Tuesday, 31 January 2012

SAGA quick dip

In a desperate attempt to clear the painting queue so that I can make a proper start on my SYW project, I finally got around to painting the archers I'm intending to use as 1 point of Levy for my Saxon warband for SAGA. These were what was effectively for me "speed painted" in a couple of hours (not including drying time) and unfortunately it shows; I won't be making that mistake again. I had already made the decision to dip everything for this project anyway, as it's only a side project and the Dark Ages lend themselves to dark and stained clothes, but  I was in a rush with the Army Painter dip on these before shooting off to work and didn't do things properly. I also need to keep my work stations tidier as I am sure that 50% of the problems just come from the mess I manage to generate.

So, I brushed the dip on and brushed it off again - but not so successfully. I'm not overly worried; I have just re-watched The Raven Flies and The Shadow of the Raven and the costume departments must have had a field day working all that grime into things! Even so, it is a little irritating, as you can see blotches of dip where they shouldn't be...

So here are all the fyrd archers together. They are a mix of Gripping Beast and Black Tree Design.

I'm also experimenting with basing - I may have gone a bit overboard with the flowers... Here are the first 4, note the big splodge of dip on the left-hand archer's tunic. I'll have to do something about that later.

The second group came out a bit better, I think.

Just look at the size of the bow hand on this guy though: I put the flowers on the base in an attempt to draw the eye away from what must be the biggest pair of hands in early Christendom! His hand is bigger than his head!

Last group:

I like this lot best - especially the one on the right. He really reminds me of Grim in Shadow of the Raven.

Since I'm posting this I thought I'd add some pictures of my (mad?) axe wielding Huscarls and one of my two Saxon lords. Also dipped, but a little bit more time taken over them (I hope it shows!).

The huscarls. There are 9 of them as two were in the same pose, so I added a plastic one so as to have 8 different poses.

Gorgeous shield transfers by LBMS:

Now I have worked out how to use the camera well enough to take a semi-decent picture, I'll have to get the rest of my SAGA stuff photographed. For example, I have a couple of terrain pieces from Scheltrum that I don't think many people have seen, and which are definitely worth taking a look at. I'll try and get that done over the next couple of days.

Monday, 23 January 2012

SYW Project: Planning and Beginnings

After a somewhat interesting weekend of travel to London and back (how did I manage to pick the only day of the year so far when Brno airport had to be closed due to snow? It turned a 3 hour trip into an 8 hour one via Bratislava ...), I finally have all of my Seven Years War figures in one place and can sort out what I have. I placed several orders with Foundry over Xmas and the New Year while they had their sale on, but had some of them delivered to my brother's place in London to take advantage of the UK prices. I won't go into a long anti-Foundry rant, after all, I do like their figures and nobody is forcing me to buy from them, but I will never understand their pricing policy and am amazed that they make any direct sales in what they term the Rest of the World at all. At the prices they charge though, it'd be nice if they got the orders right - they have already sent me two of the wrong regiment packs (which I kept and just reordered as it appears they are all definitely disappearing), and there was a problem with a third regiment pack this time around.

Anyway, I picked up the Prussian army I ordered along with a few other bits and pieces, and brought them back to add to the orders delivered here and my eBay purchases. A bit of sorting out produced this:

This is what I have to work on at the moment. As you can see some of the Russian (nearer) stuff has had a start made on it - well, some of it was started a couple of years ago but then life got in the way. Anyway, it's all sorted by unit - 24 foot or 8 horse, although some have a few missing or extra at the moment.

Russian Foot:

This is the Russian foot and artillery. There are 4 regiments of musketeers in coats and 2 in kamzol, as well as a regiment of grenadiers in each - though I need 6 more grenadiers in kamzol to complete the unit. The gap in the box is for 16 figures which are in the painting queue at the moment. This is only 8 units of foot; I'd like to add some observation corps (2 x musketeers and 1 x grenadiers), but I'm not sure whether the figures will ever become available again. I hope so, or that I can find some on eBay. If not I'll possibly take a look at Sash & Sabre to fill out a few more units. Either that or just buy some Crusader Austrians and turn this into an Allied army.

The artillery consists of 3 Front Rank pieces, with Foundry observation corps crew, and a Front Rank caisson. I'd like to add another 3 pieces with normal artillery crew - at the moment, the Russians have no more artillery than the Prussians - that can't be right!

Russian Horse:

The Russian cavalry has been started on too. I painted up 12 cuirassiers a while back, which have been split into 8 and 4. I have enough figures now to make a second unit with 2 left over - so another 2 blisters for 3 units of cuirassiers. I'm not sure whether that might not be too many, though.

There's only 1 unit of dragoons, 1 of horse grenadiers, 2 of cossacks (with a little help from TAG) and some TAG Tartars, which will be used as Kalmuks. Yes, I know, too heavy on the cossacks and too light on the dragoons. I may have to buy a few more dragoons, but the cossacks stay!

So there's the Russians, now moving swiftly on...

Prussian Foot and Artillery:

10 units of foot: 3 musketeers (2 with lapels, 1 without), 4 fusiliers (nearly 2 of each), 2 grenadiers (1 of each) and some Frei Korps (still need 6 figures). There are more fusiliers than  musketeers (not good) but that's because I was sent extra by Foundry in one of the orders, almost enough to make the second unit without lapels. Unfortunately they also sent me a unit pack of grenadiers without lapels as part of the army deal in which the command figures were all replaced by grenadiers with lapels. Foundry have promised to send a pack on, but it's irritating all the same.

There are also 3 guns with crew.

Prussian Cavalry:

And the Prussian cavalry. 3 units of cuirassiers (one Garde du Corps), 2 of dragoons, and 1 of hussars in fur busbies (though I guess I'll have to buy a Front Rank trumpeter in mirliton). I definitely want to add a unit of hussars in mirliton for the Death's Head Hussars, and probably another unit of cuirassiers - I just need to add a command blister.

So there it is. This is my other major project of 2012 - and I think it'll be more than enough to keep me going this year! Any comments and criticism on force composition gratefully received. And if anyone has any spare Prussian Frei Korps, or Russian observation corps figures they want to sell, please let me know...

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

1st Cuirassiers - WIP

I don't really have much time this week for painting, we have a new member of staff at the Faculty with whom I'm sharing courses so that needs to be sorted out and there are one or two other things going on as well that are conspiring to keep me away from the painting table. I also don't and can't paint at the speed of some of those whose blogs I follow, so that means if I only get an hour here or there, not a lot gets done.

I am determined to keep this blog up and running though, so I shall make posts even when I don't have a "finished product" as it were. Here's a WIP - hopefully having it up on the blog will motivate me to finish the next 6 figures at least. I'll need 18 for Lasalle but I'll probably paint at least 6 more for R2E. That seems a long way off at the moment though...

So here they are, Mesdames et Monsieurs, the 1st Cuirassiers so far:

Since I am doing the 1815 campaign I decided to paint the trumpeter still in Bourbon livery, as per the Osprey and  the Cent Jours website. The epaulettes have no fringe in the Osprey, and red ones on the website; I have compromised by doing neither until I can find out one way or the other! I also intend to paint another trumpeter stand in Imperial livery to use in 1814 and before. The lovely flag, which you can't see unfortunately, is by GMB, the figures Perry plastics of course.

Flocking will wait until I have a load to do - but otherwise, these are pretty much done now. Perhaps this post will spur me on to get them finished at last.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

A Cossack Interlude - TAG and Foundry comparison

I have just discovered that Jason over at Der Feldmarschall is intending to do things very similar to me - namely both Seven Years War and Napoleonic projects, and that the SYW armies in question will be Prussians and Russians from the Foundry ranges. When I mentioned in a comment on his blog that I am intending to use some TAG Tartars (excuse the spelling - I am a linguistic dinosaur and prefer the two 'r's), Jason commented that he thought the TAG ranges were very hit or miss. Well, although they are smaller than the Foundry sculpts, I don't think it is an insurmountable problem, and I like them, so I have decided to put up a few comparison pics in the hope it might be useful for someone.

I started off with the less extravagant of the Foundry Cossacks and their TAG counterparts. Here they are:

Foundry     TAG       Foundry    TAG

While the TAG riders are smaller than the Foundry ones, here the difference isn't all that great, at least in my opinion. Where it really is noticeable is between the larger (than life?) Foundry sculpts for the officer etc. and the smaller TAG ones where the rider is stripped to the waist. The Foundry rider is literally head and shoulders above the TAG one.

 TAG                        Foundry

On to the horses. I have to admit that I am not a big fan of the shape of the TAG horses' heads, but in my book, the Foundry horses are some of the best out there. Surprisingly, the TAG horses seem to be every bit as large as the Foundry ones - so they should work well together.

Foundry               TAG                Foundry

And finally a comparison shot of one of my Kalmuks next to a Foundry Cossack when mounted. I think sizewise these are perfect together - the Central Asian pony has the weird head again, but I'll just have to live with that...

TAG Ta(r)tar                       Foundry Cossack

Well I hope that's been of help. Now I must get back to some painting...

Thursday, 5 January 2012

SYW Test Paint

With the release of Maurice this year, now is as good a time as any to revisit (read: actually start properly) my Seven Years War project. I have a fair few rulesets that I'd like to try out already: Might and Reason, Die Kriegkunst, Black Powder, but the fact that Maurice will encourage the Imagi-nation side of things has really caught my interest. While I don't want to create an Imagi-nation of my own at the moment, I fully intend to play fast and loose with army composition, in the sense of choosing units for their uniforms and flags rather than modelling a snapshot of the Prussian and Russian armies at any particular time.

As will become apparent, I have thus ordered rather a lot of the Foundry SYW range before it all disappears (sob).   There is a kind of method in my madness, but just how much remains to be seen. Anyway, some of it has already arrived and I decided to do a test paint of a Prussian fusilier, as I had a couple of extra figs lying around. IR 38 von Brandes being the most "typically" Prussian (red lapels, collars and cuffs with white waistcoat), that's what I went for, just to see how it would look. This is the result:

My inability to get the camera settings right notwithstanding, I think this looks OK, despite having missed a button. I used the same white palette for the clothing and the cross-belts, but I think I'll do what I do with my Napoleonics and use the Foundry Austrian White triad for the waistcoat etc. when I get down to unit painting. The sword knot is white as I don't know what colour(s) to paint it. I have ordered the 18th Century Press Prussian uniform guide to add to my Mollo and obligatory Ospreys and am hoping the info will be in there - otherwise I'm going to have to order another confusingly organised Pengel and Hurt or two. No weathering either - a Lace Wars soldier needs to look a little smarter than a French conscript of 50 years later.

Thanks for looking and as always, comments and criticism welcome.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Inside Out or Outside In?

Since I first started thinking about these kind of things, I've always painted my figures from the inside out, by which I mean that I start with the skin and then the clothing and accoutrements closest to it, working my way outwards. A recent post by DeanM on http://wabcorner.blogspot.com/ and a reread of of Kevin Dallimore's first guide to painting made me decide to try it the other way around to see if it were any easier or faster. I also decided to try and document the process, although, as can be seen below, I shan't be winning any painting or photography awards any time soon. The question was though, what to paint? It had to be something reasonably simple, and something I was familiar enough with to be able to compare the process with my normal way of doing things.

At the moment, I am in the throws of repainting and 'upgrading' a couple of Foundry French units that were painted many moons ago, in an attempt to refurbish them for a game I hope to hold in the spring. They don't really fit in with the style of my more recently painted figures, especially not since I have abandoned the painting of eyes (if mine are going then so can my troops'!). I have also changed my standard French battalion from a 35 figure unit - 34 infantry plus 1 mounted colonel - to 40 strong - 6 companies of 6, a command stand of 3 with eagle/fanion and separate mounted officer. So I basically need a few extra troops to fill in the gaps and a pack of 8 French infantry in greatcoats would do the job.

Here is a brief run through of what I did. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.

Stage 1
First off, the metal work on the muskets. Painted with Chainmail 35A, highlighted with Metal 35B and then washed with Badab Black.

Stage 2
The white cross-belt, shoulder straps and piping, all done with the Foundry white triad. I tend to use this for belts and the Austrian White triad for trousers, jacket fronts and the like.

If there is one thing I positively hate painting on French Napoleonics, it's the piping on the backpacks. It drives me mad. This time, however, I didn't have to worry too much about getting the white paint in the wrong places and it was easy to clean up any mistakes.

Stage 3
The next stage was painting the flesh, musket, back pack and canteen strap. I always like to paint the face; each one turns the figure into an individual and makes it easier for me to paint somehow.

Stage 4
Now some bigger areas of the figure get covered: the trousers and the shako covers. I used 2 different colours on the covers, Foundry Canvas and Boneyard, for a bit of variation.

Stage 5
This is the reason I will never be a photographer! Despite taking 3 photos, I managed to get all of them out of focus. You might just be able to make out the addition of the brass buttons  and stock plate and the canteen...

Stage 6
Finally, I got to paint the greatcoats. I wanted to really see how much faster I could paint here, with all the "detailling" already done, so I used a size 4 brush. It really wasn't hard to do at all - and it was much faster! 3 different triads here, as my French are a ragtag bunch, but only the shade and base colour, as I find the highlights just too stark. I also painted the black items: shoes, cartridge box and shako peak.

Stage 7
The last, and easiest, stage of all. I had already washed the shako covers, now it was the turn of the greatcoats. In future I'll do both at this stage to speed things up. Devlan Mud and Gryphonne Sepia were used and then the bottom of the great coats, the trousers and the shoes were given a quick going over with the weathering stick.

So here we have the (nearly) finished product. They still need varnishing and basing, of course, but I tend to do that all in one go if I can.

So, was it quicker and easier? Well, as to the first, despite using the big size 4 brush, I can't be absolutely certain, as I was painting some other figures in parallel, but I'm pretty sure that if I'm clear on the order and what I need to paint when, using this technique will significantly speed my painting up. As for easier, well I think it is. Getting all the fiddly bits out of the way when you can correct them without fear of going over something else makes for a much more relaxed process too. I'm definitely going to be giving this a try with my SYW project.