Thursday, 31 July 2008

Pumpkin time approacheth... midnight tonight.
I lost another evening's worth of painting yesterday to an unanticipated outbreak of urgent tasks on both the work and home fronts, and tonight I have about three hours to make the cut.
Let's just say that I know how Napoleon felt on those final assaults on the ridge, all the time glancing over his shoulder praying for success before the Prussians arrived!
Friday sees me up at 4:30 am(!) and out all day on a business trip, so after I get back on Saturday I'll grab the camera and all shall be revealed.
One thing I do have to concede defeat on already is the skirmishers, but they are not that far from completion and will certainly make it by Monday- close enough to the deadline I set myself so that I'm not overly concerned, but my priority now is getting the batallion finished. By way of compensation I have painted a brigade commander and aide de camp!
I'm already thinking about how to get started painting the horses for the 7e chasseurs a cheval, and indeed am looking even further ahead to the next stage of the project. Russkis next time, I suspect, with a French line batallion and artillery battery also on the horizon.

"Uh, Sire, perhaps we should, you know, like...hurry up or something? "

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Some Work in Progress

And progress was slow today. Work selfishly raised its ugly head and kept me busy with some unexpected tasks so that I only had an hour for painting after getting home.

Aside from some touching up and cutting neat lines where paint has slopped over into areas where I didn't intend it to go, I did manage to work on some detailed faces for two figures that will be a "mini-vignette" on one of the company stands- a Front Rank falling wounded figure with his companion looking on with alarm (or is it relief that it wasn't him?). This meant eyes and more detail on the faces than most of the rank-and-file are getting.

The photo is
merde, but it was taken at night under rotten light conditions- and is not meant for the cover of Wargames Illustrated anyway. Brian Phillips or Spencer Keen I ain't.

As you can see, there is still some work to be done here- notably on highlighting/ shading, painting the steel on the musket and bayonets as well as the shako details and the hands. Not to mention a myriad of other small knick-knacks and what-nots that need to be done when one is painting Napoleonic soldiery. My target, though, is to get a unit wargame ready. I can always take figures "out of the line" and tart 'em up a bit later.

"Hey, Gaston- would you mind stopping another one for me there, seeing as you already got yours?"

Monday, 28 July 2008

Lock, stock,...

...but not barrels- not yet, anyway.

Today I had a few hours to work on the lights, so I painted all the woodwork on the muskets and touched up some of the faces. I don't paint the eyes on figures wearing shakos, as they are in shadow under the peak. But those figures either bareheaded or wearing
pokolems tend to get the "full treatment". Takes time, but I don't want to compromise on these guys, as when the whole unit is done the eye is drawn towards these miniatures first.

Tomorrow it is facings, gaiters and bases, and lining the straps to give them definition. And of course, going over the usual cases of missed areas and mistakes...

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Four hours...

...spent just painting straps. Not fun.

But I had something of a revelation. I usually block in the tunic/ overcoat first and then paint the straps. Next time I think it will be faster to paint the straps
first and then to paint the coat areas around them later- I can always go back and touch them up later. Same for the backpack and rolls.

As it stands now, I spend a lot of time painting areas that are just going to be covered up later anyway.

Oh well, live and learn. Time for a break and a glass- or two- of wine.

French wine, bien sur...

M. le Capitans's log, supplemental: I've just washed my brushes and cleaned up the table after a day's painting. This weekend I managed to paint in the straps, most of the faces, and finish blocking in all the main colours.

I have five out of the six companies looking as if they are at least approaching the finish line, but one company still needs the faces to be done, and I haven't had the chance to work on the skirmishers yet. What I'm sure will take time is all the "fiddly" bits; shako plates, cartridge boxes, facings on the cuffs and the collars, that kind of thing. Not to mention the highlighting and "touching up" the missed spots! Will I make it by the July 31st? It will be a near run thing!

But even if my original goal proves to be too optimistic, I am happy with the progress I am making and feel that I have passed a critical point in getting the regiment finished- today I got a sense that at least from here on the going is downhill. I'm certainly not about to give up now. The very last step in painting will be the company pompoms on top of the shakos. That step always adds a touch of colour, and says to me: "it's done!".

"Les Bleus" are blue!

I've been working like a demon on the 28e legere this weekend, and I noticed with considerable dismay that my old pot of Ral Partha French dark blue paint- which I bought back in 1994- is finally reaching the end of its long life and invaluable service. I probably have enough for another unit or two of French infantry, and as this particular paint is long O-O-P, it looks like I'm going to have to send off an order for Vallejo or Derivan substitutes.

It is too bad, as the Ral Partha paint dried absolutely matte, had great coverage, and was really dark. Perfect for Prussians, too.

Any suggestions as to good, really dark blues are welcome!

For services rendered: Merci et adieu, mon vieux ami.

Your Emperor salutes you!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Sound the "Pas de Charge"!

...and get ready for painting. Here are the boys, mounted on plastic bottle caps and ready to submit themselves (again!) to the agonies of my paintbrush. All Front Rank figures, of course.

7eme Chasseurs a Cheval- 28eme legere- skirmishers/ artillery crew

Here's a closeup of the 7eme Chasseurs a Cheval. I did some head swapping on some to give them an "on campaign" look. Note the bugler in his poncy pink facings- including the shako!

Lots of work to do yet on this unit, but as there are only twelve of them to do, I'm cautiously optimistic that I can get them done by the deadline (Hah! famous last words...).

Here's the 28eme legere. Actually, upon inspection these fellows don't need all that much work before they are presentable on the tabletop! Not visible is the command stand- already finished and shown earlier in this blog.

In the front of the following picture, you can see some skirmishers for the 28eme Legere, six figures including an officer and hornist. Lots of conversions here, including colpacks, flammes and in some cases elite company epaulettes added to the greatcoats. All sculpted from Tamiya epoxy modelling putty.

Pure artistic licence on my part, I am assuming that even with the coming of the
Bardin regulations, the proud colonels would be reluctant to part with those ostentatious badges of their "elite" status. Indeed, there is a contemporary print of French troops surrendering at Leipzig which shows the officers in this headgear- two years after it was officially forbidden.

Rules are, after all, meant either to broken or to be ignored.

In the back rows you can see some artillery crew and officers- not part of the "pledge", but I found them in the same box while dusting off (literally!) the cavalry. No gun yet, but I may assemble a six-pounder to go with them if time allows.

Sunday, 20 July 2008


Bassoonist, 7eme Chasseurs à Cheval. Note the pink facings!

So here we go! I thought it best to keep my targets modest at first, as they have to be reasonable if I am to have any chance of achieving them.

By the end of the month I want to get the following unit finished:
  • 28eme Régiment d'Infanterie Légère - to be completed by July 31st. 24 figures + four voltigeurs.
This will be followed by a regiment of light cavalry:
  • 7eme Régiment de Chasseurs à Cheval- to be completed by August 17th. 12 figures.
This will clear the painting table of two units that have been in painting purgatory for ages- indeed, much longer than I am willing to admit here! The light infantry are about 70% complete so I believe I have set myself a reasonable target, while the chasseurs have some way to go- they are about 15% done. Both to be duly photographed upon completion and and put up here.

If successful, I shall name the good colonel of the 7eme chasseurs in honour of Iannick Martin! (Thus I have someone else to blame should they get routed off the table in their first engagement...). While only 12 figures, getting these painted by the deadline may prove a challenge as I have never been a fan of painting horses with all those straps, reins, and various nooks and crannies that the paintbrush never seems to want to go.

Once these guys are done, the next up will be a unit of line infantry and some Russians, along with a scenario for a skirmish game. This should be fun, as I can start coming up with ideas for the character attributes I will need for the "Big Men" using the Sharpe Practice rules.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

A Potential Remedy?

"if you think this hurts, just wait till you get my bill..."
  1. Start gaming with what I've already got as soon as possible, and set myself a target date.
  2. Start working on some terrain.
  3. Make use of peer support.
  4. Remove other potentially distracting projects from view (aka clean the painting table!)
And that is what I have done, or am in the middle of doing.
Getting in some gaming is key. But how, when to do a decent-sized game of, say, GdB means painting and basing at least four or five units of anywhere between twelve to twenty-four miniatures a side?
The answer lies, I think, in getting "stuck in" using a rule set such as Sharpe Practice by the TooFatLardies. This is one of those "large skirmish" sets, is tailor made for 28mm, and should not only allow me to get some fun games in a small area (kitchen table!) but will also start creating a "narrative" that will help to keep me engaged in the project and which will encourage me to paint more.
I have already ordered a pdf copy of the rules, and they look like being a lot of fun- while clearly designed with the Peninsular War in mind, I shall transport them to the environs of Leipzig where they should do just fine.
The hassle may be reconciling the different basing needs between Sharpe Practice and a rule set like GdB or Shako. Frontage is no problem, as 15-17mm per foot figures seems standard, the problem is that skirmish games call for individual basing. I still need to think how I'll get around this one, but the problem is not insurmountable and I can always use temporary bases- the intention is to just get in some gaming.
It is an approach I may also apply to my War of the Austrian Succession project.
Working on terrain boards is another way to inspire, as a nice looking layout is central to what I am looking for in my wargaming experience. And I really enjoy the modelling aspect. I have a few buildings, but hanker after an enclosed farmhouse and in the short term at least a good-looking terrain cloth. It will also give me some variety as I can reward myself for getting a unit painted by doing a terrain piece.
Keeping a table free of distracting toys is self-explanatory. But the key to keeping on task and on target must be the peer support, and this is where I have to thank Iannick Martin ("Archiduc Charles" from TMP) for suggesting that we set ourselves some painting targets and encourage each other in our progress. He has a wonderful collection of Austrians and, more recently, French, so hopefully I can pick up some of his positive- and productive- vibes!

The Problem...

"Merde, quels plus sans valeur…"

For those of you who check out my blogs from time to time, it must be evident that I work in fit and starts, and that I have a number of projects "on the go" that don't seem to- well, go!

Looking beyond the usual suspects of work pressures (when I get busy I get REALLY busy), there are a number of reasons for this.

  1. The twin demons of laziness and procrastination.
  2. My tendency towards perfectionism as a painter- this really slows me down I as can spend hours and hours on one figure.
  3. Inability to focus on any one project at any one time. I am often too much like the proverbial donkey who starved to death as a result of being placed equidistant between two equally-succulent bales of hay, and who could never decide which way to go!

The stumbling block must be when I reach that "half-way" stage in painting a miniature, where it has been undercoated, the main colours blocked in but not yet trimmed, and the next stage is the fiddly backpacks and straps- the figure looks a horrid mess, and the motivation and energy to push on decreases considerably. More often than not, I tend to fail my morale throws at this point and progress really slows to a halt.

I know from my years of active gaming back when I lived in Vancouver that there is nothing like having the deadline of a regularly-scheduled game in order to inspire one to get the "666eme Regt. de Ligne (M. le Diable's own)" finished and on the table so that you can employ it to humble your opponent on the field of battle, and enjoy the resulting pleasure of crowing loudly at his resulting defeat and humiliation...

But there's the rub- gaming has become a very rare pleasure, and other than during the occasional trip back home, I haven't been able to get in a wargame using 28mm miniatures for years- and I mean years. I also have to do both sides. This translates into a lot of painting, and if the rules need a lot of battalions and squadrons, the more uphill the task will be of getting enough painted for a game. Yet without the gaming, how to find that extra level of motivation that will keep me going? Of course I need to keep an eye on my ultimate target, but I also need some kind of "immediate gratification" just to keep the hobby alive.

I find there is a "Catch 22" for me here. Ultimately, I want the spectacle of battalion after battalion advancing up some slope to meet the foe, which means rules like Shako or General de Brigade. The problem is that it will take such a long time to get to "critical mass" -the point where I can get enough miniatures to play a game- that I cannot currently see myself getting anywhere near that point.

So what to do about it, that's the question?