Knocking small scale figures off the painting queue in a quick pace is not a considerable achievement. Doing so with larger ones is, to some extent.
I have, at the moment, about 7-800 unpainted (stripped, glued together and some even on sprues) 1/72 plastic figures and this calls for alternative solutions. Many people are looking for the optimal thing and some find it in Army Painter/etc. products. I have, during my various painting exploits, used many types of shade, including homemade oil/enamel washes, enamel varnish mixed with black/brown/grey, commercial Vallejo washes and glazes. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. I generally use a great deal of slumpy highlights (see my TYW figures, for example) and everything is done improbably fast. The relevant working hours put into some figures would seem really strange to some people (minus drying time, it's not more than 3-4 hours for a group of 30-40 figures that includes every process from priming to basing) and what I really care about is character/command figures, where my brushes become more careful.
Yes, rant over, just like with the previous batch of the 1st Company, Vladislaus V Penal Battalion, I did not want to mess about a lot with these fellows. While other figures lend themselves better to traditional highlights, Italeri figures do not, and Zouaves even less. The same can be told about the Esci Muslims.
What I did was
-used a bright grey primer
-used the bright primer as a base for thick glazes (or thin block paints, depends on the point of view)
-blocked the Muslims in Wolf Grey and drybrushed with white heavily, it works well for any whites.
Then I mixed a bunch of thinned Vallejo black glaze and Model Air burnt umber (of whose merits I've sang my songs already, multiple times) in just the right, dark umber shade; loaded up a brush, removed the excess water with a towel and hit the figures with it.
After ~12 hours of drying came the finish and basing, all done in a flick of time.
So that's my secret. Well, not a secret.
Eugen von M. and his partner Joe the American. They are based on Renedra plastic bases.
Native command with Ali Qashbali.
The Zouave officer is part of the gift pack received from János on Games Day and I successfully broke his sword so it got replaced with a huge machete made of a small piece of wood.
I know these figures don't really fit well together but the overall impression is easy to perceive.
I thought these fellows will be a pain to do, being detailed AND soft plastic, but with fresh methods they turned out to be very easy to do and look good with little effort.