Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Frigate - new pics.

I still need to add her pennants, but she's fully rigged and I have added the towed boat. I also need some gloss varnish for the sea base. I feel a tremendous sense of achievement for a first attempt and obviously learned a few tips for vessel number two. Just looking at the amount of rigging lines a round her bowsprit I still don't know how I managed it!

15mm French line battalion - Essex Miniatures.

This is the first French infantry battalion by Essex Miniatures. It's a  unit of the 100 days campaign period and only needs a suitable flag to complete it. I'm very pleased with the result, and the timing came in a round 6 hours for the full unit, including basing etc. As you can see I decided to go for 24 figures as giving a better representation of the six companies. Cracking little figures, crisp castings with loads of character. I like the fact that they are all basically a single pose, this appeals to me.

I'm not sure where this will lead to, I have found this very rewarding to be painting in a larger scale again and I'd like to think I will go forward with it. I must admit to having spent a bit of time recently looking back over 'stryker's' Hinton Hunt blog, including a download of the 'Muskets & Marshals' rules which look very good and I can see they would give just the kind of game I would enjoy. I won't get myself bogged down in long term plans at this stage, but rather just enjoy knocking out the battalions and see where it leads. I could certainly manage 1 x 24 figure unit per week. I like the approach of just painting units that appeal to me rather than setting out a target of x number of battalions for a specific battle, but all of the units will be based upon those present at Waterloo. As such I have chosen to designate these as the 45th Ligne and they will be fitted with the '1815' version flag. I wasn't initially sure about the 'hide' effect on the backpacks but it's growing on me now.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Langton Frigate - rigging update.

Having received lots of encouragement over on the TMP Napoleonic Naval board I have persevered with the rigging of my first ship model. I completed the standing rigging and am now working through the running rigging - the 'buff' coloured thread you can see in the pictures. I would say she's about 75% rigged now, not perfect, a couple of slightly slack lines but overall for a first attempt I'm happy. I need to check the position of the fore sails on the jib before I go any further. Once rigged she will have pennants fitted and she's ready for action! I will follow up with a British 74 gun, obviously a much larger vessel which should make the rigging a little easier I hope. I've lost track of the time spent on this little model, many hours I'd guess, but I'm finding it deeply rewarding and very satisfying.

I have completed the first 16 figure battalion and am now having a think about how best to base them. It's a busy week on the commission painting front so probably will leave the basing until the weekend now.

Timecast buildings on eBay.
The 6mm Timecast Peninsular painted buildings are currently on sale via eBay should anyone care to take a look. Full details on the auction page. Due to end Thursday 16th of May.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Essex Miniatures - test paint.

Well, I painted these yesterday afternoon and they came in at 1hour and 40 minutes, so not bad at all. I kept the paint palette fairly limited as you can see, selecting colours with good coverage to save any retouching where possible. My only real issue is with the Foundry flesh tone, it's pretty weak over black so I'll be looking to replace it with a Vallejo shade possibly. I had to go back a couple of times to paint a couple of bits I'd missed (the red/white of the shako pom-pom for example), so I reckon I could get this down to 1.5 hours as intended. This morning I quickly added a few 'canvas' patches to the backpacks to represent the typical cow-hide appearance of the originals. I'm really happy with the results and can confidently say I can produce at least 2 battalions per week now. I plan to add a mounted officer to each battalion base as I did with the 6mm versions.

This allows me to identify shades used and in which order - you can see that white and red were required twice.

Frigate progress.
First attempts to follow the Langton guide to rigging left me feeling pretty deflated, all fingers and thumbs as they say! It seemed incredibly fiddly and I gave up. However further research led me to this excellent guide (link below to PDF) to rigging using stretched and glue coated cotton thread lengths which looks far easier and much neater than tying minute knots around the masts of 1:1200 ships ...... so I'm going to give this method a try later. The stiffened cotton rigging is cut to size then glued both ends in position and the result is rigging lines that look realistically 'taught'. Pics to follow in due course.

Jeff's excellent rigging guide.

Friday, 10 May 2013

The new challenge - speed painting 15mm Essex Napoleonics.

As mentioned previously I wanted to try something a bit different and challenge myself. I selected the older 'Essex' miniatures range for this for several reasons:
  1. The intention is to 'speed paint' using a specific method of quickly picking out colours from a black undercoat with minimal shading (the black will be left to give the impression of depth and shade).
  2. The Essex figures have nicely raised detail, easy to 'hit' with a single stroke of the brush.
  3. They are cheaper than for example AB figures, but have all of the detail I need for this experiment, and the poses are also more suited to speed painting.
  4. The design of the range means there is little hidden or hard to get at detail, so no twisting and turning of the brush.
  5. I just like them!
It would seem that I last painted Essex Napoleonics back in 2007! These are a few pics taken back then and now in the gallery of my 'War Artist' blog. The basing style will be updated.

The first thing that struck me upon opening the first bags was how HUGE they seemed compared to the 6mm and 10mm figures I have been painting for a year or so now - should be a doddle really to paint these. I want to keep standards high, I don't like washes or the Army Painter type varnishes, I prefer to pick out my colours accurately but quickly and achieve a good overall impact within each battalion. Ideally I'd like to be able to paint a batch of 8 infantry figures (16 figure battalions) in maybe 1.5 hours to begin with until I get fully up to speed, that's pre- undercoated, start to finish in a single session. That's around 10 minutes per figure for a foot figure.

Looking back through the blog last weekend confirmed to me where I went wrong with the 6mm Commands & Colors project - I'm convinced now that at the point where I had the original plain dotted 95mm hex terrain board (before I ruined it by attempting to 'texture' it) and the figures on the earlier 60mm x 60mm bases with the deployed skirmishers, was probably where I should have stopped (example pic below). I tried to go too far with it and lost sight of my initial aims, and in doing so definitely lost enthusiasm for it. By the time I was painting the 6mm Russians I was beginning to look backwards and knew I wanted to paint something in a larger scale.

This the point at which I should have stopped! Whats planned now is a 15mm version of this!
Forward march!
I'm clear in my head how I want to approach this. Still Commands and Colors, but this time using a base of 4 infantry figures or 2 cavalry figures to represent a C&C single 'block', thus a British infantry unit will consist of 4 'blocks' and a cavalry unit of 3 blocks etc. This time it will no longer be 'Peninsular' based but all figures will be of the later 100 days campaign with the aim of eventually producing all of the required units for the Waterloo scenario. My main guide will be my old and battered copy of 'Regiments at Waterloo' by Rene North, published back in 1971.

Commission work - 20mm ECW Dragoons.
From this weeks output are these 18 ECW Dragoons on foot, I think they are Les Higgins? They are for the collection of Tony / 'Foy'. I have 2 x 12 figure matching mounted Dragoon units scheduled for the beginning of next week as well as some 'Boyne' cavalry for 'Old John'. Of course I'm continuing to add further 10mm AWI units as well. I have had numerous enquiries in the past week or so and I'm slightly behind with my email replies, but I'm just not in a position to take on any further work at the moment. I would be happy to discuss future projects of course, but it's important to me that I continue to deliver on time and don't get bogged down. I will catch up with emails over this weekend so please bear with me.

The first 15mm French Napoleonic Essex unit will follow shortly!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Commission work, Langton Frigate and a new project.

I had a few days rest from painting over the Bank Holiday weekend - recharged my batteries so to speak - and I'm now back in full productive mode once again! I managed to get started on my first Napoleonic ship model a Frigate and I'm really pleased with progress so far. Again I wanted to test myself to see just how much detail I could paint into such a tiny model. Pictures show just the hull painted up, but she is now under full sail awaiting the addition of ratlines and rigging, more pics once she is finished. Drilling out the tiny rigging holes was challenging but successful. A few pics below.

Commission work.
Added two more 24 figure units of the AWI, 10mm Pendraken of course. These are the 3rd and 4th New York regiments. I'm starting work on some 20mm ECW dragoons now, both foot and mounted.

New project!
I just can't seem to help myself ...... my enthusiasm for painting soldiers is currently higher than it's ever been and to this end my thoughts turned once again to the Waterloo project for 2015. Much as I'm enjoying painting the Langton vessels I still feel the need to paint some figures for myself. I know that I felt I had reached the point with 6mm where I had achieved everything I had set out to achieve in that scale and thoughts of painting something slightly arger had been going a round my head for some months and I had been browsing all of the 15mm manufacturers looking for inspiration. It eventually came in the form of 'Fat Wally's' wonderful collection of Essex Napoleonics, which has been saved in my favorites for a couple of years now. They are not so popular maybe now, but I love those old Essex figures and have decided to build a couple of armies again for Commands & Colors, but this time representing the 100 days campaign.

The challenge.
This is born partially out of nostalgia for those Saturday morning runs down to Canvey Island to buy my figures from the Essex shop/factory many years ago. We would pack the kids and the dog in the car and make a day of it. I would spend half hour in the shop buying my figures then we would visit the camping store and garden centre before a long walk with the dog in the country park down there, followed by a stop at McDonalds on the way home, certainly used to wear the kids out nicely!

Figures are already on order and my plan is to 'speed paint' these using a specific method I'll describe later. Maybe I'll tire of it a few months down the line, who knows, but I wanted to work in a scale that allows more detail and is less of a strain on the eyes ( I spend about 25 hours per week doing commission work now before I paint anything for myself). The 6mm Russian units certainly reached the peak standard I could achieve in the smaller scale and I needed a fresh challenge. Watch this space.

Heres a few pics for you in the meantime.

Edited to add latest Frigate pics..... damn fiddly stuff fitting those ratlines, she almost went flying across the room at one point! Perseverance paid off though .... not perfect but for a first attempt I'm happy and once rigging and flags are added she should look good I hope. I'm still working on the seabase which will be satin varnished once I'm happy.