Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Painting Landsknechts Article

The April issue of Wargames Illustrated (WI 330) is themed around mercenaries and within its pages is a newly commissioned  'painting landsknechts' article by me.

This came about in part as a result of my sister blog, Painting Landsknechts

I had few constraints on article size so I'm quite pleased with the result as I was able to try and fully express my thoughts on the subject. There are also a good number of photographs of my collection as well as individual studies throughout the magazine. It's good to see the period get some attention.

Feedback is always appreciated, let me know what you think.

Bye for now


Saturday, 28 February 2015

French missile foot

Here are the latest additions to my burgeoning French army of 1513; some skirmishing arquebus and crossbow armed infantry.

These have been long in the making as each one has been individually 'pimped' with some green stuff in an effort to extend the Perry plastics into the early 1500's, thus this unit very much represents a further chapter to my ongoing sculpting learning curve.

In the images above the two centre figures were completed last and the rest were sculpted in a batch around the same time. As I'm finding with sculpting it is these latest figures of which I am the most pleased.

Following my earlier attempts with the green stuff in the unit of dismounted Louis XII Guard Archers I received a number of queries as to my approach so I shall attempt to explain step by step;

Step 1; cutting and filing Step 2; building form, side

After selecting your manequin you will need to gently file and cut away the mid section below the belt and define the upper thighs a bit.

In the first bit of sculpting you need to fill in the basic shape of the lower skirt of the base coat being mindful of length and shape. I generally go just above the knee and in this instance I have worked with the gait of the body and sculpted a slight rise in the skirt to the rear, you need to make it absolutely smooth all round, being careful to sculpt around any equipment you wish to remain such as knives, bags and the belt. push the green stuff to just under the belt line.

In this stage you are creating a hard base with which to begin sculpting the form of the base coat, so also remember that you will be adding another layer on to this, you don't need to have this layer too built up otherwise your figure will appear to be wearing a petticoat underneath.

Allow to dry fully. You can file the form a little more once it is dry.

Step 4; form shape and cut away excess Step 6; define pleats

Apply a 1-1.5mm layer of green stuff to the front and smooth / develop the form some more until you are happy with the shape you have created. Drag any excess green stuff to the base of the skirt and remove.

Then define the pleats with your sculpting tool and very slightly ease / define each pleat from the next. Use the side of the tool to square up the bottom of each pleat. I use this tool for almost all sculpting.

Leave to dry.

Step 7; finish pleats and sculpt square neck & jacket chest Step 8; repeat steps 5-7 for the rear

Once the skirt is dry, sculpt the square neck and shoulders of the chest and define the fastening flap. Leave to dry.

Then sculpt the rear of the skirt following the same method as the front. Leave to dry.

It is tempting to sculpt as much as you can, but without drying each stage you can risk obscuring areas you have worked hard upon and potentially having to start again. 

Step 10; arm 1 Step 11; arm and cap

Assemble the figure and sculpt one sleeve, dry, then the next. Look up contemporary images or photographs of re-enactors to work out where the folds may go. Leave to dry.

Sculpt the cloth cap, I used Hans Holbein drawings and Landsknecht woodcuts as a source. Leave to dry. 


Each stage was dried overnight, Owing to this I worked on this during the week after work and had a figure ready to paint at the weekend.

You could do these in batches of 2 or 3 as you'll be surprised how little green stuff you need, the more you do the more confident you'll get.

Project 2; 1 doublet and hose front Project 2, part 2, doublet and hose rear

For this figure I wanted to create a doublet and hose as per the reference image below, it's typical of about 1500-1515.

This had less stages than the base coat above; first I filed and cut the waist and upper thighs. I had to be really careful and aware of the form I was hoping to achieve as there was not going to be much green stuff used.

I then began the first stage of sculpting by modelling the codpiece, exposed undershirt, doublet and points. This was then left to dry.

I did the same for the rear and followed the seams in the tights from the legs up to the top, don't make these too deep, just gently score the line with your sculpting tool or scalpel. Look up images of hose, particularly sewing patterns to get a better idea of this. I used the Kings Servants by Caroline Johnson ( Tudor Tailor case study) as a reference. Incidentally this is also very good for patterns and photographs of the base coat above.

Project 2 part 4, right arm and cap    Project 2; doublet and hose

Following this, each arm was sculpted separately and left to dry - I found these quite hard to do, photographs and reference material really helped here to achieve a natural look to the voluminous sleeves.

The cap was then sculpted last and the feathers (from the Swiss heads) were glued on when dry.

So there we are, hopefully that may have helped some of you eager to give it a go yourself.

If you'd like to see these and more detailed photographs of my sculpting efforts as well as some source material of the period have a look at my Pinterest boards.

It is time consuming but worth it I think. I'm looking to add many more missile foot and with results like these it would be hasty to do otherwise for the period feel that I'm attempting to achieve. I just wish I was able to do this when I started my Tudors, though I fear I may well still be working on them if that were the case.

However, I am confident that this army will look suitably different from its foe using predominantly the same figures which is a good result in light of there being no real commercially available alternative (albeit with my Perry bias). Here's the infantry so far, only 36 figures though of that number 32 are converted.

Onwards and upwards, I need more green stuff.

Until next time.


Sunday, 8 February 2015

Dogs of War

Here we have a unit of Imperialist Landsknecht pike to add to the ranks, in fact I now have a pike block of just under 100 figures. I don't think it is possible to ever complete a unit of Landsknechts as I just seem to add to them all the time though I expect future efforts will be depicting those in French service.

Painting wise my methods are relatively unchanged. I don't batch paint Landsknechts as I much prefer to paint them as individuals, I feel it gives the unit a much more varied and colourful look. Though in saying that when putting a base together I will check over the previous figures I have completed so there is an even spread of colour and pattern thus there are some figures with garb of two or three colours and others with more intricate combinations.

One relatively new thing (for me) which has really helped with this is Pinterest, if you've never heard of or used it, give it a go for your own painting projects. I found it really helped keep my enthusiasm going, particularly for those times you can't get to the painting desk. Have a look at my Landsknecht boards and try to ignore the urge to paint;

If you need some more inspiration with your Landsknecht projects, have a look at my Landsknecht Painting Guide.

As these are rather colourful chaps, here are some individual photographs;


Finally, some Landsknecht eye candy to leave you with, I really like these close up images, you can almost hear the drums, fifes and war cries!

All the best


Sunday, 1 February 2015

WIP French missile foot

I have started work on my next unit for the French army; some mixed missile foot. I was quite pleased with how the last unit of Ordonnance Archers turned out sculpting wise so I decided to continue with the putty pushing to really give this army a proper period feel.

Owing to time required for the green stuff to dry these have been completed in stages during the evenings over the course of a week, very much a background project with painting being done on the weekends.

I have sculpted what the Tudors referred to as a 'base coat', a heavy woolen jacket, this would generally be liveried in some way, the stages were;

1. file and cut away the area for sculpting on the body
2. sculpt rough shape and fill in the area between the legs ready for stage 3 (really important for the shape)
3. sculpt skirt and chest front (the figure on the left is halfway through this)
4. sculpt skirt and back rear
5. assembly and sculpt left arm
6. sculpt right arm

Thorough drying (overnight) is required between stages so that the putty is not obscured whilst sculpting, i learned this the hard way!

Steady progress to be getting on with and hopefully a rewarding one when they're done. I aim to have a fair amount of French infantry in the army but unlike the Tudors Lansquenets will be contributing the majority so I considered it worthwhile to make these figures as best I could for an early 16c feel.

If I'm crazy enough I could start adding similarly attired units to my Tudors, that would certainly keep me busy for many years to come !

Cheerio for now


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Louis XII Guard Archers Complete

I am pleased to unveil the first unit of Louis XII guard archers!

You can read about the development of this unit including initial sculpting and contemporary references in the preceding blog post.

Suffice to say in creating this unit I have very much embarked upon a journey of self taught intermediate sculpting. You can really see the development as the figures in this unit were worked upon.

I began with dismounted Perry MAA as dollies and sculpted skirts upon them, this involves first filing and/or cutting away the area from the waist to just above the knee so that an under-layer of green stuff can be added. 

Once this had dried the skirt was then sculpted, front then back with drying in between, thereafter the arms were added and sculpted individually, ensuring the first was dry before work began on the second.

I am very satisfied with how these look though my practice does show an improvement in each successive sculpt;

1. First attempt, each fold in the skirt was defined, it looks like heavy cloth, quite satisfied though the shape feels a little puffed, also I was not fully satisfied with the right arm.

2. Second attempt, arms a bit better and the skirt has some movement, the folds are also a bit more natural. I was really pleased with this and really pushed myself in creating the porcupine and crown; this was done by sculpting the green stuff on my work mat then gluing onto the breast plate when almost dry.

3. Third attempt, I was very satisfied with the skirt, in fact I'd say I nailed it; it appears as it should with nice defined heavy pleats yet still part of a single garment rather than appearing separate. Again, pleased with myself I pushed on and created a war coat / waffenrock (appropriate French word welcomed if you know it). The right sleeve isn't quite there where the sculpting meets the elbow but I'm being picky now.

Rear. The way this garment appears to sit looks natural, the confident not too bobbly pleats were much easier to paint. 

4. As these archers were dismounted the horse required some attention in building up the saddle and adding some stirrups. I got quite a bit of inspiration from the following sixteenth century saddles, note the padding on the rear and for the rider's legs;

The Best advice I have had during this project was from Oliver of Steel fist Miniatures; get the shape right first before adding detail. it's a simple notion but I must admit that I initially paid attention to each fold rather than considering all of the front or back of the skirt as one, as in the last figure. This felt like a breath of fresh air and made this last attempt so much easier, and quicker. Other than that it's just a matter of practice and patience and plenty of reference material for how garments appear in different poses.

I'm very much eager to do many more skirts and waffenrocks in this manner, there's now a whole new area of potential which I feel could be achieved with these almost infinitely versatile Perry plastics.

I will certainly do at least two more bases of these, I have no idea whether Louis' guard archers were in the vicinity of Therouanne during 1513, at best some may have been with de Piennes or perhaps acted as some of the messengers who delivered news from the King to the garrison, who knows - I do like them though.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Ordonnance Archers WIP part 2

Part two in this series has me tackling some guard archers of Louis XII.

The depictions that I have so far been able to find have them in red and yellow livery with a crowned porcupine on their breast and back plates.

As a challenge I have decided to create a dismounted unit, here are the fruits of a fortnight of patient sculpting;

In every depiction I can find they are shown in sallets, with or without a visor and occasionally with plumes on the front so there's plenty of scope for some more variation with the rest of the unit.

The 'dolly' is a Perry plastic foot knight with archer arms added.

To begin the fauld and tassets required some deep filing, then the area from the mid waist to just above the knees was filled with green stuff.

Once this was dry I then sculpted the skirt front and back.

There's some more detail on this process here.

Another drying phase and the arms were done individually. It was quite hard but once you're in the zone so to speak it gets addictive. The best advice I have had is to be very patient, and to get the right shape first then sculpt detail. Other than that it's just practice.

So above is a completed dismounted figure, here are some more reference points;

From a basing / gaming perspective I have considered these to be an early dragoon. They were essentially used as mounted infantry leading up to 1513, or rather they are depicted so for sure in 1507 so I guess further to my last post on the French Ordonnance archer of 1513 I have made another distinction. I will still have some mounted versions of these to mingle in with the other sculpted mounted chaps in the last post.

Anyway, all dragoons / mounted infantry require a horse holder;

I still have one sleeve to sculpt and I might try my hand at a porcupine emblem on the breast plate but it's going well so far.

Cheerio for now