Archive for the 'painting' Category

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.

 

 

 

A Long Overdue Update & Plans for 2013

Happy New Year everyone!

It’s been a long time since I updated this blog.  As usual, there are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. Life has been busy.  My work got very busy in the second half of 2012 and I spent a lot of time working out of town.  Naturally this had a negative effect on my hobby time.  I also had some family health issues to deal with as well.
  2. What hobby time I have had has mostly been spent working on non-historical projects.  I picked up a copy of Warhammer 40K last summer and found a new (to me) local game store that had a healthy GW gaming crowd that had a vibe I liked.  As a result, I’ve spent most of my hobby time painting up a Tau army for Warhammer 40K.  I’ve started a separate blog covering my GW-related activities.  If you’re interested, you can check it out here.
  3. When I’ve had hobby time, I’ve been spending it on painting versus writing.  I joined Twitter last year and spend more time writing short updates there.  I find the short-form micro-blogging that Twitter allows for is something I can keep up with much easier.  If you’re curious, my Twitter handle is @GreatRedoubt.  I talk about both GW & historical gaming there.  I haven’t found too man historical miniatures gamers on Twitter so my content & timeline skews towards the GW crowd.

I’ve enjoyed the break from painting Napoleonics figures.  While I would still love to build armies and play games with large blocks of 28mm Napoleonics, it’s not a short-term project for me, especially without at least one other committed partner.  In the meantime, I’m looking at starting at least one short-term, smaller project to break up the painting production line.

The main project I’m starting is 28mm WWII.  I recently bought some figures during some end-of-year closeout sales and am looking at a doing some low-level skirmishing.  I know, 28mm probably isn’t the preferred scale for this period, but I like the character and dynamism that figures from companies like Artizan, Crusader & Warlord (among others) bring, and I’m already committed to doing some 28mm terrain to play on, so the thought of having to duplicate a lot of it in 10/15/20mm scale is not appealing to me.

I’m starting with 1939 in Poland.  I have a few squads of Polish infantry and early German infantry on order, and eventually I’ll add some smaller tanks and supporting vehicles.   While the Polish campaign was over relatively quickly, the Poles put up as much of a fight as they could, and the combat at the tactical level was not as lopsided as some gamers may think.  The Germans had yet to perfect their tactics, so at a tactical level the two armies were probably closer in skill level than, say, the Germans and Russians were in 1941.  Both armies used the Mauser rifle as their main squad weapon, with the Germans having a distinct advantage in squad MG (the MG34, with it’s high rate of fire) versus the Polish BAR.

I’m looking at games with maybe around a platoon per side.  This keeps things small which means I can get game-able forces painted up faster as well as provide both sides without breaking the bank.  I think a number of the Warhammer 40K players may be interested in trying something like this, along with some of the historical miniature players in two.

The nice thing about skirmish gaming is that basing & organizations are the same across rules sets, so I will be able to try out and potentially play a number of different rules sets.

Current candidates include:

  • Bolt Action – This is the new ‘it-rules’ for WWII put out by Warlord Games & Osprey publishing.  I have yet to pick up a set but plan to do so soon.  I suspect this rules set may be one of the easier crossover games for GW players to pick up.
  • Disposable Heroes – I’ve played this before and it can put out a fun, if sometimes bloody, game.
  • Rate of Fire – These rules from Crusader Publishing look relatively simple while still being fairly ‘historical’.
  • Force on Force – These rules from Ambush Alley Games would probably put out the most ‘realistic’ game, but it’s a bit complex for novices.  I’d love to try it but it might be a harder sell among the local crowd.  I have the pre-Osprey edition of FoF that still had the WWII rules included.  A new, updated WWII version of FoF will come out eventually, but not until Bolt Action (another Osprey product) will have had a good head start from what I’ve read.

Over time if I keep on enjoying myself, the project will move into later periods of the war.  I just don’t want to have games that are wall-to-wall panzers, so early war seems like a smarter place to start.

Beyond WWII I’d be interested in other 28mm projects, whether it’s ancients (WAB or similar), Dark Ages (Saga) or horse & musket. We’ll have to see how things progress as the year goes on, and who I find to game with.

Well, that’s enough blathering for now.  I hope that 2013 is a good year for you and your gaming projects, and I hope to keep this blog more up-to-date as well.

 

New Army Painter Inks

I managed to try out the new inks from The Army Painter this evening in between dealing with firefighting for work & feeding some starving children.  The figs are still drying but for now I am impressed.  We’ll see what they look like when fully dry but I can see myself going through large amounts of Soft Tone & Dark Tone ink for my figures.

In an attempt to speed up my painting I’ve been moving towards doing a more basic block painting combined with washes and selected highlights, and I think the new AP inks will fit into this scheme very well.  After getting the basic color blocked in I gave my figures a coat of Future to try and reduce the amount of ‘tooth’ in the paint.  After the Future finish dried I hit them with the AP inks and they seem to have flowed nicely into the cracks.

I did some experimenting with the tones and at this point here’s what I think:

  • Dark Tone will be my goto for silver metals, blues, greens, greys, among other dark-ish colors.  The black works well to shade a lot of colors without overpowering them.  I will also use them for white belts & straps to give it more of a pipe-clay look.
  • Strong Tone will be used for yellow metals and browns.
  • Light Tone will be used for flesh (Caucasian at least) along with off-white and other lighter brown-ish tones.

For my Russian Musketeers I worked on tonight, most got the Light Tone for their trousers & flesh and dark tone for everything else.

I’ll post a follow-up once things dry totally.  Thanks to Der Feldmarchall again for the tip.

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!

FoW Painting

I picked up some 15mm Battlefront Panzergrenadiers about a year ago on Bartertown.  I got them cheap, cleaned them up, primed them white and then shelved them in favor of other things as I am wont to do sometimes.

I’m trying to get back into the swing of painting more frequently and I picked up a few sticks of these figures and starting playing around with them a few nights back, more as a break from turnbacks, collars and shako cords.  I’m painting the figures  in a mix of FeldGrau and the Heer splinter camo pattern.  A lot of the figures appear to be wearing helmet covers and/or camo smocks so for the most part they are getting feldgrau trousers and a mix of feldgrau and camo tops.  I’m throwing a few uncovered helmets in for variety.

The 15mm figures are small enough that I really need the optivisor to do a decent job with them.  I’m experimenting with both washing the figures before and after painting them.  For this batch I took some artist’s oil Burnt Umber and washed the basic white figures, let them dry for a few minutes and then wiped them down with an old T-shirt.  The net effect was a very heavy shading that made all of the nooks and crannies on the figure a very dark brown.  I then proceeded to block paint the main colors over that, leaving the recesses a dark brown.  Looks great with the beige/brown camo, not so great with the feldgrau.  As I said earlier this is an experiment so I’ll noodle around with these figures and see what gives me the most pleasing look.

I’ll post pics when I have something done.

An Update of Sorts

Life rolls on.  A recent job change has moved gaming down the priority chain a bit.  Now that things have settled down I’m starting to paint again.  I’m slowly working on Coppens’ Zouave battalion and am making decent progress.  After that unit gets finished I will probably be switching back to Napoleonics.   There are rumors of a large-ish Napoleonic scrum next summer and I would like to pump out some units for that, since Napoleonics is my favorite period in wargaming.   With Perry Miniatures and Warlord both releasing 28mm Russians (and Victrix to follow up eventually), there will be plenty of choices available.

I’ll post pictures of my zouaves as they get close to completion.  Assembling the plastic figures is a bit tedious, but I really enjoy the ability to customize the poses.  My zouaves all are charging with their rifles at various angles, presenting a bloodthirsty and fearsome image.


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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