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Painting Whites

El Viejo's Thracian Peltast CG118
by Stephen Mallia

After the first two parts of this tutorial, in which we tackled the painting of a horse and also a face, it’s time for the third part. I’ve been asked several times, both at shows and over the internet, about my methods of painting the colour white. Having a figure with a white tunic gives me the chance to go into a little more detail of how I paint my whites. Again I emphasize that this is MY method of painting white. I’m sure that there are many talented painters out there who have their own different methods. And as long as the end result is what you’re looking for every method should be considered good enough. So it would be wise to experiment with other methods and colours to see what works best for you.

Although, as I said before, there are many painters using different methods, I’m almost certain that if you ask all of them how they do it, most of them will tell you one common phrase. And that’s ‘never start with pure white’. I cannot agree more. In fact I only use pure white for the last and extreme highlights. With some mixes I use it’s not even included in the base mix! All the base colours I mix to paint whites will never give you the impression that I’m actually going to paint white, because they are rather dark and look drab. For this particular mix I used the following colours: A39 Beige + A4 Japanese khaki + Ivory (Vallejo) + a dab of black. As you can see from the photos the result is rather odd looking and does not give the impression that it’s going to be used to paint white. The colour to water ratio here is 1: 1 and the base colour is laid in normally making sure all is well and evenly covered.

I use three highlight steps to get to the pure white stage. All the highlight colours are laid in, in the usual manner. Approx. a 1:5 ratio is used here. Although the highest highlights in pure white are also applied, these are retouched after the shadows have been laid in. Having used a rather dark base colour, two steps of shadows will be sufficient. Again the shadow colours are shown in the photos. A higher ratio is used here. At least 1: 8. With the shadows laid in it’s time to underline all the details. For this I use the darkest shadow colour but in a thicker consistency. Last step of the procedure is the retouching of the highest highlights in pure white. Even here the consistency of the paint is a little thicker so as not to take anything away from the brightness of the pure white.

And there it is. My method of painting white. Final touches will be the addition of some weathering. But that will be tackled in the future. Until the next time… Happy painting!!


1) Primed figure with work on the eyes started. 2) Base colour to face applied
3) 1st highlight applied. 4) 2nd highlight applied
5) 3rd highlight and 1st shadow applied. 6) 2nd shadow applied
7) 2nd shadow applied. 8) Work on hair and beard underway
9) Colour mixes for face
10) Colour mixes for face
11-12) Legs painted
13) White base mix
14) White base. 15) 1st highlight applied
16) 2nd highlight applied. 17) 3rd highlight applied
18) 1st shadow applied. 19) 2nd shadow applied
20) Red stripe added and some weathering being worked in. 21) Cloak started
22-23) Base colour of cloak and black design applied
24) 1st highlight applied to cloak. 25) 2nd highlight and 1st shadow applied to cloak
26) 2nd shadow and weathering applied. 27) Boots base coated
28) 1st highlight applied to boots. 29) 2nd highlight applied
30) 1st shadow. 31) 2nd shadow. Underlining complete and some weathering applied
32) Rear of shield. 33) Front of shield
AV = Vallejo Paint; AC = Andrea Paint


  • A39 + A4 + Ivory( Vallejo) + dab of black
  • H/L: Base + A39
  • H/L2: H/L + ivory
  • H/L3: A6
  • L/L: Base + A4
  • L/L2: L/L + A26


  • Cork brown (vallejo) + AV815 + AC18
  • H/L: cork brown + AV815
  • H/L2: AV815
  • H/L3: AV928
  • L/L: base + AV814
  • L/L2: AV814 + AC26


  • AC16 + AC41 + AC42
  • H/L: base + AC15
  • H/L2: AC15
  • L/L: AV941
  • L/L2: AV941 + AC26


  • AC2 + AC38 + AV857 + AV850 + AC41
  • H/L: Base + AC4
  • H/L2: AC4
  • L/L: Base + AC26
  • L/L2: AC26


  • AC48 + AV984 + AC15
  • H/L: base + AC16
  • H/L2: AC16
  • L/L: base + AC26
  • L/L2: AC26
Finished Figure

Copyright © El Greco Miniatures, 20/11/2006 - 2017

Figures provided courtesy of El Viejo Dragon Miniaturas.