Colourful Cavalry: Armour as well as horses!

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.

A lot of the armour in museums that’s shiny these days probably shouldn’t be. As the Wallace Collection says on their website about one partial suit of 17th C armour, “Like the others of its group, this one originally had a ‘black-from-the-hammer’ finish, but was polished bright comparatively recently, almost certainly in the 19th century.” Another thing we can blame the Victorian era for!

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!

There’s a great essay on the Met about decoration and surface treatment of armour. From that essay:

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.

This gorget is contemporary with the English Civil War (c. 1640) and is blued with gilt edging. Image off the Wallace Collection website. Click image to see the listing there.

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!

Finished English Civil War Figures

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!

Every figure finished recently! See text for details, and click for larger.

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.

All these figures are from Warlord Games.

The new horse, with blue and white horse blankets, as well as some of the older horse with blue and yellow on the horses. Click for larger.

Finally, for fun and extra colour, I’ve been painting up the farm animals I got from Warbases early in 2017.

Geese and sheep, all from Warbases. See text for details, click for larger.

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!

Happy New Year!

Slightly belated Happy New Year to all!

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.

Two units of musket, one of pike, one of firelocks, all DONE! Click for larger, see text for details.

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.

Cavalry of various flavours in various stages of completion, and the four officer figures. Click for larger.

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!

Cavalry, sheep, geese, and some barrels. The unpainted horse on the far left are for the cuirassiers. Click for larger.

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!

Back To Painting, Finally

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.

Finished figures – six firelock musketeers in mustard yellow, six regular musketeers in blue, and a full dozen pike in blue. And a dog. Click for larger.
Four colourful officers in the background and part of a unit of a dozen muskets in blue in the foreground. Click for larger.

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!

Still Around, Happy Holidays, & Such!

Real Life ganged up on me pretty solidly around mid-September and didn’t really let up until nearly the end of October, and by then other hobby interests had wandered in and distracted me from wargaming, hence the utter lack of updates here in three months!

I’ve committed to running at least two games at Trumpeter Salute 2018 in mid-March, though, so I need to get going on finishing scenery and figures for that!

In the mean time, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to all my readers, just in case I don’t get around to another post here before 2017 staggers to an end.

Modular River, Part Seven: Resin Complete!

Hope everyone had a good Labour Day long weekend, if that’s a thing for you, and a good return to school, if that’s a thing for you and your family!

My hobby time has been really minimal the last while, both because the weather has been awesome, and because of whole piles of family stuff going on, both good and bad.

I’ve nevertheless managed to get the last of the resin water poured into the river modules, and touch up some of the earlier pieces done with epoxy glue with a skim of pourable resin to improve and harmonize all the water on all the segments. The two corner pieces done with epoxy had gone quite matte when the glue cured fully, not like the full gloss the resin retained.

A ten segments (and the pond test piece) laid out on my floor. Click for larger.
Another mediocre picture of my floor, but the only passable shot I have so far of all ten segments all at once. Click for larger.

Not quite done with these river segments yet, though. The ends of each segment needs cleanup. There’s bits of blu-tak that have bonded to the resin and will need to be scrapped off, a little bit of overflow resin to carve off, and most of the segments have little ridges at each end where the resin has crept up the tape-and-craft-stick dams at the ends of the segments. I’ll need to carve those off carefully with a sharp knife, and might need to mix a tiny batch of resin to patch a few bits.

After that the flocking on the banks all needs to be re-done; I’ll just cover over the existing flock with a new layer after the thinned matte medium went all milky.

Looking forward to getting this project done and onto the table during an actual game, it should look pretty damn good and I’m happy to finally have a high quality set of river segments at long last!

Some of the segments laid out on my desk for inspection. You can see some of the bits of blu-tak on the ends, and the milky stains on the flocking. The water looks great, though! Click for larger.

Modular River, Part Six: Resin Water Photos

Gradual progress on pouring resin into the river segments, doing one segment every night. I work on an old plastic cafeteria tray and cover the tray with a box lid to keep out dust, cat hair, the cat, and other household sources of lint, dust, and fluff that will happily glue themselves to freshly poured resin.

One ounce of resin (half an ounce each of resin and hardener) is enough for one of the long 12″ river modules, which makes for easy measuring. I bought a batch of disposable plastic 3oz shot glasses to mix the resin in, and those seem to be working out nicely so far.

I add 8-10 drops of GW brown wash as I mix the resin, just enough to darken it a bit and add a bit more depth to the water effect. Between that and the shading I painted into the river bed sections I think I’ve gotten a reasonable feel of depth from a layer of resin that’s only about 1/8th” deep or so!

Overhead view with some almost-finished Warlord firelock musketeers about to charge into the water. Click for larger.
Lower view, nicely showing off the reflective surface of the resin. Click for larger.

There’s a little bit of a lip on the ends where the resin has crept up the sides of the dams, but I’ll use a knife and wet sanding to get rid of that and a bit of gloss medium (or an additional dab of resin) to fix any scuffing from that process. I need to scrape off or cover the bits of blu-tak that have been glued into place by the resin, too, but I’ll do that last while I’m fixing the discoloured flocking along the banks, the places where the resin has soaked up into the flock, and adding the rest of the foliage.

Onward to the next resin pouring session!

(Semi-random aside: This is the 480th post here on The Warbard! Here’s to 500 before the end of 2017! September 2017 will mark seven years of our current WordPress based format; November 2017 will mark 19 years (!) of a wargaming web presence of some sort or another for me. I should probably organize something interesting for our 20th anniversary in November 2018…)

Modular River, Part Five: Resin Water Effects

I had used basic hardware store 5-minute epoxy glue for the swampy pond test piece, and had more or less intended to just keep doing that for all ten river segments. I did the two smaller corner/curve river segments as a further test, and was really irritated when one of them came out all lumpy and matte instead of glossy.

Two corner segments done with 5-minute epoxy glue. Click for larger.

I also realized that given the price of 5-minute epoxy, actual casting epoxy resin was actually going to work out cheaper for this whole project, especially given that 40% off coupons for large chains of craft stores are a thing! I picked up some EnviroTex Light Pour-on Epoxy from the aforementioned large craft store, for a total cost of about three more tubes of 5-minute epoxy after that useful discount coupon.

First resin pour on one of the full-sized river segments! Click for larger.

One US fluid ounce of resin nicely fills one of the full size 12″ long river segments; I could probably cut the quantity down just a bit, even. I did the resin pouring in an old cafeteria tray I use to help contain potentially messy projects. The dams at either end of the river segment are hardwood craft sticks (tongue depressors) wrapped in packing tape, secured with more packing tape from underneath the river segment and then further secured with blobs of blu-tak. I also pushed more blu-tak in along the edges of the river banks to block up possible gaps there.

As far as I can tell everything has gone smoothly with this first pour; I did it last night in bad light, working on our back patio to keep from stinking the apartment up. The Pour-On product is much less volatile and stinking than 5-minute epoxy glue, though! I didn’t see any leaks onto the tray and everything seemed to be cured up OK when I checked this morning before work, too, although the material info does warn this stuff takes up to 72 hours to full cure.

I’ve got seven river segments still to do water on – five more long straight pieces, the bridge, and the ford (both 6″ long) – so at one piece a day it’s going to be sometime next week before I can put the epoxy away.

The resin is much, much more aggressively self-levelling than the epoxy glue. I might go back and do a few ripples with gloss medium just so the river water doesn’t look completely still and stagnant. The one curved river segment that went all lumpy is going to get a very thin skim of resin to fix that and get a proper wet glossy look, as well.

At that point, once all the epoxy has cured hard, I need to go back and fix the flocking along the river banks. If you look at both photos above you can see some white staining on the banks. I put a coat of dilute matte medium over the flock, which I’ve used before many many times to properly secure flock and foliage on terrain pieces, and this time it left a distinct milky residue behind. I painted over that where it had stained the river bottom, and once the resin water is properly hardened I’ll re-do all the flocking to fix the discolouration there.

I’ve never had a matte medium and water (or white glue and water) mix do this to me before, in years of using it to secure terrain material of all types. Any readers have any good ideas about what the heck happened here?

Modular River, Part Four: More Paint

Quick update on the river project! I’ve been taking a lot of summer holiday time recently, including all of last week away, so not a lot of progress or action, but there has been some, at least.

I’ve got all the river segments except the bridge basecoated and drybrushed up, ready for foliage and then water effects.

All the river segments except the bridge all laid out on the floor. Click for larger.

I snapped this photo after dark, so I apologize for the generally crap image quality, but it shows the current state of everything except the bridge. Black basecoat over the sand layer, then heavy brown drybrush on the banks and shallow bits and a lighter brown drybrush down the centre of the river channel. Finally a drybrush of tan on the banks and the shallow parts of the river channel.

The bridge segment is a bit behind the others; it just got the black basecoat on the banks and channel so no picture for now as I didn’t want to put wet paint down on my carpet for some reason.

The long straight sections are 12″ long, 6″ wide overall, and the river channel is 3″ with 1.5″ wide banks on either side. The short straight is intended to be a ford and is 6″ long; the two short curve segments are roughly 4″ or 5″ long on the long outside sides. The bridge is on another 6″ segment, and the eventual plan is for different 6″ segments to add flexibility – a high tech bridge for my Infinity gaming will be one of the first, probably.

Next up will be foliage and flocking along the banks, and then the smelly, messy business of resin water effects on the whole set!

Swampy Pond Resin Water Test

I started a pond as a test piece just before starting the whole river section project, and it’s been progressing one or two steps ahead of the rest of piece all along. Like the river pieces, the base is sheet plastic styrene with air drying clay for banks, and it was then covered in fine sand before being primed black.

It got painted and decorated with various foliage bits, and after letting all of that dry for a bit I tried out a new-to-me water effect with cheap resin 5-minute epoxy glue.

Pond all painted and foliage’d with flock, static grass, and tufts from various sources. Click for larger.

For water I’m trying out ordinary hardware store 5-minute epoxy glue, as shown in one of Luke’s APS YouTube videos on water effects – this link is to the main channel page, as I can’t remember which of his water videos actually talks about epoxy glue for water. Sorry – will update if I find it!

Anyway, I squeezed the 5-minute epoxy right into the pond bottom and mixed it with a scrap stir stick. There was a brief scare when it went all silvery while I was mixing part of it, but that cleared up right away, thankfully.

I wound up using three overlapping small batches of epoxy to fill the pond to the current level, then left that for 24 hours to fully cure.

The pond with the first batch of 5-minute epoxy water curing. Click for larger.

It needs a bit more epoxy around the outer edges as the first pour didn’t get right in under and behind some of the reed bunches, but I’m really happy with how it’s going so far! For the second pour I’m going to try getting the epoxy glue a bit thinner by warming the dispensing syringe with a hot water bath before squeezing it out.

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