Thank you for the interest in this subject.
Jim makes the excellent suggestion that one can get an idea of the effect by standing well away from the screen. I have experimented and this does work although I found I needed to be about 15 feet away in the next room. In order to prevent you having to stand at the bottom of the garden I have posted a smaller image of the figures. This seems to work from about 6-8 feet away.
I should emphasise that this is an experiment I do not envisage using it on my collection of 30m Willie and Stadden figures. However I am optimistic that it might help me put two plastic 20mm nomad horse armies on the table instead of having them on their original sprues for the next 20 years. I am enjoying doing it and I am learning something though I am not sure what yet.
Charles, vin rouge nights are all to few at present so any excuse is welcome. I suppose that afternoons spent lounging in a crowded bar eating rillettes and crusty bread with red wine that could strip chrome are a thing of the past. Where could you get enough cigarette smoke from these days? Failing the authentic ingredients a couple of slices of mothers pride and a bag of hot pork scratchings should give that proper Tabac feel. But where does one get a simple vin de table these days? Everyone has upgraded so much that the old fashioned red plonk is virtually unobtainable, if anyone has any good ideas I would love to know.
Ross makes the point that there is no standard distance to view a figure from. I suppose if one was painting two armies the one likely to be on the far side of the table is not worth investing so much time in. You will note that I am trying these ideas out on the cheapest figures that I can find and on an army I want quickly. My initial thoughts are that it will work best on a simpler uniform late 19c or Marlburian I am unconvinced on how much could be left off say Napoleonics. However it does raise the prospect of having armies that one might not otherwise get round to. Two hat plastic armies might be affordable in every sense of the word.
I will not bore everyone by going into great detail over the painting on black, I am making the same discoveries that everyone else did years ago. I used black because I wanted to base the figures first and I reasoned if I could not reach all the figure with paint it would not matter with black undercoat. I found difficulty in seeing the detail on the figure and judging where the brush point was. I also had trouble covering black with red and needed three coats. I now understand why Games workshop paints are so popular. Mr Asquith suggested dry brushing with white before starting painting and I am trying this on the next lot. I fear that I may have been a bit more heavy handed than he advised, ah well.
And finally, DC. I am completely in awe of your painting style. It is absolute perfection I should be distraught if I influenced you to change a brush stroke. I rank your work alongside Giles Allison, John Ray and Phil Olley as the very highest standard of figure painting.