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Colours Of War

Colours Of War Design Notes
with James Brown.

Last year Pete and John-Paul decided it was time to completely overhaul our paint system. Their brief was clear: they didn’t just want a series of painting guides. They wanted a result-oriented painting system, designed around taking the end result - well-painted miniatures - and working backwards.

And this time, rather than choosing the closest colours for each task from a paint manufacturer’s existing selection, we would design our own range with colours mixed to our exact specifications.

The core of the range is the 10-colour Quartermaster’s Set. By default, basic ‘starter’ paint sets always seem to include black, white and the three primaries: red, blue and yellow. It just seems to be a given that you need to have those. But when you actually paint World War II armies, you quickly learn that you almost never need a bright primary colour.

On the other hand, there are some colours, such as basic khaki, which are so common that we always had to include them in several of our paint sets. That meant that anyone who bought numerous paint sets ended up with more bottles of khaki than they would ever need.

We took a completely different approach this time. The Quartermaster’s Set is now more of a true World War II starter set. It contains all the standard colours that every army seems to need. Then each of the major nations has its own colour set, with the correct colours for their unique equipment. With just the Quartermaster’s Set and the appropriate nation-specific set, you will have all the colours you need to paint your army.

Quartermaster's Paint Set
If you buy additional sets you’ll increase the variety and versatility of your collection. And because the universal colours are in the Quartermaster’s Set, we have been able to make the smaller specialised sets completely unique - i.e. there are no double-ups between sets, so if you do choose to buy multiple sets, you won’t ever get duplicate colours. Certain more advanced paint guides in the book occasionally rely on you having extra paint colours. But to paint a standard army, the Quartermaster’s Set and your national set should be all you need. The Germans have a lot of colour variety, so they have two sets - one for infantry and one for tanks and other vehicles.
Colours Of War Colours Of War Paint
Another thing every experienced painter knows is that some colours last longer than others. You never seem to have enough of your army’s basic tank colour, for example, but one small bottle of red that only gets used to paint berets will probably last forever. Because of this, Colours Of War paints come in two sizes - 12ml for regular colours, and large 20ml bottles for the colours which get the most use, making the sets better value for money

Why are the bottles are shaped like bullets? Well, why not? It would be a silly thing for us to spend extra money on. But in fact it was actually more cost-effective for us to have our own bottles made, so while we were at it, we decided to have a distinctive shape that tells you at a glance you are looking at a Colours Of War paint.

The Colours Of War paint itself is high-quality acrylic, formulated to be tough and hard-wearing so you can handle the models during gaming without damaging the paint work. It has a very high pigment content, to make it easier to get an even coverage with rich, solid colour. I’m especially pleased with the metallic colours. They have a very fine grain size, so they give a nice smooth finish.The paint is easy to apply through an airbrush.  

Washes have been in common use for years now, with most people being quite familiar with how much time and effort they can save. Each of the national paint sets includes a wash, in a colour designed to give a suitable result when used in conjunction with the individual equipment colours. 

Colours Of War
Colours Of War

Paint Names
The earliest feedback on the colour names suggested that they might not be to everyone’s taste. To be honest, that’s fine. People will get used to them. Names are just a reference, so we could really have called the paints anything. But frankly it’s a lot easier to remember ‘Sherman Drab’ than ‘CWP321’

Pete was sick of paints having names which didn’t refer in any way to how the colours were used - e.g. ‘Russian Uniform’ being our recommended colour for British tanks. That doesn't pose a problem for those of us who have been at this painting thing for years - actually, we are so used to the old names we just tend to take them for granted. But they are pretty confusing for newer folks. And, like Open Fire!, that's the number one objective of Colours Of War - to make it easier for new people to get into Flames Of War and the whole creative hobby that it involves.  

For example, we could have called our ‘field grey’ colour for German uniforms ‘Field Grey’, but our old paint range already had a slightly different colour called Field Grey, and why create a situation where we are forever having to clarify which one we mean? The main thing this colour will will be used for is painting German grenadiers, and it’s really more of a green than a grey, so we called it Grenadier Green. Pretty simple.

Colours Of War
The Book
The Colours Of War book is 88 full-colour pages. It covers everything you need to get your army ready for gaming. There is a section covering painting techniques, as well as the theory of highlighting and shading.

The content isn’t restricted to any one particular period, but it does have a late-war focus. Each of the four major nations has its own section, consisting of painting guides, colour and marking references and camouflage schemes.

The Common Features section covers painting guides for all the items which every army needs - faces, weapons, tank tracks, etc., saving space in the national sections for more specific details and information.

The paint guides themselves are broken down into manageable step-by-step tasks, with most comprising no more than around four simple steps.

Colours Of War
The Chevron System
Colours Of War
Each painting step has a chevron symbol indicating its relative level of difficulty or complexity. Some have more than one level, if part of the process is optional. For example, a simple one-chevron guide might have two chevrons for the final step, indicating that you can skip it if you only want a basic finish to your army. 
Colours Of War

Of course, no painting guide can ever be all things to all people. It should go without saying that all of the suggestions in Colours Of War are open to interpretation. If you have your own ways you prefer to paint certain items, then by all means integrate those as you wish.

On a personal level, I hope you all enjoy Colours Of War. For one thing, it’s always nice when your work is well received. But more importantly, if the book is popular enough, we hope to follow it up with a second volume covering advanced subjects such as converting, airbrushing, oil washes and more.


Last Updated On Thursday, March 4, 2021 by Wayne at Battlefront