Monday 29 July 2013

French 4th Dragoons - AB figures

So here we have the 4th Regiment of Dragoons to join the 20th that I completed last week. This now gives my French army five regiments of dragoons with one more required to roll out Vimiero (full fat).

The AB figures are a delight to paint and offer the painter loads of detail to emphasise and highlight. The sculpts are a marvel and an AB horse is a thing of beauty.

Anyway enough waxing lyrically about the gorgeousness of AB, what about the 4th Dragoons, I hear you say!

Well the 4th Dragoons tick all the boxes for a Peninsular War collector. These guys were already hardened veterans when they entered Spain in 1807 with Eylau and Friedland on their battle honours.

In Spain they were at Talavera, Albuera and Vittoria, and the icing on the cake , the 4th Provisional Dragoons were at Vimiero.

This will be my last posting about the units I am building for the next few weeks as I am off to Sri Lanka and the Maldives for a summer break and a Silver Wedding Anniversary. I will be taking the camera and laptop with me and hope to post some thoughts on scenarios, campaigns, books and other stuff while I am enjoying the break, but  the painting will continue on my return with some exciting projects coming up after the summer.

Wishing everyone a great summer and good times.

Sunday 21 July 2013

French 20th Dragoons - AB, Part Five

OK, so if you have been following my posts this week you will know that I started work on this unit a week ago last Sunday and I have recorded the progress of putting these figures together in their completed state.

I hope you like the results, I am looking forward to getting these guys into battle, probably in September, may be October when I run the Vimiero "full fat" scenario with a few mates from the Devon Wargames Group.

If you are interested a potted history of the 20th French Dragoons

More French dragoons coming soon.

Saturday 20 July 2013

French 20th Dragoons - AB, Part Four

With Saturday morning I am now into day 6 of this project and having completed about another hour and half on the horses last night, the following three shots illustrate where I'm at 7.45am.

I'm really on the home lap now. Last night I completed all the tack, manes, tails, hooves, eyes, white areas and coat highlights. The French were in the habit of using black leather work for their tack so painting French horses uses one less base colour.

As I paint I like to try out ideas occasionally. One idea I have started to adopt is highlighting the horse after the oils have dried. I quite like the look of block painted horses you see illustrated, in the way the detail of the musculature is accentuated. The use of artists oils achieves a much more subtle version of that technique. I have found that by applying a watered down top coat of the original base coat I can raise the detail of the horse, without losing the subtlety originally achieved.

So onwards and upwards - I will add to these first three shots before I post to show where I got to on day 6.

A big thanks for the comments guys. I've really enjoyed the feel of having a conversation as I paint. It has given me a great opportunity to think more deeply about the process.

So the horses were finished off with highlights added to the black and white work. The metal work, bridles and buckles have been added and light hooves for the trumpeters white done, allowing me to bring the horses and riders together.

I look to marry up riders and horses before painting begins. The last thing you need is to struggle pushing a rider on to a horse only to find that in the process of wriggling and nudging the rider in place you've gone and damaged the paintwork on the horse. I know, I've done it and to quote my school teacher "it's not big and it's not clever", and "it's only your own time you're wasting!"

Off course to make sure the right rider goes with the right horse I arrange everyone in the same order on the paint desk and put them back in the same place as I paint. Simple but effective.

So I can now leave these guys to stick and go and get the bases ready. I have prepared laser cut mdf bases arranged for "Napoleon at War" rules but that work equally well for what I think are becoming my preferred option "Carnage and Glory". I have had these cut by the lovely people at Warbases and I like to apply magnetic tape to the bottoms, which I get from the equally lovely people at Magnetic Displays,  so I can transport my models safely in their metal tool case.

In addition I will varnish the models whilst still on the painting wood and hope to get them on the bases this afternoon ready for the groundwork to commence.

 "Et Voila" one regiment of French dragoons ready for groundwork and parade shots

Friday 19 July 2013

French 20th Dragoons - AB, Part Three

Hi all,

So here we are on day five of this project having started on Sunday, I have finished the riders last night and have started work on the horses.

There is method to madness here, in that by leaving the horses to last I am allowing the artist oils to dry thoroughly.

Please excuse the quality of these "on the paint table" shots as I am simply trying to illustrate progress. I will post some "beauty" shots at the end so you can see the full effect.

Both Paul and John have highlighted a common issue among us who paint, and that is the speed we are able to turn things around and get jobs done. Obviously this comes down to time available and our ability to discipline ourselves to get on with things. I don't think this is easy as there would be a lot more painting going on than there is.

I am quite pleased with the leopard skin effect on the Officers helmet

The first thing I would say, is "hey guys don't beat yourselves up", at least you are painting which from what I see puts you in the 20% that do. The other 80% are watching or paying someone else to do it. If I achieve anything with this blog, I would really like to inspire and encourage all wargamers to paint their own figures and proudly get them out on the table. I thing it's a big part of our hobby and you miss out if you don't get stuck in.

The other thing is about working on the "psychology of painting", which comes to my point of building self discipline. If you don't paint regularly it might be because you don't have a habit. I seem to remember the training books suggest that to get a new habit you have to do something continuously for thirty days to "embed" it in the behaviours, and that it takes another thirty days for it to become an unconscious habit.

As well as building the habit I have my own personal mantra that helps me deal with a problem that's common to all of us toy soldier collectors, boxes and draws of unpainted lead. I always tell myself that no matter how lovely a figure sculpt looks, it's just a glorified fishing weight until I put paint on figure and get that baby on the table.

As you can see, my method of painting is stage driven and I find this also helps to reinforce the habit by giving me "lines in the sand". I get a great feeling of achievement when I sit down in the evening knowing I have completed another stage in a painting project. This is only reinforced when I sit down to the project the next day and delight at the work done with so much less to do.

I think it's also worth saying that I produce my figures to a plan. Again the training speak says, "Fail to plan, plan to fail". Any plan worth its weight is always written down, and so before any painting, I plan the armies I want to create and write it down, ticking off the units as they get put in the tin.

These are some of the strategies I have used to enable me to move seamlessly from one job to the next, week after week, and start to build forces of multiple units. This process also has to be managed in the time we have available. I am now at the stage that I feel guilty if I don't paint at some time during the day. However I am a family man and time with the ones I love takes precedence over my hobby every time so I paint most evenings at home but always finish off early in the evening to spend time with my wife.

I would end by saying that I find painting a great way to relax after a day/week of work and I don't find it a chore. I think this is important because why would you want to do something if you don't find the fun in it. Most of us have that in our lives anyway when we are at work.

I hope these thoughts are helpful and provide food for thought. I don't for one minute want to suggest that what I do would suit everyone else. We all have to find what works for us, but I do believe that a lot of the stuff that gets in the way of us painting more, more often  is common to all of us. I hope some of my ideas might help you to get the job done.

So back to the 20th Dragoons. I am still on target to get these guys done this weekend so if you have enjoyed the journey so far, stay tuned for the finale.

Wednesday 17 July 2013

French 20th Dragoons - AB, Part Two

A good day yesterday, with a successful mid year appraisal out of the way at work, and my wife and younger son away in London visiting Kings University, I was in the mood to get stuck into painting while the house was quiet.

So I decided to get the riders first highlight done and the first colours on the metal work. I started at 7pm with a break mid evening to have tea and watch a "D-Day as it happened" programme I recorded from last month with my eldest son, I painted through to 11.30pm. Thus I post the results this morning, Wednesday 17th July.

Ok so, all first highlights done except the white stuff, which is showing as buff in the pictures. The tricky stuff with these figures is working out the shape of the sabre hand guards when held in the gauntlets, the various straps bracing the muskets and sabre scabbards.

After setting up the last two figures on the right I suddenly realised that what I initially thought were sabre scabbard straps were in fact the coat tails flying backwards in the breeze as this chap commits to the charge. This required the addition of extra yellow to highlight the turn backs that are exposed.

These chaps are in the pre 1812 uniform changes and are on 1801 saddle furniture and using the model 1801 sabres, hence a lot of the metal work is more towards steel rather than brass.

The plan is to have these guys "in the tin", by this weekend with the next two units primed and ready for work next week. I have ten battalions of Xan infantry on their way in the post as I write this, so there's no time to waste. So much to do, so little time, what fun!

Stay tuned for more updates

Monday 15 July 2013

French 20th Dragoons - AB, Part One

I already have three regiments of French dragoons in my collection, but to play some of the scenarios I have planned I will need at least six possibly eight. The first of these scenarios is to put the Vimiero battle as a whole on to my table, see my Vimiero full fat scenario in the down load section. This game will require six regiments and so I am into putting together the next three.

I have decided to model my French units on those that spent much of their time taking on Wellington's army. Thus the next Regiment of Dragoons will be the 20th, one of the regiments at Albuera.

I thought it might be interesting to show this unit coming together as with the Portuguese I painted earlier in the year and so I will record the process as I go.

The "block painting" begins with the dark base coat applied to the riders and the base horse colours to their mounts

AB figures are a work of art and lack no attention to detail. This requires a bit of homework before starting if you want to get the best from them. I turn to my own library of reference books and colour plates, such as Rousselot where I can make sure I know what each part of the figure is before painting.

However with the resource of the Internet available to most of us, there is no reason not to spend the time getting familiar with the subject.

The Officer and trumpeter get their horses in stand out colours with the bulk of the regiment in chestnuts and browns

I am using the Coat d'Arms range of horse colours for my base colours. I have been really pleased with the coverage and colours.

Picture taken in the evening with all the block work done and ready for the first highlight colours

The great part about three colour block painting is that once you have the foundation colours in place you get a psychological boost knowing that the fun bit, applying the highlights, is coming next and that the models will require less paint as you move through the stages.

Getting into a "painting groove" is all about managing the mind. I try to explain to friends, who have difficulty sitting down and painting, that you have to begin with the end in mind and then get motivated by the completion of each stage. The first stage for me is always a bit laborious, but as I get ever nearer to completion, I find myself getting more enthused imagining how the models will "pop" as the next colours are applied.

AB figures are full of detail that require close attention to get the most from it

The horses after the artists oils have been applied. They will need at least 24 hours to dry thoroughly before further painting

So to summarise the work so far:
The Dragoons, Dark Green coats, saddle furniture, Dark Yellow facings, turn-backs, tops of riding cloak on the valise, trumpeter's coat, Mid Stone, riding breeches, Buff, gauntlets, cross belts, waistcoats, tops of boot leggings, trumpeter's helmet horse hair, Chocolate Brown, muskets, helmet turbans, leather work of saddle, Black, all metal work on helmets, swords, scabbards, boots horse hair main on helmets, chin scales, gilt ornaments on officers horse furniture, trumpeter's trumpet.

For the horse colours just refer to my Portuguese Dragoons post.