back just a little but still suggest the tartan pattern from the first picture.
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks Iain, that's a very good idea, I'm going to give that a shot as the pattern is still to bright, although not quite so bad under natural light.

    2. Brilliant work on the tartan... do Vallejo not do a black watch tartan paint?? LOL!

    3. Wish they did Steve :) I have always struggled with tartans, for some reason my eyes just cannot see the pattern! I have now given the kilts a thin black wash and they do look better....but.

  2. Lee, agree with you on keeping the tartan dark but if I may I wouldn't go with chequerboard approach as the tartan pattern is different. If you look at the sample picture in your post the brighter green and blue squares alternate diagonally while all the other squares are the same colour mix. So if you paint a chequerboard with a mix colour for every other square then alternate the remaining squares green or blue I think you'll get quite a good tartan effect - I hope that makes sense? Just trying to be constructive, now back to my faltering painting efforts.

    1. Thanks Rob. I spent too long staring at that tartan trying to see the pattern but I just can't for some reason! Your description does make it clearer to me now. For now I have given the kilts a thin black wash to kill my painted pattern of squares,might have overdone it a bit but far less bright. I'll add another pic to the post.


Thank you for leaving a comment, it will be published as soon as I have read it in order to avoid spam.