Sunday 27 November 2011

Painting Great War British Infantry - Part 2 (Shade Colouring)

A few painting hours further on and I reckon that I have got about between 50 and 60 per cent. of the way to finishing the models shown in the photo below:

I continued today with the shade colours. The way I work is to block in the shade first, basically covering just about all of the black undercoat save for the very deep shade in recesses such as elbow folds and under the tunic at the thighs.

This does lead to a very dull and dark looking model. Any satisfaction I get at this stage by seeing the models covered with paint tends to be diminished by the fact that the models at this stage look very flat and unexciting indeed!

For this reason, on some of the figures I do try and keep my interest going by painting a something a bit more interesting. So, you can see the flags of the signaller , the riding breeches of the Major and the gas masks of a couple of the figures having been worked on more, probably at a point when I found my interest flagging …

Generally though, it’s a process of painting shade colour quickly, trying to be as neat as possible and trying to cover the figures in such a way that makes painting the mid colour and highlight colour as easy as possible.

Most the paints used in this part were Vallejo. So, for the uniform it was Brown Violet; for the helmets German Grey; the webbing and packs were painted Leather Brown; the boots in a mix of German Grey and Black; any helmet cloth covers were shaded with Burnt Umber; and the gas masks Green-Brown.

The only other paint used was Plaka Braun for the rifles, bayonet scabbards and shovel handles.

On a number of figures (but not yet all), I ran a very fine brush of Vallejo Black mixed with the shade colour to bring out more deep shade. You can see this best on the figures for the Company command stand.

I tend to use Windsor & Newton Artists Acrylic Flow Improver a fair amount just to keep the paint consistency smooth. The Vallejo paints work very well with this, although the Plaka hardly needs it.

About two or three hours to go for these chaps before they’re finished. With luck, I’ll be able to posted the finished results on Tuesday or Wednesday this week. Until then…..

Saturday 26 November 2011

Painting Great War British Infantry

I’ve posted some WIP shots of a section of 28mm British Infantry from Great War Miniatures plus a Company command stand which I’m painting for a game at my local wargames club on the 6th December. I don’t normally paint work-in-progress shots, mainly because I’m never quite sure if people are interested how the figures are painted as opposed to how they look at the end of the painting process. However, a couple of recent comments on the Blog suggested people would like to know more … and that’s the reason for the next few Blog posts.

So, a few words of introduction. There’s nothing original here. In fact, I think all my techniques have been featured by far better painters elsewhere. I get deeply inspired by Golden Demon entries and painting competition winners, and against the company of those artists, the figures I paint are on a far more humble plane of existence.

However, I have tried to paint the figures for our Great War games in a particular style, which I hope gives the results we were looking for at my wargames club in St Albans. The three things in my mind were:

(1) for starters, I was looking for figures which were attractively painted, but not too immaculate that I’d ever be too nervous to play with them in club or participation games at wargames shows;

(2) I wanted figures which would catch the eye from a distance of about three to five feet, especially to a person new to the period, and look dramatic on a tabletop. I wasn’t looking for painting every tiny detail in three colours (although some figures did end up a bit like that). But I also wanted to avoid the very-authentic-covered-in-mud look, at least for the figures (I found more issues with the terrain in this regard); and

(3) finally, I wanted to paint figures which looked a bit different, exaggerated even. This was because I wanted them to stand out on a fairly “busy” set of terrain boards and not just disappear into the background.

With this is mind, here’s how I’ve painted just about all the figures for the Great War project.

Stage One – Faces and Hands

I like to try for a base coat and three colours. The base used to be Plaka GelbBraun, but for some inexplicable reason this awesome colour has been discontinued. Vallejo Green Brown is a decent substitute, if a bit darker. The face base-coat of the figure on the far right, below, is painted with just Vallejo Green Brown, while the other three figures show the stages described below.

I then run a thin brush with a mix of Plaka Braun and Vallejo Black into the recesses of the face – eyes, mouth, sides of nose, under the cheek-bones. I don’t bother painting the eyes on the Great War figures. You can barely see them under the steel helmets of most of the infantry. I’ve only ended up painting the eyes when they have been clearly sculpted onto a figure’s face.

After the shading of Plaka Braun/ Vallejo Black, I build up the face contours using Vallejo Sunny Skintone and Basic Skintone, and finish off with picking out the tip of the nose and cheekbones in a mix of Vallejo White and Vallejo Basic Skintone.

The figure on the left below has the Sunny Skintone painted on, whereas the officer on the white has both Sunny Skintone and Basic Skintone, and dabs of the Basic Skintone/ White highlighting.

I used exactly the same formula for the hands as the faces, trying to paint in small blobs to accentuate the fingers. I work in groups of 10 to 20 figures. I’d estimate it took about an hour to do the faces and hands for the group of figures below.

I subscribe to the “inside-out” approach. Again, this is nothing new but the aim is to paint the fiddly hands and faces first, give the figure a bit of character, then build up the colours from the dark to light.

With this in mind, I like to try and cover a fairly large area next, so I usually paint the bulk of the uniform shade colour.

Stage Two - Shade Colours

For the British infantry, a uniform shade colour of Vallejo Brown Violet seems to me to work really well.

OK, next time I’ll post the rest of the WIPs for the bulk and shade painting. I guess I can finish the short series with a third post covering the highlighting and finishing, which is where the whole figure starts to look a lot better. Honest!

Sunday 13 November 2011

German Support Weapons and Stosstruppen

You might be wondering what happened to the German support weapons and Stosstruppen I’d started in August after getting back from holiday. These chaps languished in black undercoat for a long time from the first flush of priming and basing in the summer while I finished off a couple of terrain boards.

However, I finally got around to finishing them in mid-October and was waiting for a good time to blog the final results.

So, the above photographs show (left to right) a Maxim MG08 heavy machine gun, a Mauser 13.1mm anti-tank rifle of late Great War vintage, a 7.58cm Leichter Minenwerfer n/A, a heavy flammenwerfer and a granatenwerfer m16. I was hoping that these support weapons would provide German forces with some different support options and concentrations of firepower in our wargames and mini-campaigns, particularly when faced with a significant number of allied tanks in late 1917 and 1918.

The figures are all from Great War Miniatures, and painted up very nicely. I’d painted each of the models before, so this was a little bit like déjà-vu coming back to the same castings and trying to add something different.

I decided that the easiest way to do this was to try and add some small touches. So, on the minenwerfer I super-glued a thin piece of wire from the gunner’s hand to the minenwerfer. Simple, I thought it added a bit of realism.

On the granatenwerfer I added a splintered chunk of reinforced concrete fortificiation, suggesting that the two-man granatenwerfer team had located to a disused concrete bunker on the Siegfried Stellung. I'd already done one granatenwerfer team with a similar chunk of concrete on the base, so this continued the theme. I also took this approach because I'd read that the granatenwerfer m16s tended to be deployed in a cluster, from four weapons to as many as sixteen, the distinctive sound of the grenades in flight being called "pigeons" by the French.

For the flammenwerfer team, I tried to create the effect of trench duckboards with some “grey-stuff” epoxy putty.

For both the maxim MG08 and the Mauser 13.1mm anti-tank rifle, I just added some ground detail to build up the bases.

Each of the support weapons was based entirely before painting. The big advantage of this approach is that when you have finished painting the figures themselves, you have really finished the whole model. There’s no figures hanging around awaiting basing (something I always dread and hate). The downside with gluing everything in place is that some part of the model can be very hard to paint because … well, because everything’s glued in place! I admit I did get frustrated painting the MG08 heavy machine gun because of this, but in the end it was adequately compensated (at least to my mind) up by finishing the model and not needing to base anything at the end.

One additional point in favour of the “glue everything in place first” approach is that while you do end up with a very small part of the being painted in shade colouring (such as, for example, where you can’t physically get your brush into a small nook, fold or crack), this is more than made up by you not noticing this when the models are on a wargames table 3 feet away.

Finally, I finished off a dozen Stosstruppen I’d been meaning to do for a while. Nothing remarkable about these. The figures are Great War Miniatures. The helmet designs are from the late war period (basically 1918). While the colours are a little bit speculative, they do look good and there is evidence for something similar on the Landships website.

Friday 11 November 2011

Remembering ....

I found this photograph a long time ago, on a website relating to the Great War. I don't know the soldier who is buried beneath this headstone. I don't know his wife. I don't know his daughter.

I don't know the battle or the place where he died. Or the time. Or the circumstances of his death.

But although I know none of those details, the pain, the loss, the suffering is overwhelming. A photograph left by a family, at the place where a father and a husband lies, left by the people who loved him most. Looking at the photograph, as a father, and as a husband, it's impossible to understand what that single death, that sacrifice, must have meant to that family.

One death, among so many deaths, across so many wars.

We will never forget the sacrifice, the suffering and the unbearable sadness. We will always remember.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Pick a card ... any card

All of the games produced by TooFatLardies have a turn sequence which is influenced by the turn of cards (to a greater or lesser degree depending on the particular game).

The Great War rule set I enjoy using, "Through the Mud and the Blood" is no exception, and one of the things you need to prepare is a set of cards for the various leaders ("Big Men" in the parlance of the TooFatLardies), support weapons, vehicles, HQs and events.

When I started playing "Through the Mud and the Blood", I simply used old 5" x 3" record cards. However, in October I noticed that these started looking very dog-eared. The result was that I decided to make up my own cards using Microsoft PowerPoint and laminating them using an inexpensive laminator.

Before I go onto the cards themselves, you may like to know why I bothered. After all, the excellent Blog "Gaming with TooFatLardies" by Anibal Invictus (Benito) contains all the cards you'd ever need in a very generously made-available PDF. Another complete set of cards for "Through the Mud and the Blood" are available on the Yahoo Group for TooFatLardies. Both these great resources are free. So ….. why bother making my own?

Partly it was the wish to put my stamp on the games I run. I did the figures, and the terrain, so why not the cards and quick-play sheets also?

But also I was really taken with the idea of "Big Men" being represented named characters in my games, instead of just "German Big Man 1" or "British Big Man 3". I've become really interested in the personal accounts of soldiers in the Great War, particularly those from the area where I live, which is the South East of England.

Although it's a personal thing, I wanted the players to try and think of their Big Men as characters in our wargames, rather than just metal wargames figures. I know that some of the readers of this Blog feel the same way. My friend Ashley, from the excellent Blog Paint It Pink, said to me at Salute in April she thought that the TooFatLardies games were pretty close to roleplaying at times, and I have to say I thought that was a perceptive comment and a good thing in my book. I think that very many wargamers do empathise with the forces their leading on the tabletop, at least in part, but I was hoping that advancing Corporal Charlie Bow or Feldwebel Willi Fischer along a trench traverse would add something extra to our games.

Anyway, whatever the reasoning, here's the results:

I'm no graphic designer. In fact, this was pretty much one of my first attempts at doing any design on a PC. I was really surprised how easy it was to select a free texture from the internet, and add some text or a design.

The fronts of the cards were an image of Lord Kitchener, which I did a very minor change to using the GIMP photo manipulation programme.

A selection of the event cards, some of which are new and which we have been play-testing over the course of the summer for the forthcoming "Passchendaele: Bitter Victory" campaign in the TooFatLardies Christmas Special out next month.

Finally, here's some British and German Blinds, also made using PowerPoint.

I did about 100 cards, printing them in colour, cutting out front and back, gluing together and laminating. It took me about a couple of evenings while watching the (splendid) DVD of The Killing.

It goes without saying that I'd not be able to make the blinds without the very generous textures made available on-line by a very skilful artist, Borealnz. Check out his flickr and wonderful images here. And to Borealnz, again, thank you!

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Crisis 2011 - The Other Games

I've posted some pictures below of some of the other games at Crisis 2011 in Antwerp at the weekend in addition to the TooFatLardies game which featured in my earlier Blog post.

All of these games looked wonderful, with great terrain and stunning figures. What really stood out though, was the friendly and helpful attitude of all the clubs putting on the games. Wargamers are a pretty friendly bunch, I find. But the gamers in Antwerp this weekend were certainly right up there with the most enthusiastic and welcoming wargamers I've ever met.

First up, a stunning Napoleonic game with French forces trying to retreat from Prussian attackers

James Morris' and Newark Irregulars' wonderful Abyssinia 1936 game, a game which looks better each time I see it. I had a chance to chat with James abuot the game, the terrain and the history behind both in our hotel bar after the show and had the chance to congratulate him on winning "Best Terrain" at the show. A very well deserved award, indeed.

"Crush the Kaiser" from the chaps at the Herne Bay and Whitstable Wargames Club in Kent, England is another game which I first saw at Salute in April 2011. Since then, the game seems to have grown in detail and the wonderful range of "extras" on the battlefield. The display accompanying the game was really first class, and I spent many minutes chatting with the club-members about the game and their memorabilia.

A very smart pair of games featuring actions from the Great War - a French attack on a German trench, and a (very original) street fighting scenario from 1918 featuring British infantry against German Stosstruppen.

A lovely game recreating Marston Moor in 1644 with flat figures. Tony Bath revividus.

A great looking game from the Dortmund Amateur Wargames club featuring a hard fought ACW scrap over a peach orchard.

Action from Afghanistan, circa 2011, with some great, atmospheric terrain including a predator drone and F-16.

Finally, last but certainly not least, a very well presented game of Charlie Don't Surf, with a great looking jungle.

I'm already looking forward to next year, where the Crisis show moves to a new venue (hopefully one without the super-heated spot-lighting!)
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