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!
The Assault Group (TAG) has a huge range of Thirty Year’s War/English Civil War/general Renaissance figures that I’d heard good things about, including that they were fairly compatible in size and style to the Warlord figures that make up the entirety of my TYW/ECW collection so far.
The only major piece missing from my 17th C forces so far are guns, so I ordered TAG’s English Battery Builder pack which has a culverin, eight crew, and accessories. To give me some game options I also picked up a falconette light gun on it’s own. That gives me a light gun, a heavier field gun, enough crew to do a full six man gun crew per the Pikeman’s Lament rules for either of them, and some nice extra bits for base decoration – gunpowder barrels, piles of shot, that sort of thing.
Then I waited.
And waited some more.
Then I got an email apologizing for the wait.
This wasn’t a surprise by this point, because a significant number of posts on the TAG blog are, in fact, posts explaining how backlogged their orders are.
Then I waited a while longer.
My initial order was made on June 22nd. The “we’re backed up” email came through on August 4th. My order was apparently “completed” on August 11th. It showed up in Canada on September 11th.
That’s… goddamn glacial. In nearly two decades of ordering stuff from overseas for wargaming I don’t think I’ve ever had an order take so long from initial order to the toys actually showing up, even back in the late 1990s when I was just starting out and an order to the UK or the States meant snail mail, paper order forms filled out by hand, and an International Money Order.
So, don’t order from TAG if you’re in any sort of hurry for your toys. I have a generous backlog of painting and loads of scenery projects to distract me, thankfully.
Now that they’re finally here, what about the figures themselves? I quite like them, the casts are very clean, the sculpting is well proportioned and nicely detailed, and while they’re mostly a little bit smaller than the Warlord figures they’ll look fine in adjacent units on the table!
Warlord’s plastic figures are actually slightly bigger than most of their metal figures; their metal ones are a pretty close match for TAG’s while Warlord plastics are bigger. Odd that Warlord has that difference between the two materials they produce figures in…
The two guns are four parts, two wheels, the stock (carriage?), and the barrel, and fit together easily. Mold lines and flash are minimal, just a few minutes cleanup for the whole lot.
The two crew packs are available separately as English Artillery crew loading and English Artillery crew sighting, each consisting of an officer/sergeant figure and three crew. The loaders have a powder scoop, rammer, and swab; the sighting crew have two with large timber levers to adjust the gun’s wheels and a gunner doing the actual sighting.
The culverin is also available separately; it comes with the gun, a powder barrel, a water bucket, and a small pile of cannon balls. The falconette has the gun, a wedge, water bucket, and a bucket of small shot.
I still haven’t quite settled on how I’m going to base the guns and their crew, but I’m looking forward to assembling and painting them up; the whole unit should be pretty quick to paint up, and while I usually base figures before painting them, I might well tack these guys down to craft sticks to get them painted before I make any basing decisions. Basing might involve a custom movement tray of some sort ordered from Warbases that can fit six crew on 25mm bases and the unbased gun, to match the 2mm MDF movement trays I’ve already got.
I’ll probably order from TAG again; they have some different figures that Warlord don’t offer, I like their sculpting style, and variety is always useful, but the insanely long order times are offputting.
Nothing fancy, just a coat of black paint mixed with some white glue, then sand shaken over while everything was still wet. I’ll put another coat of paint and glue over the sand to fully secure it, then get on with the rest.
As seen in the photo above, the bridge is also fully painted. Over the black primer (mixed, as usual, with white glue) I blobbed two different green shades and some rust brown, then started drybrushing with a dark grey, a bit of tan, then lighter grey and finally just a bit of pure white on the edges and upper surfaces.
I’ll do the river banks alongside the bridge next, then paint and sand so all ten river segments are at the same stage, then it’s off to doing water effects, probably with epoxy resin.
Realized I forgot to include the photo of the river modules with the air drying clay banks in place, so let’s start off with that! I rolled clay snakes out, mushed them into place, and left everything to dry.
On to the actual subject of this post, the bridge! This river project is initially intended to go along with my English Civil War pike & shot project I’m painting figures for, so I started with a classic stone arch bridge. The base module is one of the two short river modules, so it’s 6″ long and 6″ wide. I decided to make the roadway portion of the bridge 50mm wide, which will fit at least two foot or cavalry figures side-by-side, or a wagon or vehicle. The whole bridge is roughly 5.5″ long, more or less.
The roadway is three layers of light card (90lbs or so) laminated together with white glue and left to dry under a couple of heavy books. After that dried overnight I cut it to length to form the arch, then glued more small rectangles of light card to it for the flagstone bridge surface. While that was drying I superglued two little strips of card in place on the styrene base to hold the arch in place – you can see them at either end of the roadway in the picture below. These gave the roadway something to be braced against while I superglued it into place.
The inner arch was formed similarly, although I only used a single layer of card as it won’t be exposed in the final model.
For the sides I started with an offcut of one inch thick pink styrofoam insulation. I marked the roadway and inside arches on the side of the piece with a pencil, then carefully cut the curves and the end pillars with a brand-new Xacto blade before slicing the entire piece in half lengthwise to get both sides of the bridge. They were glued into place with white glue – you can’t use superglue on styrofoam, it melts! – and braced with various heavy things overnight so they dried in place.
After the whole assembly had dried for about six hours or so I started carving the stone sides, using my usual combination of an Xacto knife and a pencil. Cut patterns with the knife, then open up the cuts with the pencil for a nice easy stone effect. I also used a ball of tin foil to add a bit of stone texture to the sytrofoam; I might yet go back and add more to the parts that are still too smooth.
After doing the carving I decided to put a row of capping stones across the tops of the arches and pillars. Making them out of heavier matt board (picture framing card, one of my favourite building materials) means they’ll protect the styrofoam sides of the bridge, much the same way a harder stone like slate is often used to protect a more carveable stone! I cut a strip of matt board then chopped slightly different sizes rectangles from it, to make the result more varied and interesting.
To add texture, especially to the card, and to help protect the whole structure a bit more, I put a coat of GW Liquid Greenstuff over most of the bridge and, for now at least, declared construction finished! I still need to do the river banks, obviously, and might yet add some small buttresses to the sides of the end pillars of the bridge. The stonework might need more texture, too, but I’ll wait until I get a primer coat of paint on it before making that decision.
Finally, here’s a miniature eye shot (more or less!) of one end of the bridge looking up the roadway. This shows the flagstones of the roadway nicely; I’m really pleased with how they turned out. Individual little rectangles of light card is a painful way to do flagstones, but it does look good! You can also see the card strip I glued down to brace the road arch in place; I’ll eventually cover that in clay or putty to disguise it as flagstones or hide it.
The main river modules are also proceeding, all the clay banks are straightened and glued down, so I might be able to get texture on them in the next few days, although we’re going to have a house guest in our spare room (usually my workspace/man cave) for all of this coming week!
A relatively large modular river setup has been on my Things I Want To Build list for years. I went through the excellent set of scenarios that come with Pikeman’s Lament recently with an eye toward what additional scenery I might need to do them properly, and one of the scenarios is a bridge seizing/river crossing that needs a river the long way down the table — suggested table size for Pikeman’s Lament being 4’x6′.
Perfect, a good reason to shunt the river project to the front of the queue as my summer project! It’s also universal scenery that I can use on pretty much any of my tables, possibly with alternate bridge modules eventually to better match, say, my Russian Civil War setup or even Infinity’s cyberpunk future!
To check proportions and the basic idea I fired up Inkscape. You can work in real-world units in Inkscape really easily, so it’s ideal as a super-basic quick layout tool, faster than doing things by hand on graph paper and cheaper than wasting materials! I decided on 6″ wide modules with a 3″ wide river in between 1.5″ banks, which will let me put lots of flocking and foliage along the banks. The bridge is 50mmm wide across the road part, which gives enough width for at least two figures across and will accommodate figures on 40mmm wide multibases as well.
I started construction by buying a 4′ by 2′ sheet of .040 (~1mmm) styrene plastic sheet from our excellent local plastic store, Industrial Plastic & Paint. The big sheets of bulk styrene are identical to the 8×10 pieces you buy in a hobby store but much, much cheaper! I cut two 12″ by 24″ pieces, enough for six 12″ straight river modules, two 6″ long short modules, and a pair of curve pieces about 3 or 4″ long. That’s enough river to get from one side of a 6′ long table to the other at an angle, and keeping the bridge piece on one of the 6″ short modules makes placing it more flexible.
The long straight sections aren’t perfectly straight, incidentally. I offset each one by about a half inch, so the river will wander back and forth a bit on the table, or angle gradually one way if you align all the long pieces the same way. The long sides are cut slightly irregularly and then sanded down to smooth out any jagged edges from the scissors.
There are cheaper material than .040 styrene, even at bulk rates, and there are certainly stronger materials, so why thin styrene? Because it’s thin, strong, and waterproof. I dislike scenery that stands up really high off the table, the styrene is going to be strong enough provided nobody abuses it, especially once all the clay, sand, glue, more glue, etc etc is on it, and I can slop paint, water, and glue around with abandon without anything warping or being destroyed.
For the banks I decided to use air drying clay and picked up a cheap pack at one of our local art stores. I marked the 3″ standard width of the river on the ends of all the styrene pieces, rolled out snakes of clay, and mushed them into place with my fingers. Good old kindergarten-level stuff, nothing fancy. Keep a little pot of water handy to wet your fingers in and smooth the clay.
The best way to use air drying clay is actually to put a layer of white glue down on your base material, and then mush your clay around on top of the glue. They’ll dry together and bond to the base material. I didn’t do this, so now I’m gluing the dried pieces of clay back to the styrene… this does give me a better chance to correct any warping caused by the clay drying, which has happened. Gently bending the clay straight then gluing it down with a weight on top of it – I used figure transport cases – has so far sorted out all the warping issues.
A thicker more heavyweight base material wouldn’t have warped, but see above about disliking scenery that stands too proud of the table surface. Always about the tradeoffs!
With the clay done on all six straight long modules, the two curves, and one of the short straight modules – which I’m doing up as a shallow ford – I started building the bridge on the last short straight module. More on that soon!
First unit of foot for my English Civil War project is done!
Ten pikemen, an officer, and a flag ensign all lined up ready for battle.
I’m plugging away at the shot in blue to go along with these guys… the musketeers have a lot more equipment hanging off them and are a lot slower to paint than pikemen!
There’s also a second unit of pike almost finished, these ones in green uniforms, as well as six firelock musketeers for a forlorn hope or commanded shot unit. The mounted commander from my last post has also had a few more details completed and is inching toward the finish line. Lots of assembly line style painting currently, which makes for really boring photos to share here until a unit is suddenly done…
Got a couple of half decent photos of Warlord’s Pike & Shotte Mounted Commander that I’ve got on my painting bench right now, along with a whole bunch of pike & shot soldiers for him to command.
This is one of Warlord’s all-metal figures, and very nice too, a good level of detail and a pose full of attitude as he slouches along, pewter wine cup in one hand and a huge broadsword on his hip. There’s an eyepatch under that wide hat too, although I don’t think you can actually see it in these photos!
I set myself the painting challenge of doing a black horse, black coat and hat, and black hair on the commander. The clothing is done with a base of Reaper Walnut Brown (a very, very dark almost black brown) with a few drops of Pure Black in it, highlighted with Rainy Grey; the horse is mostly Pure Black with some Walnut Brown highlights and then a coat of artist’s India Ink over the whole horse except the mane and tail.
Loads of highlighting and some detail painting left to do, but I’m happy with the progress so far and thought I’d show him off here!
I picked up a batch of simple lasercut MDF trays sized for 25mm bases on one of my recent Warbases order. Pikeman’s Lament uses either six or twelve figures per unit as standard, so I bought a batch of six-base skirmish trays (listed on Warbases’ site as “Dux Brit/Zombie Trays“) and a pair of twelve-base three by four regiment trays for when a PL pike unit is in Close Order, both cut for the 25mm MDF bases I’m using for my English Civil War/Pikeman’s Lament project.
Each tray is two layers of 2mm MDF, lasercut and with the two layers already glued together straight from Warbases. I’d been thinking of replacing the bottom solid layer of 2mm MDF with something thinner (probably .030 plastic card) as I am not a huge fan of big thick bases, so having them arrive pre-assembled forced me to consider different options.
As an aside, if you really did want un-glued movement trays, or even just the tops so you could do your own base layers, I’m fairly sure Martin and Warbases crew can set you up that way. Chuck them an email and ask!
I finally broke out my grossly underused Dremel tool, poured a pint of excellent beer, and sat down on the back patio with this unwise combination to modify my movement trays to my liking!
A Note Of Warning: Power tools capable of 30,000 RPM and alcohol is not a recommended combination. Sanding MDF without wearing some sort of filter mask is also not recommended. Even though I was outside while doing this, I can still taste MDF dust on the back of my mouth over a day later. Wear a dust mask of some sort. Don’t combine power tools and beer, even very good beer. Dear readers, be smarter than me. Thank you. Also, should you not be smarter than me, don’t send lawyers after me. They’re scary. Thank you again.
A couple of minutes with a sanding drum on the Dremel per base rounded the top edges off nicely, and the corners of the regiment bases. I touched up a few scuffs from the Dremel by hand with regular sandpaper, knocked the nasty MDF dust off, and then brought everything – including the beer – inside to my workbench to add a bit of sand here and there to the trays.
With that done, I put the Dremel away, poured another pint of beer, and put a bit of sand around the edges of the trays, being careful to keep it out of the holes. Dark brown base paint followed, then some drybrushing after that was dry, and finally some of my usual flock/turf mix here and there to help blend everything together.
These movement trays are a great value and will make “big” skirmish games a bit easier to manage! I’ll definitely be getting more, especially of the six-base irregular trays, and might contact Warbases about some custom irregular trays for my cavalry, who are mostly on 20mm by 40mm rectangular bases, or my artillery, when I add some guns to my Pikeman’s Lament forces. Having the entire force on similar movement trays would look really sharp and make games a bit more streamlined, especially if I’m running convention games for other people.
I posted my Round 1 entry for the recently concluded Lead Painters League 11 (run over on the awesome Lead Adventure Forum) way back in mid-April but never got around to posting my other entries.
So here they are all at once, including Round 1 again for completeness sake.
Note that I repeated one entry in a later round, so there are only nine entries here instead of ten. My Round 2 entry, Patients of Ward 13, were re-run as my Round 9 entry after the English Civil War musketeers I’d hoped to run didn’t get finished in time. Interestingly, the Patients lost their initial round but won their re-appearance, which is unusual as repeat figures rarely win LPL rounds in my experience!
There’s captions for each photo with more details, including manufacturer info for all the figures.
Not every stone circle is a gigantic trilithon monument like Stonehenge. Some of them might be barely recognizable as stone circles, in fact, until you realize that plants grown in strange patterns around the stones, or you wander past on certain very specific nights of the year…
This little project started out as a way to use up leftover putty; whenever I had excess greenstuff or Milliput I’d squish it into a rough stone shape and let it dry on one corner of my bench. This weekend I wanted a quick project as a distraction, so I grabbed four of these stones, hot-glued them to a scrap CD, and added sand. That got left to dry overnight, then I basecoated it dark brown, let that dry a few hours, and drybrushed the sand to bring up the texture with various shades of pale brown, tan, and very pale grey.
The stones got a black basecoat, the drybrushed with various shades of grey, tan, and finally white.
The flocked areas are my usual mix of ground foam and static grass, and then I added various tufts from Army Painter and the flowers from Rain City Hobbies. The flowers form a ring around the outside of the stones, and I kept the foliage inside the stones to a minimum.
My ongoing English Civil War project might well shade over into some sort of gunpowder fantasy version of the ECW or TYW, in which case the circle will be right at home, and in the meantime it can add a little touch of strangeness to some lonely corner of my tabletops… who meets in the centre of this flower’d circle, with it’s well-trodden paths? Be ye for King, Parliament… or some far older Power?!