Friday 30 March 2012

Macedonian Cavalry - the Paintjob

Remember the Macedonian cavalry.

They started of looking like this.

And then this.

Under attack from Dettol.

They are now ready to receive paint.

Shadow Grey for the saddle cloth.

Vermin Brown for the riders body.

Bestial Brown, Codex Grey, Vomit Brown, and Bleached Bone for the horses.

Manes and tails in contrasting colours.

Base in Bleached Bone.

Officers cloak in Mechrite Red.

Riders flesh in Bronzed Flesh.

Boots and helmet crest.

Horse tack in blue.

And all the fiddly bits.

Finally a wash in Windsor and Newton Nut Brown ink.

 And finally finally a coat of varnish and a magnetized plastic base.

Texturing will follow on later.

Tuesday 27 March 2012

To Flock Or Not To Flock

I am at one of those little points of no return.

I have finished my Teutonic Order Army. I have used static grass on their bases. I am quite happy with they way they look.

I have started my Norman Army. I have finished a couple of units and the command stands. I have gone for a three colour dry brush scheme with an inked finish. I am happy with the way they look.

When looking at both together I wonder to myself should I use static grass on the Normans?

Can I have your constructive opinions please?

Sunday 25 March 2012

More of the Normans

It is time I finished off the batch of Norman knights and command figures from a few days ago.

They were last seen on their plain plastic bases.

I carefully applied a thin smear of tetrion to blend in the figure bases.

The spaces in between the horses can be tricky to reach. I use a long pin with a handle but you could also use a long thin spatula or a sliver of plastic card.

These are left overnight to dry and then given a coat of Dragoon Green to match up with
 the painted figure base.

Once dry the textured surface is drybrushed with Goblin Green to pick up the risen detail.

Another drybrush this time with Vomit Brown enhances the effect further.

A wash of Grypon Sepia catches the sunken detail and brings the colours together.

Finally the edge of the base is picked out in Scorched Brown and left to dry, probably overnight.

I will matt varnish these bases and will then decide if I need to add static grass or not. I have treated these bases quite differently from the Teutonic Order army.

Friday 23 March 2012

The Normans are coming along

Now that my recent foreign travels are out of the way I can pick up where I left the Normans.

The last time you saw the Normans they looked like this.

And then this.

I used Bestial Brown to undercoat everything except the horse and base.

Two units of knights and all the command figures followed on.

A few coats of paint and a coat of gloss varnish transforms into this.

The painting style is largely in the 'block style' with a little bit of dry brushing on the shields and pennants. Shading is done with a coat of Gryphon Sepia and everything is finished off with a coat of gloss polyurethane varnish.

Some shields were given a typical Norman cross motif and some were plain or with a dotted pattern ala the Bayeux Tapestry. I used a bit of artistic licence for the pennants.

While the varnish was drying I made some bases using 2mm plastic sheet and stuck them to magnetic tape.

Here are the two units of knights along with the command figures. I have made an obvious army command stand, some divisional commanders and a couple of heroes on their own as one of my rulesets allows for an individual hero to join a unit.

Four bases of four figures make a unit for Hordes and Heroes. Each base is 40mm by 20mm and therefore is compatible with Warmaster Ancients although their units need only three bases.

The commander on his stand. I don't think he is the 'bastard' himself as my commanders are above that level of criticism (honest).

Now all the bases need is a bit of polyfilla or tetrion, a coat of paint and some static grass.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Tragedy and Triumph in Rome

My trip abroad took me and a few friends to Rome, Italy where we hoped to exchange some cultural ideas, share a common European heritage and view some of the antiquities which abound the Eternal City, oh, and watch a game of rugby.

No great plans were made as my friends and I are free spirited individuals and would feel hampered by a rigid schedule. As it happened a firm plan would have been difficult to maintain as life follows a different path in the Italian Republic.

Day one saw us traverse Europe from Edinburgh, Scotland via Amsterdam in the Netherlands to Fiumicino Airport just outside Rome, Italy courtesy of KLM airline. KLM did a good job as our baggage arrived in partnership with us which is a first for our Roman trips.

Our hotel was at the southern end of the city and only a five minute walk from the Marconi metro station. A 7 day metro ticket cost only 16 Euro and we were soon hopping on and off metros, trams and buses as we travelled around the city.

Day two took us around some of the historical parts which I won't go into great detail about but they included the Pyramid of Cestius, the Baths at Caracalla, the Circus Maximus, the Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.

The Pyramid of Cestius and the local traffic.

After the Goths sacked the city in 6th Century and turned off the water the baths reverted to the above form.


A mosaic being restored.

Some intrepid travellers in need of restoration.

The restoration procedure.

Over the few days we were there we found that most meals were about 20-30 Euro's. The establishment above was an exception, being across the road from the Flavian Amphitheatre (Colosseum to most) it was somewhat expensive.

Day three saw us set off in search of some military museums, namely the Infantry Museum and the Grenadiers of Sardinia Museum which we believed were adjacent to each other. Our earlier travels had encouraged us to avoid the metro during the morning rush hour so we were a little bit late crossing the city to the street where we expected to find the museums.

We had also discovered earlier that the rush hour(s) are when pick pockets make their plays as one of my friends lost his wallet, cash and credit cards. Fortunately we had sufficient funds between us to continue.

Our search for the museums continued, as it happened that we came across the Museum of the Liberation of Rome so we explored it for a short while.

The museum itself was a little bit dismal which was not a surprise as the building was a museum to itself and the activities it enclosed during then Second World War. None of the exhibits were labelled in English but were generally easy to surmise. A museum guide gave us a brief talk in broken english which helped a little.

The film 'Massacre in Rome' starring Richard Burton recounts the period but isn't 100% accurate by all accounts.

A street battle scene from nearby give us a little challenge in identifying the tank in the foreground. Tiger 1 is our best answer although the picture is very dark. There are a couple of Shermans farther down the street.

The intrepid travellers journeyed on, baking a little (quite a lot actually) in the midday sun in search of the two museums.

We found the Grenadiers of Sardinia first, it was shut and only opened in the mornings. The Infantry Museum was also shut and operated to the same timetable.

Undaunted by the preceding events we had a pleasant diversion across the road.

Our next journey took us across the Tiber to the foot of the Vatican Hill.

There we found this magnicent fortification which defies description. It is topped by a gigantic statue of Saint Michael. If you are planning a visit then please be aware it shuts on a Monday. It does have a bar/cafeteria though.'Angelo

The steps are a tough climb but the views from any of the levels, the top in particular are amazing.  We met an elderly married couple from Northumberland who recognised our accents. They had come to see us at the rugby. Well done Northumberland.

Here's me with my friends Dave and Dave, both are wargamers. Many of my friends are called Dave. Many of my friends are wargamers. Was it Harry Pearson who said that half of all wargamers are called Dave? I cannot argue.

Here's another friend of mine called Malcolm, (an old (younger than me though) colleague who I haven't seen since the day I retired). I have several friends called Malcolm. Many of them are wargamers. Maybe half of all wargamers are called Dave and half the rest are called Malcolm.

My name is Jim, I am a wargamer, many of my wargaming friends are called Jim. I think there are flaws in Harry Pearsons theory. For a more detailed look at Harry Pearsons theories you should read:

Day four was D-Day for us.

The Scots line up in support.

We won ----- (the wooden spoon) ----- for once we could not blame the referee or the opponents nefarious tactics. Now the only way is 'up'.

Did I keep the hat? No I gave it to a granny from Minnesota in the pub afterwards. They don't get hats like that in Minnesota.

Wearing the kilt is a camera magnet. We were stopped several times asking if we could have our photographs taken with other tourists from here, there and everywhere.

Day five took us on a train journey well south of Rome to a little place called Cassino.

Here's the view from platform one of the monastery above the town.

I was expecting Cassino to be a sleepy little village or perhaps a few hamlets clumped together. It is actually a large thriving town that seems to appreciate a day of peacefulness on a Sunday. Our intended destination was the aformentioned monastery on top of the nearby hill. Walking to it was obviously not a realistic prospect. The above map shows the extent of the built up area.

There was a bus service to the monastery, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The morning had long since gone but we could have caught the afternoon run if we gave up the visit to the local military museum and the local Commonwealth War Cemetary.

There was a Taxi stance. Here it is in the picture above. No, I can't see the taxi either!!

We visited the museum at the link above but we were not allowed to take photographs. I did photograph their sign as a gesture of defiance.

We were guided round a multimedia display by an Italian guide whose English was blurred by her Italian accent. I am not a good hearer at the best of times and I picked up very little from her words. The display itself was not particularly focussed on the fighting around Cassino although it was covered. One main theme was the extent of the destruction of Italian property, the monastery was a prime example, and the attendant loss of life amongst military personnel and civilians alike. I wouldn't want to discuss this in any depth as this is what war is like and war never changes.

The staff at the museum tried to find us a taxi but failed again. Future travellers please note that a successful trip around the Cassino historic sites would best require a local hotel and a hired car.

My feelings took a pleasanter turn as we visited the local Commonwealth Cemetary.

I know that war cemetaries are the last resting place of those who died in conflict but I was cheered by the peacefulness of the area, the tidyness of the gardens and the obviousness of the compassion displayed in the graves layout. The overwhelming beauty of the surrounding hills gathered the whole scene into one of sacrifice and serenity.

As we were preparing for the walk back into town we became increasingly aware of aircraft tracking to and fro the hills beyond the monastery and distant hills far to the south. Closer inspection revealed these aircraft to be water bombers, Bombardier (Canadair) 415. There were two of them repeatedly flying overhead.

There was certainly a strong hint of smoke in the hills to the North. A wildfire we thinks!

Funnily enough, we saw one of the very same aircraft (number 26) on TV back in the hotel in a program about the Italian Airshow in 2007.

Our final full day saw us tramp around the inner parts of Roma again starting at the Vatican.

It dared to rain on us for a short while. It certainly wasn't an off course water bomber. Dave being Dave put a coat on but I resisted the urge (I had left it back in the hotel!). Scotsmen don't dissolve easily.

I spotted a horse and carriage and took the opportunity to record the coat colour and markings. This simple brown merging to black cuddy scheme is already in my painting repertoire.

Our final peek at an antiquity dragged us to Trajans Column. It is an absolute wealth of detail and we could have spent hours peering at it via my binoculars. The antiquity is the column behind me before anyone pops in a joke comment!!'s_Column

There are many references to the details of the column online. This is one of many:

We explored a little sidestreet restaurant and made a pleasant discovery of the above beverage. I can strongly recommend it. It was excellent.

We made our way home the following day retracing our steps via Schipol. Long, boring and uneventful.

Once home I traded emails with my old colleague Malcolm. His group of friends had also suffered at the hands of the pick pockets and they had spoken to other travellers who had done so also. I might wear my kilt the whole time next time as I believe money kept in a sporran to be quite secure.

So, all in all it was a trip of Tragedies and Triumphs.