Sunday, 24 April 2016

The Walls of Therouanne Part III

This weekend I joined Simon Chick and Steve Hall at Leeds Royal Armouries to put on a repeat of Simon's award winning Agincourt game. Both have very nicely summarised the day on their respective blogs linked above. 

Whilst I was there I met David Marshall of TM Terrain to collect the latest stage of a rolling 1513 siege of Therouanne scenery and terrain project to complement my armies.

This phase is the second instalment of the west side of Therouanne's city walls. If you're interested to learn about the start of the project, background information and initial works have a look at these earlier posts covering the first commission and a follow up covering a small party of bespoke defenders.

In brief I am essentially working my way from the centre to the right of the 1537 painting below (part of a larger image of Charles V's siege of the town.) The octagonal tower, house and round tower were completed in the first phase and this phase completed an additional house and trailing edge of the wall, immediately prior to a gatehouse. 

There are a few good quality contemporary images of the town which all repeat particular features of the walls, most of which I have used as specifics for the commission.

The main point of interest in these walls are the integral buildings within the wall structure, a sign of less turbulent times perhaps. The images available depict buildings of apparent whitewash and/or brick construction with crowstep ends, other than these pointers the rest would be down to further research and artistic license. 

I wanted the buildings to have a distinctly Northern French / Flemish look typical for the region so I set about finding some reference images. The easiest platform for this was Pinterest and quite soon I had developed a sizeable french medieval buildings gallery to help David get a good feel for the design brief.

David kept me updated as he worked, here are the works in progress;

By far the greatest element of this phase was the house. I had stipulated brick sides and crow step facades. The brick had to be in Flemish bond, parts of which were to be in a pattern on each side, there were to be high clay chimney pots and a low arch over the doors on either side. The front and rear of the house were to be half timbered in a distinctly French style and dorma windows needed to be in the roof;

David's interpretation of the brief by far exceeded all expectations, as can be gathered by this candid shot;

Here are a few mock ups with some of the valiant French and mercenary garrison;

This is part of the new section of wall, I asked for some considerable damage to represent persistent bombardment from Henry's artillery. I particularly like the way in which the modelling shows the different layers of construction / destruction. It also provides some alternative cover for the defenders to fire their bolts, arrows and shot.

The city walls were described in eyewitness accounts as being 'well provided with artillery and expert cannoneers who took a regular toll on the besiegers.'

Here's the whole wall in situ, measuring just under 6ft.

The next stage of the project will be some bespoke terrain boards for the wall to sit on. Accounts of the siege describe the walls having ditches in front, 'so deep that men feared to fall in if they went too close to the edge,  [the ditch banks] covered in turn with impenetrable hedges.

Meanwhile I think I shall do some more defenders for the walls, an excuse to get the green stuff out and get back into sculpting.

Bye for now


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Early Renaissance French Lance

Here we have a completed unit of French Gendarmes, based and ready for action.

The flags are hand drawn and painted, I have gone for France Royal and a cross of St.Denis with the livery colours of Louis XII. This design is replicated in a number of commercially available flags and a couple of old wargames articles as a flag of 'Louis XII Gendarmes' though I must admit I have not seen the design in a contemporary image but it certainly seems probable and I liked the design so I chose it.

You can enjoy a closer figure by figure review in an earlier WIP post here.

In addition to the figures covered in that post I also worked on a final figure to bring the complement to 6 figures. I opted for a full caparison and skirted coat of blue/grey with inlaid dark blue damask and thread of gold trim.


This may look daunting to do but as with some of the designs discussed in the earlier post I find it's just a matter of putting the process into stages and dealing with each in turn. 

Using the horse as an example I painted the armour and areas of exposed flesh first in the normal manner. I then painted the caparison in the blue grey shade colour which was washed with a 1:1:1:1 mix of the shade colour, deep blue, black and water. Once dry I repainted the base colour leaving folds and creases in the dark wash colour which then gives an initial highlight.

I then mixed the wash colour without water and painted the damask design. I have found in comparison to geometric designs with clear lines that free flowing designs such as this can be a bit more forgiving with mistakes easier to correct. If you need to correct something just paint over with the shade base coat.

Then it's a case of building up the highlight colours on the inlaid areas with a final highlight around the design.

Hope that makes sense, you can get a better impression of this process in the close up above.

In addition to painting these figures I have been keen for quite a while, since December 2014 in fact (I'm a slow worker) to try and represent what a French Ordonnance lance would have looked like in the early renaissance period.

I began by compiling something of an essay post of historic sources, current opinion and the thoughts of fellow gamers, you can view it here. The conclusion being 1 gendarme/man at arms to 2 archers with some speculation about exactly what the archers were. I settled for a mid ground of 1 as a lightly armed mounted archer with bow (an early dragoon) and 1 as a lance armed medium cavalryman or what the English would refer to as a demi-lancer. 

I also threw in a coustillier (chap in blue with the mounted archers) to complete the look. 

I based the gendarmes 3 figures to a base to represent jostling for position in the en haye line of battle, these then followed by the archer cavalry on 2 figures to a base, here's the result.

For comparison, here's the image that sparked my imagination to do this mini project.

This is now my blueprint for future units of French cavalry, whether it's right I don't suppose we'll really know but It certainly feels and looks about right. In creating this unit I have thoroughly tested my painting and sculpting abilities but hopefully it was worth it - I'm sure they'll be disastrously wiped out in their first venture on the table.

All the best


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Royal Armouries Gaming Event 2016

Leeds Royal Armouries are hosting a Hundred Years War weekend historical and gaming event on the weekend of 23 & 24 April. This theme celebrates the recent re-location of the Agincourt diorama from the 600 year anniversary exhibition in the Tower of London to its permanent home in Leeds.

Over this weekend there will be a number of participation wargames on display and you can also get the opportunity to see the Perry Brothers and diorama modeller David Marshall in a talk about the creation of the diorama. In addition there's also the fantastic collection of arms and armour available at the armouries. You can find more information about the event here;

One of the games on display will be Simon Chick's Salute 2015 triple award winning Agincourt game. Simon is an avid collector of HYW figures and over the years has put on a number of games displaying key battles of the conflict, you can lose several hours admiring his exploits on his HYW blog here;

I will be assisting Simon with this game so if you're thinking of coming along do have a look and say hello - I might even be able to sneak in some Renaissance chat if no-one's listening.

For my part I have made a meagre contribution to the game. Simon has increased the size of the forces for the game since last year during which time the Perry French Infantry and Knights plastic boxed sets have been very much well received and will feature. In discussing this with Simon and admiring his dedication and commitment to his collection I commented that at that time my painting had taken a back seat so he kindly gave me a French Knight sprue to use as a distraction piece to get me back into it. Not long after that I was back painting gendarmes and artillery so it certainly worked. The fruits of this labour are these 6 knights which will join the reinforcements for the game. Fun to put together and fantastically detailed they were a joy to paint. Here are some closer photographs for your enjoyment;

Guillaume Martel, Sire de Bacqueville

Jacques de Crequy

Jean le Veneur, Sire de Homme

Jean V, Sire de Poix

Charles d'Albret, Constable of France

I hope you enjoyed that painting interlude, normal service will resume soon - presently working on some Landsknechts in French service.

All the best 


Monday, 21 March 2016

French Light Couleuvrine & Crew

It's been a while in development but well worth the wait I hope, here we have the light culverin [sic] & crew painted and ready for war.

The figures began life as a Perry Wars of the Roses field gun with crew to which I used head swaps and green stuff to bring the crew into the early Renaissance, you can see more about their development in this earlier post.

As you may be able to see from the unpainted figures above I'm in the process of converting a second crew which should hopefully see some colour soon.

These guns are typical of the 1480's but served for quite some time, I suspect as long as they had a meaningful role and were safe to use. The hoop and iron bar construction fast became inferior to cast bronze and iron though as short to medium range anti-personnel they were still perfectly able.

I have painted the metal parts as dull iron with highlights of metal, over which I then applied a thin wash of dark orange/brown to reflect that these were not the newest pieces in Louis' arsenal.

For reference, guns of this construction were numerous on the Mary Rose, perhaps down to cost but favoured, I suspect for their ease of loading and faster rate of fire within the confines of a closed gun deck.

Incidentally, these pieces are also typical of those used by the English at Flodden though they are described as Serpentines, there are numerous terms for guns of varying sizes, Serpentine and Couleuvrine being descriptive of a breech or muzzle loading gun of 3.5-7ft long.

Bye for now