Saturday 25 November 2023

Landsknecht Pike Block

This project has been in my mind for quite a while and stayed kicked firmly into the long grass for fear of its enormity but I finally took the plunge to re-base my standing Landsknecht Pike.

The first reason was one of gaming versatility, the pike I had were based on 120x60mm diorama type bases which made for great little vignettes but committed a lot of figures to one base and limited their use as either Imperial or in French service, here's a couple of images from the archive;

Landsknechts in French service, painted 2016

Imperial Landsknechts, painted 2013

I reasoned that if I split the command from the pike figures I could field a large pike unit with a choice of interchangeable commands and I also wanted to have the pike as densely packed as I could whilst not losing their individual character and detail. 

This would require me to paint some more figures and once that ball started rolling I just kept on going so I actually ended up with more figures than I intended which has made for an even bigger pike block potential.

Here's some photographs of the latest painting prior to basing;

Figures are predominantly Wargames Foundry with a couple of Warlord figures and also the additional plumes are from Steel Fist Miniatures.

These were all painted using contemporary sources, in particular The First Book of Fashion by Matthaeus & Veit Konrad Schwarz is an absolute must have. In this father and son catalogue their outfits in a series of painted drawings which log the changes in fashion from 1496-1561. I cannot recommend it enough if you want to gain an understanding of the Landsknecht dress.

In painting these figures I used Citadel contrast paints as washes to achieve really deep vibrant colour, the process is as follows;

  • black undercoat
  • shade tones painted, I use Foundry's triad pots (shade, mid, highlight)
  • armour wash where relevant
  • flesh wash (foundry scarlet shade, foundry bay brown shade, contrast gulliman flesh, water)
  • contrast wash applied to primary colour, thinned for tonal variation
  • wash applied to everything else ( a generic brown wash of a mix of contrast skeleton horde, foundry bay brown and a little water)
  • shade tones re-applied as a mid tone
  • actual mid tone
  • highlight
  • extra highlight
This takes a little more time, especially with stripes, probably coming in at 3-4hrs per figure but I'd say these are the best Landsknechts I've painted.

Then the tense process of removing figures from bases, fixing any damage that you might do in the process - re-gluing pikes in the main. this took a day.

Then sorting the figures into composition and re-basing on 60x60mm square bases, 9 figures to a base for the pikemen and 6 figures to a base for command. - I found putting the newest figures in the front ranks gained the most pleasing arrangement.

Here's the result, neat, colourful ranks of pike with interchangeable command. I'll probably do a further command base for Imperial and French whilst I still have the Landsknecht enthusiasm.

Landsknechts with Imperial command bases

Landsknechts with Swiss / French command bases

In addition to splitting them between commands I can also group all the figures into one allegiance, here's a force of Imperial Landsknecht pike with arquebusiers in support;

And finally, the real end goal I've been striving for, a dense pike square with the front ranks preparing to charge or receive the enemy, 160 figures in all spanning 22 years from the oldest to newest painted figure - quite an undertaking !

Imperial Landsknecht pike square

Detail of the standing bases, packed in deep ranks but still showing off individual character

Close up of the same square with French Flags

I'm not quite done here, as I mentioned i'll do a couple more command bases, possibly some further bases of supporting arquebusiers or perhaps work on a marching column.

You can never have too many Landsknechts !

All the best




  1. Stuart, I see you work and I cry, lets just say you are a talented bugger and leave it at that.

  2. Tis a beautiful thing you have done- I love the new figure arrangement!

  3. Always an exciting moment to find a new post here. I am currently painting one of the simplest troops I've tackled so these are just staggering. When every figure is a little gem where do you look? I particularly like the new command bases. There's also a lot of aspirational face hair styles! You must be delighted and I hope the work that's gone into the new basing pays dividends in enjoyment.
    As always thanks for sharing.

  4. Wow!
    Absolutely stunning Stuart…
    I get the fear just thinking about painting one Landsknecht…😳

    All the best. Aly

  5. Fabulous stuff Stuart! Love them!

  6. Brilliant mate love your blog so much do you matt varnish your miniatures after completion and if so what do you use

    1. Thanks Toby, I don’t use varnish. I used to use various acrylic Matt varnishes but found they dulled figures over time