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Napoleonic French Blue

Discussion in 'Painting Techniques' started by krom1415, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. krom1415 Member

    I know this question is a difficult one, but could anyone please suggest a colour or colours that will give an authentic look to French Napoleonic Blue.
    I use Andrea Vallejo GW paint, but am willing to invest further, if it works.
    Thanks in advance
  2. Steve Well-Known Member

    Much like true navy blue, the blues of the Napoleonic age were quite dark and nearly black. The bright chemical-dyed appearance we see often on figures is incorrect. Dark blue and black is the simple answer.
  3. megroot A Fixture

  4. tonydawe A Fixture


    If using Vallejo, I mix 2 parts of Prussian Blue with one part of Black.

    Shadows are black and highlights are Prussian blue
    zane666 likes this.
  5. medousa New Member

    When I painted the Napoleon Stuff for Perrys I faced the same problem, I solved it using the following colors:
    Base Color: a mix of Oxford Blue and Prussian Blue (30%-70%)
    Shadows by adding Black with a touch of Dark Prussian Blue
    Highlights by adding GW Elf Flesh
    All colors except the latest were Vallejo Model Colors,
    Hope this helps you for more info you can e-mail me
  6. krom1415 Member

    Thanks all, thanks George, if I can get even a little like your great Napoleonics i'll be happy.
    I'll try that now
    All the best, and prepare for a Napoleonic onslaught:rolleyes::D
  7. Einion Well-Known Member

    In addition to the above link, bear in mind just how dark this could be. I'd aim for black shadows in any deep recesses.

  8. Blind Pew A Fixture

    Mark, Enion's advice is spot on (as usual!)
    For highlights, be sparing in whatever you end up using.
    All the best mate.
  9. krom1415 Member

    Thanks all, I've been mixing up my own brew for this one. i'll post some results soon as I've sorted it, many thanks.
  10. captnenglish Well-Known Member

    Very interesting thread
  11. Brent Fordham New Member

    ^ Yes, very timely for me as I am working on a Napoleonic bust. Thanks for all the good advice. Replies almost always helps more than just the original poster.
  12. Mike S. Well-Known Member

    One thing to keep in mind is that the dye used by the French to replace Woad for Dark Blue during most of the Napoleonic wars utilized Indigo. This dye stuff varies quite a bit in shade from light to dark depending on a variety of factors in the dying process, but the hue is always toward the green end of the spectrum, as opposed to a more purple shade of say Ultramarine or Cobalt.

    This is the exact same recipe used by suppliers to the Union Arsenals to dye Federal Uniform cloth during the War Between The States.

    Incidentally, the short period during 1806 when uniform coats were changed back to white was due largely to the short supply of Woad natural dye. Once enough Indigo from the Americas became available, the French returned specs to the Dark Blue of the post Revolution/1st Empire.
    anstontyke and Tonton like this.
  13. krom1415 Member

    Thanks for that info, I grew some woad once, dam ugly plant, and the process of making the dye was a bit to much, lol.
  14. Chrisr PlanetFigure Supporter

    I came across this in John Elting's Swords Around a Throne: Napoleon's Grand Armee Chapter XXII Dressed to Kill.. "The one really reliable dark blue dye was indigo, the best varieties of which came from Java, Bengal, and Guatemala. Its importation was cut off by the British naval blockade of French ports; the substitute blue dyes available tended to end up any shade between a seasick green and royal purple after a little exposure to sun and rain. ... Since the colours would fade, most units used the darkest tints available."
    anstontyke and Tonton like this.
  15. Tonton Well-Known Member

    Great info, Mike S and Chrisr. This is what planetFigure is all about.

    anstontyke, Mike S. and Nap like this.
  16. zane666 Well-Known Member

    Very informative thread.

    Nap likes this.
  17. Ronaldo A Fixture

    If you look in on Metal models site , there is a paint ref on all the napoleonic colours albeit in French but google translate handles good enough to follow.
    This is the older site by Bruno and not the new one since he retired .

    As has been said the blue is a lot darker than most artists display esp the Garde units and Marshals uniforms .
    Black with a mix of burnt umber for shadows and a little flesh tone straight from the tube for highlights is what I use

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