Sunday, 17 May 2020

Dragon Rampant: The Trolls/Orcs

I continue to plough through my Rampant armies adding filler to the bases. Here is another of my Dragon Rampant warbands which has recently had the bases levelled as part of the Great Lockdown Leap Forward.

Following Poul Anderson's world, these are Trolls but they're equivalent to Tolkien's Orcs (who Tolkien sometimes called Goblins). Anyway, to avoid confusion for other wargamers, I will probably have to start calling them Orcs and reserve the name Trolls for larger figures, a couple of which are also featured below.

The figures come from various manufacturers. It's been a while since I bought them, but I'll do my best to identify them. Their physiognomy is similar (I avoided very pig-like features) but clothing styles differ. I'm confident the divergent styles will be brought together once I get some paint on them.

These larger Orcs (Reaper) will provide the Troll King and units of Bellicose and/or Elite Foot.  It's now common to assume that Orcs should be violently green-skinned. Anderson's Trolls and Goblins are both green, but Tolkien visualised his Orcs as swarthy and 'Hunnic' in appearance. I'm compromising on this by painting my Trolls (Orcs), Goblins and giant Trolls in a light olive green, but Hill and other Giants will be completed in human skin tones.

The mass of Trolls/Orcs will be fielded as Offensive Heavy Foot. Some of the more weedy ones may be drawn out as Scouts. The most appropriate Trolls I originally found were the CP Models Orc clubmen but it's a very small range, so I also ordered all the Reaper figures I thought would do, and then added some from a new range by Elite Wargames. I also bought some newer armoured Orcs and Orc bowmen from CP Models but these are disappointingly crude and lumpy designs and I won't be using them.

These Half-Orcs (ex-Grenadier from Mirliton) will be Offensive  Medium Foot. I looked at the Grenadier Orcs but they were anatomically very extreme and I think Trolls and similar are most sinister when they are closer to human form.

There are a few bow-armed figures scattered amongst the various types. These will be ignored or used to indicate units additionally armed with missiles depending on how I want to field things.

Ogres (Otherworld). Great figures but the spear arm on the lower right one was a devil to fit.

Various opportunistic Nasties as Troll/Orc allies. Front row: A Witch (Magister Militum) with Rat (Eureka) flanked by two large Trolls (North Star). Back row: An archetypal 'Fairytale' Giant and a Fantasy Viking-style Frost Giant (North Star OGAM).

Wolves (various manufacturers) as Lesser Warbeasts. They do look a bit puny now, especially next to my wolf-riding Goblin cavalry.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Dragon Rampant: The Elves

Clockwise from bottom left: Elf King, Champion,
Companions, Shaman, Enchantress, spearmen,
swordsmen and archers. The figures will
have a variety of greens and reds etc added.
As I said before, my 28mm Elves and Trolls (Orcs) for Dragon Rampant were to be based more on Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword than on Tolkien, but in actuality I've been restricted by what was readily available in the form of models.

My Elves are 'old school' Grenadier miniatures now sold by Mirliton in Italy. They're obviously Celtic rather than Viking (as I originally conceived), but they're lovely designs and the castings are very clean.

They were previously photographed in a game but I’ve since expanded their ranks and added filler to the bases.

Despite the Celtic look, organisation is still posited on Viking lines so there are Huscarls (High Elves) and Bondi (Wood Elves). I prefer to deploy the archers amongst the spearmen so that every single unit in the warband has a sting. This really unsettles opponents!

There is also a Grenadier Shaman (Druid) and a Reaper Elf Enchantress.

Friday, 1 May 2020

The Pikeman's Lament: My 1671 Spanish and Buccaneer companies

Devoid of the usual May festivities I’m devoting this not-as-merry-as-it-could-be month to work on a range of Rampant armies. My overall minimal aim is to level the bases with filler, and get them all undercoated and base-coated while we wait 18 months for a Coronavirus vaccine or herd immunity.

To kick off, here are my 28mm companies for The Pikeman’s Lament based on the Buccaneer attack on Panama of 1671. The Buccaneers are flintlock-armed veterans, the Spanish firelock-armed militia.

The figures are mainly North Star and Blood and Plunder.

The Spanish (1): Back row: Mounted Captain, Gun and crew, Horse. 
Front row: Lanceros, Pike.
The Spanish (2): Three units of matchlock-armed Shot.
The Spanish (3). Front row: Captain on foot with some extras. Indian scouts as Commanded Shot. 
Back row: Armada de Barlovento (Marines).
The English: Four units of flintlock-armed Buccaneers with their Welsh leader, Henry Morgan.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Using a wet palette

Too wet and the colours run. Too dry and the
colours dry out. But it's still a great idea.
While painting my 6mm Thirty Years War armies, I've been experimenting with a Redgrass wet palette.

I've never used a traditional artist's palette of any type to paint miniatures. I've used paints singly straight out of the bottles, or, rather, I've used a cocktail-stick or coffee-stirrer to transfer dollops of each paint onto old jar lids.

Using a 'mixing' palette encourages a dirtier approach, intentionally or just inevitably. This hasn't made much difference to the Thirty Years War armies which are block painted with dabs of bright colour, but I'm wondering if the increased spectrum of tone will add to realism when painting larger figures.

The wet palette can't be used for washes or metallics. Obtaining the right degree of wetness is tricky,  not least because the paints themselves vary in their wetness. I therefore still keep old lids (my dry palettes) and a little dish of water next to the wet palette for dealing with watery or overly dry paints.

With the right wetness paints will last quite a few days and I can quickly return to painting in an odd moment of opportunity which is very handy for fitting in my painting around other commitments. While I haven't yet optimised my use of a wet palette, it’s become central to my current painting.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Thirty Years War 6mm progress 11: The Foot

The Foot bases are particularly packed and dark so I needed to optimise the use of light/bright colours. These artificially vibrant colours are intended to make the blocks pop - shocking close up but more visible further away.

Swedish Pike-and-Shot and Commanded Shot. These represent ethnic Swedes and German Protestants in Swedish service. Scots in Swedish service are in hodden grey and blue bonnets (front rank, centre). The Swedes have a higher proportion of shot than the Spanish, Catholic-Imperialists and Saxons. This will be more obvious when I replace the pikes.
My painting reference has been Steven Thomas’s series of uniform articles on Balagan, but my painting inspiration has been the 2mm (!) armies on Roundwood's World. Yes, a 2mm approach to painting 6mm figures is quite enough for me.

Spanish Pike-and-Shot. The drummers are picked out in yellow so I can quickly identify the blocks.
Swedish blocks (i.e. ethnic Swedes or Germans in Swedish service) and Saxons are uniformed  but the Catholic-Imperialists and Spanish are not, though the latter are distinguished by particular use of red and yellow.

Catholic-Imperialist Pike-and-Shot and Commanded Shot. Here the drummers are all in red.
Most of the coats don’t really show unless you view the blocks at eye level. Once again it’s the headgear that stands out.

Saxon pike-and-shot - awaiting uniform information. Steven Thomas is painting his own Saxons at the moment and will be publishing uniform guidance in due course.
Flags will be attached to dress pins. Pikes will be brush bristles in a natural brown colour, but I'll have to wait on the Coronavirus emergency before I can go out and shop for brush-heads.

I'll be adding a little more detail to Foot and Horse over the next few days. Then they'll be put back in storage so that next month I can move on to working on my many Rampant armies...

Monday, 20 April 2020

Thirty Years War 6mm progress 10: Croats, Dragoons, Cannons and Commanders

Spaced out in comparison to figures on other bases, the Croats, Dragoons, Cannons and Commanders demand a fuller and more conventional approach to painting. The bases photographed here aren't necessarily finished but the general impression they give isn't going to change much.

Croat Light Cavalry
The Baccus figures used for the Croats aren’t exactly correct but give the right impression and will do. I cut away some of the lances to represent firearms, but if you look closely you can see anachronistic bow-cases. However, I will insist that all viewers maintain social distance. At 2 metres the problem disappears, a small compensation for the end of normal life.

Swedish Dragoons
The Dragoons are my favourite figures and I have created the bases as little dioramas in contrast to the massed ranks of the Horse and Foot. It’s tricky to get the paintbrush in, but there are only a few of these bases to do.

Some generic Guns
The Cannons are what they are. Not much else to be done on these.

Some generic commanders
The Commanders are like other mounted figures of various types - Cavalier, Roundhead or Cuirassier style. In theory I could attempt to complete the Commanders to a higher standard but it would only raise expectations. The trick is to make the whole army look good enough at a glance.

These bases have more room for static grass and maybe some other foliage. This will detract from the meagre painting and greatly add to realism.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Blogger problems

Blogger is behaving strangely and it’s nothing I’ve done! Some photos have become unavailable for no apparent reason...

Monday, 13 April 2020

Thirty Years War 6mm progress 9: Arquebusiers and Swedish Horse

Arquebusiers (using Baccus mounted Dragoon figures).
The vivid green sleeves pop close up but generally the
addition of sleeves is underwhelming.
Having made good progress in March on my 6mm Thirty Years War armies for Tilly's Very Bad Day I decided to devote April to the same project.

Next up for attention were the mounted Arquebusiers and Swedish Horse. While there is no foreseeable prospect of using them in a normal game, painting is a good therapy in these troubled times.

The Arquebusiers are particularly closely packed which makes access difficult. Another way to look at that, however, is that those awkward areas are naturally in shadow and so don't need to be painted!

The main downside of not painting something is that it's not contributing to the overall lightening of the blocks. Other than that it's part and parcel of the approach I've adopted.

Another problem - and this is nothing to do with crowding - is the the surface available to be painted. Given the areas that are intended to be left brown (straps, accoutrements, small arms) and the shadow between them, there is very little figure left to paint - basically just the sleeves and that is a very small area.

At this stage I'm wondering if block painting, especially when combined with pre-basing, works better with 10mm figures because there is more area to paint. With 6mm it may be better to give the figures an overall 'end' colour.

Commanders, Swedish Horse and Arquebusiers.
Hats off to the addition of hats. Bits of horse, hats
and, of course, the bases are really all that
shows at a distance, and, therefore, all that's
worth painting!
Anyway, back to the job in hand. When painted the sleeves hardly showed. I got completely bored with this lack of impact and decided to move on to the hats. As expected, these really stood out and lifted the blocks immensely.

So, let me once again evaluate the painting approach with regard to these particular figures...

They had a pinpoint dab of flesh for the faces which took hardly any time at all, some tiny dabs of colour for the sleeves which required a bit more care and effort because of access, and a bigger but easy application of colour to the hats which were painted with 2-3 brushstrokes.

All in all a good effect IMO was achieved for an extremely economical effort. I can and will add more detail to lighten the blocks, but it will hardly be seen. Whatever more I do the blocks are not going to end up looking very different from the way they look now.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Thirty Years War 6mm progress 8: Cuirassiers

First major use of a magnifying glass
which I found helpful in this instance.
In accordance with my plan for 'Getting in Sync' I decided to devote each month to painting/playing a particular game (or series of games). With the great lockdown the playing part has dropped out of the picture, but I am otherwise keeping to the single monthly focus.

It’s April now but I’m still reporting March’s progress and March was devoted to my 6mm Thirty Years War armies for Tilly’s Very Bad Day. Steven Thomas of Balagan has finished development of TVBD for now but I've yet to finish the painting, let alone play a game.

After the horses I decided to focus on the Cuirassiers who are wearing three-quarters armour. Armour was blackened in the Thirty Years War and I used gunmetal to represent this because these figures are only 6mm and I want to give the figure blocks as much lift as possible given the overall dark brown base coat. Silver is reserved for swords etc.
Thanks to the texturing and painting of the ground and the deep shadow, I think these figures look very 'realistic' despite having only two colours (horseflesh and Gunmetal) added to each figure.