Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Posts Tagged ‘Basing’

Painting the gilded lily

Posted by Martin on January 9, 2010

Painted and based Saxon officer

Painted and based Saxon officer

Cast your minds back to last September (oh, where has the time gone?) and you’ll recall I did some modifications to a Calpe Saxon musketeer officer. Well, the next step was to use this figure for my colour palette experiments. I also wanted to try out my new basing materials – model railway ballast and Silflor tufts. You can see the result in the photo here.

Of course, I don’t normally base up single figures like this but it was always intended as a one-off experiment and I do have a highly specific subsequent use in mind for this figure. In terms of the colour experiments, it was mainly a case of fine tuning decisions I’d already made and just double checking that they would work properly Specifically, I’ve used this figure to verify the following combinations:

  • For yellow metal: VMC Burnt Umber, VMC Brass and VMC Gold.
  • For yellow: VMC Flat Earth, VMC Yellow Ochre, VMC Flat Yellow, VMC Lemon Yellow.
  • For grey-blue: VMC Prussian Blue, VMC Grey Blue and VMC Deep Sky Blue.
  • For white: Andrea White Set 2nd Shadow, Andrea White Set 1st Shadow and Miniature Paints White.

In addition, I painted the blanket roll using the Foundry Rawhide triad over a basecoat of VMC German Camo. Black Brown.

As you can see, I’m still tweaking recipes – in particular the one for white. I think I now have enough contrast between each of the three layers and a white with sufficiently good coverage (thanks to an indirect recommendation from Peter Royle via Peter F.).

This was also the first time I’ve broken into my stash of Silflor grass tufts and I’m pretty pleased with the result. Just two tufts were sufficient to create a pleasing effect but the one tip I will pass on about these is that you need to press them down firmly with tweasers into a blob of PVA to get them to stay put.

Posted in On the Workbench, Saxon Musketeers | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

Let’s put it behind us

Posted by Martin on January 6, 2009

First things first. I’d like to wish a belated very happy and prosporous new year to all of you who regularly (and not so regularly) read my blog.

I, for one, am really delighted to see the back of 2008 – it was a very trying year on the hobby front. I didn’t paint anywhere nearly as many figures as I’d hoped; my dalliance with the idea of entering a painting competition didn’t come to fruition; I’ve wrestled with inconsistent photography and the saga of the Calpe vulcanizer of doom has been depressing. All sorts of people have asked me questions about that and the impact on the release of the Saxons. It’s been difficult at times to know how to respond. Clearly, I’m lucky to have inside information and to know about the struggle Peter F. has faced. And it has been tempting to share more of the details to help people understand and appreciate the situation but I also feel a strong sense of loyalty and friendship with Peter so I’ve always ended up saying less rather than more because I believe that it should be Peter’s decision what to say publicly and when. After all, it is quite literally his business and not mine!

But 2008 hasn’t been a total hobby disaster. I managed to attend both Salute and Colours and I even showed my face at the local Devizes club’s big Napoleonic game. I’ve also acquired a second hand digital SLR camera at a bargain price and started to understand how to get good results with it. Best of all, BfK continues to thrive. Traffic to BfK has gone up by 82% in 2008 compared to 2007; and comments on BfK increased by 19% in 2008 compared to 2007. All that extra activity is down to you kind people. So thank you all and I hope you continue to visit, enjoy and participate in BfK during 2009.

And what of 2009? Well, those who know me will tell you I’m not one for new year resolutions. Frankly, I think that they’re artificial. If there’s something new or different you want to do in life, why do you have to save it up for a new year to come along? Having said that, a year-end does make for a convenient time for reflection and planning and here are some things that, when we get to the end of 2009, I’d like to be able to have ticked off the list – they’re not new year resolutions, you see, because they’ve been on my rolling list for quite a while:

  • Get some Prussian units completely painted, varnished and based. At present that probably means battalions for the 2nd Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.
  • Get at least one Saxon unit completely painted, varnished and based. The first release of the Calpe Saxon musketeers is really very close now so they’re the likely target.
  • Settle on a final design for my casualty bases. There was a lot of positive feedback to the SBS I did this year but I’m still not quite satisfied with the design. I’ve got some ideas for improvements and I hope to be able to demonstrate those for you over the coming weeks.
  • Achieve a consistently high standard of miniature photography. I’m pretty confident on this one. I’ve got a really good camera now and I received a wireless shutter remote control as a Christmas present. All I need to do is find a value-for-money tripod and set up the lampshade lightbox I described back in July.
  • Actually enter a painting competition. Either one at a big show like Salute or Colours or possibly the regular one on Steve Dean’s forum.

Now, if all that goes well, there’s a second tier of not so crucial objectives on my rolling list. These aren’t well formed ideas but I’d like to share at least the flavour of them with you and invite your opinions on them:

  • Terrain pieces: I’m hoping to build a few of these in 2009. I’ve got some books with nice photos of farm buildings, houses and churches in Saxony that I’m using for inspiration. I’m not quite sure what I’ll go for yet but perhaps a couple of small complexes of a couple of buildings that can be used as farms or villages. The other option is some landscape pieces. I’ve got a fascination with ditches, hedgerows and dykes. I can imagine constructing some of these as places where skirmishers might deploy to take advantage of cover.
  • More interactivity on BfK: you might recall the experiment with a voting poll a while ago. That’s something I might do more of in 2009. I’ve also got a bizarre pipedream about audio. I have some friends who are RPGers and they create their own podcasts. I’m not sure that I have the time and resouces to commit to anything so regular or intensive but I am toying with the idea of making digital recordings of certain visits or events later in the year. On top of that, I’m flirting with the Flickr photo-sharing service and the Twitter micro-blogging system.
  • Leveraging BfK traffic for pocket money: some of you may know that I have a small BfK bookshop set up on Amazon. So far, it hasn’t been a spectacular success but it costs me nothing to run and provides a few pennies to pay for paint. At present, the rules of my hosted blog service provider (WordPress) forbid certain sorts of commercial activity like advertising but I’m considering options that would enable me to overcome that legitimately. So if you happen to be a potential advertiser, now’s a good time to get in touch. I may not attract vast amounts of traffic, but what I get is top quality and highly relevant. Commenters during 2008 have included several top figure painters and gamers as well as well-known book authors like Dave Hollins, Stephen Summerfield and Anthony Dawson. Er… that’s quite enough self-promotion!

So that’s enough about me, as they say. What about you? Any grand plans for world domination in 2009?

Posted in Announcements | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Casualty markers SBS: the final result

Posted by Martin on May 31, 2008

front viewrear view

I thought I’d start here by dealing with the question several people have asked: how are you planning to use these casualty markers? I think the best way to explain is to quote what David Brown wrote in the General de Brigade ruleset:

top view“For my games I use a collection of ‘dead and wounded’ figures mounted on 25mm square card as Casualty Markers. Half of the markers are numbered 1234 around the four sides, the other half 4567 around the sides. The marker is then placed next to a unit once it takes casualties, with the appropriate casualty marker number actually in physical contact with the unit. As casualties mount the marker is turned round to show the current casualty state. Once the casualties reach the number of figures on a base, a base is removed.”

Now I’ve slightly adapted this idea – I’ve gone for a larger 40mm base (DB usually games with 15mm miniatures) and I’ve used octagons instead to reduce the number of casualty markers I’ll need to make.

So, how does a finished casualty marker look? To answer that, here’s the one I’ve made to go with the second battalion of the Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment I’m painting up at present. The idea is that I’ll eventually give each unit I paint its own distinctive casualty marker.

Posted in Casualty Markers, Landwehr Infantry, On the Workbench, Paint and Equipment | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Casualty markers SBS: part two

Posted by Martin on May 29, 2008

In part one we reached the point where the overlay had been glued to the base. Now that this has dried out properly, we can move on.

STEP 5: Varnishing
We want to protect the overlay from the rigours of handling during wargaming in just the same way that the paint jobs on figures need to be protected. So it should come as no surprise that I used the same varnishing approach for this overlay as I use for figures. The first coat of varnish is a polyeurethene gloss for protection and the second coat is a matt acrylic for appearance.

For the gloss varish I use Humbrol clear enamel 35 (which seems to go under a variety of names these days). The important thing to remember is that the varnish needs to be thoroughly shaken and stirred before use. I always keep a seperate brush exclusively for gloss varnishing and I clean it using Humbrol Liquid Poly (yes, I know this is a solvent that’s intended for sticking together plastic kits but it’s a great brush cleaner too). Once you’ve painted the base with the varnish put it aside in a dust-free location to dry overnight.

For the matt varnish I use Winsor and Newton acrylic matt varnish. This also needs a really thorough shaking before use. If you do the job properly, you’ll get an excellent flat matt finish – if not, then expect shiny results but these can be corrected with a second properly shaken coat. I sometimes find I need to touch up the bits I missed first time around with a second coat anyway. I dilute my matt varnish with water mixed with a drop of washing up liquid to help it flow better. Again, it’s good to leave this to dry in a dust-free environment but it doesn’t usually need anywhere as long as the gloss varnish before it’s safe to handle. Check the directions on you own preferred varnish for guidance here.

STEP 6: Adding the figure and basing material
When the matt varnish is dry (and assuming that your chosen casualty figure is also painted, varnished and dry) it’s time for some assembly work. I glue the casualty figure to the base using UHU but there are plenty of other adhesives that’ll do the job just as well. Once this is set, you can start adding your basing materials.

Everybody seems to have their own recipe for this so go ahead and do whatever works for you. I thought I’d share my approach though, in case it provides any inspiration. Well, it’s not really mine – I learnt it from the late great Ian Stables.

He used to use ready mixed pre-coloured flexible wood filler. There are all sort of brands of this type of stuff but Ian recommended Wilko dark brown. If you’re in the UK, you can buy this from Wilkinsons (which is a pile it high sell it cheap hardware chain store). The last time I bought a 1Kg tub it cost £1.49 and 1Kg goes a very long way indeed. Don’t try to use it neat from the tub though because it’s too hard to work. Instead, spoon a dollop out into a mixing bowl and dilute to taste with some water and maybe a bit of PVA glue. once you’ve got a consistency you’re happy with you can sculpt it on to your base, taking care to avoid your figure and the numbers printed on the overlay. I use those wooden stirring sticks from posh coffee shops as my sculpting tools.

The great thing about this Wilko wood filler is that it’s a good earth colour already so most of the painting job is done and it has a great texture to dry brush over. I tend to go for a light sandy colour. Lastly you can add anything else you like to spruce up the base – static grass, bits of cat litter for rocks, twigs from the garden for tree trunks etc etc.

Next time, I’ll post a photo of my finished casualty marker base for the second battalion of my Kurmark landwehr infantry.

Posted in Casualty Markers, Paint and Equipment | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »