Monday, 31 December 2007

A Happy New Year!

A Happy New Year, to One and All!!!

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Leibgarde Grenadiers and IR 2 von Wöhl

I'm in the final stage of the tower project - completing the main porticoed entrance. While various glues, potions and pigments were drying I finally based-up the Leibgarde Grenadiers and IR 2 von Wöhl. Both regiments are passing in review above before moving off to barracks. The command element for the Bishop's Horse is in the early stages of painting. As the Holger Eriksson figures are single-piece castings, they'll require a slightly different approach than RSM95. Once these are done, it's on to the first line regiment of the Margrave of Dunkeldorf-Pfühl's army, which will be composed of Spencer Smith miniatures. Pictures at 11...
The tower has been removed from the off-cut (using a subtle blend of care and moderate violence) ready to be mounted on a new larger section of 4mm plywood. This will leave space for a second, smaller building and a short length of paved road that will lead through a gateway and run in front of the tower.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

The Tower project - a little further on...

After a bit of experimentation and thought, I decided not to use single strips of card for the majority of the tiling but instead to make individual rectangles which were then glued into place. Believe me, it doesn't take that long to do! Each shingle/tile is measured out in a grid pattern to the dimensions required and then cut out en-masse using scissors. If you find you have too much after the work is done, put the excess in storage for the next roofing project.

Only the eaves are single pieces, mainly to create a base for the rest of the assembly. I glued this in place with impact adhesive and waited until it was completely firm before starting on the next stage. Working up toward the turret I dampened the strip and the thicker card beneath with a quick stroke from a brush then applied a light smear of PVA adhesive to the top half of the strip and the area of base card directly above. The area of the angles was kept clear as this would be where the ridge tiles would go.

Using the dampened end of a matchstick to pick up the tiles, I dabbed them into place one at a time, building up a rhythm and working fairly quickly to complete a row. The PVA soaks into the card quite quickly and stays wet enough for only a few minutes to allow the tiles to be slid into place if they're not quite correctly aligned. Although it doesn't matter too much if the tiles show gaps or a slight crookedness, the overall alignment is crucial. It's best to mark out lines on the base card to indicate where the rows should go, and as each new side is begun it pays to just check that the rows match those on the adjoining faces.

Once the tiling was in place, the curved ridges were added. These were simplicity itself to make, being just thin rolls of modelling clay cut to length and pressed into the card until firm. The tiles were shaped by rolling over the wet clay at an angle with a length of plastic tubing.

The card I used has a glossy side but this doesn't matter as a thin layer of diluted PVA was brushed over the whole surface, hardening it and preparing it for painting. When this has dried and set it's quite hard, a useful trait for what will be a wargaming model.

The overall effect is slightly rustic, as I wanted the tower to be a feature of some provincial town. Below the eaves can be seen the half-timbered gallery with the "wooden" beams cut from more thin card and given a light wash of diluted general purpose filler.

Friday, 28 December 2007

The Tower Project - A photo.

By popular request I now show the tower in the stage after the final major construction has been completed. The gray angled area of "roofing" around the lower part of the turret is actually thick card that is going to be the base of the tiling. The tiling itself will be made of strips of thin card cut to decreasing lengths (a supply of these is scattered around the worktop the tower stands on). Between the roofing and the first floor windows is the gallery fashioned from a rectangle of foam core, with corbels made of foam core off-cuts. I'm thinking of painting this in a half-timbered style. The small gray verticle rectangles on the wall of the turret are going to form the base for the four clock-faces. These will be taken from cut-out printed photos of a suitable period clock.
I'm English and normally regard metric as the work of the Devil, although I concede it does have its uses in fine-scale modelling. And so I've used it here. Each strip is 7mm wide, with cuts made on one long edge every 4mm to a depth of 5mm to represent the individual tiles. The longest strip will run around the lower edge of the base area, with overlapping strips of decreasing length upwards from there, set about 5mm up from the edge of each lower run. Once these are fixed in place with contact adhesive, the whole will be painted (probably slate gray), given a black wash to pick out the "tiles" then varnished. A strip of tinfoil will be glued to the area between the tiling and the turret wall and painted to represent lead-sheet waterproofing.
And then it's on to the door, the wall and gatehouse - and the actual paintwork for the tower.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Normal service...

...or what passes for it, is being resumed. The winter cold is relinquishing its grip and I was able to do a little work on the tower project today. All the component parts are now fixed together, and the base of the sloping roof connecting the main tower body with the turret is in place. Next, I'll fashion a suitable doorway, and a gateway for the short length of wall that will run from the tower base. The off-cut of plywood the tower was attached to warped, but luckily all the damage was at one end and was easily removed. I'll now glue the whole to a larger - stable - baseboard, and add smaller buildings to this. It'll fit in with the Shako rules which rates tabletop settlements by up to three sectors according to scenario - a sector being a group of buildings covering a few square inches.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

An ill wind.

A winter cold came from out of left field yesterday and took me in its clutches. Having to go into purdah to avoid spreading contagion around the family has put a crimp in my social activities over the holiday. It hasn't stopped me from picking up a brush.

The color parties for the Liebgarde Grenadiers and IR 2 von Wöhl are now complete, and both units are ready for basing. The grenadier company for IR 3 Bräbenachel is now done, and a start made on the command element of the Bishop's Horse. Depending on how I feel, I may have them finished by New Year's Day.

Monday, 24 December 2007

A Merry Christmas!

A Merry Christmas to all my fellow gamers and readers of the Hetzenberg Chronicles!

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Progress report - 13.

The new Holger-Eriksson figures have had the heavy and rather clumsy flags and cavalry officer's sword removed and holes drilled for new brass rod staves. All these figures are now in the detergent soak. While they're enjoying that I returned to the tower project, fixing the dome and cupola to the turret body and coating it with filler mixed with shredded tissue and PVA. Once all is dried I'll fix this to the main tower and work on the roofing around it. I did raise the turret height by 3/8ths of an inch as this looks more in proportion to the rest.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Some comparison photos.

A squadron of the Bishop's Horse (RSM95) with Holger Eriksson figures.

The squadron with the command element, more Holger Eriksson's.
For Jeff and others, here're a couple of clearer images to show the compatability between RSM95 figures (Hanoverian horse shown in the guise of the Bishop's Horse) and Holger Eriksson's sculpting. The bottom photo also shows what will be a command grouping of a general on foot with his mounted escort.
All the figures are quite free of flash and molding lines. If I have a quibble it's in the detail of the swords carried or wielded by the officers - there isn't much. What flash and lines there were disappeared under the touch of the carborundum bit on my MINICRAFT drill. I plan to remove the heavy white metal flags from the guidon and standard bearers and replace them with my usual paper/foil sandwich versions fixed on brass rod. The cavalry officer's saber will be replaced likewise, either with flattened brass rod or a pin. I may leave the general's sword, as it resembles a gnarled walking stick. If painted up as one, it will add a touch of character to what is already a nice little figure.

Friday, 21 December 2007

The Bishop of Guggenheim's Regiment of Horse - 2

The Bishop's Horse with new Holger Eriksson figures at the far end.

Closer but not much more detail...
So here we are, the first public display by the good Bishop's bodyguard regiment. All that's needed now is a coat of varnish and the basework. The command element will come next, once the merry process of deflashing & degreasing is done. The HE figures are quite compatable with the RSM95, much to my relief.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

A good day.

Yesterday was a good day overall. In the morning I received my order of Spencer Smith/Holger Eriksson figures. In the afternoon I had some time to work on the Bishop of Guggenheim's Horse to a point where they're almost finished and to add the gallery to the tower. This evening I plan to finish the Horse and possibly base them. With the arrival of the Holger Eriksson figures I can then proceed to the command element.
* * * *
The Spencer Smith figures are best described as basic, but it was a real pleasure getting hold of some of these almost legendary figurines at last. The pictures in the wargames press and online show what can be done with some smart paintwork.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

The Tower Project - 3

The main components. The Grenadier company of IR 2 von Wöhl pose in front to show the scale.

Dry-run assembly.
As my day job is winding down for the year I had a free afternoon again, so I turned my attentions to the tower once more. The modelling clay from which the onion dome was made had hardened overnight, and all that remained was some light sanding, scraping and filling where necessary. Shallow grooves were scored into the surface before sealing to represent copper plating, but the detail doesn't show here. The top picture shows the dome now attached to the cupola and sealed using two coats of diluted PVA adhesive. Normally these domes would have a weathercock finial, a crucifix or some similar ornament, but as this will be a wargames model I decided to keep it simple and omit details that can get snagged by passing sleeves!
* * * *
The round windows on the cupola are fashioned from Miliput epoxy modelling putty. I kneaded a batch together and pinched off small blobs, which I pressed onto the shell of the cupola. Using the cap off an old felt-tip pen in cookie-cutter fashion I cut out the round frame, peeling away the excess putty from the outer edge. A length of small-gauge plastic piping was used to fashion the inner window, cutting deep into the clay without going all the way through. The round blob that was left was then spread out to fill the frame using the blunt end of a paint brush. Four nicks were cut around the outer circle to represent the components of a stone frame and the whole coated with the ubiquitous PVA to seal the contact with the cupola shell. The center of each window will be painted to represent glass.
* * * *
The main body of the tower has now been enhanced by the addition of strips of "stonework" at the corners. These are simply made of thin card cut and bent to shape, glued in place using Evostik (or equivalent contact adhesive) then coated with more diluted PVA to strengthen them. Some of the windows now have frames, again of Milliput. I've not quite decided what to do about the windows cut into the topmost story. I may add an oriel window or a similar gallery that will fit under the eaves of the pitched roof which will join up to the central turret. This turret will have at least one clock face, located on the wall over the door. I may go crazy and put clock faces on all four walls. That decision's for tomorrow...

Monday, 17 December 2007

The Tower Project - 2

I decided to try using modelling clay to fashion the onion dome for the tower. A short length of dowelling was added to the cupola top and this was used much like a potter's wheel to fashion the basic shape of the dome. Some years ago I picked up a profile gauge (shown) for a bargain price. This handy little gadget has an array of fine steel bars which slide within the ruled casing, and allows the profile of any object to be recorded. I'm using this to fine-tune the tower shape so the profile matches all round.

* * * *

The next step will be to smooth the surface then score shallow lines over the dome to mimic the effect of copper plating. A couple of coats of diluted PVA or varnish will be brushed on, folowed by the paint and more varnish. The clay can chip or crumble if knocked so this will help preserve it.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

The Tower Project - 1

The shell of the upper turret.

The shell of the cupola.
I've made a start on refurbishing the tower shown in an earlier picture. The main body of the upper turret level is made of foamcore, cut into equal rectangles, rabetted then glued using PVA. The cupola is cut from the thick inner card tube from a roll of labels, with thick card capping both ends. I want to cap the tower with an onion dome to follow the mitteleuropen Baroque style, but this poses the problem of how to approach it. A few ideas are bubbling away and I'll see which suits. I'm going to leave the cupola seperate to make it easier to model the dome then attach it to the turret and the whole to the main tower.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Horses and building courses.

Troopers of the Bishop of Guggenheim's Horse dance their version of the Maori Haka...

Their sturdy chestnut mounts await the fitting of bridle and tack.

The Grenadier company of IR 3 Bräbenachel take shape on the painting block.

The Tower Project.

So, I still haven't got access to a decent camera but the webcam gives an adequate image for now. I've adapted Jeff Bluebear's excellent suggestion of "tongue depressor" type splints, in this case using some strips of scrap 1/4-inch plywood to glue the riders' feet to. This method makes it so much easier to handle the figures in the course of painting.
* * * *
I begin with the undercoat, then I paint the faces and hands. From here I'll work "outwards," completing the breeches, the small clothes, the boots and the uniform coat and tricorn. Painting seperate portions of the figure allows the other recently-painted areas to dry off before going anywhere near them with different colored pigments. I work exclusively in acrylics using Vallejo Model Color, and Miniature Paints by Gamecraft. The latter's Type 32 Sand pigment is one of the most useful I've ever come across, especially for shading.
* * * *
The horses just need the bridle and tack painted in leather shade to complete them. I think the viewer can just make out the depth of shading given to the figurines by the multi-layer approach of ochre, red, brown and a final black wash. When I have more horses to paint, I'll do a step-by-step photographic guide.
* * * *
I had a batch of six grenadier figures left after completing the Leibgarde and the companies attached to the first two line regiments, so I began painting them as the grenadier company for the upcoming IR 3 Bräbenachel. All I need do now is buy some more of the delightful RSM95 range of figures to make up the rest of that regiment, and IR 4 von Kranke.
* * * *
The tower is a relic from an early period of my wargaming life, when I was younger, more foolish and nowhere near as competent as I am now with miniature building construction! What you see in the picture is all there is - I never got around to completing the roof. I've added the base of a rectangle of scrap 1/4-inch plywood for sturdiness. The model is based on a tower that featured in the 1813 Battle of Leipzig, but the picture I used is long gone. Having dug around the internet for images I've decided to settle for a Baroque style suitable for the 18th Century. I'll add a domed turret with cupola emerging from a pointed gray-slate roof, and a small ornate gateway to the stub of wall showing on the left of the tower. The windows will have frames around them made from of Miliput scored to look like stonework. The body of the wall will be painted a rich blood red in keeping with the style of the period with the stonework and other features picked out with ochre. Fingers crossed, it'll all come together...

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Progress report - 13.

I got to work on the horses for the Bishop's troopers this evening. First I applied the black undercoat then a good coat of sandy ochre. This was followed by a light wash of red and a sloppy wash of chestnut. Whilst each wash was wet I wiped the flanks of the figures with a rag to remove most of the paint so the lighter colors beneath showed through. Each was allowed to dry before the next was applied. A final thin-ish wash of black overall and the main coloring was finished. The various layers give a life-like depth to the figures. The next stage will be the picking-out of tack and a few white markings on the animals.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Progress report - 12.

My day job has been busy again but I've made a bit more progress on the wargames figures, with the sturdy mounts of the Bishop of Guggenheim's Regiment of Horse now under way. The body of the regiment will be mounted on chestnut horses and the command element on grays. I'm waiting for the officer, guidon and trumpeter Holge Eriksson figures to arrive from Spencer Smith, along with the first regiment of Dunkeldorf-Pfühl line infantry.

* * * *
With the first figures now complete I began to think of the setting they'll fight in. I remembered that years ago I began to construct a square tower based on one which featured in the 1813 Battle of Leipzig. Like many a wargames project, I never got to complete it but I came across it the other day, lurking in a corner of my workshed. I've now dusted it off and given it a critical assesment. I'm no Ian Weekly but I think I can finish it so it looks suitably mitteleuropen and of the period. With a few more buildings of the kind it'll make a good centerpiece for an urban area just right for fighting over.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

The Leibgarde Grenadiers and IR 2 von Wöhl.

Infantry Regiment 2 - von Wöhl.

Leibgarde Grenadiers - first company viewed from rear to front.

By the way, that's not some strange Romanesque temple in the background - just the lower part of my painting block.

* * * *
With my girlfriend's absense at work and my own day job unexpectedly less busy I needed a way of distracting myself - and this is the result. After a productive couple of days I have completed the first part of the Leibgarde Grenadiers, and the rest are on the painting block with their black undercoat drying. IR 2 von Wöhl is entirely based now, and awaiting the arrival of their standard bearers - the delayed appearance caused, no doubt, due to more chicanery on the part of the devious Count Sleibnitz...
* * * *
As is only befitting their status I've painted the Leibgarde to a higher standard than the line. I decided to give them black gaiters as the effect makes them seem taller and more menacing when viewed from the front. French naval architects of the late 19th Century termed the philosophy "fierce face" - if it looks mean, it is mean. The Leibgarde wear white gaiters when on duty in the Ducal palace. Grand Duchess Irma thinks they look more splendid that way.

* * * *
Once the Leibgarde is completed I'll turn my attention to the famous Bishop of Guggenheim's Regiment of Horse. These stalwart chaps and their sturdy mounts are even now soaking in hot soapy water, ready for their turn on the painting block. I think I'll have to come up with a modification to the dowel rod design to allow it to take cavalry. Do I mount the figures and paint them as a whole, or do I paint them seperately? Hmm...

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Progress report - 11.

Due to an unexpected light workload in the day job, I found myself at leisure this afternoon. Taking advantage of the time, I finished the main paintwork on IR 2 von Wöhl and made a fair start on the Leibgarde Grenadiers. All I need do now is apply the black wash to IR 2. Once the order arrives from Spencer Smith, I'll have the flag bearers and the regiment will be complete and ready for the basing materials to be applied.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

A work in progress...

The last half of IR 2 von Wöhl on the painting block, with the first half in front of the stand, all based up ready for flocking. My painting block is a fairly recent innovation for me. The design owes much to a laboratory test-tube rack. Each figurine is mounted on a 4-inch length of 1/2-inch dowel by means of a blob of re-usable putty. I embedded short lengths of thick plastic-coated wire in each dowel which hook over the figure bases as added security. The rods enable me to hold the figurines firm while I paint every angle. The rack can take up to 16 figurines, and the dowels sit in the holes so figures can dry as the next is painted. I've found it speeds-up the painting process quite markedly.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Progress report - 10.

The painting of IR 2 von Wöhl is almost finished, and should be complete by this weekend. I'm going to place an order with Spencer Smith for some Holge Eriksson standard bearers to complete the command element for this and the Liebgarde Grenadier regiment. The Eriksson range also has a rather fine cavalry officer with sword upraised on a galloping horse, and an infantry officer with a cane. He has such a brooding air about him I can readily picture him as a brigade commander, standing on a rise as he watches his regiments deploy for battle.

No further progress to report on the maps just now. I searched around the net and found some old maps of Germany which might be useful, but I lack time this week to experiment with them.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Progress report - 9.

The first half of IR 2 von Wöhl is complete and stuck to their bases. The second half is now on the painting block and undercoated. I'm lacking the two standard bearers I need for the regiment but I'll remedy that in the fullness of time. After some thought I decided not to add red piping to the facings as I think they look fine in the original pattern. Meanwhile, I decided the Liebgarde Grenadiers will be the next unit to step up to the plate, and they're now in the degreasing soak.

My thoughts have turned once again to the matter of the campaign map. I'm toying with the idea of using the Google map finder to lift an image of a suitable area from modern Germany and using my paint program to impose a hexagon pattern on it for movement, resources, etc. Has anyone else tried this method? If so, how did it go?