Picking up those brushes again.

Hi and welcome to the occasional mutterings of Dave Doc, a military modeller and some time gamer. Gaming and model making has given me a real education, History & Geography(obvious really), Artistry, Politics, Economics, Logistics, Project Management -you try building miniature armies without the last 3.

I will use the blog to record my creations & the odd occasion I actually do some gaming.

I have always been inspired by the aesthetic side of gaming. Playing on well constructed terrain using excellently painted units is always a joy.

Monday 27 June 2011

The need to P....

No not that kind . I am thinking about PREPARATION!

I am off on a new lot of painting, and I like to prepare a few projects together. Cleaning up figures, converting , test fitting etc and getting all the basic undercoating ready for blocking in. Over the years I have acquired a decent collection of tools to assist. So here's a shot of the most used ones.

Right to Left top row . Green Stuff and Milliput for sculpting and filling if need be.

Right to Left middle row. Heavy duty craft knife (Stanley in UK), Swan Morton handle and No11 Scalpel blade for fine cutting work, hand pin vice and drill, set of burrs and routers for the electric mini drill, set of drills, helping hands device, Heavy duty file, small tack hammer, sculpting tools, also fuse wire various gauges and pins for use in conversions.

R-L Bottom row. Pliers various profiles and side cutters , mini saw, Vee block and mini vice and set of needle files.

Most of these get some use cleaning and preparing castings. The right tool for the job makes life a lot easier.

So over to the holding area , most things now ready to go on the first stages of painting.

This lot arrived already cleaned and prepared so that was great, a decent session or two saved. French Legere unit undercoated, Lots of horses to do with this batch too  and with the warmth at the moment they should dry up nice and quickly.

Even managed to squeeze in a game last weekend down at the WHC. Anniversary re fight of Waterloo , it was great fun. There is a great write up on the WHC homepage. I managed to get my cavalry dice well and truly rolling Huzzah!

Now that's what you call an attack column! Massive French assault between Hougomont and La Haye . Glad I was not facing it. But of course stopped in the same old way.. All good fun.

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Prince Poniatowski & ADC

After a few weeks of completing larger units it was time to do something from the "for my enjoyment" collection of metal. I bought some Front Rank command figures earlier in the year and really liked the look of these two and had some good reference library pictures to work from. I decided to stick with Front Rank horses. (I don't mind the light horses standing or walking - not so keen on the faster moving lighter ones or any heavier ones though - it's a personal taste thing). I looked through the horses completed earlier , but found i was going to need one of their S1 type with cast on saddle cloth for the ADC which only came with part sheepskin saddle . I did not have one of those already completed so decided just to add a saddle cloth to a completed one from a small amount of thinly rolled out Milliput (a two part putty that is easily worked into shape). This was shaped with some sculpting tools and a scalpel blade. Took about 5 minutes to do.

The rest was a simple paint job. Undercoated the figures in Humbrol 67 (Tank Grey).

Poniatowski - Has a large fur cloak on , this was blocked in Vallejo flat brown and then drybrushed lighter shades by mixing with Khaki and white until happy with the effect. His tunic was blocked Dark Prussian blue, then highlighted with a Medium blue/Flat blue mix.  The polish crimson trousers were blocked Humbrol 73 to start , then had a little white 34 added and used to highlight knee tops and creases etc. Czapka top was to be white with a cross on and then additional line detail added - this was blocked light grey first. Face as per usual. Various chords etc were added using a Vallejo Model Air Silver - this is thinner and i find it easier to use for small fine detail - as this usually involves using it in dots or dabs to suggest or pick out detail rather than just paint it all. His horse was a standing one which i had bent the head slightly before painting.

ADC-  the main block colour was Humbrol 73 (Wine) which was then over painted to gradually highlight with Vallejo Red, Flat Red, Scarlet. . Shako was blocked Vallejo Medium Blue, and highlighted with Flat blue , and hint of white then added to that as well.

They were finished in proper varnish - Gloss!

It is always important to keep the creative enjoyment going , and doing these helped.

I also completed a small screen of Connoisseur Brunswick skirmishers to add to the two battalions completed a little earlier. These were a very simple grey paint job , just a case of highlighting up after undercoating (Humbrol 67) with a Vallejo Neutral Gray and a bit of light grey really then piping facing colours and muskets. Faces as usual. I added some bit of beech branch to bases to give a more interesting effect (I now remember why i did not cut down the beech hedge.. good for nicking bits for basing!). They were based in pairs, one firing one moving,

These took about 30 minutes to complete.

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Sound the charge!

Well those white horses have had to be put to some use. In this case a regiment of 32 figures of Dutch Belgian heavy cavalry. The 2nd Belgian Carabinier for 1815. These are "Connoisseur" figures available from Bicorne miniatures.and were a complete joy to paint. The castings were very crisp for both the riders and horses and took almost no cleaning up.

I wanted a bit of wow factor with these so set to work on individuality for them. The range of castings did not come with a trumpeter so a trumpet was fashioned from thin gauge brass wire. a  blob of solder added to form  the cone which is then drilled out. The troopers swords were all removed and replaced with flattened mild steel pins and drilled and soldered into place. One trooper has a  fallen soldiers shako scooped up onto  his sword point and held aloft.  Sword arms and heads were then gently moved with a pair of pliers. For more pronounced movement of heads they were removed and drilled/pinned/glued  to allow some to appear to be looking over their shoulders. A flagstaff and finial were fashioned from wire - flattening the end and shaping to a finial using a carborundum cutting disk. Horses likewise had some leg bends, hoofs released from the base where strudy,  head and tail twists etc.Ultimately no two figures are the same.

4 horses were to be done as White/Grey and the rest various shades of Chestnut bay. These were completed first to allow oils to start drying.

The troopers were undercoated in Humbrol 67 (Tank Grey) . Main painting then took place using Vallejo Dark Prussian blue(70899) highlighted to a lighter shade with a Flat Blue (70962) mix. Red (70926) was added and Flat Red (70957) through to a hint of Scarlet used to shade and highlight. Faces completed with my usual 4 colour method. Sheepskins were started Khaki and drybrushed lighter with Khaki/Offwhite mix gradually lightened. Belts initially Light Grey and Off White with top highlight of White.Helmets were a mix of Brass and Silver metallic.

The challenge here was the request for these to be a Matt finish. This takes a little more planning and management as it will generally darken bright colours and dull metallic. In some cases these need brightening after the varnishing. To get around this I decided to initially varnish overall in Matt Humbrol - make sure the medium and varnish are well mixed to work properly.. Once dried I then used a thinned  gloss varnish painted in directly over the metals of the helmet , scabbard and sword which gave then that little bit a shine and really improved the look. The flag care of Grahame at GMB was added fixed and shaped with PVA, then hardened with 4 coats of varnish. The flag edging was again picked out in thinned gloss to just to give a little shine from the frills.

For the basing I had some French infantry casualty figures falling and dead ones from "Front Rank" and these were mixed in to create an effect of a squadron catching infantry.

Time to complete - 40 hours - 12.5 of that related to conversion and personalisation.

I am very happy with the overall effect as a unit , they have real movement and life which is just what i wanted to achieve. From my more recent reading of 1815 the Dutch Belgian cavalry performed fairly well , thier commander being acknoweledge by The Duke so lets hope these boys do just as well.

A comment on varnish - nicked from Itinerant Wargamer with which I agree.

"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."

I like gloss varnish overall and I think have learnt over the years to paint well and to make it look good with shiny varnish!

At a recent game at the WHC - about to clash with French Cuirassier - and then run away , like all new troops seem too!

More at the WHC site  thanks to Mark Freeth

Thursday 2 June 2011

White Horses

Aaargh!! I hear you say.  I love painting white horses, and you never need that many usually so I don't mind spending a bit of time on them. As I am working on a cavalry regiment at the moment I thought I would try and deconstruct how i did them to work it out as it has mostly been discovered through good old trial and error. I have tried various methods from just white , grey, oil washes etc, and have settled on this method.

Horse initially undercoated in Humbrol 67 (Tank Grey) - yes dark grey.. Allow to dry properly. Then a heavy dry brush of Humbrol 64 (Light Grey), allow to touch dry, then again a heavy dry brush of Humbrol 34 (White) - making sure the paint is not too thin, even just using a bit of thick stuff at the bottom. I don't find I get the same result using acrylics here at all , they don't dry brush as well. The aim being to give a good lightening effect from the dark grey  but still leave darker areas in the muscles folds, around horse furniture etc

This is after the 3 first coats as above.

Next up add the furniture. I this case i am also colouring the tail, mane, socks and the muzzle using a Vallejo black. For the eyes, again just black. Don't worry about "whites of the eyes" - horses don't really have them they are more yellow anyway and horse pupils are very large - you are looking for suggestion here

Now time for the hard earned experience bit. White and grey can look a bit stark or dull. I want to add a little bit of warmth to it. I use water thinned Vallejo Khaki Grey (70880). Take a large brush and paint clean water all over the horse. Then working quickly using the large brush add neat Khaki to the horse -  it will run with the water already applied, work it over the horse. If it appears too thick add more water to your brush, too thin a little more paint. Allow the colour to collect in the folds around the furniture etc. Too much water? Dry your brush on kitchen paper then by touching it to the water area it will draw water and pigment off the horse.

At this stage it can look a little odd, but once it dries (a few minutes) it gives a certain warmth and weathering (probably sweat!) to the horse.

Next , i then use Vallejo Neural Grey (70992) and paint a few thin line marks on the flanks and neck etc to help suggest movement and muscles too. Out with Off White (70820) next to paint (not drybrush - but paint in ) the tops of muscles and flanks. You can at this stage add any dapple you want with the Off White. The horse furniture ,tale , main, muzzle and socks are given a light dry brush of the Khaki and hoofs painted in in Khaki. The muzzle is then given a light brush of Dark Flesh.heavier at the mouth end.
Furniture brasses and steel then added. Add any further dry brush to tail and mane etc . Add any neat pure white to muscles, flank, nose top blaze etc if you want too. Again you can over dapple with dots of pure white.Just remember sometimes less is more!

Overall it does not take that long. Funny thing is it is not until near the end that it all seems to come together and suddenly it comes to life.

Time to complete one horse about 15 minutes altogether with a bit of drying time between some operations

And some more with riders i did this week

Belgian 2nd Carabinier Trumpeter(with own added trumpet etc as the range did not have one!)

Belgian 2nd Carabinier Officer

"Conoisseur" Heavy Horses. I do like them!