By now I’m sure we’ve all seen the stunning Soldier of Fortune set for November, The Emperor’s New Clothes, which depicts Napoleon Bonaparte being painted in his coronation robes as Emperor Napoleon I. I’ve been privileged to watch Design Studio Painter Kirsten Williams bring these fantastic figures to life with stunning detail from just a few desks away, but I simply had to know more – so I collared her to ask! Let’s see what she had to say…

MV – Hi Kirsten!, Could you please give us a very brief description of yourself and your background as a professional painter?

KW – Hi! I started painting at around the age of eleven, and I haven’t stopped since – my ‘pile of shame’ is thirty years old! Professionally, I spent twelve years at Games Workshop in a variety of roles, including the ‘Eavy Metal team, and I’ve been at Warlord Games for six and a half years now! I’m an adult, but definitely not a grown-up, and I enjoy larping, tabletop RPGs, and making costumes when I’m not painting!

MV – What was your reaction when you were first briefed on and handed The Emperor’s New Clothes to paint by Design Studio boss Paul (Sawyer)?

KW – I think at first it was “oh, cool, paint it like this portrait? No problem!”. That very quickly morphed into “…wait… how long do I have??”!

MV – Have you ever painted a set of miniatures quite like this before?

Napoleon I as Emperor by François Gérard (1805)

KW – I’ve painted to photo briefs plenty of times, but never something as ornate as this, and similarly I’ve done really ornate figures before, but not to a photo brief. If I had to draw a comparison, I’d say the closest I’ve done would be the Fourth Doctor for Doctor Who – that scarf was a nightmare!

MV – Did you immediately have a plan and scheme in place for how you’d go about painting these figures, or was it more a case of figuring it out as you went along?

KW – Having François Gérard’s painting Napoleon I as Emperor as a reference point meant I instantly had my scheme, and it was just a matter of planning what order to do the various bits in, and how to make the various white sections stand out from each other. I don’t do well with ‘as you go along’, so I always make sure to have a firm plan in place before I start working.

MV – What was the most challenging part of the painting process? Were there any unexpected challenges or snags?

KW – The gold embroidery was definitely the most challenging bit! Not only was it tiny, but it needed to match the painting, rather than just being gold ‘squiggles’. Then, those squiggles all needed highlighting… twice!

MV – How long did the whole set take you to finish?

KW – About four working days for both figures – so about 25-26 hours.

MV – Finally, for such fine-detail work, what were your go-to brushes?

KW – I swear by a Windsor & Newton Series 7 00 for the finest details, and for the larger areas of cloth I used a Warlord Kolinsky Sable 1/0.

Emperor’s New Clothes Community Painting Competition

So that’s how the professionals do it! We can’t wait to see what you make of the new Soldier of Fortune set, so much so that we’re running our first Soldier of Fortune Community Painting Competition!

You’ve got until the 10th of December to paint your Napoleons (and don’t forget to paint the painter, too!), and email the images to All entries will be judged by Kirsten herself!

The winner will receive a prize fit for an Emperor – the complete Farmhouse Assault – La Haye Sainte Collector’s Edition Battle-Set!

The most ‘entertaining’ entry will also receive a smaller reward! Perhaps a bit of ‘mischief’ on the easel? Yet to pick up your Emperor’s New Clothes. You can do so below!

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