Showing posts with label Painting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Painting. Show all posts

Sunday, 26 September 2010

WIP: Lancers

September has been a fairly hopeless month in terms of gaming, painting, and blogging I'm afraid. So, just in case you thought I'd jacked it all in I'll put up some pics of the Austrian lancers I don't seem to be able to finish. 
Elite figures and horses with a few mounts from elsewhere (Connoisseur, Alban, Firing Line). 
Bases obviously not done yet, still awaiting painting, brushing and grass bits. So far I've just done 32 out of what will be a massive 48 man regt - 8 squadrons of 6 figures. I picked the the third regt as I liked the red Czapka, plus the trumpeters apparently wore white ( though I've had trouble confirming this). Plenty of conversions and head twists, plus a few replacement heads from Firing Line. Lance pennons by GMB. There will be a standard bearer, although I'm not sure if Austrian light cavalry actually carried them in action. All the lances were soldered, and the officers sabres replaced. I also played about with some of the horses, teasing out manes and tails with the soldering iron to give them more movement. In the end, however, I decided life was too short. I might do this again for officers and the odd special, but otherwise.No. 
I hope to get these finished this week, I guess I've had a bit of mid-project blues with the old Austrians. It will pass.
I have also decided to give these chaps their own staff officer - seeing as they are such a big unit. I found a lovely Bicorne Uhlan officer, and I've tweaked him a bit- changed his sword arm, added a steel sabre and soldered a "flying" scabard onto him, again to impart a little movement. I'll post him when he is done. 
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Thursday, 5 August 2010

Hussar problem solved

I mentioned that while I was up at the Wargames Holiday Centre I was hoping to make a few purchases. Well,I did indeed, and here are a few pics of some of them. Mike has been selling off quite a few units this year in order to "slim down" the collection (for example, having nearly 180 x 36 man French btns seemed a bit OTT), and I hoped to buy a few units I'd always really liked. High on the list were these 2 regts of Austrian Hussars, 1 of 36 men and another of 48 (Wish they were both 48's).
One of the problems I've always had with the Austrian army is the hussar uniform. Now I know they invented the things, but I've always thought the Austrian hussar uniform looked more at home in Billy Smart's Circus than on a battlefield. All that purulent bright green, stupid red trousers, and yellow plumes...Give them some long, floppy shoes rather than hussar boots and they would have looked better.
Subsequently I've never had any great desire to paint any. So from years ago when I first saw these rather more subdued paint jobs they always appealed. They are all wearing overalls and the green is (a more realistic) darker shade.  Despite this they are still suitably gaudy enough for hussars, with their red shabraques with yellow piping and either bright or dark blue dolmans.
They are (naturally) the Elite miniatures castings, painted and converted by Doug Mason. All the sabres are pins soldered into the hand and are very tough. Even after many years of service up in Scarborough I only had to replace 3 swords out of 84. Doug has done plenty of bends and twists to these figures. There are only 4 basic figures here, officer, trumpeter and 2 trooper figures, and he really has imparted an incredible sense of movement to the models which really look the part of hussars at full tilt

I just did a minimal amount of work on the bases to blend them with my standard basing. Just an oilwash and highlight then some grass clumps added. I also gave them a quick new coat of gloss. I had contemplated giving them a matt coat, but they look infinitely better in their original gloss glory. I'm developing a bit of a theory about gloss V matt: Gloss varnish isn't terribly fashionable these days which is actually a bit wierd. There is no debate about it bringing out the colour and establishing a visual contrast between the figure and its base, this is simply optical fact. Nonetheless, a lot of folk "prefer" matt these days. Anyway, my theory is, that gloss varnish makes well painted figures look even better and badly painted figures look even worse, while matt varnish just dulls everything down to a more median uniformity (no pun inteneded). So for Mr Average painter (like me, and most of you) we think our stuff looks better when we matt varnish it, because gloss just shows up all the cock-ups, while matt is more....forgiving.
Anyway, thats my theory.

These figures were painted by someone who really knew what he was doing, and it shows up even better in the flesh than through the lens of my rather inadequate camera.

These weren't the only figures I bought from Mike, there are more (I just kept peeling off the tenners until he said stop) but the rest will have to wait for another time.



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Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Some recent additions


IR 30 Prinz de Ligne
July draws to a close amid a frenzy of wargame activity. Despite being the busiest month of the year I've kept the painting up, finishing the above unit. I MIGHT, just might, get a second batallion done as well, which would be fantastic - I've just got the last 13 figures to finish so it's quite likely. Ordinarily, I'd say no problem seeing as there are still 11 days to go in this month, but this coming extended weekend will see me nipping off up to Scarboro' for a couple of Napoleonic games- looking forwards to it immensely. I think we are doing Corunna (never done that before) plus some made up 1813 bash. I can't wait.
Front Rank artillery adjutant and some random Rupert 
Apart from the prospect of 4 days gaming with some like-minded folk, I'm hoping to make a couple of purchases, as Mike is selling a few units and I've asked him to reserve a couple of favourites of mine. I'm afraid I'm going to be a total tease and not say what they are, so you'll just have to tune in next week and I'll post a few pics.
The Sash and Sabre samples were a crippling disapointment, little stumpy-sub-Foundry things...no use to me at all.
Some Front Rank Grenzers shield the Elite column
A far more interesting set of samples came from Alban miniatures, I got some of their Austrian hussars and horses. First, the horses, which are very nice. The hussars only look good on the light horses, although the heavies are lovely sculpts as well and will come in handy elsewhere. The hussars are really lovely figures with true, un-exagerated detail. A bit like Stadden's best effort. No buttons like wheel-nuts or gurning faces. They all come with a seperate sword arm which I rather like. The only problem is they are a little small (or perhaps not as big) compared to the my Elite masses. They may work ok on their own, I'm not sure yet. I think I'll have to paint up a few and do a comparison.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Grubby old Grenzers

 Grenzer regts 16 and 17
So, June quickly draws to a close, not a bad month in the world of Austrians, despite a crippling work schedule (Sir Elton John and Lady Ga-Ga being demanding souls), nonetheless, I got over 90 figures whacked off. This included finishing the second 48 of Grenzer. This means I now have 96 of these critters, all with green facings. Subsquently I can use them either as 2 x 48 man units or as 3 x 32's which is some nice flexibility. Eventually I will add another 2 x 48, so will be able to field 4 x 48 or 6 x 32!
 32 man Grenze units are pretty weak in ITGM, which seems accurate.They fight and morale as militia - i.e only plus 1 for morale but they do fire as if they are veteran. So 48's can be a bit pokey in the right circumstances  (sat in a village is always a favourite) They are still a bit hopeless in woods though (move as militia) which doesn't seem quite right. I might need to think about this.
Front Rank officer throwing his weight around with his slimmer Connoissuer squaddies
I'm going back on track with painting line infantry next, this will be the seventh German btn, probably with pale grey facings. The first batch have just been undercoated and are awaiting the old Army Painter treatment.
After six months of not buying (m)any Napoleonic figures my purchasing gland has been getting twitchy. I've been checking out the Sash and Sabre range- I've got some samples on order from Old Glory UK, command for both line and grenadiers. Even if they are not quite what I'm after I'm sure they can be shoe'd into a unit somewhere. I'm over halfway with the line infantry, and will wind up with 16 btns of Germs and Hungarians....but it doesn't seem QUITE enough...so maybe a division of the S&S chaps would round off my army nicely. We'll see.
FR command, Connoiseur and Elite make up the rest
The other Company I've been looking at are Alban. While I like their infantry a lot, I don't think they will fit very well with the massed Elite units, which is a shame. However, the hussars they make look fabulous, and I don't think a cavalry unit will present the same asthetic problems. I don't have any Hussar figures yet at all (that may change very rapidly) but Austrians really should have plenty. I'd like to wind up with 3 units, and I might make them 48 man regts.
3 x 32 or 2 x 48...the choice is mine
Saddened to hear of the death of Paddy Griffith, I re-read his "Forwards into battle" recently. A fairly seminal work IMHO, one of those books that upset a few folk because it challenged the way they LIKED to think warfare was conducted, and arrived at conclusions which weren't cosy with their view. Part of what good historian should do.


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Sunday, 13 June 2010

A few landmarks of sorts

The latest addition to the Austrian army: IR 37
The last couple of weeks have seen a few slightly notable points of interest.
First off, it was my birthday recently. Now once upon a time, birthdays meant wargaming related presents. That doesn't seem to happen as you get older. So any wagaming stuff has to be a "self-present", which is actually FAR better anyway, because you actually get what you want (not that I've ever really needed an excuse to spend money on wargaming). Also, getting older usually means you have more money, so, unless you are going to have a mid-life crisis and spend it on impressionable young women, you get some excellent "self-presents".
With all this in mind, I ended up in Foyles the other day (as opposed to one of those seedy basement clubs a few yards away in Soho..see "impressionable young women" above), where I spent a happy evening perusing the shelves in the silence you only get in bookshops. Three of the books I bought were ones I probably "should" have bought ages ago and just haven't got round to, a couple of the others were more impulsive.
First off, I got hold of the second and third volumes of "Thunder on the Danube" by Jack Gill. These are pretty much indispensible for anyone interested in the Austrians, particularly if you are leaning towards 1809 as I am. So they were long overdue. I've only dipped into them so far but they promise to be everything all the gushing praise I've heard for them  has suggested. Looking forwards to reading them.
More IR 37. Less pose variation than in the German regts, but plenty nonetheless
The third book I bought is Adkin's "Waterloo Companion". Now, I've only a moderate interest in the Waterloo campaign. It has always seemed a bit of an aberration to me in the terms of the Napoleonic wars overall. So much has been written about it, and so many people (wargamers) base their entire impression of how Napoleonic warfare worked upon the way this battle (and campaign) was conducted, when so much about it is highly a-typical rather than representative of Napoleonic battles. Anyway, thats a bigger subject than I've got room for here.
That does nothing to change the fact That Adkin's book is brilliant. Packed with all sorts of detail, some of which anyone who has boned up on the battle will be familar with, some less so. The text is nice, full OB detail which corrects a few errors found elsewhere, some really lovely original colour uniform drawings, Highlights of the battle rather than a full narrative, and for me, the real winner, is some brilliant maps and detailed deployment diagrams. It really helped me understand a lot more about the battle, especially in terms of time and space. There is a lot there even for someone not that interested in Waterloo
The other 2 impulse purchases were the 2 slimline "men and battles" series from Histoire & Collections: "Hanau and Montmirail" and "1809, Essling".
Both of these are great little books. They sort of out-Osprey, Osprey if you see what I mean, same money, not brilliantly translated text, but excellent diagrams, a few contempory drawings I've not seen before, LOTS of full colour, detailed OB, and a few pages of "Beano annual" style uniform drawings.
(If every Osprey was as good as this they might be worth the money).    
Painting Shakoes makes a nice change from helmets!
Other Landmarks recently are the passing of 500 figures painted so far for the year! Which is brilliant, because it means I'm bang on target for 1,000 by Christmas. The most recent additions are pictured here- Hungarian infantry. Less pose variation than the Elite Germans, but they still have plenty. I tried a slightly different white technique (through forgetfulness more than anything else), but they turned out fine. I just did Spray white, Army Painter and then Highlight white rather than add another off-white shade after the AP. It makes them a little brighter, but not that much.
Finally, I have had over 50,000 visitors to this little site. Which is ...extraordinary really... Thank you all very much for being interested in my little wargaming world...but, you really should get out more.  Free Web Site Counter
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Monday, 31 May 2010

GMB Versus The Flag Dude

May has been a poor month for painting as I remarked last week, although things picked up in the last couple of days and I managed to up the number to 48 which was another German Infantry batallion, this time IR 63.
So not too bad, this means I'm still just about on course for 1,000 figures for the year providing I don't have too many more months like this.
A tiny difference between this unit and all my previous line infantry is that these fellows have a standard from The Flag Dude. I saw these at Salute and couldn't resist buying a couple. They are actually 7 years War standards but giving the "scrunching" its somewhat impossible to tell the difference, and, lets face it, if I hadn't mentioned this, you'd have never known.
IR63 Bianchi, sporting a Flag Dude standard 
To be honest, trying to compare the 2 is a bit like asking which footballer would you prefer in your pub team, Wayne Rooney or Lionel Messi? Both companies are brilliant and worlds apart from anything one could produce for oneself, the quality of both is so incredibly high. Particularly given their relative cheapness.
Which gives us our first comparison. FD are £3.00 each while GMB are £3.50 for 2. With GMB you have to cost in the finial and staff which adds a bit over a quid for 2  flags so the cost is actually about the same(ish)...buttons really either way considering the effect.
Obviously the big initial attraction the FD is that everything is done for you, and done very nicely. Flag is "scrunched" rather attractively (though probably not realistically), The finial is included and the flag is attached to a lengthy staff,in fact the only thing that needs to be done is to trim this to a desired length and paint it.
With GMB you do have to do a tiny bit of work.
The pole  needs to have its finial attached, and then the flag glued to the pole. My prefered method for this is to cut the flag out, fold it so its creased centrally around the pole before "dry fitting" it. Only then smear PVA glue over the inner surface of one half of the flag before folding in and lining the flag up as neatly as possible. At this point a bit of scrunching can take place. I always try and do it to expose as much of the detail of the flag as possible (otherwise, whats the point?). Then leave it for a couple of hours before giving it a few thin coats of brushed on gloss varnish to stiffen it. Finally give it a coat of matt (or not, depending on taste).
More IR63. Custom "scrunching"
The final analysis comes in the detail. The printing on the GMB stuff is slightly better, and their finish a little bit finer. Also the colours on these Austrian flags is a little more vibrant.
I can't comment on how this is with other periods. One nice thing is that the ranges are somewhat complimentary, there are items that each company do which the other doesn't.
I.R.24 Baron Strauch. Proud of their GMB flag
Oddly,  the deciding factor for me is the fact that the GMB flags aren't the finished article which FD are.
The reason for this is that with GMB I glue the standard with the finial to the figure before priming. So all painting and handling takes place with a bare standard pole, but one which is firmly glued on bare metal with the glue painted over. Then, when the figure is completely finished and varnished I attach the flag as outlined above.
More GMB.
With FD flags this isn't possible. Because the flag is all done you can't attach it until after the figure is finished. One could prime the figure and then attach the flag, but this would mean having a great big flag flapping about (ok,not actually flapping but you know what I mean) while painting the standard bearer which I'm not that keen on. Subsquently, I ended up gluing on the FD flag once the figure was finished and then varnishing over the glue. Not ideal.
So, for me, GMB has it. Just.
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Monday, 10 May 2010

Fast Horses

Front Rank (left) Elite collectors series (right) undercoated with 2 light sprays of tan, in this case from Army painter
Work has taken over lately so my painting output has plummeted, however, a few of you have expressed an interest in how I paint horses using oils. This is a very fast method for getting an effective look on brown horses without too much fuss. It doesn't work for grey horses, and black horses....well, I just paint them black.
 I did do some pics a while ago when I painted the Austrian dragoon regt but they were a bit pony....Pony?...oh dear, sometimes I'm just too funny...Pony...Geddit?...(For those of you not familar with rhyming slang...), anyway, these are from some more recent general figures.
So, the first pic shows 2 horses just after getting a couple of coats of tan paint. It really can be just about any brownish paint. Whatever you use for the base will ultimately dictate the predominate colour for the end horse. For most cavalry units I would do some in this pale tan, and some in a darker  brown to get a bit of variation. The method doesn't change at all irrespective of what you use as a base (as long as its some sort of brown).  Add in some blacks and greys and you get a mixed unit.
Once the basecoat is dry I block in the leather work and mane/tail in black. On  the Elite horse on the left I've left the mane and tail to be coloured later.
Now the main event, applying the oil paint: I use good old Windsor & Newton Burnt Umber. You can get it in any art shop.It needs to be thinned with white spirit to a thickish wash sort of consistency. You will just have to experiment with this. Then, just brush it on. It doesn't matter if it slops over the black bits you've just painted, just make sure you get a decent covering.
Then, you need to leave it a little while. Depends a little on air/room temperature, but 5 mins is probably about right. When you first apply the oil it will look wet and glossy. Quite quickly it will begin to dry a little, and start to turn to a more satin finish. This is the moment when you need to wipe it off. For this you need a dry clean soft cotton. I use an old Tee-shirt.
This needs to be done fairly gently, just lightly rub over the flanks of the horse. Use steady, LIGHT touches, removing the top coat of the oils. This will leave the undercoat still stained a little, and also leave heavier deposits in the folds and defined muscles on the horse. I usually leave the front and underside of the horse. This adds a bit of shadow.
I've wiped the Elite horse on the left, but not the right hand nag. See how there is still a bit of paint in the folds and on the underside.
Now I've wiped the Front Rank horse on the left. This looks a bit pale. If you are not happy with the result the solution is a very simple one; repaint with oils, just slap on another coat, and repeat the process.
So, thats it after a single coat and gentle wipe. Looks alright. This horse I want to have a pale mane and tail so I've now blocked those in with Vallejo ivory. 
The Ivory is now washed over with a burnt sienna wash.
Next, the black, reins, is dry brushed with Vallejo German Grey, which is pretty dark, and the tail/mane dry-brushed with ivory again.
The Front Rank horse after dry brushing on reins, mane and tail plus a further really light dry brush with a pale grey (Vallejo Neutral Grey). The brass is touched in with ..brass, and any white bits (blaze, socks) primed also in Neutral Grey before finishing in white. If you want to do eyes (and actually can paint horses eyes- most people, including me, can't) then fine, go ahead. 
One final point: Don't attempt to use a spirit based varnish within 24 hours. Water based types aren't a problem, but spirit gloss varnishes put on too soon can be a bit disastrous. Leave it a day and its fine.  
TA-Da!! the finished product with a general sat on it, a Front Rank gabion and some yellow flowers .
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Sunday, 2 May 2010

MayDay Parade

All of the Austrians to date: 5 German line, 1 Hungarian, 1 Grenzer, 18 skirmishers, 1 battery, 36 Dragoons,
April was a busy month, so sorry for my lack of posts here. I'm afraid blogging is the first casualty in the time stakes when it comes to work, painting, home stuff etc. Sometimes something has to give.
Despite this my painting total for April was bloody impressive even if I say so myself, 130 pieces all told. A dragoon regt (counts as 72 pieces), another 48 of German line, 6 skirmishers, and 5 mounted generals. Not bad going at all. I didn't even really feel I was making a special effort. Most of the cavalry I got done while I was down in Devon at Easter, and the infantry were done over the odd week-end plus evening, likewise the skirms and general figures. Generals are always pretty easy as you can usually get an entire figure finished in an evening and still have time for everything else. 
Dragoon column led by a spiffy officer
The dragoons were not quite what I expected, when I ordered them, I'm sure I asked Mr Moreby for all the figures to be with sword down, but given that with the rest of the order I'd asked for max variation he gave me half sword down and half "waving sword about overhead, unlike any cavalryman, ever" pose...in the end I'm glad he did, I replaced the rather fat little curved sabre with a very straight (and probably overlong) flattened pin, which looks a bit more like a  pallasch, then, I cut a 'v' in the shoulder of the sword arm, which allowed me to bend the pewter arm round to something which resembled ' a point' , well, at least a bit more than the original. 
GMB standard as ever- annoyingly Elite don't make an ensign figure
The trumpeters got similar treatment to bend the trumpets round in front of the figure (I hate that blowing the trumpet over the shoulder look), and added cords out of 5 amp fuse wire twisted in the Dremel.
I'm happy with the net result, at first I wasn't, but I these lads are growing on me.
When I thought about doing this unit I had in mind a regt which uses the same figures at the WHC by Doug Mason. It's beautiful, some of his best work. To this end I took a few pics of what he'd done the last time I was there in order to get some references of what he did, so I could try and emulate it. Comparing the 2 now I'm not even close, ...to quote Samual Jackson in Pulp Fiction: "Not the same ballpark? It's not even the same sport"....(he wasn't talking specifically about wargames figures but you get my drift)
A few head twists and arm conversions, all sabres replaced with pins, wire trumpet cords added

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Saturday, 20 March 2010

Austrians going great guns

I'm making decent progress with the Austrians, even if I do say so myself. I've now finished 5 48 man btns, 12 skirmish figures plus this battery pictured. I've also done the guns and half the crew for a second battery.
On top of this I'm 2/3rds of the way through a sixth 48, which I'm hoping to complete this week/end, though it might be tight as I'm away for work for 3 days tomorrow.
Anyway,its decent progress given my 2 year timeframe for finishing this stage (this stage? Gulp!) of the Austrian army, puts me about a quarter of the way through the infantry which I reckon is pretty damm good.  
Most importantly, the psychological aspect is fine too, I'm not remotely bored with painting white infantry, quite the opposite, and on the whole my technique is improving both in terms of quality and speed which is really encouraging. I even now look foward to starting yet another 48.
However, I'm not going to do that, once these 6 btns are complete (tonight!) I will start on some cavalry,probably a dragoon regt in white. I expect this to take a little while, I will replace the swords with pins and have to convert a standard bearer as Elite don't make one (havn't worked that one out yet, but it can't be too tricky). I'll also do a "how to" on the horses as I go.
These guns are straightforwards to do. I went for a speed paint on the gunners which were a doddle. An evening's work for 8 (no muskets, no backpacks!).
I sprayed them with a desert tan primer, then painted the black plus grey highlights, washed the tan coats in burnt umber oils, did the flesh, washed and highlighted, facings in sienna finished in red. Grey/white belts and breeches which are then gone over in white. A few yellow and gold touches, and they are done.
The figures are half and half Elite and Connoissuer. I had about 30 gunners from Connoissuer sitting in "the Box" so I've just added extra Elite figures to bulk them out. I would have done seperate batteries but the pose mix of the Connoissuer stuff I had was a bit uneven so I decided to mix them. I think they look just fine with a mix any way. I have enough figures for about 4 x 4 gun batteries so they will become the 6Lber crews then the 12lbers will get all Elite crews. That is a little down the line though, I'll get these 6lb units done before worrying about that.

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