Posts Tagged 'miniatures painting'

28mm Napoleonics Painting Update

I’ve switched back to working on more 28mm Napoleonic figures after doing little but Warhammer 40K Tau for the last 8 months or so.  This is prompted by my new friend Jason cranking up his 1813 project using the “Black Powder” rules, and inviting me to participate.  Before getting sucked into 40K in the middle of last year I had started working on my 28mm Napoleonics again, albeit without a real goal or direction in mind.  It’s my favorite historical period, so I always fall back on that when I run out of other project work.  I dithered along but without an organized group project, maintaining focus is hard, so naturally I didn’t keep it and shifted around to other things.

The purpose of this post is to show how I’m choosing to paint up my rank & file miniatures.  A project like using Black Powder for Napoleonics will require hundreds of figures for an army.  It’s just the way of things, and if you want the massed battle/”Big Battalions” look you have to accept it.  I like to think I’m a pretty good painter, but for whatever reason I had a devil of a time moving up to 28mm historicals from a painting standpoint.  My main bugbear was figuring out ways to paint black and white without looking unnatural or just dirty.  I’ve been using my Sash & Saber Russians as test figures for a while to figure things out before investing in the new Perry and (maybe) Warlord Games Russians for my core force.

First, I think I should spend a few sentences talking about what I’m aiming for.  As mentioned above, these figures are going to be for mass combat units in Black Powder.  As such, they will be based on multiple figure bases two ranks deep.  They are not going to be used or looked at as single figures.  They will be part of a unit of 24 figures (on average), and will be viewed at arm’s length or farther for the most part.  As such, I’m going for a paint job that looks good ‘en masse’ and not trying to turn each figure into an individual work of art.  It would take too much time and, since many of these figures will be obscured in the middle of mass formations, the work would be almost useless.  Since I’d like to get a full army or two up and running before I die, sacrifices must be made.  So, some details will not be picked out or highlighted for the rankers.  I see this as the best compromise for the goals I wish to achieve.

Anyway, enough pontificating.  Let’s see some lead.

Here’s a picture of a figure I painted up in the middle of 2012:

Old Method

The picture isn’t the greatest, but you can see the following things

  • The trousers are offwhite washed with Army Painter inks.  The creases shaded in well, but the overall effect is way too ‘dirty’ for my liking.  I also wasn’t totally happy with the colors I selected.  Trying to find a good-looking color palette for linen trousers isn’t easy.  It has to be a ‘warm’ white with brown tones in it versus a ‘cold’ white that has blues or greys in it.  
  • The flesh paint was globbed on and again washed.  Doesn’t look too bad, but not enough contrast to stick out well at arm’s length.
  • Shako cords were offwhite washed with Army Painter “Dark Tone” (i.e. like old GW Badad Black).  Looked too bright and, again, messy.  I have a tenency to lay whites on thick to get it to cover over darker base colors, which doesn’t look very good at the end.
  • The reds are washed with the Strong Tone as well, which muddies up the color a bit.

There are all mostly niggling things, but the end result didn’t turn out that great so I went back to the drawing board.  More experimentation and conversations with Jason and other folks have led me to working on this as a new test:

 

New Method

What do you think?

Here are the main changes:

  • The trousers are not washed.  I used a few colors from the Andrea Miniatures White Paint Set to build up a nice brownish color.  Might have been able to use another highlight, and my shading technique needs more work, but overall I’m pleased with how they turned out.  I have a method to build on if nothing else.
  • The skin tone is GW Dwarf Flesh, washed with Army Painter Soft Tone, and then highlighted with a mix of Dwarf Flesh & Elf Flesh. I think this lightens the flesh up a bit as well as gives a nicer contrast you can see at distance.
  • I used Vallejo “Light Grey” and “Sky Grey” for my belts, straps & shako cords instead of offwhite.  I think it looks a little more subdued and is easier to work up without looking dirty like the whites always seemed to.
  • The reds are washed with GW’s “Carrowburg Crimson” and then highlighted with Vallejo Scarlet.  Makes for a nice red tone that isn’t too bright or too pinkish but still stands out at distance.

I expect the quality of the paint jobs to raise a bit once I get more experience with things, especially with the shako cords and the trousers.  Overall, I think this does a nice job of concentrating the eye’s focus on the face and upper torso, which is where most of the action is for historical figures.  Once I get a full unit based up and ranked I hope you’ll agree that the effect looks great even if the individual figures aren’t masterpieces.

In case anyone’s interested, here are the colors I used:

  • Trousers-  Andrea White Paint set 2nd shade, base, & 2nd highlight
  • Shako, boots, packs, scabbards – Vallejo Black Grey
  • Coat – Vallejo Extra Dark Green, GW Athonian Camoshade
  • Cuffs/collars/turnbacks – Vallejo Red, GW Carrowburg Crimson, Vallejo Scarlet
  • Musket – Vallejo Hull Red
  • Musket strap – Vallejo Red Leather
  • Flesh – GW Dwarf Flesh, GW Elf Flesh, Army Painter Soft Tone ink
  • Straps/shako Cords – Vallejo Light Grey, Army Painter Dark Tone ink, Vallejo Sky Grey

Happy Painting!  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them here or hit me up on Twitter.

 

 

 

Back With a Brand New Plan

So I post a long-winded 2013 update and, of course, less than an hour later I get an email from another local gaming acquaintance that throws my plans into upheaval.

It looks like 28mm Napoleonics is back on the front burner again so it’s time to order some more Russian figures.  I’m still not happy with the quality of painting I’m doing with 28mm Horse & Musket figures so I’m going to try some new techniques (again).  The upshot of all this is that my second battalion of Sash & Saber Russian Musketeers is going back in the pickle jar for paint removal yet again.  These poor bastards should be used to it by now.  First I was multiple attempts with a black undercoat, then one with a white undercoat.  Now it’s something completely different.

I’ve been watching videos on YouTube regardind different airbrush techniques, and one I plan to try out now is zenithal shading.  In a nutshell, basically you prime the entire figure in a dark primer (black in my case), then shoot the figure with a lighter-colored primer (Grey) from above at a 45 degree angle, putting a lighter base on the areas that you would expect to be hit with sunlight.  Finally you pick out the areas of interest or topmost parts of the figure with white primer.  This allows some natural shading & highlighting that you then overspray with thin coats of color, so hopefully allowing some built-in shading.  

 

I’ve been frustrated with trying to get clean paintjobs over dark foundations, so instead of slopping on the black & dark green paint & then trying to do a decent job with belting & shako cords I’ll get the white details sorted first & then carefully fill in with the darker colors.  We’ll see how this goes.

My goal is to use the S&S miniatures as guinea pigs so I can have a technique figured out before I start working on Perry, Foundry and/or Warlord Games’ ranges of figures.

 

Army Painter Inks

I stopped into one of the Twin Cities’ excellent game stores today while out on a hobby day with my son and picked up a few bottles of the new Army Painter “Warpaints” line.  Per a tip from Der Feldmarchall I picked up a bottle of AP’s inks that match their series of ‘Quickshade’ dips.  Since Games Workshop has seen fit to discontinue their old line of washes (including my much-beloved Devlan Mud) I’m keen to find a replacement and it sounds like these inks may just fit the bill.

I also picked up a bottle of AP’s “Daemonic Yellow” since I can always use another yellow-ish tone that can cover in only 1 or 2 coats.

Progress continues slowly on my Russian Napoleonics.  Spending the better part of a month out of town for work didn’t help matters much, and with summer now upon us that brings a whole other range of possible distractions (mostly spending nights on the porch watching the sun go down with a gin & tonic).  Now that Perry Miniatures has released their plastic Russian line infantry I’ll be placing an order for some of those in the next month or so.   Hopefully someone follows up with plastic Russian artillery since I’ll be needing those in mass quantities.

 

Painting Update, or How I Learned to Live Without the Optivisor

After finally kicking myself in the butt I’ve started working in earnest on my 28mm Sash & Saber Russians again.  As I described in my last post I’m trying something new (and old) starting from a white undercoat and then blocking in the main colors with a bias toward the brighter end of the spectrum and then toning it down with washes.  Instead of using Minwax I’m using my current supply of Citadel washes instead.  Unlike previous go-rounds with the washes I’m not just slathering the entire figure in Devlan Mud this time.  The faces are being done with Ogryn flesh, the hair & linen pants in Devlan Mud, and the rest of the figure in Badab Black.

I like the effect a lot and think it looks good at tabletop distance.  I’m not trying to produce award-winning paintjobs with this technique; I just want to complete some units and play some games.  With a good basing job and some nice flags these figures will look good, and let’s face it, unless you’re a top-shelf painter displaying your figures with professional-quality photos, no one will look that closely at the rank & file figures anyway, especially when you need several hundred of them.  So why slow yourself down?  I also got rid of the optivisor for everything other that shako cords and straps which again saves time and removes the neurotic need to add one more highlight to that musket firing lock.

So, here are some WIP shots of my new figures.  I took them with my mobile phone so apologies for the meh photos.  The flash bleaches out the wash details a bit more than they should.

Sash & Saber Russians, White undercoat, basic block painting and citadel washes.

Compare that with one of my attempts to start from a black undercoat and do more of a Foundry/3-layer paint job:
28m Sash & Saber Russian Musketeer
More photos are available at my Photobucket page.

Enjoy!

Some AB Russians

I was messing around with our camera last night and got a few ‘passable’ photos of my latest work.    There are 6 new pictures on my Photobucket account.

The photos look shiny because I haven’t finished the bases so there’s only an undercoat of Krylon Crystal Clear gloss varnish.  The dullcoat comes at the end.  Also, keep in mind these are 18mm figures so the photos show the figures much larger than life size.

For the pedants out there, yes, I realized after the fact that the jager turnbacks should probably be green and the belting should be black instead of white.  I’ve got several hundred more figures to do and decided not to go back and fix it… these are wargame figures, not show pieces.

5th Jagers Command Stand

Pskov Musketeers Command Stand

Weekend Painting Blitz

My lovely bride is heading out of town this weekend with her girlfriends on a scrapbooking retreat so yours truly is left to his own devices.  This means taking care of the kids during the day, and three nights of straight painting.  I’m going to try and knock out two regiments of 1807 Russian Musketeers this weekend in preparation for a planned early April game. I’ve been thinking a lot about my painting style and trying to refine things such that I find a look that is pleasing to me while using the least amount of work to execute.  My current figures look nice but I’m doing a lot of shading & highlighting that really gets lost on the gaming table at three feet viewing distance and in sub-optimal lighting.   I enjoy having nicely-painted figures, but at the same time my speed is relatively low and I’d like to do something about it. I’m also embarking on a small side project working on some 20mm WWII BEF infantry.  A small skirmish game would be a change from Napoleonics both in terms of painting and game play while still being reasonably cheap and easy to do. I’ll post status updates on the painting blitz in my ‘painting table’ widget on the sidebar here.  I don’t know that I’ll get all 72 figures done this weekend but if I can get a good start on them I’ll be happy.

UPDATE:

I decided to cut back to one regiment of figures and see how far I can get.  On Saturday I managed to block in the coats, trousers, muskets, flesh and blanket rolls.  They’ll get a good dose of GW Devlan Mud this morning and then I’ll get back to them this evening.   I’m also going to try and base up some of the other figures I’ve already finished painting. I’ll update this post over time.

UPDATE 2:

All my detail brushed now have split tips.  Dammit!!!  My painting is done for this evening.  I gave all the brushes a good cleaning with the Master’s soap, rinsed them, formed the tips and wrapped them in paper towels.  Hopefully at least some of them will reform properly.  Otherwise I’m DOA for detail work until a new trip to Michael’s.

I did get 6 battalions and my skirmishers based up.  I’ll move on to terraining those bases and cleaning up my 20mm WWII BEF British.

A short WIP update

Not much new to report.  The taxman was not good to us this year so my hobby budget has been limited for a while.  That’s OK because I’ve got a good number of AB Russians still waiting to get painted.

Speaking of which my jagers and generic skirmishers are approaching completion.  I’m down to just the details (pompoms, cockades, buttons, etc) left and that will get done this week.  Then I get to start cleaning the next few regiments of musketeers… my wife is going out of town the last weekend in March so after the kids go to bed it will be a painting marathon for me as I try to crank out as many green coated infantry as I can.   I’d like to put out some new troops for our next Legacy of Glory game coming up soon.

The only other news of note I have is that I picked up a copy of Johnny Reb III cheap this week.  I’m reading a bit on the ACW and am thinking about what to do… my friend David has some decent-sized armies for Johnny Reb II and the ACW is a period I enjoy since it’s mostly infantry and artillery (I’m terrible with cavalry usually).  More on that later.


On the Painting Table

28mm Perry French Dragoons
13
40% Done

28mm Perry Confederate Zouaves (Coppens')
24
50% Done

28mm Sash and Saber Russian Napoleonic Infantry
24
5% Done

Warhammer 40K Kroot
19
DONE

Warhammer 40K Tau Pathfinders
9
10% Done

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