Wednesday 26 February 2014

The Verdun Project: French Casualties and Bruised Flesh

Just a very quick update, again from Curt’s Painting Challenge and my fourth themed entry. This time, the subject was “Casualties”.

I painted a set of seven fallen Poilu, all in 28mm and from Old Glory, mounted on 40mm round bases from Warbases.

There’s nothing new as regards the basing or the uniform colours, all of which I think I’ve mentioned before on this Blog or posted details in the sidebar Painting Guides.

However, I wanted to try and experiment with a different flesh tone to the figures.

I normally rely on Vallejo Model Colour (VMC) Basic Flesh for my European flesh tone base. But for these figures I wanted something more grey, wounded and mortified.

Instead of the usual skintone, I blended a 50%/50% mix of VMC Green Brown and VMC Neutral Grey for basic skintone. I added a highlight on all of the figures by adding white to the VMC Green Brown/ VMC Neutral Grey mix and layering the highlight on very thinly. I then ink-washed the faces and hands with a blend of Games Workshop’s Asmuren Blue and Gryphonne Sepia. The Asurmen Blue blends the very warm, beige tone of the Gryphonne Sepia wonderfully. I then deepened the recesses with a VMC Burnt Cadmium Red and VMC German Grey mix. I added lighter skin tones over the ink washed skin for the final highlights.

All that sounds rather different from what I normally use for a flesh tone.  I really enjoyed the change. I should add that none of the above paint/ink/colour-tone ideas were my own. I am more than happy to direct you to a wonderful, inspired blog – Spiky Rat Pack – from where all the ideas and paint mix suggestions came from. Kari’s results on his Eviscerator were incredible, and awe-inspiring. Far, far better than mine and I recommend you visit his blog for all kinds of wonderful inspiration. My results were somewhat less so, and I’m not sure that the sickly flesh tone on my figures looks quite right.

 They look suitably wounded and bruised when photographed here, but in natural light on a wargaming table top they do look, well, how can I put it….perhaps just a tiny bit flat? But then again, these figures are supposed to be fallen or badly wounded soldiers - should their appearance be exactly the same as their healthy comrades?  I’m very much open to your thoughts on this, as I see them as being a work in progress to be followed by others.

And I should add that if you’re at the Partizan show in early June or the Evesham wargaming day in late June you should be able to see these casualties (and the other French figures featured here over the last few months) in the flesh, so to speak!

Monday 10 February 2014

“This Warre Without an Enemie”: The Hartfordshyre Clarion, Edition One

Rumblings of discontent have been heard throughout the St Albans Wargames club for some time concerning the absence of an English Civil War campaign and a suitable set of rules for fighting the period. We tried to pull together some rules about three years ago called “In the Buff” – which hopefully needs no explanation.

These stuttered and limped along through several games, mainly because the period details for replicating push-of-pike and cavalry actions in a set of tabletop wargames rules are tricky. However, a series of emails dropping into my email box over the last few days herald a new club campaign, set in the green and leafy shire of Hertford during the heady days of June 1642.  Excitement is now riding high for another try out of the rules...

As Sir Sidney Foxborough, I’ve declared for Parliament, and raised a stout regiment of Hertfordshiremen in the town of Royston. I will be joined by several Parliamentary luminaries, such as Sir Roger Roughshaft of Rickmansworth (Nick). Against us are ranged the forces of the King, including Sir Rufus Leaking of Tring (Elton), Lord Seymour Organs (Rich), the Rt Honourable Sir Harden Thicke of Watford (Biffo) and Sir William Ramdin (Trev). I hope you’ll agree that this collection of names stirs more disdain than terror into the hearts of the Parliamentary armies, but we shall see how they perform in the field.

Not content with regaling us with (emailed) tales of supposed martial prowess, Lord Seymour Organs appears to have commandeered a rudimentary printing press to libel his opponents, as you can see from the newssheet below.

I have arranged for my own printing press to be shipped from Emden by express fluyt to counter such vile lies and tell the truth through England concerning the King’s poor counsel.

I'll let you know once my wordsmiths have crafted their witty response....

Tuesday 4 February 2014

The Verdun Project: The "Heroes" of Fort Douaumont

Continuing the Verdun theme, here’s some photos of my entry in the “Heroes” themed category for Curt’s Analogue Hobbies 4th Annual Painting Challenge.

Things have been pretty hectic throughout January at Roundwood Towers. I had a big project to finish at work which took a lot of time, and which now (thank the Lord) is finished. A good result for the client, but more importantly I could reunite myself with my family and have some sleep!

I’d originally intended to something aerial for the “heroes” theme. I got very excited, bought the aircraft kits, but time and real-life conspired against me. Is that the sound of violins playing in the background? No, no, mes braves – you’ll not have regrets and complaints at this blog. Nothing lost – merely another fun project postponed.

And with that aerial postponement, I got the chance to try and think of another “heroic” subject. I've always loved moments of military history which turn out, with the benefit of historical hindsight, to be slightly different to what everyone thought when first they become known. So, with that in mind, here's a classic group of German assault troops, led by Oberleutnant Cordt Von Brandis, commander of the 8th company of the 24th Brandenburg Regiment at Verdun in 1916. 

The figures are my attempt at replicating the famous storming of Fort Douaumont, a remarkable feat of military daring which was almost a body blow to the French nation in February 1916. Von Brandis became extremely famous, met the Crown Prince of Germany, had a village named after him, formed “Freikorps Von Brandis” in January 1919, and wrote his memoir of the adventure in 1917.

A true hero, in the classic mould. A young, 27 year old Teutonic hero, with a firm soldierly jaw. How heroic. Surely a wonderful subject for a themed diorama…

Apart from the fact that by the time Von Brandis had actually arrived at Fort Douaumont it was already under German control thanks to the pragmatic and fast thinking action of a much more down to earth Thuringian Feldwebel, Sergeant Kunze. The good Sergeant clambered through a carelessly unsecured window, and captured the French garrison, almost without a shot being fired. Sergeant Kunze survived the Great War and became a police sergeant, waiting patiently for 20 years for the real story of the fall of Douaumont to be told.

And so the legend of the storming of Fort Douaumont was born, proving once again that heroes come in all shapes and sizes!

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