Posts Tagged 'Napoleonics'

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.

 

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.

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!

A Fresh Start

After another long break I’m trying to climb back into the saddle again.  I started a new career last fall, and while that has been a very good thing it has meant a huge learning curve both for me and for my family as we all adjust to a new lifestyle.  Painting and gaming took a back seat throughout the winter because of that.   Now that we are all starting to adjust to the new normal I’ve started getting the urge to get back into the hobby.

One of the local groups is scheduling a 28mm Napoleonic battle this summer, and especially since it’s been moved back to the end of summer I’m taking a stab at contributing troops for it.  Russians, of course.  I have my old Sash & Saber musketeers that I’ve stripped down and started again.  Those poor SOB’s are probably terrified of the pickle jar filled with Simple Green by now.

After thinking about things for a while I’m abandoning my usual black-prime-and-layer-up approach and going back to white priming this batch.  I love the look of the dark figures but I’ve never had good luck building up bright colors like reds and yellows over a dark undercoat.  I know it can be done but I lack the patience to do all of the successive layers needed to build up the base and, frankly, I don’t have the time needed to build up several hundred figures in such a style anymore.  Life is way too busy.  So, I’m going back to priming white, blocking in the basic colors and I’ll be trying the ‘dip’ method, using Minwax polyshades Tudor to give instant shading and definition to the paint jobs.  Since I’ll be using the dip to get the shadow/undertones, I’m blocking in fairly bright colors for my main layer of paint.  For instance I’m using GW Elf Flesh as the base tone for the skin and hopefully I won’t have to do any highlighting after the dip is applied.  I’ll probably do some post-dip highlighting for the metallics and possible jackets to bring out some definition but I’m trying to keep that to a minimum.  The object is to get serviceable figures cranked out in a reasonable amount of time, not create works of art.

Another change is that I’m backing off of using my optivisor for most of the painting.  The figures being made today have amazing amounts of details, and while using the optivisor I saw all of them and felt the need to paint all of them even if I’d have a hard time seeing them without the magnification.  This way lies madness, so I’m currently just using my normal glasses and painting what I can.  A three feet away I doubt I’ll notice much of a difference.  The net effect of this is that my painting time is increasing… or at least it feels that way.

I’ll post some pics when I have something completed.  I’m working on the first batch of 24 now, experimenting with colors and techniques as I go.  I have two units of 24 Sash & Saber musketeers at home and by the time I’m done with them the new Perry plastic Russians should be available.  They are slated to go on sale in late April.  I like that they give you the option of the pre-kiwer shakos since that’s what many of the troops that fought in 1812 & 1813 wore.

 

Changing Things Up

The one constant in life is change, and as such my hobby projects have changed a bit over the last month or so.   I’m currently working on some 28MM projects and am enjoying the process of relearning how to properly paint the larger figures again.

First up are some 28mm Perry French Dragoons I’ve had lying around for awhile.   I’ve got 13 of them about half-completed already with another 13 awaiting assembly.  The Perry brothers make some very nice figures and these are definitely among them.  It’s a little more putzy work assembling the figures, but cleaning them up is much easier, so it’s a trade-off in my mind.

Next, I’ve committed to some 28mm ACW figures for a local project getting up steam and will be painting up a brigade of Louisiana Infantry for an 1862 game to be held sometime next year.  I’ve already bought a box of Perry plastic zouaves to be done up as Coppens’ Zouave Battalion and have a few skirmishers in the works as well.  I’ll be ordering more infantry over the course of the summer since the target date for this project is next year to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the battles of that year.

I’ll post some pictures as time permits.

Another Napoleonics Game

Quick update here after not posting for a long while.  Five of us met last Saturday to play a Legacy of Glory 15mm Napoleonic game at my place.  it was the first game in a few months thanks to sickness, work schedules, family, etc.   The main positives were that we had two new players, Jeff and Mike, and that it was the first game played on my newly-expanded 14′ x 6′ game table.

Pardon the two-tone terrain.  My original terrain cloth was only ten feet long, which was fine for my 8-foot table.  Oh well, it’s on the list of things to acquire.

The nice thing, as you can see above, is that we managed to get two French Corps and 3-4 Allied Corps on the table at 1:60 with room to spare.  The units are all at proper deployment intervals and there are noticeable gaps between divisional formations.   A nice change from having people running ‘divisions; of 6-8 battalions just to save space.

My cohort David has a write-up of the event and a large picture gallery linked here.

Here’s a few more pictures I took of the game as well.

I’m having a bit of a dilemma about Napoleonics again, as I sometimes do.  The group met from around 3:30PM-11:00PM or so, and in that time we probably spent around 5-6 hours of it actually gaming.  We managed to get in around 5 hours of game time, so no real complaint there.  The issues I am having revolve around the following points:

  • We managed to get close to 1:1 times for combat, which is good, in reality we only played around 3.5 hours of real combat since several turns went fast as it took time for the initial orders for both sides to activate.  Realistic perhaps, but from a game enjoyment perspective irrelevant.
  • The time we spent gaming managed to get off two Austrian attacks and one Russian assault.   There was a full Russian division/corps and an Austrian division that never got into combat.  For the time invested it would’ve been nice to get those reserve units into the game .  We probably could have done so had we focused on the game a bit more, but frankly part of the enjoyment of the hobby is the chatting, eating and drinking with friends, and I don’t believe those things should have to be sacrificed to get a full game in, especially in a 7+ hour gaming session.
  • I’m wondering how the rules go over with new players.  I like the concepts behind Legacy of Glory, but the rules are 20+ years old and are beset with editing/layout issues.    There are too many phases in the turn sequence that are somewhat redundant, especially in the command phases.    Legacy of Glory is one of those games you need to play regularly to stay well-versed in the rules, and with our group playing (maybe) once a month and having several different options of game to play, I don’t know how many of our group will truly understand the rules.  I’m guessing two or three of us at most.
As I wrote earlier, I love the concepts behind LoG and think it makes for a good model of Napoleonic combat in many cases.  That said, it’s encased in a very old ‘simulationist’ style of rules framework that appeals to me on one level but turns me off on another one.  I have a very demanding job and there are many times that I feel like I shouldn’t have to work that damn hard to enjoy a game.  I doubt I’m alone in this.
I guess I like the ‘effect’ LoG models but don’t really care for the ‘process’ that is uses to do so.  This is why I have had high hopes for the new version of the rules.  The few teasers the authors have released look really good, but it’s not enough to play a game with, and I am losing hope that the new version will be released anytime soon.  The authors have the best intentions but also seem to have a lot of irons in the proverbial fire and LoG seems to be the first thing that gets pushed when time is short.
So, what to do beyond waiting for a new rules set that may never come?  A couple options:
  • David and I have talked about streamlining LoG1.  Could be done, but the game is still based around lots of charts, for good or for bad.  From my experience, the greater the number of charts, the fewer game participants you’ll have actually running said charts.
  • We’ve talked a bit about other rules sets.  Corps D’Armee, La Feu Sacre and others.  Some resistance here.
  • We could write our own rules set.  Here be dragons.
I have no solutions at this point.  Just a feeling that while LoG works, it’s not perfect.

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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