Friday, 9 January 2009

1/6 of a pledge...

But at least I'm making progress again! Iannick Martin has given me a mental "jump-start" on my Napoleonics project.

Certainly it had pretty much hit a brick wall my end.

I had about a month and a half at work when there was no time for any painting or hobby stuff at all, and when I did have the time again, the motivational fires had been all but extinguished.

It doesn't help that while I have a desk for painting, it has to be shared with my wife for her studies. This means that I have to take out and put away brushes, paints, and all the related project paraphernalia after each painting session. This can be too much of a chore at times, making it tough just to sit down and get in an hour or so a day as some people seem able to do.

In any event, after a summer of shako cords, piping, and backpack straps I was frankly just getting tired of Napoleonics. So when I did eventually get back to painting it was on my 18th C. miniatures, which had also been waiting in the (very long!) queue. A change is as good as a rest.

But Iannick seems to have recovered from his similar
malaise, so it is high time I did too. While neither of us reached the targets we set out- although Iannick, despite his lamentations, managed a lot more than I was able to do- I have to admit that I did learn some points that should make progress faster, as follows:

  1. Don't "re-paint" errors until everything has been added. I must have gone over the same areas a half a dozen times in some instances.
  2. Undercoat in black. It really DOES save a lot of time.
  3. Follow what I now call Iannick's Law; i.e. don't start another unit until the one you are working on is finished. It is the last stages- the tidying up of details, those last tricky straps, cap badges and epaulets- those are the hardest, but are where the mini can really come to life. It is also the stage when procrastination can really take over if one isn't careful.
My return to les bleus started with "landscaping" and painting the base of a sample stand of grenadiers, just so I can see some kind of flickering light at the end of the tunnel.

There they are at the top of the post, along with a stand of skirmishers.

Basing technique from the article in
Battlegames by Barry Hilton (mentioned in a previous post). I was looking for something bright, but not light-coloured. I was wanting to portray the soggy ground of the autumn campaigns in Saxony in 1813. Anything too dusty and sandy-looking would have been more appropriate for the Peninsula, far from where my Marie Louises would be taking on the Russians. I wanted mud.

I have never liked using flocking on the bases. I know that many painters out there have gotten excellent results using it, but I have never been satisfied with the outcome when using it myself. When I was using flocking for bases back when gaming in Canada, the colours weren't what I was looking for, and in time the foliage always seem to "shed", leaving a glossy area where it had been glued to the PVA.

So, I decided to use fine sand for texturing the "vegetation" areas and paint for effect. I like the look, because it reminds me of the bases used for the minis in the huge Peter Gilder Leipzig extravaganza back in those early issues of Miniature Wargames all those years ago.

Here is what I did- largely for my own reference when I'm ready to base the rest of the battalion!

Paints used are
Delta Ceramcoat and some (economical!) tubes of Amsterdam Acrylics from my local art shop (raw & burnt umber) .

  • use acrylic-based wood putty to texture the base
  • using white glue, add fine sand in patches for vegetation and leave to dry out thoroughly
  • undercoat the base in raw umber
  • wet-coat earth areas with territorial beige
  • wet-coat vegetation areas with medium foliage green
  • give bases a wash of burnt umber around the feet of the minis
  • lightly wet-brush apple green on the vegetation areas and palomino tan on the earth areas. Wash again with thinned-down medium foliage green and raw sienna respectively
  • dry-brush olive yellow over the areas of grass, and highlight with imperial yellow. Dry-brush palomino tan again over the earth areas
  • trim edges of base with raw umber.
Some close-up shots.

From the right flank.
(Their left flank appears to be supported by the I.J.N. Mikasa)

My photography skills and camera are not up to par, particularly for close-up shots. Natural lighting was out of the question today- dark skies with cold, heavy rain here in Tokyo (good day for painting, though).

The base effect is "dark-ish", but the yellow highlights on the "grass" makes it stand out nicely while without overpowering the minis, which after all should be the visual focal point.

The colours do not quite look like this in "real life". The brown of the base has washed out, and has picked up more of a greenish hue, as has the vegetation effect (the yellow highlight has washed out). The blue overcoat on the fellow in the back rank has come out a lot lighter than it is under natural light conditions. Blue has always been a bitch to photograph in my experience.

More to come, I hope to show the finished battalion this time next week.