Friday, May 26, 2023

Painting Styles: A Thirty Year Journey

This week a new unit was mustered into my 18th Century Russian army, and a suitable parade was organized. The First Grenadier Regiment’s new banners (flags by Adolfo Ramos) were blessed by the Czar’s preeminent mad padre, Father Mikhail Petrovich.  

Then, the Grenadiers passed in review before the commanding officer.  So why is this the First Grenadier Regiment?  Because it is the first such regiment that I ever painted, some thirty years ago, sometime around 1990 as I recall.  

Here below on the front of the right-hand base you can see three of the original figures, Front Rank Russian SYW grenadiers advancing which I purchased from the long defunct and legendary Emperor’s Headquarters, which I once visited on the south side of Chicago (I think it was the south side, it was a long drive).  I was a starving graduate student at the time, on a tight budget, so I think I purchased sixteen figures.   I was working from black and white drawings in a book on SYW Russian uniforms that I was lucky enough to find, and used whatever paints I could lay my hands on.   The green of the tunics was from a bottle of FolkArt craft paint (I want to say the colour was named Clover??) which wasn’t as dark as the traditional Russian Green of the period but I thought maybe the coats could be faded?

The other figures with the upright muskets are recently purchased from Foundry, which as I’ve said here before is now my go-to range for 28mm SYW.  Once I started rebasing my SYW figures six foot to a stand, I realized that I needed more Russian grenadiers to flesh out the unit, so I ordered another 18 of these figures from Foundry and got to work on them last month.   

In thirty years I’ve learned a few things about painting.   As you can see on the old Front Rank figures, I was fairly ignorant of layers, shading and washes.   The skin was very pale, and I had an idea that if I mixed red with flesh for their cheeks, they’d look a bit like toy nutcrackers,   I did my best with the eyes, but hey have that starey look to them.    I think I mixed some red with a bit of yellow to try and give some highlights on the red turn backs, but highlighting was something I didn’t really understand well.



The difference now, besides thirty years experience, is that I can afford better materials and brushes, which offsets the slight deterioration that my eyes have experienced.  The Foundry figures are painted using he tri-tone Foundry paint system in the school of Kevin Dallimore, and as someone kindly said on Twitter the other day, these new figures are done at a good tabletop standard, a compliment I’m glad to take.   

It gave me great pleasure to fold these old and new figures into a composite grenadier battalion, and to give them spiffy new flags.   It’s a small tribute to thirty years of trial and error and slow improvements, but I love them all.   These figures and the rest of the Russian army are rumoured to be preparing to march against Turkey.   More on that soon.

Thanks for looking.  Blessings to your brushes!


Thursday, May 25, 2023

Thursday Napoleonics: 6mm Polish Lancers Finished

Good morning friends:

Back in April I did a WIP post of these figures as nearly finished, so here they are done and based.   As said before, they are 3D printed, from MC Miniatures, Polish Uhlans in French service.

One pleasant thing I’ve discovered about painting these strips is that a little effort goes a long way.  A few variations in horse colour, for example, gives a pleasing variety but I don’t get fussy about painting socks or blazes on the odd one as I would with 28mm horses.   Likewise, painting only the details like the shabraque on the end figures suffices.

That being said, I still got silly with two-tones of French blue for the tunics, and used a quite tiny bush for the lance pennons, but I think it was worth the effort.  

These fellows will serve either as a single unit if I’m playing LaSalle or a full brigade for bigger battles.  Next unit on the paint bench takes me back to 28mm horses as I have 12 Front Rank Prussian SYW cuirassiers to get to grips with.

Thanks for looking and blessings to your brushes!


Monday, May 22, 2023

Checking into the blog after a busy spell (church work plus a LOT of gardening) to report on a brief game played using  Osprey’s Xenos Rampant, the new SF miniatures rules by Dan Mersey.  I heard good things about it from my friend James, and since both of us have crossed swords many times playing the fantasy rules Dragon Rampant, I thought it would be fairly easy to learn these rules since I knew the Rampant system.   I was right.

Xenos Rampant (XR) is best thought of as a tool kit that allows almost any conceivable SF trope to be modelled using the core Rampant rules architecture of values for Attack, Defence, Armour, Shooting, Morale.     The value of the tool kit comes in skills and doctrines that can be purchased for each troop type, and then a further set of “Xenos” skills that can be assigned as the SF trope demands.

In my case, I decided to pit my “Space Kitties” (Khurasan 15mm Tigrid figures), which I think of as Kzinti from the Larry Niven stories, vs humans.   I built a decent force of Kzinti-proxies using the Khurasan figures and vehicles from Ground Zero Games, giving me a mechanized platoon with some heavy support.    I’ve only recently started working on the human figures, so all I could do was pit one mounted section of cats vs a small section of human Recon Infantry.

One of the first decisions I had to make was whether to take the XR recommendation of converting inches to centimetres for 15mm figures.  I decided to keep the units as inches to give greater ranges as befitting future weapons.

Here a five man section of humans classed as Recon Infantry in XR terms.   The figures are from Darkest Sun miniatures  and since they are all I have currently painted, I decided to massively upgrade them, giving them the Sniper (no shooting penalties for long range fire), Combat Medic (chances to recover lost figures, basically a Heal spell in Dragon Rampant magic rules), and Fire Support (calling in off board artillery).   In rocky ground which is classed as hard cover, they sight a Cat APC and call in fires on it.

The fires have no effect, thanks to bad rolls, and the Skimmer goes to ground and disgorges a ten-strong section of angry Cats.   To reflect Larry Niven Kzinti canon, I made the Cats Berserker Infantry with Wild Charge, and gave them the Close Assault Doctrine which favours them in base to base assaults.    I also gave them the Mobile skill from the Xenos skills, making these Cats extra pouncy.   Not great fans of a firefight, but very fast and deadly in the charge: Banzai Space Kitties!

Here the Cats come under a second salvo of Human Fire Support and take casualties, but still charge into hand to hand combat.  Being in bad terrain meant the Humans has a decent chance to stand, which they did, throwing the Cats back with 3-1 losses.   In the following turn the human fire proved deadly and broke the Cats morale.

So a good opportunity for a quick look at XR and an incentive to paint more Terran figures and build some more SF terrain, which will mostly have a desert theme for the time being.  Good fun to dig out my SF toys and play with them, and hopefully James and I can get together for a chance to dig into XR some more.

Blessings to you die rolls!


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