In this tutorial I would like to share with you the method I use to make flags for our wargame armies. Although paper-printed flags are much easier and quicker to use, and basically we can find any design we need on the internet, the final effect is not the same. In my humble opinion, printed-flags lack charisma; and most of the times, they do not reflect the same [painting] style our miniatures have. They look like a part of a toy. When I see one, I immediately think: it does not belong here. Therefore, I prefer to hand-paint my own flags.
First thing we need is a good base. We can actually use a paper-printed flag and paint on top of it (this is actually a good idea as when painting the flag we only need to follow the printed design). However, I prefer doing it from scratch using a more rigid base, such as tinfoil which can be found in handicraft shops. I like this rigid material because we can easily shape it to faithfully represent a flag shacked by the wind. This can also be done with a paper flag, but it is not that easy and durable.
Cut the desired size for your flag and add 5 millimeters or so the side were the flag is attached to the pole. Then, role these extra 5 mm around the pole after adding a little bit of cyanoacrylate glue. Be sure that the pole is totally wrapped by the flag. Therefore, be sure that you leave enough extra millimeters for this purpose. Try to hide the cut edge of the tinfoil when folding the flag around the pole. Next, apply a generous base coat with a spray or airbrush. NEVER use a the brush for this purpose, 1) to prevent irregularities on the surface and 2) to prevent the apparition of cracks when making the folds due to a thick layer of paint.
Now use again the airbrush to paint the shades of the dominant color (i.e. flat brown for red). In my case I changed my mind in the last moment and that is why I painted both flags in dark red, even do one of them is basically yellow. But do not do what I do and do what I say!
Next we paint the basic design of the flag using a thin brush meanwhile it the surface is still flat. Have the original reference close to your eyes. In this step we continue painting the shades for each color. For example, for the white parts I used a beige color; while for the blue I used a dark blue. Paint now every single detail, since it is possible that after folding the flag we cannot reach some parts anymore.
Carefully fold the flag using your hands. It is very important to do it carefully if we do not want to crack the paint.
Finally, we start working on the highlights for each color following the folds we have created. That is, we keep the shade color on the recesses while directing the highlights towards the edges of the wrinkles. Remember that because we have huge surfaces it is important to use thinned pain with water to create smooth transitions between layers. Note that some small details, such as the rose plant in my flags, can be highlighted independently of the folding. The idea is to stand out these details.
Now we can put the flags in the standard-bearers´ hands. Note that, although I did not mention it, before the folding step it is important to check how the standard-bearer miniature is and which would be the best orientation or position for the flag. Then we will fold the flag accordingly.
Finally, I would like to mention you can find these miniatures as a part of the small diorama I prepared for the latest issue of Wargames: Soldiers & Strategy. In this issue, beside plenty of interesting articles, you could find more details regarding how I created this vignette.
On the other hand, I also hand-paint my flags for 15mm miniatures. But instead of using tinfoil, I used copper foil which can be easily found on Ebay (widely used in electronics). It is still rigid enough but it is not as thick as the tinfoil; and therefore, it is perfect for this smaller scale.