Monday, March 28, 2011

Reasons to go Blind: 6 and 10mm

I am far too nice for my own good.

I know, a little out of left field and some would argue that I would be hard pressed to understand the word "nice", but even so.

A long term retirement project of my long-time friend, Mark Brandon-Baker, is to collect the opposing armies of the English Civil War, Royalist and Parliamentarian with a smattering of Scots. Hoorah, I said, forgetting myself and using my outside voice. "In 28mm, using all manner of beautifully sculpted figures by a variety of manufacturers, don't worry, we can get Perry and Foundry to work together?" I asked, my hands clasped together against my cheek in child-like delight, tears brimming in hope-filled eyes.

I confess, there was a small sob that escaped.

"No," said Mark, a cheesy grin playing around the lower half of what can only be called a face because it occupies a place at the front of his head, "of course not, nothing that difficult. I want it in 10mm."

Hope clattered noisily on the ground, like a cast iron pot of week-old pea and ham soup.

(Actually, Mark was very apologetic about the 10mm scale, and not at all as I have portrayed him. Mark is one of nature's gentlemen and a better friend could not be found. He believes that ECW and Zulu Wars are best constructed in 10mm, to give a full visual impact. I have to agree with him, especially for the big engagements.)

Now don't get me wrong, I appreciate the beauty of all miniatures, all shapes and sizes, big and small, including the malevolent and smug 10mm scale, and it's malignant dwarven cousin, the 6 mm.

I just feel the need to retain my eyesight for a little while longer.

I had already undertaken 10mm, in the shape of the GW Warmaster figures, having painted several armies for Ian Trout, many years ago. I was younger then, more arrogant, better postured. I felt myself invincible.

I started the Baker project with fear and loathing, predicting disaster, and the rising threat of glaucoma. I could only hope that it would lead to prescription marijuana, a small benefit.

Imagine my surprise when the first units turned out not too bad. Mark insists on building his armies from the cavalry . . . down? Loves his mounted troops does Mark. So the first order was for Royalist cavalry, eight by eight figure units, one unit of which is seen below:

The figures were surprisingly easy to paint, and were able to provide the basis for a great deal of detail, a surprising amount considering their size. Shading was possible as well.

I started with a dark brown undercoat, and simply applied the colours on top, respecting the black outline between different pieces of clothing and skin. The dark brown also provided the blackened armour. A lighter shade for the clothing and buff leather was applied, giving highlights.

I normally drybrush horses to give a hair texture, but in this instance straight brushstrokes were easier and more controllable. The addition of red plumes and sashes to denote Royalist troops, and hey Presto, ipso facto, coitus interruptus, the pieces were complete.

Has to be noted that without the red plumes for Royalists and orange for Parliamentarians, the troops of both sides would be virtually indistinguishable from each other. It can only be imagined how many were killed in close melee by their own side, by mistake. Even the difference between red and orange may not have been enough at times.

Mark's plan is for his forces and battlefield to look like this:

It will be beautiful. Hope I will be able to see it. Probably not, the Roundheads are on the table now.

I have painted 6mm as well. I have two battalions of Austrians post-1810, Heroics Ros figures. I was going to build the Austrians at Aspern-Essling in 6mm, with one Ros pack equaling a unit. In other words, 48 figure battalions. After the first two, I laughed hysterically for about half an hour and gave it away as a bad joke. I retain these two units to remind me of my folly.

You never know, I might try it again someday.

And then again, I might flap my arms and fly to the moon, accompanied by the pigs winging their way out of my butt.

A boy can dream.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Napoleonic Spaniards - a couple of pics

These were part of a project I did for Ian Trout. He's always wanted Spaniards, and I had the opportunity to paint a few Front Rank pieces for him.

I'm happy with these, especially the hand-painted flags. Hope you enjoy.

You may have noticed the lack of "witty" banter on this blog. Apparently I have been engaging in it, possibly a little too much for the taste of some. Heaven forbid that I drag the narration of the hobby into an area where it is not only informative but entertaining. That would go against nature.

And apparently letting the figures speak for themselves is all the rage.

Of course, I will continue to write as I see fit in future blogs. And my figures are quite capable of standing up for themselves.

Don't like it? Welcome to go elsewhere.

Besides, it's not as if I'm advertising . . . I'm just sharing my figures.

It's been a pleasure . .


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A place in the sun - Part 2.

As you will remember, our erstwhile hero, fresh from other adventures, had completed the construction of the single storey Moghul building. Here is a scene from our last episode:

With the Tamiya "Grit" applied to the roof, it is time to cover the cardboard base with gravel, then spray the piece and set it aside. I usually leave it overnight, but if there's a rush even I am willing to take a risk and give the piece a couple of hours before drybrushing. If I am working on only one of these pieces, I try to have other projects going at the same time, so there is no downtime waiting for paint to dry. For example with this piece I also worked on Dwarf shields, Dutch East India Company flags, and prepared other figures for painting.

Watching paint dry . . . I shudder at the thought.

 I used Tamiya "Dark Yellow" as the base colour for the superstructure, and Tamiya "Nato Brown" for the graveled  base.

I have built and painted several buildings for David over the past few years, and I fluctuate between "Dark Yellow", "Light Sand" and "Tan (USAF)" for the base colours. I generally like to use "Nato Brown" for the flocked areas on a base, as it gives a richer contrast to the earthy tones of the building. It doesn't really matter if some of the spray extends up the wall, this helps to give a grimy feel to the lower section of the wall. The knowledge of this comes from a deep familiarity with rising damp.

The wall colour is drybrushed. I use Humbrol colours, a mixture of Tan, Brick Red, Trainer Yellow and White. Sometimes I use one of several khakis, if I am looking for a different feel for the building. But generally I am after a washed-out, aged look, wind and sun blasted. Sometimes the final drybrushed colour is almost pure white.

The upper part of the wall is masked and painted a mixture of Tan and Black. Again, drybrushing distresses the colour to a faded, worn look, in keeping with the feeling of an impoverished lifestyle. Again, something with which I am intimately familiar.

The mask is lightly laid on to avoid lifting paint. Any spills or undersoaks can easily be fixed with the brush. And you are left with a reasonably straight line.

From there on it is a matter of detailing. The doors are painted, as are the window grills and roof trapdoors. The exposed brickwork is treated with Brick Red and drybrushed to distress again. A spike is added to the dome, painted bronze and given a stippled verdigris effect, showing wear and tear.

Finally the base is drybrushed and a mixture of Noch and Stiflor grass tufts are added. Where were we before the invention of grass tufts? The whole is sprayed with Testors Flat varnish to seal.

The painting section is actually the quickest part of the procedure. I hope you agree that the final effect is quite satisfying. For other pics check out David's blog:

This link goes directly to a post on one of his buildings. Check out the rest of the blog, some great stuff there, even if I do say so myself.

I will do more of these landscape posts. The next big one is a Moghul gate section based on a variety of Moghul fortresses. The following pics give an idea of what I am facing.

It will be a sight to see.

Remember to make your cheques out to the Society for the Prevention of Poverty to the Wind-swept and Interesting.

This has been a public service announcement for no-one in particular. We now return you to the regularly scheduled broadcast.


Friday, March 4, 2011

A place in the sun - Part 1.

Friday afternoon. My cutting board and workspace are virtually empty. This goes against nature. The universe laughs with malicious delight. I feel naked and exposed.

What to do? I wrack my brains, despair descends in ever-decreasing circles, blinding me with . . . I have it ! Build a new house for the Golconda project. And maybe share the process with those who like constructing terrain.

Damn altruistic, I be a'thinkin'. And spares me from another manic-depressive spiral.

And clears out some of the crap I've got hanging around the house. Big plus.

First the major components are gathered, so I may commune with them in an atmosphere of mutual appreciation of the journey we will undertake. Life is a journey, time is a river, the world is a village, the door is a jar.

So much for zen.

Anyhoo . . .

The pieces are part of a kit bought by David Veasey from Najewitz Modellbaushop. The link is:

Check out the gallery for some of the buildings I have made using these kits.

Resin walls, laser-cut roof and roof supports. Gives quite a scope to the variety of buildings that can be created. And don't forget, all sins can be covered with superglue, Squadron Green Stuff, paint and flocking material.

Nice texture on the walls, open windows with great middle eastern shapes. The resin can be cut, though not easily, but perseverance pays off. The following pics show a building I made, where I cut side walls in half to create an upper storey with balcony. None too shabby.

And back to the job at hand. Laser cut wooden pieces for roof support. More anon.

Clean up of resin ensues. Excess resin is removed from windows and doors and from the little holes above the windows. The tabs are removed from the top of the wall. These are locaters if an upper storey is to be built. As this is a single storey, off they come.

 The wooden supports are placed and glued into these little holes.

You might have noticed the domes in a previous pic. These are two halves of a water tower from a model railroad kit, specifically Faller N222143. Using the dome pieces leaves a variety of girders and ladders, sure to be useful in future projects. No part of the animal is wasted after the kill.

The dome is sanded back to remove the weld lines leaving a smooth surface and is glued to the roof section. Two open trapdoors in the roof are also closed as are the doors in one of the wall sections.

Now the fun bit. I found this product in my local art store. Sticky backed grillwork. Well, that's what I use it for. Just peel it off the backing paper and apply.

By placing it over the windows, sticky side to the wall, it creates a great grill effect for middle eastern and Indian buildings.

Don't worry about the sticky side facing out of the windows, paint will cover it thus negating the sticky effects. (Only here will the word "thus" be used - I promise).

I am left with the backing paper, but here's a thought:

Mosaic flooring! Hey, nothing of the animal is wasted . . . yeh, yeh, said that already.

The sticky stencilling is about $3 a sheet at my art store (Eckersleys for those in Oz) and comes in a variety of designs.

For example the leaf design on the dome and the curlicues below the arches are from this range. If I can remember the name of the manufacturer I will post it. But in the interim I would suggest checking out the scrap-booking section of your local arts and crafts shop.

The pieces were all put together (juggled together), not easy but eventually they bonded.

The interior was sprayed black.

The building was then glued to a piece of card to stabilise the walls and provide a landscaping space, and the roof and dome were covered with Tamiya Diorama Texture Paint (Grit Effect). This stuff is great, water-soluble and gives a good earthy effect to scale.

The next step will be filling, painting and landscaping, so stay tuned.

Ain't it grand? It's all too damned wonderful, to be sure.