Monday, March 22, 2021

Dark Ages church - pimping the basic model

As a break from painting Dark Ages Saxons for the new project, I decided I'd get stuck into the Sarissa Dark Ages church I recently purchased from Arcane Scenery & Models. My first thought was to do a little research as the model has no stonework etched into the mdf walls. My (admittedly) uneducated impression of thousand year old churches is that they should be open stonework as we see all over the British Isles. But apparently, it was not unusual (but by no means ubiquitous) practice to coat or plaster stone walls with lime mortar that would take the colour of the earth with which it was mixed (vibrant reddish to yellow to white colours). This would provide an extra level of insulation, protection for the stone against the elements, and repelled vermin. I've also seen a reference to lime plastering helping in fire prevention. So, having availed myself of the interweb knowledge-base (everything on the web must be true!), I was content not having my church with open stonework and instead plastered. 

The basic Sarissa church assembled. This was a relatively easy build. I did, however, spend some time sanding down all the right angles: base, walls, window frames, etc. This "softening" of the basic model is all-important to give it a more organic feel. Few buildings, even modern ones, have perfect right angles and sharp edges. Also at this point, I covered the entire model in a couple coats of diluted PVA to seal and protect.

The next step was plastering. I went to my old fall back, Liquitex ceramic stucco, and mixed it with some basic chocolate brown paint.

The brown stucco was applied to the walls with an old brush, making sure to stipple rather than smear or brush. I was also not too concerned at this point to avoid getting the stucco on the window frames. This can be easily scraped off after drying.

A wash of diluted GW Agrax Earthshade applied.

Several drybrush layers, starting with the original chocolate brown and successively mixed with a light buff.

The stone window frames etc have been scraped of excess stucco and painted black.

Successive drybrush layers on the stonework, topped with Vallejo Heavy Warmgrey, which gives a very slight salmon-pinkish feel.

And the shingling begins using Warbases shingle sheets.

The three roofs complete with their shingles. The peak tiles are cut from the already creased edge of a brown paper envelope. Next up, coating the roofs in diluted PVA to seal and protect. 

While the roofs were drying, I added some water and mold stains on the walls, particularly around the windows and eaves. I used heavily-diluted GW contrast paints followed by a light drybrush of the GW Heavy Warmgrey again to blend better with the surrounding un-stained stucco. I also added some moss around the base, the windows and the eaves.

The shingled roofs have been primed black with successive layers of brybrushing (black + off-white).

Individual roof tiles have been treated with various light washes (browns, greens, blues, and yellows). This step, I think, really makes a difference as it takes a fairly monochrome surface and adds depth and variance. The roof, after all, is one of the first things the eye catches on the table (since we're usually looking down from above). I've also added some flower and grass tufts to the base to add some colour and break up the straight lines a bit (again, helping to make the model feel a little more organic).

The finished model with its inhabitants.

Friday, March 12, 2021

FIW: Galloping Major and Front Rank additions

I recently received more fast turnaround orders from Galloping Major (best & friendliest service I've ever experienced in the hobby) and Front Rank. This time around I decided to bulk out the British forces with the addition of two skirmish groups of British infantry, a Royal Artillery gun & crew (from Front Rank), and some various command figures. I also included some leader figures for the French in the GM order. I had always thought that Front Rank figures were larger and bulkier than most other 28mm figures but the GM figures are even more so. Just the size and style that suits my painting style and ability.

Two skirmish groups of the 60th Foot, Royal Americans.
(Galloping Major)

Three new leaders for the British in 60th Foot colours.
(Galloping Major)

All of the 60th Foot together. 
Northstar figures in the rear and GM figures to the fore (with GM leaders). The GM and NS figures match well in style and size.

Royal Artillery.
(Front Rank)

Compagnie Franche de la Marine officers and NCOs. These will command their nominal troops as well as the Milices Canadienne who, historically, were also commanded in the field by CFdlM officers. These figures replace the few leader figures I painted from last year's Brigade Games FIW kickstarter. There is nothing wrong with the BG figures (sculpted by Paul Hicks); in fact, they're quite lovely but their sculpting style and lesser size don't match well with my current Galloping Major and Northstar figures.
(Galloping Major)

Two Deployment Points.
Left: These Front Rank figures were completed previously but rebased onto a larger round base.
Right: Galloping Major figures with GMB flags... 60th Foot.


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

FIW: Galloping Major Mohawks

My recent order from Galloping Major included some freebies, specifically native Mohawk warriors. While I didn't really need (or indeed plan for) another unit of natives, I could not ignore these beautiful figures. They are well-cast with few serious mold lines, and are sculpted with depth and character.

Six Mohawk warriors with leader.
(Galloping Major)

And with perfect timing, my next GM order arrived today... 60th Foot skirmishers and various command characters for the collection. And an order from Front Rank arrived yesterday with some British SYW/FIW artillery (and some more WotR figures... but they're for later).

Saturday, February 13, 2021

FIW: new Galloping Major additions

I placed an order with Galloping Major on January 21, received the order in the Great White North on February 1, and completed the painting and basing today. That may indeed be the fastest turnaround time from order to completion ever for me. The GM figures are quite lovely (in a "fighting natives on the frontier" kind of lovely) and are chunky like the North Star miniatures. If I am to add to the collection, Galloping Major will definitely be my first port of call.

This completes Phase III of the French & Indian War project...

Two groups of Massachusetts provincial regulars
(or New Jersey... or Virginia post-1755).
(Galloping Major )

Two groups of armed settlers or frontier militia.
(Galloping Major)

Sundry armed civilians.
(Galloping Major)

Monday, February 8, 2021

Napoleonic odds & ends

I've been puttering away the last couple of weeks on some various Napoleonic odds & ends as I wait for a new order to replenish/increase the lead pile. You can see pics below but in the meanwhile...

I finally pulled the trigger on a new project and ordered some Late Saxons from Crusader Miniatures. If planned correctly, this will be only one third of a 1066ish collection, also to include Normans and Vikings. But let's see how the Saxons get on first...

My prevarications over the last couple of months about whether to start a new project in 2021 was summed up rather nicely, if vaguely inappropriately, by a conversation with Michael...

me: "I pulled the trigger on a Crusader Miniatures Saxon force"

Michael: "thought you weren't ready to commit?"

me: "yeah, I know, it's only 54 figures"

Michael: "that's like saying it's only one date but you like the girl, it's gonna go places"

me: "depends on how good she is"

Michael: "you have been admiring her from afar for a while so..."

And enough of that. On to the new Napoleonic tidbits...

Pierre Ducos, from the Sharpe series.
(Brigade Games)
I realize clearly from this photo how the contrast painting method looks up close with crap photography. The technique really does look much better in "the real."

British Engineering or Exploring officer... cuz, why not?
(Brigade Games)

 While checking my tracking spreadsheets, I was surprised to see I had not completed any Deployment Point vignettes for my Sharp Practice US War of 1812 force (despite the fact I had already completed 300+ figures for the army). Rummaging about in the spares box, I found some Old Glory US Rifles figures that seem to work well.

I also found a few leftover Old Glory US regulars infantry figures and topped them off with  a Flags of Wars flag.

I found quite a few of these Old Glory figures in the stash as well. I have used these in the past for generic militia rifles, intended to represent New York or Pennsylvania units. This time I decided to paint them as intended by the Old Glory packing label... Kentucky Rifles (in their distinctive black hunting shirts with red trim). This is the second (or third?) iteration of Kentucky militia in my wargaming life (and using the same OG figures!).

Last but not least, King's German Legion light infantry for Peninsular War gaming. These must have been an add-on to a Warlord Games order to get it over the free shipping threshold. Lovely figures but definitely a "one-off" for my British collection.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

ImagiNations: Nordstrum 2. Brigade complete!

After my most productive hobby year ever in 2020 (6071 AHPC points, 781 28mm figures and various terrain pieces), I've spent the last month or so humming and hawing about what to do in 2021. I could start a new project... the anticipation, window-shopping and research are always an inspiration boost. A Dark Ages/Early Medieval project is calling to me... Saxons, Normans and Vikings for 1066ish? Or maybe a new force for Sharp Practice... Spaniards for the Peninsular collection... or maybe Prussians (Front Rank has some lovely new sculpts)? But during the current apocalypse, I've already created and completed two entire projects from start to finish. My 28mm French & Indian Wars (220 figures) and the 28mm Wars of the Roses (330 figures) projects are, for all intents and purposes, complete and playable (figures and terrain). But that is the problem... "playable." The FIW has seen the table twice during pandemic breaks and the WotR only once for a trial of Never Mind the Billhooks. Do I need another project that I'll, frankly, have little time to put out on a table even when/if the apocalypse subsides?

While I've clearly been on the fence about a new project (and I've been close to pulling the trigger on figure orders many times in the last month), I have made the short-term decision to defer the decision... yes, waffling even in the decision. Rather than add a new project, I've opted to clean out some small additions to current projects I already have in the lead pile. Thus, I've completed the remainder of Michael's Nordstrum 2. Brigade for our ImagiNation collection. And up on the paint desk now are some War of 1812/Napoleonic additions (a whopping 20 figures total in the latter).

But for now... Nordstrum!

Infanteri Byberg
2. Brigade uniforms sport attractive yellow facings with the traditional coal-black tunics. 
(Front Rank figures)

Infanteri Brokkebjerg
This 2. Brigade unit was completed in June of 2020 (see here).
(Front Rank figures)

2. Jägare
(Front Rank figures)

Kavalleri Bybjerg
(Front Rank figures)

Artilleri Bybjerg
This 2. Brigade unit was also completed in June of 2020 (see here).
(Front Rank figures)

2. Brigade commander: Överstelöjtnant Valdemar Skoglund
(Front Rank figures)

Since the Nordstrum army has now mustered two entire brigades, it's time the army commander took the field as well:
Generalfeldmarschall Adolphus Lundgren

You can also see 1. Brigade here, finished and posted at Christmas 2018.

And for those interested, you can see Nordstrum in relation to its neighbours below (in the top-center of the map)...