Sunday, February 20, 2011

Franco-Prussian War French - Chasseurs d'Afrique and Doc's basing technique demo'd

Well it took a little longer than anticipated, but that wasn't because they were harder to paint.  There's a lot happening both with figures from various periods as well as at work so just a bit time poor of late.  I decided to give the Chasseurs - the pretty boys of French FPW cavalry - the 'deluxe' basing treatment.  And I used the Army Painter shading as well to give them a nice finish.  The last bit alone added an extra 24 hours to ensure it was properly dry and hardened before varnishing.

The other thing I had to sort out is my new camera - a Panasonic Lumix TZ10.  Its a great little digi compact with a very good Leica lense and all sorts of macro and manual controls.  It takes terrific low light macro shots but like anything, you need to practice to get it right.  The pics I'm posting are my first attempts, so bear with me.

I've recorded the stages of my 'deluxe' basing technique, starting with the figures after the final painting and the application of the Army Painter shade dip.  BTW - I don't dip - I brush it on which gives far greater control of where you want the shade effect concentrated and it is a far less wasteful way of doing it.

 Dipped, cured and ready for basing

The boys based & ready for a good flocking!
I make my own bases from 6mm heavy card & magnetic adhesive sheets, all cut to size & sealed with black acrylic paint.

The three stages above are first: add a small blob of PVA glue and carefully place some scenery rocks in it.  I use the reasonably fine light railway scenery rocks - if you want they can be stained up realistically with diluted fleshwash afterwords.  Second; press on a pinch of static grass - not too hard, just enough for it to bed into the PVA & rocks mix, then tap off the excess - it should look like the third pic.   The next part is an addition of mine - adding some patches of 'burnt summer grass' mix on the base.

While the paint is wet put a decent pinch of the grass mix on - press it lightly so you get a good amount sticking, then tap off the rest.  At the risk of stating the bleedin' obvious I do say 'tap' as if you blow on it, its so fine it'll go everywhere - and its not stuff you'd want to inhale! 

The patches of grass & rocks done, its now time to finish the flocking off.

I use a nice sloppy acrylic green paint that I've watered down a bit (not too thick, not too thin!).  I work quickly but carefully, covering the base with plenty of paint but trying not to slop it on the grass patches or the figures, I use an old brush about 2 cm long with some point left so I can push the paint mix into all the nooks and crannies.  Once all the base is covered I put it into my flock mix container, making sure its well covered by mix.  I push it threw the mix several times, tapping it off in between.  This allows any larger bits to fall off and the finer material to adhere to the paint.  Again, resist the urge to blow the excess away - its healthier to tap!  The final pic above shows the bases flocked and the figures ready for the (final) varnishing.

The Chasseur regiment after the matt varnish has dried - all Foundry figures and very nice to paint up.
The officer is wearing the shako like the men did at the time of the attempted breakout from Metz, where the Chasseurs sacrificed themselves charging Prussian rifles and artillery to give time for the Emperor and the rest of the army to escape.  It proved fruitless as most went into the bag - including the surviving Chasseurs - although at least one regiment of them busted out and fought with distinction for the rest of the Republican phase of the war.  They were the finest mounted of all the French cavalry, all being on pure blood Arabians, mostly grays.  Although Prussian cavalry generally outclassed the French, they never bettered the Chasseurs who were arguably the best cavalry of the war, albeit on the loosing side.

Well, that's the lot so far.  Click on the pics for enlargement and leave a comment if you like.  My French are just about done - still toying with the idea of another couple of battalions but the rest of the Prussian army awaits!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Franco-Prussian War Prussian Infantry

Finished my first batch of the Prussian infantry.  No huge dramas in painting, just a few decisions to make on the basing and projected unit size.  I hunted around a bit for the right shade of blue and finally found by accident a hobby paint - 'Blue Ink' 642 acrylic by FolkArt.  Hit it once with a weak black ink wash and finished with the Army Painter shade and got what I think is a great result.  I didn't abandon the washes entirely - just cut back on their use.  I ended up doing just one wash (of heavily diluted flesh or black ink) rather than layering them for all the colours.  I then sealed the figures up with the Army Painter and left them for 24 hours to make sure the coating was well cured and hardened.

I have to say, despite their outrageous price nowadays, the FPW range is one of Foundry's finest in my opinion.  Beautifully sculpted figures with good detail and a nice range of poses.  There are some rough bits left from the moulding but nothing worse than you get with Perry figures (metal or plastic) and they were easily cleaned up.  Given half of mine were 2nd hand the worse aspect of the preparation was getting someone else's globs of dried bright blue paint off (we think they may have had Bavarians in mind then realised they were the wrong figures!)

The only 'ring-in' for these is Herr Oberst's horse, which is one of the Castaway one's I got with the Uhlans.  Not the greatest but with some minor adjustment of Herr Oberst's greatcoat he was able to fit his ample Prussian backside on the rather slender Nellie's saddle - dignity intact!

You may notice that to the right of Herr Oberst is a bit of what was left of a French artillery wheel accompanied by what was left of a French artilleryman.  He originally started life as a Prussian casualty but with a bit of file and blade work and one of those handy spare kepis from the Perry's ACW box, I convinced him to change sides!  I did him to match the Prussian artillery casualty marker I made a few posts ago for Black Powder gaming.  Dunno if it'll work, but it looks good on the table - so worth trying I reckon!

Unlucky Pierre!

The other thing I really liked and that turned out well is the Prussian infantry standard.  This is the line one from  Ian Croxall's Warflag site.  I highly recommend Ian's site - the flags are excellent and cover a huge range of periods.

As I said earlier, the basing presented a few challenges but I decided to keep it consistent with my other FPW collection and made up 60 x 30mm bases with three figures per base.  Prussian units were larger than the French, reflecting better organisation as the Prussians and their German allied forces mobilised quicker and more effectively than the French.  There were on average 900-1000 men per battalion, four battalions to the regiment (three in the field & one depot), two regiments to the brigade. The battalions consisted of four companies of up to 250 men each and a headquarters section of another dozen, so roughly 1,000 in total.  I also have the French in stands of three figures, 18 to a battalion, so six stands.  To make the Prussian battalions reflect their greater numbers I would have to make up ten stands per battalion, which is a bit much so I've knocked it back to eight or 24 figures.  That will still need 72 figures per regiment, 144 for just one Prussian brigade. Phew!  Thatsa lotta figures to paint!  After this lot, only 108 to go.  Easypeasy...  NOT!

For the flocking I use my own mix but I added a leavening of 'Summer' blend from the Hobby Scenics flocking I picked up from my mate Dean's Olympian Games.  Gives it a nice variation without resorting to the static grass which otherwise tends to get over-used (and goes everywhere AND makes you sneeze!)

Well, thats my first Prussian unit, minus another 12 figures to make up two battalions for the first regiment.  There's that or 12 Chasseurs d'Afrique to do to finish my French cav.  Whichever ones I do, I know I'll enjoy it as I'm stuck at home for a few days to get rid of a rather annoying chest infection (and as my work colleagues don't appreciate my incessant coughing!) so plenty to keep me occupied!

Remember to click on the pixs to enlarge and leave a comment if you like (or even if you don't like!)


Friday, February 4, 2011

Milestone passed - and a big thanks from Doc's 'Art of War'

It slipped by unnoticed a few days ago but Doc's 'Art of War' blog just passed a blogging milestone of sorts.  Since October 2009, some 99 posts later, this blog passed the 40,000 hits mark! Yaaaay!

So as Old Mate Karl says, a big 'thank you' to all of you who have visited this blog and particularly those who have taken the time to make such generous comments on it. 

This blog has been an eclectic mix of militaria from many periods ranging from the Renaissance to WWII and even fantasy including Warhammer and LOTR, both artwork and figures, models and wargaming - with the odd bit of military history thrown in from time to time. It reflects my own reasonably diverse interests and is, of course, entirely self-indulgent!

Needless to say the discovery of blogging has been somewhat of a revelation and has proven to be a tremendous avenue of release for creativity - all constantly inspired by the brilliant efforts of my fellow blogging enthusiasts!

I am constantly amazed at the quality and artistic creativity of my fellow enthusiasts and have learned so much from so many of you - so thanks again to all for supporting my own very modest efforts.

At the end of the day its great therapy.  I've found that later in life, when one does mad things like finishing a university degree near the end of one's career while at the same time juggling work and a large and busy family, to retain sanity  some indulgence is called for.

Blogging Doc's 'Art of War' fits the bill nicely!

Hope you've all enjoyed it as much as I have, I look forward to the next 100 posts/40,000 hits!