Monday, 26 November 2012

3rd Netherlands Cavalry Brigade, 1815

Something I'd been meaning to do for a while was to photograph the Dutch-Belgian cavalry brigade I painted a few years ago in its entirety.  I was asked to chip in to the large Waterloo game that Loughton Strike Force put on at Salute 2007 (was it really that long ago?).  The game centred around the French cavalry charges of the late afternoon and featured hundreds of beautifully painted 25mm figures.  Doug Bernie, who I recall had painted something like 150 Guard cavalry for the game, collected the club's well-deserved "Most Impressive Troops" award.  My contribution was very small: (i) Generaal-Majoor Jean Baptiste Baron van Merlen's brigade of the 5th Belgian Light Dragoons and 6th Dutch Hussars, (ii) the Napoleon command stand (see here) and (iii) a  few casualties and some other command vignettes.  I failed to take any photos of the brigade in action, and this is the time since Salute that I have paraded the two regiments together.  The Merlen command stand actually uses the Ghigny figure from the Perry Dutch-Belgian cavalry commanders pack.   

The Dutch-Belgians were the first substantial unit of 25mm cavalry I'd ever really painted.  In early 2007, when I started, I was 3 years in to my AWI marathon and whilst I had painted several mounted generals at that stage I hadn't started on the cavalry (which in the AWI are only very small units in any event).  My experience of painting horses was limited to a few packs of Foundry Ancient Germans and Alexandrian Companions.  For those I had used a simply base coat and dry-brush technique - quick and easy, but not very sophisticated.  Oddly, despite using this hassle-free method, I had always found horses tedious and boring to paint.  So because these Dutch-Belgians were going to be on public display, and because I wanted the cavalry to look as if I'd put as much effort into the horses as I had into the men, I began experimenting with new methods and these figures defined the way I have painted horses ever since.  I suppose essentially it's nothing more than the standard 3-layer system, but I do a lot of "wet-into-wet" blending to try to make the layering a bit more subtle.  I also began to look much more at photos of horses to see how markings and blazes worked and , in particular, the colours of muzzles.  When I then returned to painting horses for the AWI, I decided to move beyond chestnuts and bays to tobianos and overos, on the grounds that these more exotic colours were justified by the AWI's New World setting. 

Nowadays I really enjoy painting horses.  While I have standard recipes for the standard colours I do try to make each horse an individual and I'm still finding new colour combinations to use.  I'll describe these in more detail when I post on the Carlist War cavalry units I painted in September and October.  Before I painted these Dutch-Begian troops I was rather scared by the idea of painting horses.  I appreciate that my style won't be to everyone's taste, but I suppose the lesson I learnt from painting these figures was that, as with most things in life, the more effort you put in the more satisfaction you derive at the end.  Finally, I realised after a while that with practice it doesn't actually take much longer to paint horses now than it did with the base coat and drybrush method!  (If anyone's interested in a post on the colours I use for horses, then please say - I don't post "how to" articles because I know from your own blogs that most readers are excellent painters.)

This is one of my favourite parts of my 1815 collection: my first serious 25mm cavalry, my first contribution to a demo-game (and, now I think about it, my first completed 25mm Napoleonic unit), and the figures on which I developed a more enjoyable way to paint horses.  I ought to paint up the rest of the division some time!  Actually, the 6th Hussars are 6 figures over strength, so the 6 Volunteer Light Dragoon figures attached to this regiment can be transferred to another one.  


Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

They look fantastic Giles! I wish your enthusiasm for painting horses transferred to me.:-) I understand how to and like you I pretty much paint them the same way I do my infantry and generally I'm happy with the end result, but I suppose the straps and things just always still annoy me.


JayCan said...


These are realy realy amazing painted a bit jealous now as i already started with Napoleonic Brits...all "thumps up"


Ulrich von Boffke said...

Wonderful! Nothing like lots of Napoleonic cavalry brigaded together.

Best Regards,


Curt C said...

Beautiful work! The extra care you put into your horses really pays off - they really look magnificent.

Anonymous said...

Nice work Giles. Love the period in all its splendour.



Fire at Will said...

Excellent figures and regards to Doug the next time you see him.

Willie Anderson said...

Look great Giles!

Rodger said...

Awesome Giles. They look fantastic!

Juan MancheƱo said...

The Brigade looks fantastic, fantastic. What amount of work you have here!!!

Simmy said...

Very impressive!
I love the Dutch-Belgian army at Waterloo.
Your miniatures are excellent as always.

Davvero impressionante!
Amo l'esercito olandese-belga di Waterloo.
Le tue miniature sono eccellenti come sempre.