American Civil War Confederate Infantry Acrylic Paints Set
Anyone familiar with my modeling work is aware of my aversion to water-based paints. When acrylic paints first came on the market, I tested several types and found them indifferently opaque and tending to extreme fragility. As a commercial figure painter, I simply didn’t trust them to stand up to the rigors of customer handling.
My fondness for all things ICM led me to try out this recently-released paint set specifically designed for their Civil War range of Confederate troops. I must confess - the paints, which come in 12ml bottles, were quite eye-opening. They proved to have a smooth and creamy texture and were not prone to the separating issues that sometimes forces manufacturers to include shake-balls in their bottles. Clearly designed for hand painting rather than airbrushing, the paint goes onto primed surfaces smoothly and proves opaque enough that it can stand a fair amount of thinning while still providing complete coverage. It also dries dead flat in tone, which to me is a much-appreciated feature. I often have to otherwise use a flat coat overspray to achieve this kind of finish on my figures.
There are six paints in this set. A genuine attempt has been made to recreate some of the colors commonly used by Confederate forces, which can prove to be something of a challenge, since by the end of the conflict, they were a pretty rag-tag bunch. The colors included are:
Grey Blue: A toned-down variant of the light blue often seen in their trousers, kepis and shoulder boards.
Deep Sky Blue: The brighter version of the light blue used in the same fabrics.
Neutral Grey: This is a sort of “medium” grey tone found in the early war uniforms. In real life, this color varied dramatically from manufacturer to manufacture. It serves well in this role with a little black or white added to vary the tone from figure to figure.
Butternut (Deck Tan): Historically, this has always proven to be an extremely elusive color to pin down. Developed later in the war to replace Confederate Grey when dye supplies became hard to come by, it was created by boiling acorn, chestnut or walnut shells. The resulting dye ranged anywhere from a light-reddish chestnut color to a pale mustard. ICM has taken a kind of “middle road” with this color by offering a pale tan. I found it to be an excellent base for any of the other possible colors in the range by simply adding red-brown or yellow.
Bronze: Useful for representing the brass or bronze elements like belt buckles, buttons and rifle hardware. Although surprisingly good for an acrylic metallic color, I will probably continue to use enamels to represent metallics on most of my figures.
Satin Glaze: An extremely nice, clear glaze to add to leather belts, kepi bills and other bits of semi-gloss material. This went on surprisingly smoothly and dried with a very even finish.
In an attempt to give these paints a real chance, I chose to use them together with other acrylics on three different figures from ICM’s Confederate melee set. None of the figures depicted in the review have had any flat overspray or smoothing tone added. I was especially pleased how well these paints interacted with other acrylics I’d already acquired. My personal method of painting is dark-to-light, so opacity is a very desirable feature. The paints came through (if I may coin a phrase) with flying colors.
As mentioned previously, I will probably continue using enamels or oils for skin tones and metallics, but these paints have really opened my eyes to the advances acrylic paints have undergone in recent years. It may well be that I will switch over entirely in the near future, which is saying a lot coming from this crusty old modeler. I really can’t recommend these paints enough.
My thanks to ICM for giving my figure painting a new lease on life, and to IPMS/USA for a chance to open up my horizons a bit. Stay safe, everyone, and happy modeling!