Saturday, 25 April 2009

Peninsula Battle Feb 09

Hi all,

My friends and I recently completed a battle involving French and British forces in a fictitious battle in the Peninsula. The battle was your classic Attack / Defense setting where the British had taken up defensive positions along a line of hills with a dominant village central to the field. The battle, although not large in size was a significant battle because a couple of the newer players got their baptism of fire as formation commanders during this action.

As can bee seen from the panoramic view of the field left, the British had taken up defensive positions along a ridge line. The dominant hill on the left flank was occupied by a strong British Brigade of Infantry while the hills to the right flank were defended by two more strong brigades of Infantry. The centre was covered by a series of stone walls and an orchid which were the position of a Spanish Brigade. To their front was a village which was the objective of the British Light Brigade of Riflemen from the 60th / 95th and Spanish Cacadores. These men played an important pivotal role in the ensuing battle.

The French deployed opposite the British lines in low lying land dissected by fields. The right flank was very light on with only a single brigade positioned here to cover any British advance. The centre and British right flank was the scene of the major push by the French forces to come. The French left flank was covered by a strong contingent of French Infantry supported by a powerful Cavalry force. The centre of the field was the main line of attack where a division was deployed to punch through the village and split the British line in two. The French right was to hold defensively while the French left was to advance in support and occupy a foot bridge in order to deny it to the British as a crossing point.

Right from the start things did not go well for the French, the attack on the left flank was halted by greatly superior forces that halted them. The Bridge was for a time captured but the British brought up numbers in the centre and the position became untenable. The order came to withdraw back to the original positions while the focus was switched towards the centre of the line.

It was felt that a push through the centre would draw off reserves from both flanks making another push a possibility for the French. Subsequently the order to take the village became the primary concern. This struggle between a French brigade and that of the crack 95th, 60th and Cacadores became a violent intense fight. The deadliness of the rifle armed troops gradually gave them the advantage and the French were eventually forced backwards.

As a result, the French command brought up there last Infantry reserves, that of 4 battalions of combined Grenadier companies. This elite formation received orders to advance across the centre of the French position and attack the enemy position atop the British centre left. Located on the crest of this ridge line was a stone church, the French batteries in support fired on the church causing it to quickly catch alight and burn. The British defenders withdrew but took up positions now in front of the burning church as the red plumed Grenadiers began to climb the hill.

Acting in concert with this attack was the French brigade on the extreme French right flank. This brigade had taken no part in the action thus far but were now to act in support and advance up the slope in a coordinated effort to pin the British to their front while the Grenadiers made the main attack. As the French advanced they could only see the light companies of the British line scattered across the face of the ridge firing sporadically at the French line. Their main body, that of an entire Brigade lay hidden over the crest waiting ready as the French drums beat the advance.

The French advance acting in concert between the Grenadier and Fusilier brigades made good progress forcing the British lights to withdraw rapidly, however, this was short lived. Suddenly and with no warning the crest line erupted along its length as 3,000 British troops from 4 battalions advanced over the slope to pour volley after volley into the stunned heads of the French Grenadier columns and the Fusilier line. The effect was devastating, the French formations collapsed in confusion and broke. The onslaught of these volleys wreaked havoc amongst these brave veterans who could not take the pounding they received.

As quickly as they advanced several French battalions broke and routed back down the hill taking other wavering units with them. The result was resounding in its success for the British who let out a loud hurrah! as they advanced to seal the fate of the remaining French units. All was lost and the French right flank was gone in less than 15mins.

This battle was more so a training battle for a couple of the newer players who enjoyed the spectacle of what occurred. They learnt a great deal about what to do in the system and more so, what not to do. The guys seem to really enjoy the system I developed and am still developing, their questions and comments were greatly appreciated by myself and the veteran players who equally enjoyed conveying their experience with the system and all the do's and dont's. I am sure these guys are completely hooked now after playing several battles with the system and we will only grow and bond as were progress through our future clashes.


Tuesday, 21 April 2009

My painting style

Hi all,

For me, painting the figurines is a very important facet of the hobby. I tend to perfect my painting style by copying the work of others, studying their methods and using the same techniques. I enjoy painting, building a unit and watching the creation grow right before my eyes.

For me seeing bland tin soldiers turn into master pieces of dedication, animating them with colour and depth really encompasses what I find the most enjoyable aspect of the hobby. Seeing what others have done and trying to achieve the same results is very satisfying for me, after all, we all learn from each other. I might at times become bored with painting but when I gaze upon the finished product and its beauty I cannot help but pull out the next bunch of shinny tin figures and start all over again on the next project.

I paint predominately 15-18mm miniatures with a tendency towards AB figures, this brand of figure lends itself perfectly to the manipulation of the paint brush and an end result that can be amazing even for those less able to paint well. As can bee seen from the photos all of these figures I have painted are AB. I also enjoy painting Old Glory figures and at times prefer them because of the added animation they seem to have. A very well painted Old Glory unit can look just as good as an AB one and at times even more so. I also use a variety of other brands in my collection which I also favour due to the variety of figures I have acquired over the years and painted up.

Here are a few photos of some of my work both past and present:

This picture is of North Italian Infantry in formation on the attack, the North Italians have some of the most beautiful uniforms to paint in combinations of White, Red and Green, they make for a nice looking army once deployed in formation on a table top.

Here can be seen a formation of Highlanders I painted up for a friend a few years ago, I painted up the entire 3rd Division (Picton's) for him eventually.

Here also is another British unit painted up, that of a Line regiment of Picton's 3rd Division.

I also paint for myself and some of my best work is in here, I enjoy the French army and its uniforms filled with every kind of style and colour imaginable. Here are a couple of images of French Carabiniers I have painted over the last few years.

Now I will write out the procedure that I use :

Cleaning - First of all I clean the figure by getting rid of all excess metal, scrape the base so the figure will stand upright and generally make sure the figure is perfectly aligned with plumes standing upright and muskets/bayonets perfectly straight.

Base Undercoat - I then do a Black-wash using Humbrol 85 Satin Black over each figure, (I grew up with Enamels and prefer them over acrylics). This black wash is watered down with turpentine to turn the figure into a very dull grey colour with all of the black seeping into every crease and fold of the figure.

Baking - Next I set all the figures on a standing tray and leave them in the HOT sun for several hours, I turn them around so that the sun cooks all sides of the figures evenly. This is to bake the black wash onto the figures.

Bayonets/Swords - Next I take my hobby knife and run it along the edges of the bayonets, this chips off the black wash exposing the shinny metal of the figure. I only expose the long edges and other areas which would, if real weapons remain lighter and worn areas of metal. Doing this while leaving the other areas of the bayonets black gives a good illusion of worn metal. With swords I will scrape closely both sides of the sword, especially the sharpened edge of the blade. I leave the blood grove dark (black-wash) for depth and shading perception. Doing this really adds to the realism of the exposed metal edges giving a good effect.

Sealing - Next I spray Testors Model Master Lusterless (Flat) 1960 over the figures while still on the tray so that the clear coat covers all surfaces. I then place the figures back out in the sun to bake once more. I prefer to allow the black wash and the clear coat to set for another day or more depending on the weather. The purpose of the clear sealer is to seal the black wash on the figure so that once you begin to paint the figure the black will not cause problems with colours such as white, red or yellow etc.

Faces / Hands - I first paint all the faces only applying paint (flesh) to the tips of the noses and a triangle on each check. I will also paint on the chin and forehead where I need to. I will also paint on a curve for the ears if they show. I am very careful to not let the different parts of the face where I apply the flesh colour to touch. This is to show depth and shading.

Brass/Silver - Once the figures are ready I begin by painting all buttons, weapon parts, buckles and shako plates etc with the brass or silver paint as needed. These small areas come first.

Piping/Collars/Cuffs - Next I paint all of the turn backs, piping and collars etc of the figures the appropriate colours as needed making sure not to allow any colours to touch each other but leaving a fine black line between each colour where possible. This is not always possible due to the figure detail etc but when I can I do this.

Pants - I then proceed to paint the trousers and pants of the figures the proper colours. If the uniform is a campaign dress I tend to paint the figures in a variety of colours with an underlying theme of one particular colour with a few other colours amongst them. I leave creases and folds in the pants black to show depth and shading.

Jackets & Shirts - I tend to then begin to paint the jackets and shirts of the figures careful not to let the paint run into the creases and folds of the uniforms. I also leave a fine gap between the uniform and the straps to show depth and shading. Sometimes I will paint the straps and cross belts first, this depends on the figures being painted.

Cross belts, Backpacks and straps - Now I paint all of these areas making sure to be very careful not to let the paint run onto other areas such as the jackets and shirts. I make sure I leave a fine black line between each strap and never allow any of the colour of each strap to touch, again, this is to show depth and shading.

Plumes and Cords - Now I paint all of the plumes and cords the appropriate colours but blotching the paint so that small areas of black wash show through, again this is to show depth and shading.

Touching up - Once I feel the figure is almost done I go back over them touching up any areas that I might have made mistakes on. Cleaning them up and giving them the once over.

Basing - I then proceed to base up the figures and flock them as specified by the rules system into their units.

Clear Coat - Once the unit is totally finished I spray a good solid coat of matt clear over the entire unit and set them out once more in the hot sun to set and bake. This gives the finished product a strong coating that protects the paint from constant touching in war games.