This is the latest book in Partizan Press range of “how to” painting guides for wargamers. It is an A4 softback book running to 112 pages, which, as you can see, are stuffed full of colour pictures of Sudan era miniatures.
The author begins by stating the aim of the book. He is the first to admit that;
“The painted miniatures within this book will never win prizes in painting competitions.”
Instead, the painting techniques he goes on to describe are quick methods to get your 28mm Sudan armies onto the wargames table whilst still maintaining a respectable painting standard. I found this a refreshing level of honesty and it also piqued my interest, as no-one wants to read a painting guide where the levels of skill and technique required are well beyond most five thumbed chaps like me. Instead, I was reassured that the techniques described were going to be realistic and achievable. The author then describes his own painting table, the kinds of brushes he uses along with his favoured paints and washes. Advice is provided on how to create a “wet palette” to prevent the precious paints you are working with from drying up before you have finished. I have to admit that I did not know how to do this, so I was already learning before passing the introduction!
The book essentially provides a “step by step” guide with photographs showing each stage of the technique with accompanying text alongside. The author begins by describing how to paint European flesh, then helmets, grey serge uniforms, red jackets and the inevitable Khaki drab, which was to be used by most British troops in this campaign. Techniques for painting putees, webbing and equipment are also detailed, for infantry, cavalry and artillery. Chapter 5 is devoted to the Naval Brigade with Chapter 6 covering the unique uniforms of the Camel Corps.
Indian troops are then discussed, as well as Egyptian infantry in both their white and blue uniforms. Techniques for painting camels and horses are then discussed, with nearly ten pages devoted to horses alone. Given how ubiquitous cavalry were in this campaign, I thought this was time well spent, as nothing looks more impressive on the wargames table than some lovely charging cavalry.
Next up are the Mahdist forces. The author starts with the early Ansar before covering the Beja, Kordofani Rebels, Nile Arabs and the Later Ansar, with their distinctive colourful patches on their clothing. A great deal of information is provided on how to paint darker skin tones and, inevitably, how to create depth on plain white robes. Contained here are some great tips on how to use brown, sepia and umber washes to good effect.
Finally, there is some advice on how to varnish your miniatures and then how to base them to provide the best “desert” look. Good “eye catching” bases can really finish off a wargames unit so I was very keen to read this section as well. Chapter 13 provides advice on how to make a Nile Whaler, which were used to ferry British troops along the river to battle. This seemed a little out of place in a painting guide rather than in a book on modelling, but was still useful information for Sudan enthusiasts. In the last chapter the author discusses how he makes his own ink washes, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea but was interesting none the less.
If I had a gripe about this book it is that, although a painting guide to Highlanders is included, the author does not discuss how to paint tartans, directing the reader instead to some websites that discuss the topic. Personally, I would have preferred some guidance be included here perhaps at the expense of the modelling guide to whalers.
Overall, however, this is an excellent book, full of great painting tips and excellent advice that anyone can follow to make their Sudan collections shine. If you are a Sudan wargamer, this book really is a must.