Saturday, February 25, 2012

Naples guard grenadiers

Hey-ho, friends and folks!

Just a little update from the point of madness, were ill children cough all day long, bringing daddy the flu that he had missed for so long... *ha-cheeeew!!!*

Well... *sniff*. I'm still busy with base building. Which is because I'm pretty active in other fields of family business as well. So time for figure painting is rare and valuable. At least, I managed to continue with my Naples velites a cheval - and I finished some figures again:
They represent the early guard grenadier uniforms of around 1810, before the single breast uniforms were introduced. The setup of the bearskins gave me the creeps, because I had sources saying different things, but I decided to go on with the plateless version that was later indicated in two sources. Nappie painting can be so irritating...

Hope you like them - there's more of these colourful guys to come, trust me.
Thanks for watching - I'm off for painting again!

CU later!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Basing - the Zed way

In the past days, I recognized that I'm a figure painter. Why do I say that when it's obvious? Well - because I've again discovered that I'm only a figure painter man, not a base builder. Get me away with all that putty, green flocks etc. - bah!

Unfortunately (for me), I cannot longer resist doing that awful work. For a long time, I have painted one single figure after the other, raley putting something on a centbase or a small vignette. Now, I had to make up my mind what to do with all those single figures. Why is that? Because of next FIGZ!
The next FIGZ show for 1/72 figures will take place in Arnhem (the Netherlands) on the 3rd of June (note it down folks, it's worth a visit!) and I'm planning to take an exhibition table this time. Putting lots of single unbased figures doesn't make sense - I don't want to stay there all day long, erecting fallen figures and explaining to which unit they belonged over and over and over again. So there has to be a base solution, wether I like that sort of work or not.

I decided to go with wooden stripes of 3mm height and various length according to the number of pictures I had for that unit (for some, I had only pictures of fusiliers and officers, for some I had a full table including even sappers, musicians, etc.) - standard length for a standard display of infantry (fusilier, grenadier, voltigeur, officer and drummer=5 figures) is 9cm, for two cavalrymen 7.5cm. Cavalry gets a width of 36mm while infantry can be placed on a 28mm width.
I went to the stores and bought the equipment...

For a day, I only sawed small bases of wood. Hurray. What a stupid thing to do.
Next was to put the figures onto the belonging bases. I fixed them with wood glue - simple as that. For displaying the specifications of the unit, I decided to make little paper labels that should be glued to the base - on top of the front, so that everybody could read it without bowing down.

The original wood colour looks to bright for my taste, so I have washed it twice - first with GW GryphonSepia, then with GW DevlanMud.

Next step was attaching the label (and in this case: noticing that the figures were in wrong position...), then bringing some filler mass onto the base in order to level up to the figure bases (two times, because when the watery part of the mass dries, it shrinks a little bit). A layer of earthy brown colour onto it and on to the next step:
I put some wood glue onto the complete base and threw fine birdcage sand over it. The sand fills the gaps and gives the whole thing some more structure. With a smooth brush, I paint a strongly thinned, lighter shade of brown over it - the sand soaks the liquid through the small channels between the sand grains, so it's done very quickly. Now I drybrushed the whole thing with a sandy yellow and a olive green tone, again with a very soft brush because a hard one woult remove to many sand grains.
Finally, I again put some drops of wood glue here and there and applied some artificial grass material.

Voila! There is a presentable little base.

So far, so good. The only bad thing about it is that for some units, I haven't painted all possible figures yet. So I made a small 'under construction' sign and attached it as a placeholder, not making up any putty or base material which would make application of the missing figures more complex. You can see those 'under construction' bases on the lower part of this picture:

Right. That was my desk three or four days ago. You can see that I have to make 19 of these bases - plus some additionals for units I still haven't got out of my cabinet yet. *sigh* This will keep me busy for quite a while. On the other hand, I'll be ready for the show when I've done that, but I really don't enjoy this work very much.

P.S.: the question has been asked before - yes, that's a dinosaur in the background. My older son has tried to paint it (I guess I'll refurbish it one day, I have something special in mind with that figure). It's a Corythosaur and it's really in 1/72 scale. :-D

Saturday, February 11, 2012

ARGH! - or: when math ruins your plans...

Hello there!

Well. Today is not a good day. Why is that? It's lousily cold, my wife suffers from a terrible headache while the kids are top-noisy and unstoppable chaotic. PLUS I have to admit that - as back in school - I have been beaten by mathematics.

Regular guests of my blog know that I'm running a long-time project that aims to paint all possible varieties of Napoleonic pre-1812 double-breast uniforms on basis of HaT's set French line infantry 1808-1812 (complete list of pictures available on
At next FIGZ, which shall take place in June in Arnhem (NL), I wanted to show some results of that project. I've been painting single figures for months now, so I intended to make little bases with small labels that describe origin and date of the shown units. I made the labels in the last two days and in order to complete my overview of the needed labels in total, I had another close look into my reference books.

In one of them, John Eltings commented collection of pictures from Knoetel, I discovered two pictures that catched my special interest: soldiers of the Departmental guards (or Legion Départemental in French). I directly had a bad feeling about them - two pictures are shown in the book, mentioning the uniform patterns of some other units as well.
I read about these Departmental guards and learned that since 1805, each French departmental district had to raise a unit of local guards, its' size depending of the wealth and size of the department itself.
They usually wore fusilier uniforms and the drummers wore jackets in colours reverse to the infantry.

So far, so bad. Wikipedia mentions 130 departments for 1811 ( Which would mean 130 fusiliers and 130 drummers plus most favourably 130 officers. That's total overkill.
I have currently around 140 missing uniform patterns on my list, including such obscure units as  Sapeur Mineurs, medics, galley watchmen and coastal guards. That's much work anyway, but 130 different units of militia...
Apart from the sheer number, which wouldn't make me afraid, there's a much worse problem: the number of required drummers/officers!

Here's my current stock:

So that's enough to complete the four Swiss regiments and maybe the Hanoverians according to my Histofig uniform pages. After that, I need supplies. A full set of HaT 8095 contains four drummers and four officers. Switching over to set 8166 (the line grenadiers) would make things half as expensive, therefore requiring lots of headswaps. Nevertheless, this sets also contains only 4 drummers and 4 officers (just wearing bearskin heads instead of shakos).

Now let's get out the calculator. At the moment, I would need around 30 drummers (pure speculation). That's around seven full sets of 8166 (to save money). If I go and paint the 130 department guard unit drummers, that would need another 33 sets! So that's 40 sets altogether at a standard price of 6.5€ each. No one said that this is a cheap hobby, but 260€ for a bunch of drummers while ending up with more than 1000 useless grenadiers is - from the economical point of view - a pure catastrophy.
The full 8095 set costs around 14€ at the moment... that would be 560€ then... totally ridiculous.

I know that this decision will give my project a little spoil, but I will go without painting the departmental guards, except from one or two examples. It's simply too much.
Anyway, I would appreciate if someone could provide me more information about these units, because there's little to find about them on the web.

If anyone of you likes to support me by sending some of these 8095 drummers or officers, you would be very welcome. ;-)

P.S.: (edit February 18th) a fellow figure painting friend from France provided me with some new info about the department guards and gave me this link:
This site shows 28 varieties - I know that there must have been a handful of others, but at least it's not more than a hundred! At least, this is a relief. I'm just wondering about a practical solution for a diorama regarding these folks.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

And another 100!

So the next 100st first visitor country is complete: Italy!
Buon giorno to you and thanks for coming here!

I have therefore prepared a line of soldiers representing the seven Italian line infantry regiments in 1812. Much white again, I hope you like it.

Again, I had the opportunity to get forward with my pre-1812 uniform pattern project. The figures are, also again, from the HaT set 8095. I'll put them on a small strip of wood with a little text label on front, but I have not found the right piece yet, so - again - this is a part that has to wait.

I must confess that I'm happy with the way of style I discovered for painting the faces. Here's a closeup:
Just to remember: those are just two poses of marching fusiliers. I painted every face solely and was myself puzzled about the different expressions on those faces when I put them side-by-side.

Next would be to add some light infantry to that display... my oh my, I still have more than 120 uniform patterns left to finish this project. I still haven't enough time for finishing the next ones (Napolitanian guard grenadiers) and yesterday evening, I had a spin-off idea that again distracted me from the 'main work', but will certainly result in some interesting units that are not seen so often...
...but more of that later. ;-)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sun tan effect?

I have noted a strange thing happening with some of my figures today. Most of my single figures are, as long as I neither own an appropriate showcase nor have the belonging sets finished, stored in a plastic box which is stored in a closed cabinet.
Today, I took out that box because I wanted to have a look at some Naples light infantry figures which I have painted some months ago.
And now here's the strange effect: some of them look sun-tanned, but in a slightly orange way. :-(

When I put them into the box, they looked like this:

And that's what I saw when I took them out of the box today:
They represent an earlier stage of my work. But as there are two other Naples light infantry regiments left to paint, I wanted to refurbish them in order to mount all four on the same mini base.
Now look at the flesh colour. I precoated with GW FortressGrey, painted the faces in GW ElfFlesh and made the contrast with thinned GW SnakebiteLeather. A mistake, as I see. The whole composition seems to become orange-brown after a while - and even without the effects of direct sunlight.
Does anyone else have noticed similar effects on his/her figures, too? Or is it just the fact that the ElfFlesh layer got in contact with a brown colour?
My cheap hobbyshop acrylic has shown no such effect.

Looks like I have to refurbish some older figures' faces. As if I hadn't anything else to do, eh?
I'm currently preparing a group of guard grenadiers of the Kingdom of Naples in early uniforms. They will very well go together with the grenadier flag group from the Strelets dismounted staff officers' set.

Apart from that I've prepared something for the next painting competition on Bennos' forum - my baby son gave me two terrible nights with very few sleep, so I used the pauses between hugging the baby and singing goodnight songs to do some painting work. ;-)