Back in March 2011, I had the urge to splurge on eBay and was lucky enough to pick up a couple of bits and pieces including some 15mm AB French horse artillery crews. At about the same time, I came across the Army Painter dark blue undercoat. Essentially, the AP argument goes that one can paint one's army quicker by spraying your figures in the main uniform colour undercoat, blocking in the other colours and then dipping the figures. My eyes glazed over as I looked at the pile of French Legere in the big box and suddenly this seemed like a wonderful idea. So at Salute 2011, I bought a can.
On the basis that I wanted to test out the theory before plunging into battalions of Legere I thought I'd do a French Horse Artillery battery first. My first thought was that the AP Dark Blue went on a little heavily (my normal undercoat is the Evil Empire's Skull White spray (it's expensive but I've never had a problem with it). The picture below shows the figures right after they've been sprayed.
Now I'm slightly underwhelmed by their argument for reasons I'll go into - first, because the spray seemed rather thick I was loathe to to work the can like I do with the GW sprays - this meant that there were a couple of areas that didn't get great coverage and I had to go in with a paint brush (and this was prior to the Army Painter people bringing out pots of paint so I had to touch up with some mid-blue from Miniature Paints - which seemed close enough in tone to work). My next issue is probably because I'm used to working from a white undercoat - I found it quite hard to get good coverage for things like flesh over the dark blue base. My other problem was that I'm used to painting things like jackets up to the edge of the colour, and leaving things like crossbelts white - I just come back at the end and touch up where i've slopped over. Obviously, with this method I had to reverse my normal practice and maintian a steady hand whilst painting the white belts. To be honest, I'm not sure if it actually saved that much time painting these figures - possibly I need to try a battalion of Legere after all to see if it is any easier when one does a lot of figures.
Below is a picture of the gun crew after they were given a coat of AP Dark Tone (I went a bit too heavy on at least one figure and the AP pooled on the brim of his shako). Apologies for the poor picture quality. And before anyone says anything, I know they are manning an unpainted gun - it was all there was to hand (cannon are going to be the subject of my next post) and I didn't want them to be standing around an empty space. The flash has made them look a bit paler than they are in real life - they're actually a quite dark blue.