Capote and manteau are both broad terms for the kind of greatcoats that eventually became a standard part of the French soldier's regulation uniform. This piece of clothing came into good use as the army had to endure extreme weather, from freak rainstorms on the Iberian peninsula to snowy mountain passes in the Alps and the howling wind of the Russian plains.
The greatcoat was common to wear in wet or cold weather, but also while out marching on campaign. It also made a useful replacement for a proper uniform in cases where troops had to be quickly drafted. This makes it a common outfit for French miniatures, especially for the latter years of the Empire.
To make matter a bit confusing, the colour and cut of the greatcoat were not as strictly enforced as the uniform jacket. While the initial regulation called for them to be beige for line and light infantry as far as I know, a range of beige, browns and greys were common. The Imperial Guard had the distinction of wearing blue greatcoats of a finer quality.
To quickly raise a bunch of battalions myself, I copied Napoleon's trick and got me a whole bunch of greatcoat infantry. I bought about two battalions worth of plastic late French infantry from Warlord in one of their recurring sprue sales. Each sprue comes with six miniatures. The sprue doesn't cover command, which I plan to buy from Calpe Miniatures, as they also have a wide range of French in Greatcoats.
Here's the first battalion, without the sixth base (which will have flagbearer, drummer, officers etc). I plan to get some extras as well from Calpe that I'll spread out into the units for variety, which will enable me to stretch out the units into three or maybe even four battalions.
Click for bigger pictures
Some Paint Recipies
I was asked on how I paint my greatcoats, so here are some recipies covering a lighter beige, a darker beige, and a grey. Given how much the colours would differ based on local availability of cloth etc., please feel free to experiment with whatever paints you have at hand.
First of all, I tend to paint the initial step of every colour first. I then wash everything at once. Then I go back and finish the colours one at a time. This, combined with large batches of 24 or more miniatures, is a pretty efficient way to mass produce units.
Light beige: I used Vallejo Model Colour (VMC) 70.976 Buff as my base. I washed it brown with a coat of Citadel's Agrax Earthshade wash. I then gave it another coat of Buff, leaving the darker shade in the recesses alone, and finally a layer of Buff mixed with a little bit of white.
Darker beige: I used VMC 70.843 Cork Brown as base for these. Again, washed it Brown, painted a second layer of Cork Brown and finally a highlight where I mixed Cork Brown and Buff.
Grey: lacking a proper VMC medium grey at home, I used Citadel's Administratum Grey. This I washed with black wash, Citadel's Nuln Oil. Just like Before I gave them a second coat of Grey, and then a highlight where I mixed the Grey with a lighter grey, in this case VMC 70.986 Deck Tan.
Flesh: My current go-to solution here is VMC 70.804 Beige Red, washed with Citadel's Reiksland Fleshshade, recoated with Beige Red and highlighted with Beige Red mixed with VMC 70.815 Basic Skin Tone
Musket: The wood is painted Vallejo PAnzer Aces 301 Light Rust. I then paint the metal with Army Painter Shining Silver. I wash everything with Nuln Oil, and then pick out the highlights directly with Light Rust and Shining Silver. I find that's enough without further highlights.
Straps, belts: I paint these with VMC Deck Tank and wash them with Nuln Oil. I pick them out again with Deck Tan and highlight with Vallejo Game Colour Ghost Grey. I tend to avoid going all the way to pure white.
Trousers: I painted these either Deck Tan or Citadel's Ulthuan Grey. Washed Nuln Oil, and then recoated in the original colour and then highlighted by mixing in Ghost Grey or a pure white.
Blacks: Everything black is first painted Vallejo Game Colour Black, then given a medium highlight where I mix in some Ghost Grey, and finally a second highlight where I mix in some more Ghost Grey. This works, but for a speedier solution you might look into something like German Grey or London Grey as standard paints for highlights.
Backpacks: I use a few different Browns to get some variety on these. But most often I use VMC 70.875 Beige Brown, wash it black, and then pick out some highlights with Beige Brown again. The straps are painted Ghost Grey.
Grenadier's epaulettes, plumes: I use VMC 70.859 Black red as a base, wash it Brown or Black, and then coat it with Citadel's Wazdakka Red. In this case I left it there, but other times I add some orange for a highlight.
Voltigeur's epaulettes, plumes: I used to paint these with P3's Sulfuric Yellow. But my paint pot has dried up, so I Went with Vallejo Game Colours' Gold Yellow. It was a mistake. I had to mix it with some Buff to try to salvage the situation, but yeah. I'll look for a better solution
Growing The Army
Another nifty thing that helped me speed up my painting was to go back to a wet palette. If you haven't tried it, it's basically a way to keep the paint from drying up while you're painting, so that I have to spend less time fidgetting with paint pots.
While there are fancy ones out there, I simply built mine out of a plastic container, some folded kitchen paper, and a cut out square of parchment paper. Put the kitchen paper in the container and our enough water for it to be soaked. Then put the parchment paper on top of the kitchen paper. Now you can put your paint on there, and it'll stay fresh for hours! This cuts time a lot on my highlights, as I don't have to keep adding more paint and mix them whenever it gets too dried up to be useful.
With these recruits I now have 30 bases of French infantry done! Now I need to switch focus and paint me some command, and I'll be well on my way to a nice brigade.
Well, these should keep me busy while waiting on the Calpe minis...
"Glory is fleeting,