Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Archive for the ‘Paint and Equipment’ Category

Stuff I like to use.

Primer primer

Posted by Martin on May 24, 2014

After a long gap, the bug for creating another video has bitten. Last time (almost two years ago) I did a rudimentary video about Tamiya X21 Flat Base which was quite well received. So here, at last, is my second offering with a look at the Vallejo surface primer that I use nowadays.

Overall, I think this video shows some improvement and evolution over the first but I’ll let you be the judge of that. I’ve got some better technology at my disposal now – it’s amazing what kind of video and sound quality you can get using a just smartphone. Plus I found a nifty little attachment that lets me mount my phone on my camera tripod.

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Posted in Paint and Equipment, Tutorials | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »

A change of tack

Posted by Martin on April 26, 2014

I have, on occasion, written about how I look at other flavours of the modelling and painting hobby to find ideas and inspiration to bring back to improve my own work. Quite often, it’s involved looking at the activities of large scale (54mm and above) figure painters but every once in a while the idea comes from even further out. In today’s instance, I’ve decided to experiment with something that I found when watching some videos made by a member of the gunpla (or gundam plastic) modelling community. If you haven’t come across it before, gunpla is a niche modelling community that devotes its energies to kits depicting the mechas, vehicles and characters of the fictional Gundam universe by Bandai. It’s extremely popular in Japan and South East Asia but has spread to Europe and North America. Which is handy for me because the videos I’ve been watching have English narrations!

So what’s it all about? If you were paying attention at the end of my last posting, I mentioned that I’ve been getting to grips with my (now not so) new airbrush. Without getting ahead of myself, one of the most productive uses I’ve found for the airbrush is priming figures. But I’ve run into a slightly messy problem with the way I mount figures for painting. Until now, I’ve favoured blutacking the figures to plastic bottle tops and this has had many advantages – it’s cheap (we have lots of spare bottle tops passing through our house), it’s easy and the grips on the bottle tops are a neat aid to twisting and turning the figures when I’m painting.

But when I’m handling figures mounted that way and using an airbrush instead of a conventional paint brush, can you guess what happens? Yep, I’ve been getting a lot of primer on my pinkies. Sure, I could buy disposable plastic gloves but that’s another expense and I suspect it would actually be pretty fiddly when it comes to removing the gloves. And that’s where this video came to the rescue. I love how people are creative with re-purposing common objects for something different. In this case, look what you can do with some crocodile clips, a few wooden BBQ skewers and a bit of of polystyrene packaging.

Since seeing this video, of course, I’ve come across this idea being used already all over the place, particularly by aircraft and military vehicle modellers. So you probably knew about it before me. Still, you’ll be seeing plenty more of those crocodile clips on sticks from me in future – so you’d better start getting used to them.

The fringe benefit of this way of holding figures is that is avoids a seasonal problem I’ve observed with the blutack method. During warm Summer days, I’ve noticed that the Blutack softens and, mainly on heavier figures like horses, its grip on keeping the figure securely attached to the bottle top becomes tenuous. I’ve had a few pieces gradually keel to one side in slow motion necessitating a pause in painting to firmly reposition the wayward figure.

There is one footnote to this idea. While we all have easy access to polystyrene packaging and BBQ sticks are sold in almost every supermarket as soon as the Summer arrives, getting hold of crocodile clips takes a bit more effort. Especially if you want to get a lot of them at a reasonable price. Frankly I was shocked a the prices charged by some big name high street retailers – and the meagre quantities in the packs. Those of you in the United Kingdom may be amazed to learn that Halfords charge £1.69 for a pack of two and Maplins charge £1.59 each! Prices correct at the time of writing, as they say. Alright, both come with plastic sleeves but I don’t need those. So instead, I turned to searching Amazon and eBay and was quickly able to source a pack of 20 for the princely sum of £6. A unit price of only 30p.

Posted in Paint and Equipment | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

Paint-in #6: finishing the Marie Louise

Posted by Martin on September 1, 2013

All around views of the completed Marie Louise from the BfK 2012 Limited Edition set.

All around views of the completed Marie Louise from the BfK 2012 Limited Edition set.

It’s been a long time since the last posting in this paint-in series and rather than spread things thinly by discussing progress across all four figures, I’ve decided to use this posting to discuss the steps I took to complete the Marie Louse infantry figure in the set. The main reason for doing this is that, after a disrupted Summer, I felt in need of the morale boost of getting least one of the figures over the finishing line – painted, varnished, based – the works!

The last time I wrote a paint-in posting, this chap at least had his head, trousers and shoes completed. When I re-commenced work, the first thing that happened was that I decided I wasn’t completely satisfied with the work I’d previously done on the pokalem, so I did some reworking of the blues to make me happier and to get back into the swing of things. Then I moved on to the greatcoat which I decided to paint brown given the amount of grey and blue across the set as a whole. The basecoat was Vallejo German Camo Black Brown (VMC822), first highlight was Vallejo Flat Brown (VMC984) and the the second highlight was Andrea Medium Brown (NAC-46).

After than, it was on to a lot of details, many of which are unexciting so I’ll simply list the paints as follows:

  • White strapping and shako rosette: basecoat – Second Shade (Andrea White Set), first highlight – Base (Andrea White Set), second highlight – Vallejo White (VMC951). For these colours, two thin coats rather than one thicker coat will give a smoother finish.
  • Black for cartridge case and shako: basecoat – Vallejo Black (VMC950), first highlight – Vallejo Dark Grey (VMC994), second highlight – Vallejo Neutral Grey (VMC992), third highlight – Vallejo Light Grey (VMC990). Go sparingly with the final highlight.
  • Brown for the musket and potatoes (!): basecoat – Vallejo Burnt Umber (VMC941), first highlight – Vallejo Beige Brown (VMC875), second highlight – Vallejo Cork Brown (VMC843).
  • Canvas for sack and cloth wrapped round musket lock: basecoat – Vallejo Flat Earth (VMC983), first highlight – Vallejo Ochre Brown (VMC856), second highlight – Vallejo Yellow Ochre (VMC913), third highlight – Vallejo Buff (VMC976), fourth highlight – Vallejo Ivory (VMC918).
  • Brown for backpack and leather strap on water bottle: basecoat – Vallejo Burnt Umber (VMC941), first highlight – Vallejo Cavalry Brown (VMC982), second hightlight – Vallejo Red Leather (VMC818). The piping was done with Vallejo Ivory (VMC918).
  • Brass for shako plate, “N” on cartridge case and musket bands: Vallejo Gold (VMC996) with several pin washes of Vallejo German Camo Black Brown (VMC822). This is one of the rare occasions that I use washing as a technique and the key is the patience to go for multiple very thin washes rather than one or two more opaque ones.
  • Gunmeatal for musket: basecoat – Vallejo Dark Grey (VMC994), first highlight – Vallejo Natural Steel (VMC864).

All the above is pretty regulation stuff. The painting I want to devote some commentary to is the lentille pompom. You can choose different colours according to which fusilier company of a battalion you wish to represent – dark green for the first, sky blue for the second, aurore for the third and violet for the fourth. Normally the lentilles of the first battalion would be solid colour but it was common for those of the other battalions of the regiment to have white centres with the battalion number inscribed on them. For the purposes of the paint-in, I thought it would be instructive for me to tackle the notorious aurore colour because I have seen so many bizarre interpretations of this over the years. Of course, it’s impossible to be prescriptive about this (or any other historical colour) but I took my cue from the meaning of the word – dawn. To my mind that implies that the colour was intended to be the pinky orange of the sky at dawn. With that in mind I used the following paints: base coat – Vallejo Orange Red (VMC910), first highlight – Andrea French Orange (NAC-35), second highlight – Vallejo Sunny Skintone (VMC845).

When you’ve finished all the painting, leave the figure overnight to dry completely before varnishing. There’s a lot written about varnishing and everybody will have a recipe that works for them and gives the desired outcome. I aim for two things: rock solid protection of the paint finish and as matt a finish as possible. With that in mind, I currently follow a three step process, leaving the figure to dry overnight between in each step hidden under a plastic cup to prevent dust and hairs settling on the figure:

First, I paint the figure with Humbrol Enamel Clear Gloss 35 for protection. Second step is to paint with Winsor and Newton Galleria Matt Acrylic Varnish. The reason I do this is not to provide the final matt finish but rather to help me when I apply the final coat of matt varnish which is shiny when wet and I can’t see the spots I’ve missed when painting over the Humbrol gloss finish. The third step is to paint with Revell Enamel Color (sic) Matt 2. For all these products I can’t stress enough the need to follow the manufacturers instructions – especially when it comes to stirring them thoroughly.

Once the final coat of varnish is finished, I now take precautions to avoid handling the figure directly because oils from your fingers will start to add a sheen to the matt finish. So, for the basing steps, I handle figures using a paper towel and then only pick up based figures by their bases (people visiting my house get very dirty looks if they pick up figures by any other method).

For the figures in this set, I promised to sign the bases, so I fortunately remembered to do that before gluing on the figure. The lucky recipients will see the flourish of my initials with the year (2013) in permanent black Sharpie pen on the underside of the base. Having glued the figure to the base and let it set, I built up a thin layer of epoxy putty ( a 50-50 mix of green stuff and Sylmasta A+B putty). When that had set, I applied a diluted coat of PVA glue and dipped the figure in a tray of N-gauge model railway ballast. When dry, I repeated for a second coat of ballast to ensure good coverage and then glued on some individual larger stones. When all the PVA had dried out completely and I was satisfied that there were no loose particles I applied a final light drybrushing of Vallejo Buff (VMC976). And voila, the figure was complete!

Now I’m bracing myself to tackle completion of the second figure. This should be a little more challenging because it’s the drummer with all his Bardin uniform Imperial lace.

Posted in BfK Limited Edition Figures, On the Workbench, Paint and Equipment | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Summer silence ends

Posted by Martin on August 26, 2013

Example pack from the new Perry Retreat from Moscow releases.

Example pack from the new Perry Retreat from Moscow releases.

I’ve had such a busy Summer with “real life” that posting to BfK has taken a back seat. Thank you to those of you who have been kind enough to enquire after my well-being during this period of silence. I’m delighted to say that there’s been nothing wrong. It’s simply been a case of having so many other things to attend to that I’ve been rushed off my feet for ages. I’m not going to bore you with it all but it’s a combination of the day job, my role as Chair of Governors at the local secondary school and having to keep up with the demands of a wife, two teenage daughters (one of whom is about to head off to university), two dogs and two cats. Not to mention an ageing mother-in-law with health issues who lives 400 miles away.

So what have I missed? Well, there’s been a lot happening on the hobby front that has passed me by and many of these things occurred long enough ago not to be fresh enough to mention here. However, a couple of things to stick out for me…

I see the Perry twins have been as industrious as ever and have been working to extend their Napoleonic range into more theatres. One of the most notable avenues under exploration is the arrival of some lovely Retreat from Moscow packs that I confidently predict will lead to snowy skirmish games on many a club and exhibition gaming table over the coming months. And why not? It doesn’t need too many figures or much painting effort to put together enough collateral for a few games that will offer a pleasing diversion from the staple diet of big battalions. The other furrow being ploughed by Alan and Michael is an extensive delve into the rarer Confederation of the Rhine units. This looks like a concerted effort to cover all the options needed for the so-called German division that served in the Peninsular. Eventually, I might take a closer look at the range to see if any of them are suitable for my preferred Autumn 1813 campaign.

A Retreat of Moscow game might fit the bill for my favourite discussion forum thread of the Summer. Over at WD3, they’ve been toying with suggestions for “Come Wargame With Me”, a hobby version of the Channel 4 television extravaganza that is “Come Dine With Me”. It’s a fun thought experiment: given a budget of £100, what kind of evening game could you put on for three wargaming guests? That’s £100 for everything mind – figures, terrain, rules and refreshments with a one month time limit to get everything painted and prepared.

Osprey has gradually been slipping out announcements about its forthcoming publication programme. There are only a few Napoleonic titles but of more interest is the company’s planned open day on 14th September. It sounds as though a lot of old, rare editions will be on sale at bargain prices and I daresay there will also be the chance to meet and chat with Osprey staff. Despite the relative close proximity of Oxford to BfK HQ, I may have to miss this opportunity because it clashes with the weekend that my elder daughter starts at university 😦

Meanwhile, closer to home, the drawbridge is up at Calpe Towers for the Summer holiday until the end of August. But the interest levels have been maintained by releases of some of the French infantry march attack packs along with the availability of some French and Saxon artillery pieces. And even closer to home, I have actually been doing a little painting, mainly with the aim of completing work on the sample BfK Limited Edition figure set. I’ll save details of that (plus some photos) for a separate posting. The other area of activity for me is that I’ve been researching the darkly mysterious subject of airbrushes. I’ve got some specific uses in mind for an airbrush where I can save time and get high quality results, not to mention learn a new skill for my modelling armoury. I’ve got a fair idea of which airbrush I’ll eventually go for but the choice of compressor is more complicated. I’d be interested in hearing about your experiences with airbrushes and how you’ve got on with pushing various brands of acrylic paint, primer and varnish through them.

Posted in Calpe Towers, Forward Patrol, Paint and Equipment | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »