I'm pleased to announce that I have finished painting and the first 12 (Gulp! A long way to go as of yet!!) miniatures of Yusuf ibn Tashfin's Black Guard have been rolled out. I went for quite a plain black colour scheme highlighted by a deep blue as I wanted the Black Guard to look quite menacing on the tabletop.
I've went for a mix of Artizan Designs, Footsore (actually Musketeer) and Saxon Miniatures (now sold by Warlord Games). In the main these will be the manufacturers of choice but with the (obvious!) addition of Gripping beast, Doyens of the Dark Ages, superb "El Cid" range. The miniatures have been blue tacked into position on the bases as I want the composition to be flexible should I change my mind about positioning as more figures are added.
I've gone more for a sort of Sudanese look with darker skin tones than I plan to paint the 'Berber' and Andalusian units in the army. I'm not sure I'm 100% happy with the paint scheme on the Black Guard but considering I have not done any painting for roughly five years I should probably not be so harsh on myself. Ohmmmmm..... just breathe!
Having recently done some research on the hippo shields carried by many 'Berber' tribes what I discovered was quite interesting. The existing examples of hippopotamus hide shields in various collections and museums around the globe show signs that the shield significantly blackened as the object aged. I've gone for a much lighter 'brown' and have layered the paint in such a way as to suggest the ridges that occurred during construction that one tends to find on the surviving examples. My lighter shields are not realistic in tone. The brown is matched to be reasonably complimentary to the blue in order to create some degree of colour balance. You can't take the fine art college education out of the man- apparently!
Ethiopian Hippo Hide Shield
(slightly 'blackened' with age)
Beja Shield from the 19th Century
Here are a couple of quick snaps of the unit as it takes shape from the right and the left which should give some idea of the dynamic that I am hoping to create; that of a unit in combat and not the static unit of spearmen one sometimes finds in armies of the period. I want all my units to have some sort of vignette as a minor focal point but also to show that this is a fighting force. This has always been a theme in all of my armies including my old WAB armies! Not so easy to to with a one mini- one base type of army as one found in most WAB armies.
For the spears I've gone with a cane type affair as exemplified in the El Cid WAB Supplement written by James Morris. They are referred to as bamboo in the El Cid book but as someone on LAF pointed out in my first post covering this game, it is unlikely to have been bamboo as the materiel would have had to travel several thousands of miles if that were so! If you are interested in the Spanish Reconquista and you have not got a copy of this great book then I suggest that you try your utmost to get a copy! It's filled with a wealth of information, ideas and general military history. Really. It's a gem of a book. As Warhammer historical are no longer with us you will have to look online to buy a copy. I'm sure there will be plenty of them floating about if you look in the right places. The Wanted section of the Bazaar in the Lead Adventure Forum would be a great place to start.
As you will no doubt have noticed the miniatures need another coat of matte varnish as a few bits were missed after giving them the coat of gloss. This is inevitable when varnishing with a Matte Spray over a first layer of gloss as when you apply the varnish the matte looks as glossy as the gloss! Fun, fun, fun! The gloss I'm currently using is Humbrol Enamel Varnish Spray. This is not typical as I would normally have given the miniatures a brush on coat of Humbrol Gloss thinned with a little white spirit. I find that this gives a much tougher coat then the gloss spray and it also allows for better control of any 'pooling'. Unfortunately, I cannot find my tin of brush on Humbrol Gloss at present but I'm certain that it is safe and sound in the many boxes that I put my painting gear in! One of the fun parts of packing everything away and unpacking..... not!
This was intended to be a quick post. Not only to show that the armies were beginning to take shape but somehow to give me some impetus into getting stuck into getting the units modelled and painted.