Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Posts Tagged ‘La Bricole painting competiton’

Modest progress

Posted by Martin on March 15, 2012

Completed French drummer and officer montage.

Completed French drummer and officer montage.

The minimum number of figures required for my La Bricole painting competition entry is eighteen. With two weeks to go, the total completed stands at two! Only sixteen more required then. Not much chance of that by the deadline I’m afraid so I bet the other entrants are breathing a sigh of relief 🙂

At least I’ve been able to use the competition of carry out some successful experiments and brush up on my uniform research. One of the most useful resources I’ve relied on are the Rousselot plates (which, frankly, deserve a whole posting of their own) but even they are silent on some detailed subjects. A case in point being sword knots. Yes, it’s easy enough to pick up the colour of these for officers (gold), grenadiers (red) and voltigeurs (green or yellow) but what about the members of fusilier companies that are armed with a sword, such as NCOs or drummers? One contender appears to be white but another option is the company colour (i.e. green, sky blue, aurore or violet).

Given that I’m looking for a bit of colour to spice up the greatcoated campaign look figures I’m painting at present, I’ve decided to opt for the latter. So the drummer above has got a fetching sky blue sword knot (not to mention the the cord on his water bottle and some gratuitous cuff piping in the same colour) to help reinforce his membership of the second company of the battalion. In a way, I think it’s only fair to give him these splashes because by being bareheaded, he’s missing out on his shako lentille.

The officer is painted in an almost entirely conventional way. He closely follows one of the illustrations in the Rousselot plate that covers line infantry officers (Planche No. 62) which shows the grey trousers that were popular with officers on campaign. The small satchel worn by the officer is mentioned in Rousselot’s notes but strangely not illustrated in any of his Napoleonic plates though I’m told it does make an appearance in one of his Restoration period plates.

All of this work is also grist to the mill for the painting guide to go with the Calpe French infantry range. Peter F. has got most of the uniform references sown up from all his research for sculpting the figures so I’m hoping I’ll be able to contribute a good range of paint suggestions. I also feel a posting coming on about paint dilution and additives in which I’ll share the recipe for the little glass jar of stuff I’ve mixed up and have been using successfully over the last couple of months.

UPDATE: I’ve received an e-mail from Peter F. on the topic of sword knots. He concurs that Rousselot doesn’t really cover the topic but mentions that Rigo does address it in his series of plates. According to Rigo, sword knots for fusiliers carrying sabres should have been in company colours with senior NCOs having the addition of relevant gold threads and decorations. However, Rigo then goes on to say that this regulation was honoured in the breach because each regiment appears to have had its own tradition. Rigo himself has documented wide variation from one regiment to another. Peter F. finished his e-mail to me by saying that Rigo’s comment is essentially “God only knows!”. So I think that pretty much gives each of us the opportunity to follow his own preference.

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Posted in French Infantry, On the Workbench, Paint and Equipment | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Blue is the colour

Posted by Martin on February 19, 2012

The Andrea Blue Set in all its glory.

The Andrea Blue Set in all its glory.

My involvement in the La Bricole painting competition was, in part, intended as an opportunity to experiment and one of the areas I wanted to investigate further was how to achieve the most pleasing result for the blue of French infantry uniforms. My existing palette for Prussian blue has served well over the last couple of years: Vallejo Dark Prussian Blue (VMC889), Vallejo Prussian Blue (VMC965) and Vallejo Medium Blue (VMC963). But when I tried to adapt the same palette for French uniforms, I found it unsatisfactory.

The main problem is that the blue of French uniforms is actually rather dark. And that means that you need a really dark blue basecoat for highlight layers to show up clearly enough without them making the whole effect too light. After a lot of consideration, I reached the conclusion that Vallejo Dark Prussian Blue isn’t dark enough a starting point.

The secondary problem is with Vallejo Medium Blue as a final highlight. It seems too bright and, to my eyes, to contain too much green whereas I was looking for a greyer blue. I’ve tried various other blues in the Vallejo range as a replacement and none of them quite hit the mark. Plus, with both its fellows under scrutiny, I has also started to wonder about Vallejo Prussian Blue’s suitability.

So what was to be done? Answer: time to experiment outside the Vallejo range. When I previously had problems with my white palette I ultimately found the solution in the form of the Andrea White Paint Set – or at least with some of the colours from that set. So the logical step was to try the Andrea Blue Paint Set, not least because I’d seen Sascha Herm’s success with it. Like other sets in the same range, the Andrea Blue Paint Set comprises six shades: a basecoat, two shadows and three highlights. Visual inspection of the bottles suggests that the change in shade from one colour to the next is subtle to say the least until you get to what appears to be quite a jump from the second highlight to the third highlight.

Further, three of the colours seem very close to the Vallejo shades mentioned above. In certain lights, the basecoat colour is close to Vallejo Dark Prussian Blue and there’s a marked similarity between the second highlight and Vallejo Prussian Blue. In particular, the third highlight looks very similar to Vallejo Medium Blue. So I was initially a little disheartened about the prospects of finding a solution with this set. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So I decided to take the plunge.

New blue palette on French officer's habit-veste.

New blue palette on French officer's habit-veste.

I started out by applying a basecoat using the second shadow (i.e. the darkest colour in the set). Experience has taught me that Andrea colours work best with two thin coats for the basecoat and, in doing this, it became instantly clear that this was a colour to be reckoned with. It really is a deep black blue with an exceptionally matt finish that flows smoothly on to the figure. Of course, some of the mattness may be down to the inclusion of Tamiya X-21 Flat Base in my new mix for diluting paints (more of that experiment in a future posting) but I suspect that is only a modest factor in the case of this particular paint.

Next I tried the the second highlight as a first highlight (I know, confusing isn’t it?) on the basis that my test application of many blues on some white card showed this to be sufficiently lighter to show up as a highlight and rather similar to the Vallejo Prussian Blue that I know so well. This wasn’t so successful because this paint didn’t seem to have quite enough covering power to complete with the dark base coat. To be fair, I did skip several of the intermediate colours in the set and perhaps if I had layered up through them, that might have made a difference. So I switched to the Vallejo Prussian Blue as a first highlight instead – bingo! A most pleasing effect: clearly visible highlights without being too light or drifting tonally to green.

Emboldened by this success, I moved on to a second highlight using the third highlight colour (i.e. the lightest colour in the Andrea set). Now I was worried about how similar this would be to Vallejo Medium Blue but I was reassured by a comparison of the two on my white test card. I think my initial impression must have been skewed by the fact that the bottles are not completely transparent and therefore give a slightly false idea of the actual paint colour. This colour also seems to lack totally solid covering power but, in this instance, that turns out to be an advantage because if it did provide too effective coverage it would be too bright a shade. In reality, a degree of transparency to let the previous layer show through slightly helps provide a more subtle final highlight and means that I can control how intense I want it to be by painting on additional brush strokes of the colour if needed.

In terms of finding a new palette to use for French blue, I think this has been a successful experiment but I need to use it on more figures to really understand the properties of these Andrea colours and how they interact with the Vallejo Prussian Blue. On the downside, as it stands, I’ll only be using two colours out of a set of six paints, so it hardly qualifies as the most cost-effective solution. Still, I live in hope that the other four colours will one day come in useful for something!

Posted in French Infantry, On the Workbench, Paint and Equipment | Tagged: , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Behind schedule already

Posted by Martin on January 21, 2012

Progress on the officer and drummer for the first base.

Progress on the officer and drummer for the first base.

Oh dear! I’m already in danger of falling behind on my self-imposed schedule for completing my entry for the La Bricole painting competition. The idea was to get the first six figures finished by the end of January. This picture shows how far I’ve got (well, apart from doing the light blue pompoms on the other four figures’ shakos).

At least these two chaps are going in the right direction – heads, trousers and footwear finished. On the whole I’m pleased with the quality and it was nice to give the bare-headed drummer a little flash of his company colours by adding some piping to his cuffs. Of course, this is outwith the Bardin regulations but I couldn’t resist it as a little “gift” for a certain couple of Kiwi friends. As usual, I’ve applied some mud to boots, gaiters and the bottom of the trouser legs. It took an effort of willpower to resist muddying up the drum apron too.

Ah well, better get back to the painting desk!

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Loosening up

Posted by Martin on January 1, 2012

Painted abandoned backpack.

Painted abandoned backpack.

I wanted a low-stress way of getting reacquainted with the brushes and paints for my contribution to the La Bricole painting competition, so I settled on tackling the abandoned backpack that I had prepared and primed the other day.

Whether it was the fact that it’s New Year’s Day or that I’m rusty, I don’t know, but this little piece of scenic clutter for the first base took me a couple of hours to complete. Perhaps most surprisingly, on nearing completion, I realised that I’d used 11 different paints! In no particular order they were Vallejo Ivory, Burnt Umber, Cavalry Brown, Red Leather, Orange Brown, Dark Grey, Neutral Grey, Light Grey and White plus the 1st Shadow and 2nd Shadow from the Andrea White set.

Posted in French Infantry, On the Workbench | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »