Saturday, May 14, 2016

Photoshop Phun

With a little mucking about you can see the idea coming together. I'm extremely happy with the colour matching: no filters were used in this mock-up. I think I got the palate right for my parchment scheme. Into the future, with multiple units on matching terrain, scenic effects and buildings I am confident my Williamite Warfare creation will have that of-the-page look.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Making it Real (4): Finished

Well, the first battalion is done and I am satisfied with the results. I may return to lift the bases and ground work a little with further dry brushing but for the time being, this is it. I am tempted to Photoshop them onto a sketch backdrop. The light was poor at the time and given my general aversion to flash-lighting they appear darker than in real life.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Making It Real (3): Nearly There.

Based in accordance with my previous basing convention notes, my first battalion is nearing completion. A generic battalion, I am nevertheless labeling them for specific unit against the Seneffe order of battle. Whilst the practice was for three colours (flags) to be carried by a battalion within the Dutch army, I have represented them with only two. At this time, I am opting for entirely blank or plain colours. These I added after painting the ensigns with the rest of the figures. I make my own from fine cloth and for the next battalion, I have stiffened the cloth with diluted PVA and fixing them with the poles when I fix them to the miniature in the prepping phase. I have already commenced the next battalion.
I use pre-mixed wood putty which comes in a variety of colours but I only have it in brown. This has proved a pain in applying it, especially for the rear-ranks musketeer stands. Normally, the figures are painted in full colour and the bases are later covered in scenic effects and the figures dirtied up - so any contact the putty has to the figures simply adds to the effect. This time, I need everything in parchment shades and the textured bases will be painted in the same shades as the figures.

I thought this process would be much faster than it is but allowing 24 hours between painting applications, waiting for glue to set and putty to dry means it is taking be about a fortnight per unit. Still, it's been taking me a month to six weeks for fully painted units these days so I suppose it still is relatively rapid.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Making it Real (2): Experiment Unfolds

Now that I've finally turned my attention to this project once more, I'm impatient to get it moving. Paint dries in it's own time; however, and my primers need 24 hours. Nevertheless, I have satisfied myself with my grey/brown undercoat and have hit the first test figures with the bone coloured dry brushing and am happy with the results thus far.
The finish is darker than this exposed light photo might indicate and darkens as it dries. This has been fastidiously brushed on using a soft brush No:12 and unlike normal undercoating (especially when spraying) absolutely every nook and cranny must be filled as this base coat is the only one I should need for the recesses and deep detail. Otherwise I'd have to ink them which I think I can avoid. Funny, after so very many years of painting I still stumble across new tricks.

As total coverage is paramount for the base coat, I found holding my figures upside down when brush coating is best - it just hits all the recesses so much easier than the right way up!

Okay, the next shot is my first highlight with the bone colour and you can see the comparison with the base coat alongside. I'll be almost dusting the figure afterwards with the merest of white dry brushing for highlights. I experimented with brushes and found that a No:12 trimmed to a flat end works best so far. I may also need a second undercoat over the Green Stuff hats.   

Friday, April 22, 2016

Making it Real (1): Prepping

It's been such a very long time since my last post and since I turned my attention to progressing my passion for wargaming the Williamite period. The essential issue is that this is simply one of many wargaming interests and it competes with my other cravings.

So, out came the box of my Williamite white metal collection and away I go. As you may recall, I determined to go with a parchment, colourless paint scheme to represent how a battle might look in the sketches of the period. The figures and terrain will all be in a sepia wash. Where uniform details are available I may introduce some coloured units into the mix in the future but for starters, it's a parchment effect for the first units.

In prepping the figures (all Front Range - late 17th Century range) I cut my own pikes and flag poles for the first 36 figure battalion of foot. They have 8 pike and 24 musketeers with a command stand of 4: 2 ensigns, a drummer and commander. I have cut my own replacement steel pikes which is a thicker wire than the rods supplied (see image) - I hammer the ends, cutting and shaping the blade points. I used the spontoon heads from the officer figures, drilling and gluing them on my own steel wire for the flag poles. Drilling a hole and fixing the butt with Araldite in the base and the open hand, I closed the hands over the shaft with needle-nose pliers for extra strength.

Supplied shafts in front for reference
I decided to model a number of higher crown hats on my figures. Whilst the fashion by 1674 saw a widespread adoption of lower crown felt hats, there are still images depicting older, higher crown fashions amongst common soldiery - though not many. Whilst I love the tall 'pilgrim' crown hats of the previous generation, I have gone for a flat topped crown just double the height of the figures supplied. I deliberately made the drummer's hat close to a pilgrim.

High hats before cutting and filing them down.
I filed the figures crown flat, drilled and Superglue'd a pin made from the soft spontoon shafts from the officer figures. This proved important as I could slice through the extensions with a scalpel  once the green stuff had set. I built the extension around the pin using Green Stuff epoxy putty, sculpting and filing the finished extensions once they had set sufficiently (overnight).
Cut down hats

I'm ready to undercoat them now. I think at this time I'm going to undercoat them with a darker, grey-brown water based metal primer. I'm using house paints - a White-Knight tintable primer coloured to Taubman's 'Pickle Barrel' (7Db-2). I'm not used to acrylics and it has a satin finish so we'll see how we go. I can dilute it as I see fit. The undercoat will really be the base coat over which I'll heavily dry brush with an enamel tinted to 'Barefoot Beach' (Taubman's 9Da-3) for than bone/cream over grey brown. I'll finish with a light dry brushing of white just to hit the highlights before varnishing. One textured, the bases will be done in the same way as will the terrain and buildings - all in the same three toned finish. I still don't know if it will work so will experiment on one figure first. If it does, consistency of finish is crucial for everything on the table-top.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Williamite but not Wargaming

The reason for my death like silence on this and my other blogs is my return to the family home - minus the family. In the division of our possessions, my coffee tables went north with my wife and children. In the ensuing redecoration of my lounge room nothing grabbed me so I turned my hand to creating my own. I do not know where the idea sprung from but I resolved to make a matching set of small tables with a picture on the table top which, when put together created a bigger image.

When in the Netherlands in 2012, I visited the Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn, the home of William of Orange and 3rd of Great Britain and his wife and Queen Mary. I picked up a poster print of Romeijn de Hooghe's  View of Paleis Het Loo, ca. 1690-94. This I resolved to feature on my tables.

Above is the complete assembly of the four tables. I am happy with the result but they wouldn't stand up to a cabinet-maker's scrutiny for a heart beat. I built all the tables myself from pine and Tasmanian Oak for the legs, white-glued the print to the tops and gave it four or five coats of floor lacquer. I have slowed down my home redecorating and renovating and my painting table in back inside and I have returned to the hobby.  Albeit at a gradual pace, this blog will once more come to life - so stand by.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Something New from Something Old

For over a year I have been sitting on a stagnant pile of gorgeously sculpted lead for my United Provinces army. I have come to realise that this is unlikely to alter in the foreseeable future - perhaps even my lifetime - unless something is done.

The limitation is uniform and colour information. This has largely been the case due to a vacuum of research and certainty surrounding uniforms and colours for the Dutch Wars of the 1670s - less so for the French but drastically so for the Dutch. I also realize there's not a lot I can do about that.

I have previously flagged a willingness to co-fund a grant but have not pushed it past this Blog as yet. I have dreamt of learning Dutch, living in the Netherlands for a year and doing it myself but it's not possible - not in this life. So until the void is at least partly filled - what to do?

My options are to speculate that the earliest reference to regimental uniforms (those of 1688 as published by Sapherson) might be consistent with the uniforms of the same regiments 14 years earlier. I say 14 years because I want to concentrate on the battle of Seneffe in 1674 - that's the army I want to recreate. But the evidence is simply against me and I know it.

Even within the much reduced time frame covered by Sapherson's work for William's army in the Nine Years War, individual regiments change their uniform colours with alarming regularity. The chances of a previous period being more consistent seems unlikely in the extreme and to suggest it could also stretch over a 14 year period is not just improbable, it's fanciful.

So I have come to a curious option and one inspired by the following image.

Actually, it didn't have to be this image in particular. I'm talking about the time honoured portrayal of warfare in this period by the artists' engraving. Replacing the woodcut, the artist's engraving recorded visual impressions of the characters and events of the age for a rapidly increasing number of increasingly literate people thanks to the exponential proliferation of the printing press. Unlike the periods which followed, this was predominately in our century of interest a form without colour and it is this lack of colour which has caught my imagination.

If I can't discern the uniform colours of my army, then why not dispense with colour entirely? I've always sought to push the boundaries of conventional wargaming and try something new. This may be it.

Here I'd like to acknowledge the work of a fellow Blogger and one of the many I follow: Carmen's Fun Painty Time. Some time ago he created a vignette for a 1930's American gangster mob, all in 'black & white' to capture a feel for the period. As he paid homage to the age of B&W film, might I not think about wargaming in the age of the 17th century engraving?

In a world without colour; light, shade and form become more evident. The eye will be drawn to the sculpting and the modelling without distraction from how well or not I have painted them. Have you ever thought how pure and statuesque some of the superior figures available today look at the undercoated stage - when undercoated white that is?

When asked, "What's all this wargaming about?", have many of us not likened wargaming to a more dynamic chess-like game but with toy soldiers? Well, a table-top without colour gets closer still. More of the game and less of the craft or artistic side of the hobby, yet perhaps not entirely.

Whilst the game comes more to the fore in this option (as I see it) I'm not talking about simply spray-painted figures moved across a bed-sheet. I'm talking about bringing those well known sketches to the third dimension. Unlike B&W photography, where all colour is represented by subtle shades, the engravings of this time are predominately detailed white sketches with an emphasis on shade or more precisely, shadow. I envisage at this time white-sprayed undercoated figures, perhaps inked or 'washed' and a dusting or dry brushed finish. I'd want the finish figures to be like marbled masses; subtle, delicate and worth holding up to the eye.

Perhaps subtler shades of coloured hues for the priming or undercoating for different nationalities. Imagine a light or mid-grey blue for the French, more layered dry-brushing with white which should still render the units essentially white to reflect the artists sketch but with a consistent permeation of subtle colour in the creases and folds, telling our eyes and brain that this unit differs from that of it's opponent. Alternatively, heavier shading will allow for one side to be identified from another but only where there is a need or desire to tell the difference between two distinct sides. Otherwise, coloured undercoats might be a faded brown/orange for the United Provinces, a russet for the British, a dark grey/blue for the Prussians and so on. 

The landscape will be sculpted foam, contoured and sanded with roads and rivulets properly represented in actual depth but all coated white with the depths further indicated with shades of grey. In such a landscape the buildings and the natural features of trees, shrubs and hedgerows might well be best modelled from card stock and foam-core, simplified and made to a series of generic templates in imitation of the artists style for repetition.

It's not a simple fix and much careful consideration needs to be entered into before proceeding. Regardless of the care and application I may make, it would nevertheless result in a significantly faster build time for my first wargaming project in this period. Just think, purchasing the figures might seriously be half the time it takes to get my new armies on the table and playing games.

If in time my knowledge gap is filled with new research and publication: if someone out there colours my world, I will revisit this period in technicolour but for now I am finding this idea almost irresistible.

What do you think?