Wednesday 30 September 2009

Wurtemburg Cavalry....Have I been a complete prat all my life?

Kavallerie Rgt. Nr. 4 Jäger König
I can't help feeling I've been a bit of a plonker. Since the mists of time I've always painted cavalry in the following manner: Glue rider onto horse, spray undercoat grey, paint whole thing as required.
Such stupidity!
While approaching painting these Wurtemburg mounted jager for Noel, I was struck by the fact that the uniform was very dark. Dark green coat and trousers, all belts and gauntlets black, black helmet. Seemed pretty sensible to undercoat black, despite my general dislike of black undercoat. Fine, we are all allowed to change our minds once in a while. The trouble was the horses, unless they are actually black, I REALLY don't like black undercoated ponies, and as these are light cavalry, bays and browns were going to be what I wanted. My method normally for this is to undercoat grey, then apply either a tan or dark brown, then wash over with the ubiquitous burnt umber oil paint. Relatively quick and easy, but the tan doesn't work well with a black basecoat.
Hang on...What if I painted the riders and horses seperately? Then I could base the riders black and the horses grey. Problem solved. Then....What if I sprayed the horses seperately as well??? Tan for the bays, grey for the greys (thats white ones for those who don't pander to horse-speak), and dark brown for the...dark brown ones. Blimey! this was a revelation! Now it might be blindingly obvious to all of you lot, but it is a good example of how we can get set in our ways. .
I explained how I'd never done this before to Mr Sympathy (John Lander) and he almost wee'd himself laughing at how I'd never worked this out previously. Thanks.

Rear view: Lots of black belts.
So thats what I did. Preped up 8 horses at a time, sprayed in strips of 4, either tan, brown or grey. Block in the harness, mane and tail black. Black wash over the legs, then splat on the umber wash. Wipe a bit off here and there with a dry cloth. Then detail with dry-brushing the tail etc and do some white markings. A little bit of brass on the harness.
It was SO quick! I could bang out 8 horses in about an hour or so, even allowing drying time for the oils. Varnishing does need 24 hours or so or the wash will come off.

As usual, plenty of head variants possible with Firing Line stuff
Painting the riders was fine too, and they were pretty quick with a black undercoat, which was then heavily dry-brushed in very dark grey, before highlighting with 2 lighter greys. Uniform in green. The Trumpeters were nice to do, a tan base and then highlighted with a very pale yellow (Vallejo German yellow). I'm not that keen these days on using a bright yellow, and this fits the bill nicely.
The white and silver lines on the shabraques took a while, but all in all it was a quick paint job with decent results.

There are however, 2 errors in this unit. 1 was deliberate as it actually conformed with Noels' instructions for the unit. The second one is a lot less conspicuous and I only found out about it about 1/2 an hour ago by which time it was too late to rectify.
So...Pedant of the month award and a punch in the mouth for those of you who can work out my terrible inaccuracies. I am waiting for the ground to swallow me up as I write this.
So, thats the Wurtemburgers all done apart from the Skirmishers, I'll start them when I get back from the WHC. I'm off up there on friday for a WWII game, which is followed by a game of Vittoria between just me and Gerry. I've never played Vittoria before...He said "You'd best play French"...I'm expecting a proper shoeing.

Sunday 27 September 2009

4th French Hussars

4th Hussars deploy on the Bunny-mat
Currently painting up the Wurtemburg mounted jager, which is going fine. When I have some pics I'll do a fuller piece on them.
Meantime, here's a few photographs of a favourite unit. When I was about 13, some 35 years ago(!) the first ever metal cavalry unit I bought and painted were some Minifig French Hussars. I had the old Almark painting guide which showed the uniform of the 4th regt. All that resplendant red and blue! Irresistable! I painted them up, and at the time, I thought they were the bees knees. The figures (I think) are long gone, and I didn't do too a bad job of them (my memory can be highly selective). So, a few years ago when I wanted to paint a French Hussar regt, naturally, the 4th regt were the obvious choice.
I had plenty of Connoisseur hussars but wasn't that keen on them. They are in the late cylindrical shako and I wanted the earlier, bell-top shako.This coincided with the discovery of the Firing Line range of heads, so I decided on a bit of a conversion to make up an original and unique unit.

Elite coy, new heads, bent arms and drilled out sabres
There was no trumpeter for the Connoisseur Hussars (or 90% of all of PG's cavalry), so I bought 4 of the FL early French chasseurs Trumpeters and a standard bearer, they are perfect for hussars dressed just in the dolman.
The Connoisseur officer is wearing the pelisse as a jacket which is quite nice, with new heads they become all different. One in colpack for the elite coy, one in bicorne worn fore and aft, and one with a bald bare head. Suddenly 3 completely different looking figures. They are all in the pics.
For the final officer I wanted something a bit more fancy, so dug out a Connoisseur Guard Chassuer officer and gave him a big plumed shako'd head- Suddenly he became a line colonel on a grey horse.

HELLO!... (I never knew Leslie Philips was a French hussar?)
The rest of the trooper figures were given plumed shakos and one with a bonnet de police, another the obligatory bandaged head. The swords on the original figures are held down, tight to the leg, so these were cut away, the arms bent out away from the body, hilts drilled out and replaced with beaten pins for sabres. They seem to get a bit more "movement" this way.
GMB as ever, provided the standard.

Horses are mixture of Connoissuer, FL and some Connoisuer personality horses
So, with a relatively small amount of work it's pretty easy to produce a unit which is unlike any other. Bespoke wargames figures on a budget!