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.



  1. Hello Stuart,
    Excellent stuff (painting and modeling) !!!

  2. These are wonderful, although there a very few contemporary pictures of French foot for the 1500-1520 period these look spot on to me!

  3. Very impressive brushwork on these conversions. The lengthening of their tunics is really effective. Like completely different figures from the originals.

    1. The crossbowman in black was very much inspired by Wolf Hall !

  4. Impressive work with the green stuff ! Lovely paintwork indeed to:)

  5. The cloth cap is straight out of Wolf Hall.. :o) Lovely modelling.. well done, sir!

  6. Splendid and most inspiring - and inspired! - work! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Excellent work! I'm enjoying your French maybe evfen more than your English troops. (But I suppose I'm biased there :-) )

    Keep up the inspiring work.

  8. After reading this I feel I'm getting nearer the Holy Grail of learning the initial stages in sculpting!

    I've had some very practical advice from a couple of well known scuptors and armed with that knowledge and this article I feel that it may not be long before I venture into the 'dark arts' :>)

    Thanks very much for posting this up Stuart!