Friday 30 November 2012

AWI highlanders (2)

This morning I did most of the highlighting and a few details.  This afternoon will be mostly faces.  I highlight large items like coats, packs, trousers etc in standard 3-layer method, leaving smaller things like straps and facings to do after blacklining.  I mainly use Foundry paints, and sometimes the differences between the 3 colours in each palette are not sufficient and a further highlight is required - I do this mainly with blues and greys.  On the buff gaiter-trousers I've added a third final highlight using Coat d'Arms "Bone 112".  The red coats follow a recipe I've used since the very beginning of my AWI painting, almost 10 years ago now - base cot of GW "Red Gore", the "Blood Red" and finally "Blazing Orange".  I haven't been into a GW recently but I know that those colours will either have been deleted or be called something else like Nurgle Death Gore.  This creates quite a bright scarlet look, which won't be to everyone's taste.  However, as regular readers will know I do tend to paint figures in a brighter-than-life style to help them stand out on the table.

I always ensure that any unit has a good mix of hair colours.  I don't really like painting hair black, although I have to with my Carlist War stuff as I don't think there were many blond Spaniards in the 1830s.  As hair base colours I use more GW paints - "Bubonic Brown", "Scorched Brown" and "Bestial Brown."  These are respectively blond, dark brown and light brown and I highlight them with Foundry "Ochre 4C", "Spearshaft 13C" and GW "Vomit Brown".  Sometimes I use other browns just for variety.

Once I've made progress with the main colours I do the faces and when I do the pupils in the eyes I blackline the entire figure.  Then I finish the flesh and once that's over I feel like I'm at the tidying up and completion stage.   I've actually already done a bit of blacklining on the figures in then photo, on the muskets, in order to add the "Spearshaft C" highlight to the wood and the figures' hair (I don't bother with 2 highlights on muskets anymore; just the base "A" shade and then the "C" highlight.  Talking of muskets, as these are highlanders the slings remains black, as with belts etc.  I'll explain the grey haversacks later.

AWI highlanders (1)

Yesterday I took delivery of about 200 AWI highlanders.  These are the rather excellent figures sculpted by Alan Marsh (of Eureka "ragged Continentals" fame) for Bill Nevin of the US and his "King's Mountain Miniatures."  Bill wanted figures to represent the 71st Foot in the southern campaigns, and Mr Marsh sculpted various firing line and advancing figures, together with a couple of casualties and forthcoming command figures.  Why do I have so many of these figures sitting on the kitchen table?  First, I have a substantial number for myself.  Secondly, I have been sent figures for onwards transmission to a couple of UK customers.  Thirdly, in return for "lead" I have agreed to paint 50-odd figures for Bill's own collection.  Phew - I reckon that's most of my painting schedule for the next 4 months...!

Anyway, I have a few days off work at the moment and so I thought I'd post a series of daily posts on painting some sample/test figures from this new range.  These aren't Bill's figures that I'm painting, but my own - I'm just trying out some different looks so Bill can see what he might like.  My plans for my own figures are not yet fully formed.  I want 2 units of the 76th Foot (32 figures) for the "British Grenadier!" Petersburg 1782 scenario, which will probably be 1 advancing unit and 1 firing unit.  I then intend to re-do the 71st (I already have 2 battalions' worth here) for small-scale skirmish actions like Stono Ferry, for which I might look at "Sharpe Practice".  The figures are in the same dress as the Perry "later war" highlanders, but in different poses.

First thoughts are that these figures are very nice indeed. They have zero flash, so tidying up takes hardly any time (jut a bit of filing on the bases).  The casting is crisp and the details are well-defined.  I am used to Alan Marsh sculpts and his "trademarks" are in evidence here - small buttons, large eye-sockets, open mouths and thin bayonets.  The metal is very robust - barely bendable and I am amazed that in their journey from the US to London there appear to be no broken bayonets.  So excellent casting.  I haven't really looked into all the poses yet, but the firing line has both standing and kneeling figures; the advancing figures could also be described as "charging", I think.  In size terms, they seem perfectly compatible with Perry figures - on the left is a photo of my original 71st Foot using Perry figures with the new King's Mountain figures; it's not the best photo, I admit (I painted the 71st back in 2005).

So here's a rather dull photo of 5 figures which now have all the base colours blocked in, over a black undercoat.  The exact colours are: flesh - Foundry "Expert Flesh 127A" with a wash of Winsor & Newton "Peat Brown" ink; coats - GW "Red Gore" (no doubt called something else now); muskets - Foundry "Spearshaft 13A" and "Gun Metal 104B"; bonnet - Foundry "Deep Blue 20A"; gaiter-trousers - Foundry "Peaty Brown 61A", "Buff Leather 7A" and GW "Dark Angels Green" (for tartan trews); haversack - Foundry "Stone 57B"; canteen strap - Foundry "Canvas 8A"; facings - Foundry "Arctic Grey 33A" for the 71st and "French Dragoon Green 70A" for the 76th.   The next stage will be to do most of the highlights on the equipment and clothing.  I'll do that today.  I don't usually block out the entire figure - my normal method is to highlight as soon as each base coat has dried.  I used to paint the flesh first, but now leave it until the end of the process.

The paint I'm using as the base coat for the tartan trews must be one of the oldest in my collection of paints - an original Citadel plastic pot from, and I'm guessing, about 15 years ago?  It's still going strong, along with several others of similar vintage.  The photo here shows the two successor paint pots from GW - the one in the middle was the worst, as everything tended to dry up after a couple of months.  The pot on the right was much better, but then they changed that and brought in the current smaller sized pot.  As well as the highlanders, I'm working on a couple of other things at the moment.  The wip shot below shows Virginians for 1861 Bull Run, the first figures for a Dixon Stonewall Jackson vignette and a French colonel for a 1815 General Bachelu command stand.  I'm working on those alongside the new highlanders.

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.  

Thursday 22 November 2012

von Heer's Provosts

I still have a backlog of painted units but I wanted to jump ahead a bit to return to the AWI.  I was very excited when Eureka Miniatures announced their "ragged" Continental cavalry range, which I think was first released at the end of 2010.  The range developed into both ragged and non-ragged figures, but the key feature was the array of different hats that could be placed on to the figures' bare heads.  The only American cavalry available in the Foundry/Perry ranges are the Continental dragoon figures from Foundry (which I used for the 3rd Dragoons and intend to use again for the Philadelphia Light Horse).  Those figures, however, have a crested helmet that is not suitable for various other cavalry units.  Eureka's different hats address this problem.  Armand's Legion was the first unit I painted and I'm rather ashamed that I have waited well over a year to paint up some more (I bought quite a few figures when in Melbourne last March and then picked up more at Salute this year).

These two figures represent von Heer's provosts.  This corps was formed in summer 1775, following a petition to Congress by George Washington for the appointment of a Provost Marshal.  Shortly afterwards, Congress adopted formal Articles of War which set out the rules of behaviour that the new Continental Army was to follow.  Men were recruited to assist the Provost Marshal in the enforcement of these Articles.  It appears that most of the recruits were Pennsylvanian Germans.  A permanent Provost Corps was formed in May 1778, and Bartholomew von Heer, another Pennsylvanian, was appointed to its command.  Von Heer had soldiered in the Prussian, French and Spanish armies and had petitioned Washington for the position.  In addition to enforcing discipline in the army and apprehending drunks and deserters, the Provost Corps acted as escorts and honour guards.  The unit's strength seems to have been between 60 and 80 men.  Sources refer to dark blue coats with yellow facings.  There is some divergence as to hats: crested helmets are mentioned as well as tricornes.  This might perhaps reflect clothing worn at different times depending on the nature of the provosts' duties.  For example, I can imagine that when guarding Washington's headquarters the provosts may have worn smart dragoon helmets.  However, when out on picket duty in the field perhaps a softer hat may have been more practical.  The tricorne is shown in Uniformology's book on American Cavalry and that is the look I have gone for here.  A nice couple of figures to have floating around the rear of an American position.  I am currently basing a unit of South Carolina militia cavalry that really show the variety afforded by these excellent Eureka figures.

2 figures.  Painted October 2012.


Tuesday 20 November 2012

French Foreign Legion - 1st Battalion

Britain, France and Portugal all provided troops to assist the Isabellino government.  In the case of Britain, such assistance was predominantly in the form of the granting of permission for Spain to recruit British and Irish citizens to form the British Auxiliary Legion.  Very few professionals from the British armed forces were permitted to participate in the war.  France, on the other hand, saw a cheap and easy way to assist the Spanish government at little risk to its own citizens - it decided to transfer to Spain the newly-formed Foreign Legion.  The FFL was formed in March 1831, apparently as a form of immigration control; foreign nationals with military experience were languishing in Paris with little to do, and allowing them to join the French army was a way of ensuring they didn't spend their time formenting dissent against the government.  A second advantage was having a corps that could be deployed to those parts of the French empire that were unpopular postings with the regular army.  7 battalions were formed initially, with each battalion comprising men from a particular nationality or linguistic group.

Soon after its formation, the FFL was sent to Algeria to assist the consolidation of coastal territory occupied by the French.  In 1835 it was sent to Spain, arriving in Catalonia in August with a strength of some 4,000 men.  Its commander, Colonel Joseph Bernelle, abolished the separation of troops by nationality and reorganised the corps into 5 battalions.  The legion went straight into action in northern Spain, fighting various small actions and no doubt fending off guerrillas in what was very much pro-Carlist territory.  The Carlist took great exception to "foreign mercenaries" waging war on behalf of the government and captured legionnaires and BAL soldiers were routinely executed.  It appears that the legionnaires responded in kind, looting and pillaging their way around the coutryside.  I won't go into the full campaign exploits of the FFL, but will do so in a later post.  There is an excellent year by year summary of the FFL's involvement on the "Toc de somatent!" blog here.  Suffice to say for now that the FFL was virtually destroyed in the war, with barely 500 men of the original 4,000 making it back to France.

A couple of painting notes.  I wanted the greatcoats to be a different colour to those of the Carlists and Isabelino regulars, a grey with a blue-ish tinge.  I used the Foundry "Confederate Grey 117" palette, which I think did the job pretty well.  The officers' dark blue tunics were painted with Foundry's "French Blue 65" palette, with an extra highlight of "Deep Blue 20B" (this is the recipe I now use for French Napoleonic light infantry and artillerymen, i.e. figures all dressed in blue).  I am planning to do 3 or 4 battalions in all, each of 24 figures.

24 figures. Painted July-August 2012.  Flag by Adolfo Ramos.