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By smacdowall, Jun 15 2020 08:50PM

This is my favourite Oscar Wilde quote. It is also the most applicable to me.

I made a solemn vow to myself to use the opportunity of the lockdown to chip away at the lead mountain and not buy any new miniatures. I have really enjoyed painting my many medieval figures over the last couple of months and so far my resolve has been holding.

I have completed my Wars of the Roses collection.

Now that the Black Prince’s contingent is nearly complete...

... all I need is a few more French knights and I can refight Crécy and other engagements of the early Hundred Years War.

Then along comes temptation!

For some months I have been admiring the pics of !898 miniatures Spanish Tercios.

They look like just what I need to build up my Spanish to fight Rocroi and the Franco/Spanish engagements of the 1640’s.

With the arrival of Corvid19 in March when Spain was particularly badly hit, I thought I should order a Tercio immediately — just incase. So I did.

In an uncharacteristic demonstration of self-discipline I left the package unopened for three months, knowing that if I did I would likely be tempted away from my Wars of the Roses and Crécy projects.

Until today!

I have opened the box and peered at the contents — they seem to be beautifully proportioned characterful figures.. Although I dearly want to start painting them, I am doing my best to resist the temptation by not opening the sachets.

I must finish one project before moving to the next.

Or is Oscar Wilde correct?

By smacdowall, Jun 11 2020 08:50PM

At Crécy the Black Prince was only 16 years old. He commanded the vanguard, surrounded by more experienced knights. Having painted his archers I am now painting the Prince and his immediate retinue.

First step, as ever. is a Black ink wash over the white undercoat on the metal bits. I like Coat d’Arms black or armour ink wash as they are more like a stain than a wash and this is what I am looking for in the fist step.

Then I dry brush a very dark metal over the black, picking out the highlights and starting to give the armour a metallic look. Should I wish blackened armour (as for the Black Prince’s figure) I stop here. For the others there will be further coats.

I do a similar dark base for brass or bronze which will later be highlighted with an antique gold.

Here you can see the Black Prince with a blackened bronze base on his helmet visor and the dark metal on the rest of the armour which could be left to represent cast iron or blackened iron.

A second dry brush using a brighter shade (such as Games Workshop Bolt Gun) lifts and brightens the armour.

Then comes a silver dry brush which really brings out the detail and gives the armour a polished shine.

Brass/gold highlights come next along with silver painted on protruding bits of armour to enhance the polished look. I have left the Black Prince with black armour while most of the others have polished iron.

Here they are after painting the rest. The standard I designed on my computer, printed off and over painted.

Now they are ready for basing. From left to right (viewer’s perspective) they are: Ralph, Earl of Stafford, Sir Richard Fitzsimons, Edward of Woodstock (the Black Prince), Sir Reynold Cobham, a man at arms in the prince’s livery, and Viscount Geoffroy de Harcourt.

Here they are on their base. I stick magnetic sheets to the underside of the card base and place them on a steel ruler as the gkue is drying to prevent the bases from warping.

By smacdowall, Jun 10 2020 04:59PM

The virus lockdown has given me a huge amount of time to catch up on my painting but no possible opportunity to play a game…

…Until now.

Last Friday, four of us joined together around a virtual tabletop via Zoom. It was for a French revolution game set during the Flanders campaign of 1793.

I played Citizen General General Houchard — charged with holding the approach to Dunkerque at Ghyvelde. My orders read:

“Under no circumstances must the enemy be allowed to besiege Dunkirk. You are to march immediately to intercept their advance, bring their army to battle and defeat them. The very existence of France and our glorious revolutionary depend on you - they must not pass!”

I was also informed that Representative of the People, Louis Antoine Léon de Saint-Just would accompany me. “He will ensure that all the soldiers in your army demonstrate appropriate revolutionary zeal and deal with any weak souls.”

Viewing the battlefield from my computer gave an interesting perspective. The umpire’s mobile phones were placed by the command stands on the tabletop. At a distance I could vaguely make out the enemy and count the flags but I could not make out who was who. It was a much more realistic and challenging view of the battlefield. Unfortunately I neglected to take any screen shots at that stage in the game.

On viewing the enemy from a distance I decided to hold back my right in the safety of our camp and Ghyvelde. I would personally lead a concentrated attack on the left with cavalry and a demi-brigade of infantry, supported by three battalions of light infantry making their way in loose order through the sand dunes on the far left.

My columns crashed into the Hessian line sending them reeling back in confusion as my light infantry began to outflank the enemy left, driving the enemy jaegers before them. It was all going swimmingly well until St-Just decided that the troops holding my right were not showing enough revolutionary zeal and so led them out from their defences in a suicidal attack on the Austrians.

Spotting a gap in the middle of the enemy line I sent my cavalry forward, expecting to burst through. I should have known that men with such fine looking uniforms had royalist sympathies. Their abject performance confirmed this and they beat a hasty retreat.

To make matters worse, St Just’s ill-advised attack on our right was being chewed to bits by the Austrians. I quickly penned a dispatch to the Committee of Public Safety in Paris pointing out that, by ignoring military advice, St Just’s foolhardy behaviour was jeopardising the revolution.

There was nothing for it to press on and press hard. Joining the front ranks of my advancing columns I encouraged them to attack without pausing to give fire. Showing the spirit and élan of true revolutionaries they performed brilliantly, sending the British and Hessians reeling.

The day was won! Although the Austrians were feeling pretty pleased with themselves there was no chance that the enemy could advance on Dunkerque. Had it not been for citizen St-Just and the royalist sympathisers amongst the cavalry, we might have swept the enemy from the field.

Such traitors will no doubt soon meet Madame Guillotine.

It was a novel experience to play a game remotely like this but it worked. It worked very well indeed. In fact I would go as far as to say that in some respects it was superior to a conventional tabletop game.

As a player my view of the battlefield was restricted, giving a much more realistic command perspective. I gave my orders to the umpire (as did my opponent) and the umpire moved the troops. We players could still roll the dice for shooting and combat so it felt like we were really playing. The dynamic made us concetrate on the important command decisions much more than we would in a normal waragme.

I'm looking forward to the next remote game which is rumoured to be a tank battle in Normandy 1944.

By smacdowall, May 30 2020 04:50PM

I am in the final stages of finishing off the Black Prince’s archers. It may be wishful thinking but as the painting progresses, the marked differences between the proportions of the Front Rank and Perry figures seem to dissipate. The eye does have a natural tendency to correct faults.

The figures are now more or less finished apart from my magic ingredient. This is a very thin Raw Umber wash over everything.

Liquitex’s Raw Umber is the best for this, thinned so much that it is little more than dirty coloured water.

The Raw Umber wash transforms the figures. It provides definition by settling into the groves to outline detail; it tones down the colours adding a pleasing and realistic patina; and it helps to blend the colours.

It used to be that I avoided applying the raw umber wash over the colour blue (as it gave a greenish tinge) or over armour. For ancient or medieval figures, however, the greenish tinge to blue is probably quite realistic.

The raw umber wash over armour gives a slight rusty tinge which can be seen in the above photo. For most men in the era before stainless steel a bit of rust would be the norm on campaign, unless they had armies of servants to polish theri armour.

I base the figures 5 to a 60 x 40 cm base. I use card with adhesive magnetic bases on the underside. This helps for transport and storage as well as adding a little weight. I then varnish the figures brushing on Liquitex Matte varnish which not only protects but also enhances the colours.

I paint the bases green and then cover with a water based natural colour wood filler. After adding a few bits of gravel and green foliage to set in the wood filler I let it all dry. In doing so I place the magnetic bases on a steel ruler to prevent warping as the filler dries.

After leaving overnight to properly dry, I apply a wash of Raw Umber over the base, this gives the base an appropriately earthy look.

Some medium green flocking comes next, applied with white glue.

Then some tufts of lighter coloured static grass to brighten and lift the colours.

Here then is the finished unit.

Next up: the Black Prince’s knights.

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