Wednesday 19 October 2016

WIP; French infantry conversions

I have been steadily working upon these over the last couple of months, it's only six figures so far but worthy of a post I thought, these and hopefully a few more will be the next in the painting queue.

Sources for French infantry and indeed French dress in general for the lower classes are, in my experience, rather scarce. Since becoming somewhat addicted to Pinterest I have built up a board dedicated to the French of this period for inspiration and catalogue, you can view this here;

To summarise it in brief the French fashion of the early 16c is derived of various Western European Influence but the particular elements that can be attributed are Italian and Swiss in my opinion, add to that coats and jackets not dissimilar to those of Tudor fashion and you have - I hope, a reasonable representation of a Valois French soldier, one in which would be marginally different from the Northern region in comparison to the Italian theatre.

The sources of inspiration for these conversions are the following images of mostly French origin;

Siege of Dijon tapestry (1513) detail

'La Chausse au Faucon' tapestry, date unknown

A tapestry on the meeting of Henry & Francis at the Field of Cloth of Gold c.1520

I can't remember where I found this, sorry!

Beraud Stuart 'Traite sur l'Art de la Guerre' (Treatise on the Art of War) approx. 1508

In my interpretation I have polarised these sources into two distinctions; figures in jackets / coats and those without in doublet and hose. Some slashing but relatively understated and puffed shoulders are fairly predominant. 

The figures took me a while to sculpt as I re-visited them a number of times in attempts to get particular aspects right or at least to my satisfaction. It's a learning curve really but I can definitely see my ability developing with this batch of sculpting conversions. Here are some more angles;

For the Arquebusiers I seem to have unintentionally put them all in jackets / coats ! - I'll have to balance that with the next few conversions.

These figures were the easier to convert as I've had a bit of experience in sculpting coats and there's a lot less preparatory filing to do on the plastics.

From left to right;

1. This soldier wears a knee length jacket fastening in the middle with puffed sleeves at the shoulder. Jackets were both outer and inner garments; wealthier individuals would wear them underneath a gown or not for warmer weather, they were made of a variety of materials, for military issue they could be in livery or of a base colour though predominantly the former for military issue. From what I can ascertain these were typical of both Tudor and Valois fashion. He also wears a cloth cap with feathers (a stipulation of a 1521 ordonnance). The head is from the Perry Ansar set.

2. This soldier wears a base coat, an outer garment. Again this would be issued in the livery of the issuing Captain / Town / Crown. Also knee length, I've done this for all to make a distinction from the slightly longer coats of the Tudor sculpts that I have done. He also wears a cloth cap with feathers (lifted from the Perry Swiss heads) and puffed and slashed doublet underneath. I've taken the additional distinction that arquebusiers and/or their employers may be a bit more well off than their crossbow wielding counterparts. On that note these would have been issued to the Franc Archers of the period. Another Ansar head also - it's a must have set for parts.

3. Finally for the arquebusiers this chap wears a sleeveless hoqueton (a stipulation of a 1522 levy for Franc Archers raised in Picardy) with the puffed and slashed sleeves of his doublet showing underneath, he has opted for a sallet in place of his cap, I toyed with the idea of adding a feather but I haven't seen it in great number other than on Louis' Archer guards. Really pleased with the slashed sleeves on this one.

On to the crossbowmen, All are unintentionally in doublet and hose so I shall add a jacket / hoqueton for balance in the next sculpts.

These were rather challenging as a lot had to be filed away from the plastics in preparation which meant that the groin and rear had to be re-sculpted - lots of odd looking rears in number of failed attempts leading up to these.

From left to right;

1. This soldier wears doublet and hose, the former with puffed sleeves the latter fairly simple with a cod-piece (slightly obscured by the crossbow). He wears a simple cloth cap. The head was from the Perry Ansar set.

2. As above only more elaborate sleeves, taken from the example in the 'Chausse au Faucon' tapestry example above, again his (painstakingly sculpted) cod-piece is obscured by the crossbow.

3. An un-obscured cod-piece ! this chap wears what I have taken to be shorts for want of the proper word (answers gratefully received), quite a few of the sources above depict this and it's prevalent in Landsknecht / Swiss dress also. His doublet is puffed and slashed at the shoulder and he wears a simple cloth cap over his converted Ansar head.

I'm really pleased with this batch and it's good to see progression from my efforts 3 years ago;

I'm confident from the research I have made and the few visual sources above that I have achieved a suitably French appearance for these and a formula going forward. As ever I am interested for your feedback and critique so let me know what you think.

All the best, Au Revoir !



  1. Excellent work Stuart, huge difference apparent in your sculpting skills. Very nice detailing. Look forward to see these boys painted up.

  2. Well I'm no expert, but I think you've made a crackin job on these.

  3. Well I'm no expert, but I think you've made a crackin job on these.

  4. Defiantly your best codpiece to date there!
    Fantastic conversions - the GS work looks very smooth finish, really looks like real cloth hanging on the figures.

  5. It's always a double edged katzbalger looking at your stuff Stuart, it's both inspiring and intimidating at the same time. Great White King stuff on pinterest as well Stuart.

    Allan D.

  6. Fine bit of scholarship and terrific sculpting and conversion work! I look forward to the finished product.

  7. Really well researched and presented information and even better sculpting, cod piece and slashed sleeves are terrific .
    Best Iain

  8. These look really good Stuart. To my eye they capture the early 16th century really well and I can imagine garrison troops would have looked like this. Some great pics on the pinterest as well