Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dragoons Command & Elite Squadron

I decided to finish the command and elite squadron for the 4th Dragoons, as a prelude to doing the eight troopers that are about half done.  Happy with the way the elites turned out but had problems with the command stand, the officer figure in particular.

I decided to use the Army Painter on them this time (save for the Sapeur Chef figure who just needed basing and varnishing).  It certainly helped with the ordinary job I did on the officer.

For some reason the varnish crackled on parts of the officer - most noticeable on the horse.  The shade dip had been left overnight and was completely dry - the only thing I can think of was the varnish went on just a tad too thick on one or two places and dried unevenly.  Blasted nuisance and ruins what was otherwise a reasonable job.  I got the hairdryer onto it and pressed the ridges down as best I could while it was softer which has mitigated the worst of it but still... grrrr!

Much better was the trumpeter and his grey which I am happy with.  I could find no reference to the trumpet cords for the 4th but which on others have been a lemony yellow, red or white or multi-coloured with red, green and white strands.  It was all a bit much so they've been left white - I think they still look OK.  The other thing I did for one or two of them was cut the cartridge box off the back of the horse and glue it to the figure.  A bit more fiddling about but no more annoying gap when the figure is seated.

The other detail that was needed was the nice Perry's flag that came with the box insert.  I changed the '2' for a '4'.  The standard pole I have left black but they may have been that nice azure blue colour like for many infantry regiment eagles.

I also debated whether or not I should equip the command stand with musketoons and decided in the end not to do so.  If it turns out they all carried them, I can always add them at a later date but for now they look fine without.

Much more to my liking were the Elite Squadron led by Chef de Sapeurs Eugene (careful with that axe...)  Guess I'm just a sucker for a nice tall bearskin hat - they look so cool - must have been a bugger to keep on your head though! 

That's it for painting for the next few weeks as I finish my uni work and then go back to the day job.  I will finish the regiment off hopefully next month and post the results but I've also got an ACW Virginian Military Institute regiment to do for a future Black Powder game - so plenty to do other than just paint French cavalry, delightful as that may be!


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Converted Perry's French Dragoon

After looking at the Perry's French Dragoons I decided to use two boxes to do a large regiment - say 24 figures - which would give me two for casualty bases/markers.  In doing so I decided to do a full command stand with 'tete de colon' figures which similarly to infantry is an officer, standard bearer, musician and sapper.  Originally being mounted infantry, dragoons uniquely had a small mounted sapper unit of about eight men led by a senior NCO (Chef de Sapeurs) and I felt this figure would make an ideal one for the Head of Column' command stand.

I was inspired by the Detaille painting of a dragoon sapeur with the captured standard.

For reference I used the late Angus McBride's wonderful illustration in the old Osprey's 'Dragoons and Lancers'  (Plate C2) of a Chef des Sapeurs of the 19th.  The Perry's figures being in a post-1810 uniform, I made my guy into a Chef of the 4th Regt.  

Although they were usually reserved for trumpeters, as he was an 'elite' of an elite as it were, he's a bit special so I mounted him on a grey.  My other license was to give him a unique chopper.  Being the boss I thought he deserved a special version with a bill-hook reverse and a spike (I have seen one like it) - a bit more useful than the usual bit of cutlery!

The apron that all sappers wore was folded up under the belt so didn't need to be shown.  The brass badge on the cross belt is off a French infantry shako. The axe arm was the dragoons standard bearer's arm with an epaulette added. The only other significant bit I needed to add was a beard! 

I'm happy with the way he turned out.  I just have to base the figure, which I will do on a single, so I can add him to the command stand or elite squadron stands as required.

I was supposed to be having an Indian Mutiny Black Powder game today but have been struck low by the dreaded throat lurgy for days, so didn't really feel up to it.  Lack of any voice other than a strangled croak doesn't help either.  So next best thing is to paint up some dragoons and hope my fellow gamers will excuse my 'no-show'!


Friday, June 11, 2010

French 5th Hussars command

Once I had the figure done I decided to finish the command stand for the 5th Hussars.  I made the third figure into a brigadier in full dress uniform, with shako. 

I will do a separate stand of hussars in colpack for the elite squadron.  I had sliced his hand off and glued on the eagle standard until I realised that the 5th never carried their eagle with them on campaign (I believe only two hussar regiments disobeyed orders and did so).  So I had to then glue the slightly shortened hand with sword back on. Doh!  Thank goodness you don't really notice it (and no, that's not a signal for pedants to pick the fault out!) 

 The only other obvious mistake with the command stand is the trumpeter's sabretache which is blue.  Although the regiment's were red, I have conflicting information that the trumpeter's were blue, so that's what I've gone with.  To be frank, there was so much unregulated differences in the uniform that its almost 'anything goes', particularly with officers and trumpeters who were more often dressed according to the commanding officer's whim (and the officer's purse - i.e. what they could afford).

I'm quite pleased with the way these figures turned out and will look forward to doing the rest of the regiment once the uni essays are out of the way.  I deliberately didn't use any Army Painter tone, unstead relying on washes and experimenting with Rotring inks (the blue in the uniform and the brown horses) which give a really deep tone, easily dilute and generally handle as  well as any commercial paint wash.

The base is one of the plastic ones included with the box with a magnetic strip cut to fit (adds a bit more weight as well).  I plan to do the rest of the regiment in campaign uniform, the only debate is how many I'll do as the 5th out of the two boxes as I want to have a couple spare for casualty figures.  I'm toying with the idea of having one with his leg trapped under his horse but it'll take quite a bit of slicing and dicing to convert. 

Food for thought anyway.

Hope you enjoyed the photos, remember to click on them to get an enlargement.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

French 5th Hussar trumpeter

This is the second of the Perry's French hussars for the command stand for the 5th Hussars.

I decided to give him a colpack to match the officer's - many who had them retained them long after the shako was introduced and the elite squadron would have had them anyway.  The plume is conjectural as I've seen later ones in black, so I'm assuming this remained white.  He is of course riding a grey as nearly all French cavalry trumpeter's did.

I just realised that I didn't varnish him before I photographed him, so the tone may lack a little depth.  For the command stand figures I'm not using Army Painter dip either but relying on multiple washes in the shades I need and using the Rotring ink which produces a lovely deep tone to the colour.  I've also blended in a bit of pink into the horses muzzle.

As you can see in the detail of the pelisse, the sky blue colour acquired a nice rich tone with the ink wash.  The detail on the shabraque has to be painted on.  For enlisted troopers it was Napoleonic eagle in gold with oak leaves on the same blue cloth.  Very fiddly - nearly as bad as the officer's one but I think this one actually turned out better.

The white uniform is a bugger to get right - I used the technique that I saw used on some AWI French (thanks Giles!) blending in a light grey for the folds - enhanced in this case with a weak black ink wash - followed by yet more blending.

All in all I'm quite pleased with how they've turned out so far as they've been great figures to paint.  I'll add one more of  an NCO in full uniform to complete the command stand and then base them all up.  But I have yet another essay to write so it may be a while before I can do that and post the pictures.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Perrys French Hussars: 5th Hussars officer

after hitting the books and writing War and Peace several times over I decided to take a short break.  I couldn't resist painting up one of the Perry's French hussars - the officer figure of course!  I intend to do the command stand in between uni work this month.  The officer is about 95% complete, save for basing etc.

I experimented with the blue, using a GW 'Ultramarines Blue' base coat, then a deep sky blue over that. I highlighted with Citadel's 'Electric Blue' then toned that back with washes of Rotring Blue ink, wiping a bit off the raised parts. The Rotring inks are pure pigment that I originally bought for my airbrush but I've discovered they also make excellent washes, and you can easily make the colour as strong as you like or dilute it with water.  I used an undiluted ink wash to give the blue a strong tone.

The pelisse was white over a light grey with just the thinnest of black washes.  The gold braid was GW's delightfully named 'Vomit Brown' as a base, then a a dark gold followed by GW 'Flesh Wash' then a Coat d'Arms 'Bright Gold'.  All the golden braid on the uniform is done the same, with the bright gold to highlight the buttons.  Again the thinnest of black and flesh washes over it to get into and darken the folds etc and make the highlights pop a bit more.

The officer's red leather cartridge belt was done with Coat d'Arms 'Brick Red' with a GW 'Crimson Gore' over the top followed by diluted flesh wash.

As expected, the figure was a delight to paint, and I am happy with the results so far.  I shall do the trumpeter next when I get more time but I'm conscious of doing the neglected dragoons too - perhaps a command stand for them if I can manage it.

The photos turned out OK but I had a bugger of a time with very bright sunlight and a fogged lens. Trick is to make the bright light indirect and a dull background, preferably in shade to avoid the auto-focus problems.  Remember to click on the images to see the enlargement and please leave a comment if you like (or if you don't like!)


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Battle for the farm, 1813

Some time ago I played a demo game for the purposes of illustrating the gaming mechanisms of the Napoleonic rule set devised by Aussie gamer Phil Jones, 'Elan'.  Suffice to say these rules have been through a few evolutions since then but are now available for free - once upon a time they were worth playing and have a few neat innovations like the wicked 'bombardment' rule which allows for...  oh, never mind.  If you're that desperate to find out, go and download them from here.

Point is we used both Phil's French and my Austrian & Russian figures then got a pro photographer mate of mine to take photos of it for the 'Elan' rule book. I found the disk with the pics on it (I'd long thought I'd lost it) and after having a trip down memory lane looking at them, decided they were worthy of posting - 'specially since viewers of this blog have been starved of Napoleonic wargaming figure 'action' for a while!

The demo game was an encounter battle set somewhere in Germany in 1813 using a Russo-Austrian force consisting of one cav bde and two infantry, opposed by French and German allied forces of two cav (one Guard) and two inf bdes.  As I recall, the second Austrian inf bde and the French Guard cav never got into action - but they looked really nice so stayed on as decoration.

The action starts with the Austrian Grenz and Jaeger troops occupying the farm and miraculously knocking up some chevaux-de-frise to keep those nasty French cavalry out.  The figures are a mixture of Elite, Foundry and Old Glory.  The first pic is my Austrian general, his staff and escort, with an infantry bde in reserve.

The Austrians throw up some hasty (!) defences against the approaching French legere.

The Austrians form a 'Masse' - basically a solid block of infantry in column with ranks facing outwards - to repel some filthy French lancers and the equally unkempt Chasseurs in support.  The Austrians never bothered to form square after the Austerlitz campaign as it was much easier to train conscripts to huddle in a 'masse'!  Vulnerable to artillery, it was nonetheless impervious to cavalry, as the French found out the hard way at Wagram, and again here!


Austrian Liechenstein Hussar Regt #7 (Elite figures).  Didn't get into the action but look very pretty, so were allowed to hang around and have their picture taken. 

The French infantry throw themselves at the farm on two sides, the Austrian uhlanen (1st Regt - Essex figures) charge in to stop the French German allies from attacking the other side.

The Wurttemburg allies form an enormous brigade square in the nick of time to hold off the uhlans, whose timing was less than perfect and are about to be caught in a counter attack by a column of French cuirassier. Ouch.

The only artillery to get engaged - Russian Horse unlimber and get ready to pepper a nice big juicy square of worried Wurttemburgers opposite.

Russian Horse Artillery limber.  Old Glory figures.  The guns were too small in comparison to the figures so I ended up using Front Rank guns for them (now painted the correct 'apple green' I believe)  They were a beautiful set, now in the possession of one Carlo in Sydney (lucky man) who will not be enticed to give them up so I just have the picture to look at [sob!]

Phil's Old Glory Wurttemburgers, vindictively gunning down innocent uhlans for French cuirassier to ride over.  Not very nice of them really as with typical Germanic bull-headedness, they refused to run away from the Russian artillery.

The final stages - the French have broken into the farm and are pushing the Grenzer steadily back. The other regt of Legere have decided to break into skirmish order to avoid being slaughtered to a man!  On the other side of the fence, the uhlans prepare to die themselves while the Austrian Kuirassier ride in belatedly to support.  The Wurttemburgers laugh at the Russian canister and continue to shoot down Austrian uhlans (as you do).

Hordes of more French cav arrive and the Austrian commander just remembered he's late for his kafe und kuchen, so calls it a day.  It was a fun exercise and we made the photographer work mighty hard in stifling heat to get some nice shots for the rule book. Thanks Dave!

As enjoyable as this is or was, I won't be changing back to Elan from Black Powder any time soon.

But its all an excuse really as I've just finished two of my uni assignments and got them in on time (three more to go!) and am having a short break to paint up a French hussar.

Hope you all enjoyed yet another of my meanderings down Memory Lane!