Tuesday, December 12, 2017

CAESARIAN ROMANS: My Cohors II Legio XI

I ripped into these figures quick smart once I decided to break the seal - or should that be once the ram touched the wall? I've seen the HBO series Rome too many times to be able to resist leaping into a second Roman army so here is the first of many cohorts to come. Contrary to my usual practice, all figures are from the same manufacturer - Warlord Games Caesar's Legions.
I've never created a plastic infantry unit before and I have to report that these gents were easy to assemble and great to paint. I truly enjoyed myself creating a speculative Legio XI and being able to put my invented shield design into practice.

 I used two different skin tones (only subtle) and two different off-white tunic colour schemes. It's obvious from this overhead shot that I went with a scattering of iron helmets in the mix also. I've not used any filters when Photoshoping so what you see is what I got. I am very keen to take on the first cohort (double strength) next.
I included three replacement shields in the group as I wanted to represent what an unpainted field replacement might have looked like - quickly stenciled black over rawhide. The horse symbols representing Neptune are Veni Vidi Vici 28mm decals, fixed and then settled with Microsol, matte coated then the shields were lightly black- washed before matte varnishing.
I will paint alternate green shields with the same design for other cohorts and even mix a few green shields in largely blue units and some greens in with blue shielded cohorts. I want as much of the legion represented to depict something of a transition stage. I also happen to be having difficulty choosing between the two so I can have both - can't I? Standing back it should look relatively congruous.
I'm not sure why the packs come with a trumpet and not a cornicern. Also, the standard has no awards on it so it's just a plain shaft. I'll be mucking about with the next one. They have a bull so let's say these chaps are from northern Italy.
My next unit will have gladius in the front ranks with pilum in the rear I think. The pilum armed figures require significant depth so they are occupying a six figure base end-on which I had measured for a front-on formation in two ranks. I have used the same bases I had cut but have used six instead of four to base the 24 figures. Anyway, it's back to the Crimea before Christmas.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Flag Tutorial: Making Cloth Flags


I take a fair bit of effort to create my own flags. I see many people's armies and units whose flags are an afterthought, an inconvenience or a nuisance step in the process to paint up a unit of toy soldiers and get them on that table. I get it completely. Many of us probably think it's too fiddly or that we feel unable to compete with the level of detail commercially produced flags can achieve through the printing process. In many ways this is neither wrong nor unreasonable but I'd like to make the case for making your own flags and provide a crude how-to for what I am doing these days.

When my eye falls on a unit of finely painted toy soldiers one of the first aspects which catches my attention is the units flags. This is perhaps particularly the case for the large flags (colours or standards) that were popular from the renaissance through to the end of the nineteenth century - particularly and consistently for German and British flags. They are relatively big, colourful and meant a lot to the men who fought beneath them - so I always thought I should put some care into their reproduction also.

The problem with commercial paper flags is they look like what they are - stiff or shaped paper flags. The designs and print qualities aside, they just don't look like a silk flag. I suppose I should specify here that I'm really talking about 28mm scale flags. For smaller unit flags such as French Napoleonic flags of 15mm armies I'm perfectly happy to go with a printed flag.

I used to design and fashion my flags from tissue paper. It was thin enough to re-trace the mirror image of any design exactly on the other side (handy), easily shaped when wet with white glue and they set nicely. They were a perfect surface to paint on also. But since I saw a few commercial flags produced using the finest of cloth, I took the leap and can't go back.
I use a very fine suite lining fabric - white so I can draw on it. I cut oversize so once set later in the process, I trim the edges back to the proper dimensions. For this example, I am making a British set of 28mm flags for the 3/60th regiment of foot for the British Army at Quebec 1759. The flags represent a 6' x 6' 6" slightly rectangular flag and I use slightly generous (oversized) measurements of 35mm height at the staff x 40mm long.

The initial measurements for the cloth exceed the 40mm length considerably to allow me to wind the cloth onto the steel wire flag-pole - I'll be trimming it off anyway. I run a carefully applied smear of Selleys Kwick Grip glue up the wire to allow fixing the 35mm width of cloth. I ensure that about a 5mm or so gap is left at the top of the wire where I will later fix the finials and tassels. I use steel wire cut and straightened with the top filed off to a slight point to seat better into the drilled finial. I first fix just the very edge of the cloth to the wire and let then set properly before applying sufficient glue to then wind or wrap the cloth around until it covers the join. I then let this set properly.
Now I can draw my design with a pencil. The cloth gives and shifts and I admit it's not as good a drawing on paper but the lines can be traced effectively through this cloth on the other side.After my basic design is complete it's time to wrap them.
I simply fold the cloth back on itself concertina style working from the wire outwards until the cloth is fully folded against the wire and then wrap it in cotton - no need to tie it up - it will hold. I then immerse it completely in a bath of diluted PVA white glue and give it a half hour or so to soak fully. This is why it's important that the previous application of glue fixing the cloth to the wire is fully set.
Once I retrieve the flags from the solution, I unwrap them and tease them out to open up the folds. As you can see this time I have pinned them to aid this as the little flags dry. This process sets the future shape of the unfurled flags and also sets the fabric sufficient for painting. As I write this I realise I made all this up as I went along over time through experimenting. I'm sure other people must be doing something similar - I just haven't seen it.
Once set, the flags are then trimmed and the cloth painting can begin. Even though the cloth is soaked and set in a PVA solution, if the paint is thinned too much it will still bleed into the fabric. I darken my shades with a little black to get a richer shade and because the white will lighten the application.
Once I finish painting the flags themselves, I then fix the finials. These are from Crusader which are specific to my Quebec project. Having worked with these finials I am compelled to say I prefer the Front Rank variants which are just that little bit more robust. I drilled out the ends so I could fix them to the wire with Supaglue.

It's worth pointing out that these flags took a lot of handling and still retained their shape so you don't need to be too precious with them. In fact the handling helped round out the folds. They also take a fair amount of detailing but that depends upon the weave of the fabric. The finial chords were simply painted in darkened red with a gold highlight to represent the red/gold thread. The gold or brass finial was given a brown undercoat before gold dry-brushing.
I emphasised the creases with a diluted black/brown wash but depending upon the colour of your flags, be careful of bleed-through to the other side. You don't want partial shading lines on the reverse highlights - given that one side's recess is the other side's bulge. It would be of benefit to spray coat it with a matte varnish first - I didn't. I applied the same wash from the bottom edge and end of the flags. I refrained this time from applying tears or bullet battle damage but it's always an option.


Well that's it. I hope this has been useful to someone.



 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

UG the Great: Back to work!

I know what you're thinking ... enough is enough. Well I couldn't help but put myself in the picture so to speak. I wanted to keep practicing to hone the new skills. Well I'm happy that I'm done with this foolishness - so it's back to my more usual foolishness.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Marshal Grant Duc de Worrigal

A homage to my life-long buddy and ever-lasting wargame adversary Grant. I've been fiddling with Photoshop whilst in Tonga as those of you following this blog are aware. I'm honing my new found skills in face transplanting and this is my best effort yet. I can now make leadership cards with the actual players in the picture. 

Now I must get back to some painting. I have Romans and Crimean dragoons to get on with.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Heinkel III : Last Heinkel Photoshp - Air Wing

Okay, no more of this nonsense I promise. Obviously a different photo from a different angle this time I cut out the model image and saved it as a smart object this time. I pasted it three times with size and orientation manipulated. After painting in the edges I shaded the screw-blur (don't really know what to call them) variously and that was all. I fixed them to a sky-scape taken from the same angle at the same time as the photo of the model itself - taken without the model. In short, a different technique to my previous air-brushing the stand out.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Heinkel III : Up and Away

This is the first of a short series of photos I intend doctoring care of Photoshop. My Airfix 1/72nd scale Heinkel III P2 is seen flying out over the sea - released into the wide blue yonder. This manipulation was the simplest effort and no doubt clumsy to the trained eye. I merely painted out the wire rod holding it up, matching the changing layers against the sea and sky then cropped the result. I was holding it against the skyline so the light is completely correct - this wasn't transposed onto a different background.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Heinkel III HE-20 Airfix: Part 2


Well I've stated previously that I'm a wargamer, not a modeller but I do have one foot in that pond and I confess to trying to get in deeper. I've really enjoyed assembling this model and trying to improve on my techniques and results.
I've developed my spinning props further by washing sections in black to imitate the optical blur and outline the arcs. Prior to painting them I cut them from the clear sheets by repeatedly turning my dividers - scratching through the sheets. Prior to the final 'cut' I repeatedly score the surface with the dividers, applying a half turn after each full circle so reducing the circumference and scoring ever decreasing circles toward the centre. At the end, it resembles a clear vinyl record - a wee one. The prop discs are tightly fitted but not glued or otherwise fixed and they seem to be well on thanks to the gloss coated spinners.
There's not much panel work to pin-wash but it has been done to raise the definition. The paintwork was brushed on (two coats) and then matt coated after applying the decals which were also set with Micro Sol softener. After that the lightest dry brush of light grey was dusted on the upper surfaces to catch raised panel lines and rivets and dark grey was applied to the under-surfaces. Exhaust staining was applied either side of the engines sweeping back across the underside of the wings.
I purchased the He 111 P-1 to P6 set from Print Scale - I think they are Russian based. A superb product and well worth the investment as they provide sufficient decals to do more than one model - they will no doubt come in handy one day. The decals depict an HE 111 P-4 8/KG 55 out of Villacoublay (France) in April 1941. 
Technically I should have opted for an earlier unit which the decal set does provide for (several in fact) but I wanted them to match the red spinners and I liked the heraldic shields.
On my next visit home I have a mind to scoop up the DFS230 gliders and my JU52 models and do the lot as I enjoyed this build so much. It's disgraceful how many unpainted figures and unbuilt models I have in my shed.
I'm going to muck about with Photoshop with this model and post the results in the near future.In the meantime these shots are in my yard due to an overcast sky and poor light.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

PROJECT QUEBEC: 3/60th Foot - Part 2

My army of Wolfe crawls one half-step closer toward completion with the painting stage completed for my rendition of the 3/60th foot. This task got stalled with a two week visit home to Australia.

At 51 figures this is the third largest unit in my growing army and I have now well and truly broken the back of the project - figure wise. They are mainly Redoubt Miniatures castings with a handful of Blue Moon (four). The Blue Moon sculpts are more accurate than the generic Seven Years War Redoubt Miniatures figures in that Redoubt details lace which the 60th didn't have ... for the rank and file anyway.
I've commented about the grenadier caps before with the Redoubt figures. I had to paint the cap design across the detail of whatever regiment the actual figures are trying to represent. This was not an issue for the Blue Moon figures who I think are supposed to be the 60th. If I had thought about it before hand I'd have filed back the caps smooth before undercoating. 
In the middle of painting these scoundrels, I leapt at an offer from North Star and bought two regiments worth of French Crusader figures along with the entire selection of their woodland Indians. I have determined to field both sides now so I can get some games in sooner rather than later - albeit not that soon. It'll be nice to paint something different.
They are based in platoon firing mode. Maddeningly, I have neglected to bring across the material I normally make the flags with so I now have to search Tonga for a substitute. Mid-way through this lot I sourced finials from Crusader which I had also run out of. I scooped them up on my home visit as there's no use trying to get stuff sent to Tonga.

I am representing the drums unadorned this time. Whilst the drummers themselves paint up reasonably, they are a brutish figure and easily the worst in the range. Anyway, one last shot of the grenadiers before I sign off. The Blue Moon sculpts are in the front rank. I just love the grenadier caps of this period the best.
CURRENT TALLY
A quick review of my completed units thus far are:
3/60th foot
48th foot
28th foot
78th foot (highlanders)
Louisberg Greganiers
Dalling's Light Infantry
A battery of two light guns
Which brings me up to 230 infantry figures and two crewed guns out of a total of 422.  

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Heinkell HE III H-20 Airfix: Pt 1

Bought long ago, I've gotten around to expanding my 1940 German Blitzkrieg air-support for Rapid Fire wargaming. I'm enjoying this immensely as it's been a while since I've built my last WWII aircraft model which I think was my Messerschmidt 109. Getting right in the mood, I've been listening to the Battle of Britain soundtrack and watching several Luftwaffe documentaries as I've cut, glued and sanded my hours away.
The ever-faithful Airfix company to the rescue, this model comes with one significant shortcoming. It has no tail swastika decals which is maddening. I suspect the production was due to some philosophical and political objections because I can find no images of a Heinkel III without them. So, I've had to source additional decal sets - thanks for nothing!
Anyway, I think I've stated before that whilst my skills and attention to details have intensified over the years, I am still a wargamer - not a modeller. There are opportunities to fill and sand sections of this kit but I'm not going further than sanding and trying to fit the parts as closely as possible. If there are gaps (and there are) so be it. I will be painting this in the early war camouflage which means I don't need to use an airbrush. Just as well as I have neither the brush nor the skills to use one and I just don't model often enough to be bothered to learn how.
By the same token, I am not painting the crew to normal table-top standards as they will be obscured by the crystal sections. I'm painting the cabin very basically for the same reasons. I am replacing the prop blades with grooved and clear plastic discs to simulate turning props. I'm also going to experiment by washing them with thinned grey and even cut-outs to see if I can't capture that full revving look.
The model could have done with a different bomb load for my purposes. I'm no expert but it looks to be rigged for the Blitz to me. Anyway, back to the Quebec figures. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Project QUEBEC: 3/60th Foot - Part 1

I think it was Mark Twain who said if your job is to eat two frogs then you should eat the largest one first. He was of course referring to getting onerous tasks out of the way and in part this is the philosophy I apply to my Quebec battle project inasmuch as I have concentrated largely on the biggest units first. Just as well considering I haven't lifted a finger for this undertaking in a few years. Well I'm back to it and this next lot will be the next biggest unit in Wolfe's army - the 3/60th foot.

HISTORY
The 60th Foot or Royal American Regiment was originally designated the 62nd Foot to be raised under warrant of the crown in December 1755. By July 1756 one battalion had been raised and the whole regiment would achieve a strength of four battalions.

A few peculiarities mark the creation of the 60th foot. It was designed to be four battalions strong and a foreign or largely Germanic unit taken from German subjects from the European continent, settled 'Germans' in the Americas and Swiss. This was not a completely popular idea, politically. Typical of the times, entry was restricted to protestants. In fact, a good many (over half) of the rank and file were Irishmen and other British recruits by design. American and European responses did not meet recruitment expectations in spite of land grants (presumably in America) so the regiment was more British than was originally anticipated. Enlistment into the regiment was for a three year term and limited to service in America.

Headquartered in Philadelphia with the training camp in Pennsylvania moving also to Philadelphia by the time the 3rd battalion was raised and ready for training.

Whilst not specifically 'light troops' the 1st and 2nd battalions appear to have been raised and trained as line troops capable of 'forest fighting'. Light troops at this time were not battalion sized units capable of fighting in linear formations in the open ground continental warfare. No such distinction is mentioned for the 3rd battalion but it may be assumed that it was similarly capable given it's sister battalions and assignment on the Plains of Abraham. This capability appears to centre around the training of their light company to flank, scout and skirmish and the general manner in which the battalions operated in the wilderness and negotiated forest territory on the march. In essence, the 60th regiment seem most likely to have been what became termed 'light battalions' by the later Napoleonic wars.

Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Young, the 3/60th first saw action in 1757 and was divided between garrisoning forts Edward and William-Henry during the famous siege, surrender and subsequent Indian attacks and 'massacre' across which it maintained order, fighting efficiency and sustained 80 casualties. It was reinforced to a strength of 986 all ranks. It spent the rest of 1757-8 training in Halifax.

Under Young the 3rd battalion departed Boston on 23 April 1758. Along with it's sister battalion, the 2/60th the 3rd battalion saw action at the assault on Louisburg where the 3/60th lost 17 men killed and 43 wounded for its first battle honour.


Later departing for the invasion at Quebec, elements from either or both battalions were deployed at the action at Montmorency Falls the following year just prior to being involved in the abortive action at Beauport.

At Montmorency Falls the regiment earnt the sobriquet Celer et Audex (Swift and Bold) - the regimental motto. They lost over 100 men in an ill co-ordinated action which Wolfe blamed on the grenadiers whilst praising the 60th who conducted an orderly fighting retreat under orders.

At the Plains of Abraham, therefore, the 3/60th battalion was a proven, experienced body of steady, reliable troops capable of engaging in both types of warfare characteristic of the North American theater of operations. It remained part of Murray's brigade but there are divergent accounts of it's positioning at the commencement of battle. It may have been in position on the oblique left flank to enagage the skirmishers delivering flanking fire before deploying later in the action to block Bougainville's reinforcements to the rear. Alternatively, it may have guarded the boats and the top of the escarpment and protected the rear. Perhaps elements of the battalion covered both but all agree they ended up to the rear to repel Bougainville.

DEPICTION
Due to the role of the 3/60th at the Plains of Abraham, I am depicting this battalion in platoon firing mode as if they are exchanging fire with the Canadian skirmishers at the start of hostilities. This unit is 51 figures strong made up mainly of Redoubt and some Blue Moon figures (one line officer, a casualty and two grenadiers firing).

As my 3/60th foot are newly raised and thus have not campaigned in the wilderness. Consequently, they will not be in improvised campaign dress as sometimes depicted for the 1&2/60th but will retain their line infantry appearance with full tricorne headwear and regulation equipment. The only sense of relief I have about this particular unit is that the 60th Royal Americans wore plain coasts without lace - well the rank and file at least.

PREPPING
There wasn't much preparation involved with the Redoubt figures but I do prefer to cut down the sergeants' halberds and replace the malleable white metal shafts with steel cut wire. It's a bit of fiddling about but I wont have to worry about then being straight in future. You need to drill out their hands (similar to Old Glory castings) and drill out a receiving hole at the base if you want to vary the positions from the preset holes. I have allocated three sergeants to this mob - one grenadier and two line.
I had too few standing officer poses and an extra sergeant or two so I've promoted one of them. He can either represent a literally field promoted sergeant or an officer who has misplaced his sash and gorget on the climb up from the landing earlier that day. If that sounds a bit self serving and lazy of me for not green-stuffing both then so be it. I can't recall where I got the sword from but it might be from a Front Rank set. Of course it's not just a matter of fixing his hand with a sword. Remember to cut away the hilt from his casting also.
I thought to mix in a few Blue Moon figures including two shooting grenadiers which I love. I do love the Redoubt line infantry figures for their rank and file above all but their grenadiers can't match these blokes. BUT, as the Blue Moon figures come in a curious collection as a job-lot I'm just scattering them through my army to add some colour. I have removed the bayonet to match the Redoubt sculpts. They have very little flash or mold lines.
Well, I had better get undercoating and on with it. See you on the other side.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

No More Nassauers

Front Rank Drummer
Well, no more for quite some time I imagine. I have just finished painting my second Nassau regiment for my Waterloo Papelotte project and the first unit since taking up my Tonga posting two months ago. I can't base them as yet but wanted to share what I've done with this lot. The above shot was taken outdoors with the brightness bumped a little in Photoshop. This unit has two drummers - the gent pictured above and the following from Elite Miniatures.
I still absolutely love Elite Miniatures for Napoleonics although I'm not so enamoured of their cavalry as a rule.  I think it has a lot to do with the balance they achieve with simplicity of the sculpt - those compromises in what details they keep in and leave out. It is especially appealing to me when I'm painting two 48 figure battalions because by comparison, the Front Rank members of this unit are just hard work. I also favour their lean proportions.

I decided to differentiate this battalion (2/2nd) from the other Nassauers by giving them French backpacks complete with the more usual white straps rather than the ubiquitous tan coloured webbing of the Nassau regiments. I can't base them as yet because my band-saw blade snapped and the replacement part took ages and missed my departure for the Pacific. I'll take these boys home on my next trip back and sort them out then. I have to say I am a huge convert to the Vallejo metals. In most other respects I'm still wedded to Humbrol enamels but their brass just fails to keep that lovin' feeling.
I am digging the Elite mounted colonel. I know he's loopy looking but there's nothing wrong with a little eccentricity on the table-top. It was nice to have a bicorne in among all those later Napoleonic shakos. If I look back to my 3/2 Nassauers, I seem to have changed which is the first company or the colour company and this time I've got it with the mob in yellow pom-poms. Go figure.
For my last posting I didn't pay any attention to my grenadiers, so here's three of the eight in the two poses Elite Miniatures makes them in. You can also see more clearly how I've mixed the shades of greens between coats, trousers and across the soldiers themselves. Only after I've completed the bases will I add some mud and dust but I think they already look both drab and colourful at the same time - that sounds mad, oui?
This officer is altered from his true form. He comes as an ensign with his now extended left arm drawn across the body holding the flag pole. I cut of the gimbal from the cross belt and folded in all but his index fingers to make him point to the enemy. Nothing better than a variety of officers for my companies and this unit has seven including the ensign. I also altered his partner as I had two spare ensigns from my Elite Miniatures collection. 
I've given my light company an officer this time although he really just an ordinary officer with his pompom appropriately green and yellow - or is that yellow and green? I can never tell. I think I made this up later on as otherwise I should have thought to buy an extra light company miniature and transplant his plume. Ah, well ... who will care? Anyway, I'm now deciding what next to work on from what I chose to bring out with me. I haven't done anything toward my Quebec project in a very long time so it might be red coats for a change.