As seen previously here on The Warbard, my brother Corey owns a 3d printer. A Creality Ender 2, apparently. Gabions are big roughly-made wicker tubes filled with dirt, basically, used for temporary fortification for centuries – right up until at least the First World War, in fact. They’re iconic looking but would be really, really fiddly to scratchbuild. Finding the set of 3d modelled gabions for free over on Thingiverse was what kicked this whole project off.
If you haven’t got access to a 3d printer, Renedra will sell you a couple of sprues of quite nice-looking gabions for a very reasonable sum.
The 9″x9″ footprint was dictated by the Pikeman’s Lament rules, but proved to be a good size anyway for a bastion that could hold one gun with crew or a full unit of 12 infantry in the Pikeman’s system while not dominating the table. It’s still a very, very small bastion; even single-gun emplacements in the English Civil War were usually bigger than this once you included their surrounding ditches and such. Compromises are always made for tabletop usability, however!
The actual gabions and fortified part of this are raised slightly on a 6″x6″ offcut of 1/8th” EPVC plastic board, with openings for cannon to fire through on two sides and a ramp leading down and out on the third side.
I used chunks of styrofoam to fill in the area outside the gabions, sloping up slightly from ground level, holding it in place with hot glue to speed up construction.
To cover the styrofoam I mixed up premixed plaster, white glue, sand, and a bit of water to make a tough textured fill, then pushed it into place with a tongue depressor. The interior has flooring/duckboards made from wooden coffee stir sticks, with sand filling the gaps between the boards.
Paint tomorrow after the plaster has had a chance to dry fully. I thought about putting extra obstacles in the ground outside the gabions, but have decided to leave it mostly bare earth. I do have my recently-bought Renedra chevaux-de-frise to add around the bastion once it’s on the table, after all.
Back in 2013 half of them (one of the two identical sprues) got cleaned up, based, sand added to the bases, and grey primed, and that was it. For more than five years.
In early 2018 I pulled the 2013 bits out of storage and got them painted up and flocked fairly quickly for the game I ran at Trumpeter Salute 2018.
The paintjob was pretty simple. I hit all of them with a wash (GW Nuln Oil or Earthshade), then drybrushed and scrubbed various other colours across the stones. Two different shades of grey, some dark green, two shades of tan, and two shades of off-white applied in different amounts to different stones give a bit of variation to each stone.
Finally, this week I’ve pulled the second sprue out and got them all based up.
The bases are all leftovers from various Warlord ECW plastic box sets. I think the newer stuff is from the Firelock Infantry box and the older from either the regular infantry or cavalry box. Waste not, want not, and I wasn’t ever going to use them for figures! The freshly dug graves (great potential plot points!) are just scrap styrofoam glued down and then sanded.
I’ve used the Celtic cross and some of the base pedestal bits to create a roadside cross or shrine. Just the thing to lurk on a dark and misty moor or something!
Finally, I used Rain City Hobbies tufts and flowers to add some detail and interest over my usual mix of flock. I really like the little pops of colour the flowers provide, and they’re becoming a standard feature on my scenery, especially the English Civil War items.
Should you want your own gravestones the two-sprue set is still available from Renedra which is definitely not always the case when coming back to some products after this long. Hopefully you take less than seven years to get yours ready for the tabletop!
Trumpeter Salute 2019 has come and gone. This was the first Trumpeter in many years where I didn’t run a game which felt kind of strange, but that did leave more time for other people’s games!
It was also the kick in the butt I apparently needed to devote a bit more time to gaming, after most of a year (two?) of basically doing squat except watch my gaming stuff gather dust.
Among the things I bought at Trumpeter was a pack of Frostgrave Wizards in plastic. I’ve been musing for a while now about mixing up 17th Century English Civil War/Thirty Year’s War figures with magic and fantasy stuff of some sort, and while a lot of things like wands or wizard’s staffs would be easy enough to add to figures with wire and putty, a couple of sprues of ready-made bits seemed like a good plan.
It turns out the Warlord plastic ECW figures and the North Star plastic Frostgrave figures are pretty much perfectly compatible. Very similar heights and proportions, and heads and hands similarly scaled. The arms are jointed identically at the shoulders on both, too, although the heads & necks are separate on the Frostgrave figures but integral to the bodies on the Warlord stuff, so if/when I want to start doing headswaps I’ll need to do some surgery.
I also got a pack of four “Frogs with French rifles” from Pulp Figures, to give my Cthulhoid fishmen/frogmen forces some actual firepower. I’m not sure if these will be sold via Pulp Figures or Crucible Crush, but they’re awesome!
Finally, I picked up a pack of Renedra’s Chevaux de Frise for more barricades to scatter around – perfect for some of the Pikeman’s Lament scenarios that call for a line of barricades or a barricaded village. The pack contains a pair of sprue frames that will give me about 18″ or so of chevaux de frise all told.
I whipped up the first three “weird ECW” magic users already. On the left is one of the regular Warlord cavalry figures with an arm and hip pouch from the Frostgrave wizards; centre is a Warlord firelock body with both arms from Frostgrave (usable as a religiously-inspired figure in straight historical games too), and on the right is a body from the Warlord infantry command sprue with arms from the same sprue and a wizard’s staff from the Frostgrave set.
I’ve got a whole bunch of photos still on my camera from the actual Trumpeter Salute show; I’ll try and get them edited and uploaded this coming weekend.
After finishing the three little cottages on Saturday, I decided to do something slightly different on Sunday and made a building that could serve as a stable or other outbuilding for a manor farm on my ECW/English pulp tables.
It’s 3″ deep and 4″ wide, so actually larger in footprint than the little hovels. Horse need their space, tenant farmers not so much! Same construction, 1/16th mattboard (picture framing card) with wooden coffee stir sticks for the timbering. The roof is assymetric, with the peak closer to the front of the building instead of down the centreline, for no other reason than it looked more interesting and on a gaming table, people spend a lot of time looking down at rooftops!
A roof with a pitch like this should probably be shakes or slate or something, because a steep pitch is part of what helps keep a thatch roof watertight, but towel thatch is a heck of a lot faster to assemble than a shingled roof, even with Warbases’ nifty lasercut tile cards available! Perhaps I’ll go back and rebuild this roof with tile card in the future, when I’m not under a pre-convention time crunch… but don’t hold your breath!
I’ll add open doors on the big doorway on the front; the doors are built but not installed yet. I might whip up a couple of horse stall walls to put in the interior, but honestly that seems like a post-Trumpeter addition to me…
With the clock running on toward Trumpeter Salute 2018, I need to get serious about producing the new scenery the linked pair of games I’m running there need!
I’ve got more than enough hedges, dirt roads, and other greenery bits from previous scenery projects, but the farmhouse/manor, dovecote, and barn I’ve built previously need more buildings to hit the table along with them if I want to do a 17th Century English hamlet up properly.
This weekend I sat down and cranked out a trio of little (tiny, really!) thatched and half-timbered cottages or hovels, along with a pair of fenced gardens.
These are simple little buildings of 1/16th” mattboard with half-timbering from wooden coffee stirrers and thatch from towel. The windows are lasercut from Warbases in the UK. For a bit more bulk the roofs have a substructure of corrugated cardboard with the towel hot-glued to that and then further stiffened with white glue. All three roofs are removable.
The tree has a core of paperclip wire, bulked out with soft iron craft wire, then covered in hot glue to fill in between the wires. The garden beds are also just hot glue “sculpted” into place with the hot tip of the glue gun.
I’ve also done a second garden piece, slightly smaller, but haven’t gotten a photo of it yet. The cottage roofs need one more drybrush to really pop the thatch texture, but the cottages themselves are all done, and the gardens are fully painted and flocked outside the fence. The tree needs some foliage, and the gardens inside the fences need greenery and detail, but not bad for part of a weekend’s focused effort!
Dogs and cats living together! Chaos and disorder!
Well, something like that. Horses and armour, at least.
I realized that all twelve horses for my regular ECW cavalry are all brown. Every last one of them. There’s a bunch of variation in tone, mane colour, stuff like that, but they’re all bay, which is horse-speak for brown. Well, some of them might be chestnut, which is horse-speak for “lighter reddish brown”, more or less. For the six horses I needed for the current batch of cuirassier I decided to mix it up a lot. There’s a white horse, two different shades of grey, two different bay, and one black horse.
Unfortunately I totally forgot to write down any of the paint mixes or layers I used for this batch of painting, so I’ll have to re-invent the wheel, or at least the horse paint, next time I do horses!
For the armour, I put pins up into the backsides of all six cuirassier, making them extra-long to make painting easier. Then I used a scrap CD, two lengths of scrap wood, and my hot glue gun to create a very useful little painting stand, seen in the photo below.
All six riders got all their armour basecoated bright silver (Reaper’s True Silver), then various inks and washes were layered over to try for a treated-metal appearance as discussed in my last post on coloured armour.
GW’s washes don’t work as a base layer for this, I discovered right away. They’re not designed to stay on flat surfaces particularly well, although they shade crevices and lower areas of a surface very nicely. I used India ink for the three blacked armour sets, Reaper’s Red Ink for the russeted armour, and FW Artist’s Acrylic Inks for most of the rest of the colour.
The three blacked armour riders were basically done after one coat of thinned India ink, and then I went back in with metallic paint to do some of the edges and highlights, especially on the rider in the foreground of the photo with the hammer and plume.
The two russetted armour guys and the one blued rider (far left) got at least a couple of more layers, including either very, very thin India ink or GW’s Nuln Oil to darken the bright initial ink coat. The blue guy especially looked incredibly bright and weird after his first coat of just blue ink – my girlfriend saw him and said, “Seventeenth Century Power Ranger!” and damned if she wasn’t right…
I’ve also discovered that these guys are nearly impossible to get a decent photo of in their current setup, the above blown out and fairly crap photo is less crap than all the rest. I’ll try for better pictures once the riders and horses are all attached to each other. Still to do is boots, saddles, faces, and weapons.
I’m really pleased with how these guys are turning out so far, and I think they’ll look great on the tabletop once they’re all finished. Ink over silver is definitely a win for doing coloured armour!
I’ve posted links to horse painting articles and tutorials before, including the exhaustive “horse of a different colour” series over at Trouble at t’Mill. Mike even gives you some rough math on what colours any given troop/regiment/herd/group of horses should be: “One tip – if you’re batch painting, the maths works out roughly that you should pick out your hero horses that are going to be fancy colours, then split about a quarter of the rest off and earmark them for chestnuts, split a quarter of the leftovers from those off and earmark them as blacks, and paint the rest (which should be a bit over half) bay. The further back in history you go, the fewer chestnuts you’ll probably have.”
But what about the riders? Unarmoured or mostly unarmoured riders provide obvious opportunity for colour, depending on the army or era you’re modelling, but if it’s knights or early 17th Century cuirassier in full plate it’s all going to be silver/grey metal armour, right?
Armour can, in fact, be lots of colours than just “shiny metal”. It probably should be, in fact. Blacking, russeting, or even painting seems to have been fairly common. Keeping armour “white” (shiny) was a lot of work on an ongoing basis so a lot of munition-grade ordinary armour was finished in some way.
Russeting, blacking, and other forms of surface finish are done with various oils, acids, and other chemicals along with heat to seal the surface of the metal and protect it from rust and other corrosion. An interesting and informative thread over on My Armory (an arms/armour collector and creator forum) talks about various historic and modern treatments and the various shades that can be achieved. One essay on russeting I found uses modern Clorox bleach and baby oil!
Heating metal produces a coloration of the surface, which changes from yellow to purple to deep blue as the heat increases. When taken out of the fire at a particular temperature, the metal retains this color. Considerable skill is required to achieve a consistent and even heat-patination of large areas (e.g., a breastplate) or groups of objects (e.g., a complete armor, 32.130.6
). The favored color for armor, edged weapons, and firearm barrels was a deep blue, in a process is referred to as “bluing.” A range of colors could also be produced chemically, using a variety of different recipes, such as a rich brown color that was popular on firearm barrels in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. Besides being attractive, patination and painting also inhibit rust on metal surfaces.
The entire Wallace Collection website is well worth looking through, by the way. It includes a huge collection of arms and armour through the ages, and a really well organized Advanced Search function to make things (slightly!) easier to find.
Also from the Wallace Collection is a “black and white” set of cavalry armour, almost certainly from an officer, with distinctive polished/silver bands around the edges of otherwise blackened armour. The Wallace writeup say, “Most military armours worn by lower-ranking troopers or infantrymen were left ‘black from the hammer’, that is, the metal was worked only up to the point when the armour would function as required. The surface finish was left black and hammer-marked. Bodies of cavalry wearing such armour were therefore often described as ‘Schwarze Reiter’- black riders. The armours of officers commanding groups of men armed in this way often had the bands and borders of their armour polished bright, producing the distinctive visual effect characteristic of ‘black and white’ armours.”
For a straight-up painted helmet, this one is 15th C, much earlier than the period I’m currently concerned with, but had red and white (now discoloured almost to yellow) paint that is still colourful and must have been spectacular when it was new. I don’t think, from what I’ve seen, that full on painted armour was still current by the mid-17th C, but blacked, blued, russeted, and even gilded surface treatments were certainly in regular use.
When it comes to miniature painting and armour, I’m thinking that the best way to represent coloured armour would be a metallic base coat and then inks or washes over that. I’m going to do some experimenting on the six cuirassier current on my painting bench and will report back!
Incidentally, if someone managed to save a copy of the Games Workshop article from back in 2011 I once linked to here I’d love to have it. I recall it opened with joking about how the author just painted all horses brown until his daughter told him his horses were boring, or similar!
Not the greatest photographs going, but so far the only ones I’ve gotten of all of my recently completed 28mm ECW figures all together!
Starting top left, the dark yellow coats belong to six firelock musketeers (in Pikeman’s Lament terms, either a Forlorn Hope or Commanded Shot). Clockwise we have two troops of regular horse, six per troop. One unit is brand-new and the other had most of it’s painting done years ago but have been touched up and re-based just recently. Somewhere in amongst the other horsemen is the mounted commander as well, finally finished and based.
The bottom centre infantry unit is a dozen muskets in green, then a dozen pike in green, and finally a dozen muskets in blue. There’s a couple of extra officer/sergeant figures in there as well.
The only unit not on the tray in the photo above is the twelve pike in blue I finished back in July 2017.
Finally, for fun and extra colour, I’ve been painting up the farm animals I got from Warbases early in 2017.
The geese are on a 40mm round styrene base, while the two sets of sheep are on roughly rectangular bases about 1″x2″. They’ll mostly be just scenery, or objectives in games that need loot tokens, but I’m also planning on using the flock of geese as a hazard in games of Pulp Alley, because big geese can be scary psycho critters!
Still in progress on the farm animal side are five or six ducks to go in and around the ponds I made in 2017, two big cart horses, and a couple of goats. I’ll probably get a few more animals on my next Warbases order, they’re fun to paint and provide great extra detail and colour on the tabletop.
On the ECW figure side of things the first six cuirassier heavy horse are in progress, and I’ll be doing up at least one more unit of firelock muskets. There’s also six officer/sergeant/character figures in progress – more on them in another post!
After months of doing absolutely zilch on the gaming front I saw the year out in some style, at least, with a whole bunch of English Civil War 28mm figures pushed through from “almost done” to actually finished in my time off between Christmas and New Years.
This means that all of the regular soldier figures seen on the workbench back in June are now finished and ready to game with, just the four officer/character figures seen there still to finish off.
The cavalry on the table now include five figures that I “finished” for the Lead Painter’s League way, way back in early 2011 (!) that have sat around ever since. I had thought these ECW figures had sat around for four or five years, but apparently it’s been more like seven. Yikes. “Finished” is in scare quotes in here because I was never happy with some of the details and finish on the riders, having put most of the effort in the horses. They’re back on the painting table for touchups, as are the other seven cavalry figures from that box of 12, and the first six heavy Cuirassiers for extra cavalry punch.
Finally, I pulled out a bunch of farm animals from my Warbases order of early 2017 and cleaned up and based six sheep, two cart horses, and a flock of geese, just for fun and extra flavour in games. They can act as loot markers in Pikeman’s Lament, just as scenery, or (especially the geese, geese are evil!) as unique hazards in Pulp Alley games!
Looking forward to a bit more gaming in 2018 than 2017 had to offer, including more Infinity and some games at Trumpeter Salute 2018 in a few months!
I’m fairly sure the last time I touched a paintbrush was back in July. Maybe August. As posts here will show, all wargaming activity of any sort coasted to a stop sometime in the first week or so of September, mostly due to a brain- and free-time-destroying family health crisis and associated astronomical levels of stress.
Most of that is sorted and past now, thankfully, and I did some fun non-wargaming creative stuff before Christmas so I’m finally sitting back down at the painting desk and getting stuff moving again.
I’ve committed to running at least two games at Trumpeter Salute 2018, as I mentioned last post, so I need a bunch of my ongoing English Civil War figures and scenery done by March. To that end, I’ve started cranking through the long-neglected ECW figures, most of the plastic Warlord figures.
I finished the last details and added flocking to a unit of six firelock musketeers, half a unit of regular musketeers, a full unit of a dozen pike, and a dog.
I’ve since moved on to another dozen mostly-finished musketeers and four more officer/character figures. The officer/character types are a chance to bust out some fun colours, as officers rarely wore uniforms in this period and often dressed like the gaudy wealthy gentlemen they were.
I have this week between Christmas and New Years off, so before the end of 2017 I might actually get a usable 24 point Pikeman’s Lament force finished by forcing myself to deal with a lot of the mostly-painted figures!