Monday, 30 August 2021

Painting Justinian Byzantine Heavy Infantryman Step By Step Part One, Two and Three.

Before I start, it has been a difficult task to find the correct words when describing the way I paint. Like many of you who are reading this, painting is more of an instinctual process after one has been painting for a number of years. Regardless, I hope that some find it useful and you are welcome to leave any comments or questions in the comments boxes below. Or, if you prefer a more private conversation please feel free to contact me vie the Email Form on the right hand side panel on this blog. 

Originally this article was made up of three separate articles. I have amalgamated them all into one so they are more fluent and easier to find.

Step One:

A few weeks ago I took delivery of some miniatures I had had my eye on for a while; namely a decent number of the new Aventine Miniatures Early Byzantine range. I splashed out a bit and bought a unit of Extra Heavy Infantry, two units of Armoured Infantry with archers for the rear ranks, two units of nomad Steppe Horse Archers and a unit of noble Steppe Warriors! Quite a haul really.

On  inspection of the miniatures I was very surprised by the quality of sculpting and the sheer depth of detail on each miniature. The attention to detail and the skill of the sculptor are something to behold. As is the castings which is very crisp with barely and flash at all. Aventine Miniatures are astoundingly good.

I will do a quick review of the miniatures as I come to paint them, but please, take my word for it when I say that these miniatures are superb.

OK, onto the painting! The first twelve models of the unit. One thing I had to bare in mind was that I was painting these miniatures for the table top en masse, thus I needed to take a few shortcuts such not painting in eyes and instead leaving dark brown areas where they eyes settle on the face, dry brushing metals instead of painting in each scale. (I once had a GW High Elf Army in which I had religiously painted in very scale on each model. The army took several years to complete!! Crazy!)

Due to certain health concerns re: Covid, I predicted I not going to be able to get out of the house to get to my usual usual suppliers for paints, aerosols, brushes etc and it might not be long before they were temporarily closed so I managed to grab five Army Painter Matt Black Undercoat via the net just prior to the lockdown. Army Painter is not my first choice for an undercoat as I find it to be quite glossy for a matt black undercoat and altogether unsuitable as a primer due to a lack of "tooth" once it has dried. 

I have a couple of cans of Halfords Matt Black Enamel which was a godsend this saved me from hand priming mini's with Army Painter Matt again. It's a bit like comparing the old Testors Dullcote to the new stuff. No comparison in my humble opinion. Since the writing the original text of this article I have found myself having to use Army Painter Matt Black Undercoat on more than a few occasions as I have not been able to get out and about. I don't think any of us expected the Pandemic to last as long as it has.

I did have a jar of Golden Acrylic Black Gesso, which was applied over the Army Painter Matt Black Undercoat. One might ask, why not just use the Gesso in the first place? My reasons are thus; Gesso gives a beautiful flat matt finish which helps really accentuates the detail on a model. it is quite a fragile coat and can be brushed off quite easily by a stray finger. Thus I prefer to prime with a spray primer (Halfords Matt Black Enamel Primer not Army Painter Matt Black Undercoat) before applying an undercoat, which could be Black Gesso or Scale 75 Black 'Primer' which also dried to a very flat matt just like the Gesso. 

The mail was simply a dry brush of of Citadel Bolt Gun Metal (or equivalent) darkened with VMC Matt Black, then Citadel Bolt Gun Metal, then Citadel Iron Breaker and lastly Citadel Runefang Steel. The whole thing was then given a wash of watered down Nuln Oil. This is not applied to thickly with a little water. It is important to dry brush each layer with a slightly with a lighter touch each time only brush the lighter tones on the highest of ridges (if any) on the armour as you highlight up again using Citadel Bolt Gun Metal, then Citadel Iron Breaker and lastly Citadel Runefang Steel. 

For Iron and Steel I have stuck to using Citadel paints over the years as I have had no problems with coverage or inconsistencies in the pigment. I have used Army Painter Paints which are much smoother and have a good amount of pigment but I was going to be dry brushing so the question of a smooth finish did not enter the equation.

Citadel Paints for the Steel/Iron Armour:

The scale and lamellar armour on these heavily armed Byzantine Infantry would likely have been made of steel or iron plates but equally other metals could have been used. I wanted a bit of a contrast between the the dark hues of the mail and the scale/lamellar so I chose to paint this particular armour as if it had been gilded (or just bronze scales). Opting for a bronze look I picked out a selection of Vallajo Game Colour metals as they are packed with pigment and as I would be dry brushing again this was crucial.

The scale and lamellar was painted with VGC Hammered Copper and when completely dry given a  slightly watered down wash of Citadel Agrax Earthshade. It was then just a case of light and lighter dry brushes of VGC Brassy Brass, VGC Bright Bronze and finally a mix of 70% VMC Bright Bronze/30% Polished Gold on the absolute high points on detail. I might end up painting a final highlight of this armour later depending on how the metallic colours work together on the model later on at a later stage in the painting process.

Vallejo Game Colour Paints for the Lamellar/Scale Armour:

The base of the flesh was painted  in with a couple of thin coats of Army Painter Tanned Flesh followed by a watered down wash of Army Painter Flesh Wash then left to completely dry. A layer of Army Painter Barbarian Flesh followed by a layer of Army Painter Elven Flesh on the highest points of the cheek bones, the upper lip and a highlight on the chin (which would be reflected light). Each highlight being applied so's to leave enough layer underneath showing through to give a three dimensional effect. The lips were painted in with VMC Brown Rose and a very fine highlight of Salmon Pink. Finally the eye sockets were given a very think line of Vallejo model Colour German Black Brown Cammo.

Army Painter Paints for the Flesh:

And the Lips:

Front and Back Views of the Miniatures:

Close ups of two of the miniatures so you can see some of the detail!

Afterthoughts? In retrospect I had not considered the size of the extra large shields when it would come to getting the brush into some of the lavish detail so I would have opted to drill and pin but leave the shields aside and glue them in place when the models were complete.

Step Two:

The first thing to do was to choose a colour scheme. I opted for a very simple red and green as both are complimentary to one another. A red was chosen as the main colour scheme as it would go to go with the red as the LBMS Transfers on the large shields.  The chosen red was a match for the red on the transfer. All the colours are depicted below.

I tend to start my painting with quite a dark base as this gives plenty of scope to layer up. If one starts too light it can be difficult to alter without applying another base coat which I want to avoid if I can as more paint means, more obscured detail. The VMC Black Green was mixed with approximately 40/60 with the VMC Bright Cammo Green and painted on the parts of the miniature I imagined would  catch the light thinking of the miniature as a real human being. VMC Pastel Green was added to the mix and painted and a very thin line was painted on both sides of the harness.

The colours are all layered in three to four layers depending on the size and contours of the part of the miniature in question.

Part Three:

Before I start, there are another five spearmen, a back rank officer in charge of five archers to be completed before the unit can be revealed in all the glory an elite Justinian or Heraclian Byzantine unit might expect. 

The process is exactly the same as with step one and two. Keep adding the highlights to a smaller area of the miniature to create that three dimensional effect that we are looking for. 

OK, I've taken pictures of both the command group, sans banner at present and one of each of the spearmen models in order to hopefully pass on an image of how they may look when based up.

One last thing to add. The top half of the shield rims were painted in a red that matched the transfers and given a few highlights toward the top of the shield. 

It took a wee while but when all the miniature were painted up, shield transfers added and based they have quite the aesthetic appeal. 

The Completed Unit with Hand Painted Banner:

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

The Problem of How to Model Scottish Schiltrons- Dupplin Moor 1332

As mentioned in a previous post I am going to use the Claymore HYW Period Rules as soon as they are available. Claymore HYW Period Rules are solidly based around the time of the Hundred Years War which could very well be the answer to a 30 year quest for me- a journey in which I have sought after meaningful rules with the right period feel for the HYW.

The Battle of Dupplin Moor 1332 CE was the one of the first times in which the value of quality archers working hand in hand with men at arms was brought to the fore as a successful military tactic. Falkirk being another stand out earlier battle, but perhaps more of an anomaly as regarding the Warbow. The effect of the Warbow was going to be felt again and again not only during the Scottish Wars of Independence, (not always successfully) and throughout the HYW and beyond onto the Battle of Montlhery 1465, into The Burgundian Wars and into the lengthy reign of Henry VIII where the importance of the Warbow would slowly decline until eventually to be viewed as an archaic weapon, especially in the eyes of England's European neighbours. 

I am going to be working on armies for both sides at Dupplin Moor. I will be taking a detour from my normal working mode of working; painting the bulk of one side before moving onto the other and paint one unit for the Scots, one for the English etc. I'm starting with the first Scottish Schiltron. There has been much discussion and debate over the years about what it meant by the word Schillton, so often is conjures up fantastical Braveheart type images but this is only a small part of the story. Within the rules, they can be set up as offensive and defensive as seen in the diagrams below.



I'm going to go with six miniatures per base; so slightly packed on a 60mm frontage by 50mm deep base. This should give the required look but if not I am open to try out different arrangements. 

Obviously, as in any set of wargames rules a mechanic is an abstraction. What has got me very excited about the Claymore HYW Rules is that the rules cater for both types of formation of the Schiltron, which most wargames rules seem to simplify too much for my liking and leave as "Long Spear" or allow a small advantage such as the equivalent as "Shieldwall". I am going to keep referring the formation as a Schiltron out of convenience as opposed to a concrete fixed formation. It is arguable that it was not only the Scots who used such formations but the English too. Densely packed men in units  with spears/polearms/double handed weapons etc were used by many nations as a defensive and offensive tactic. The Battle of Courtrai/Battle of the Golden Spurs 1302 springs to mind; where large bodies of tightly packed men defeated the flower of French Chivalry. 

I am currently waiting upon my first delivery of Antediluvian Miniatures which I will be mixing with Claymore Castings in order to create the armies of the time. This is going to be a fairly long term project with regular updates. Hopefully those interested in Late Medieval warfare will find some value in my mutterings and interest in the painted units etc. 

The long term aim to to put on The Battles of Dupplin Moore 1332 as a display game at a show or two. I am going to be concentrating on the Second War of Independence, 1332-1357 largely because the stand out battles of Dupplin Moore 1332, Halidon Hill and Neville's Cross are not often viewed, as the little brothers of the battles of The First War of Independence. Of course, this is all Covid dependent as I am at particular risk. 

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Hundred Years War English Longbowmen and Late Medieval Plans

These pictures were taken a few years ago but so far have yet to see the light of day. Since then the same miniatures have been partially re-based for Swordpoint and are awaiting the Swordpoint HYW supplement which I have on good authority will have some extra rules to render the HYW armies more playable withy the right period feel. That is all I can say on the subject without breaking the confidence of the person who passed on the news to me.

As I have so many Mainly Perry Miniatures (1415-1430)  already painted, based for Hail Caesar on 50mm x 50mm bases (Swordpoint demands 40mm x 40mm) I am in the process of slowly rebasing the whole army and will be adding to the numbers as I plod along. I will of course post pictures of each unit as I go. There is not much point in doing so at present as the miniatures have just been glued to the bases and are in need of some filler/spackle and sand etc. Not to mention paint and grass tufts. I'm sure we have all been there :>)

The pictures should give you some idea of the sort of basing, albeit three miniatures per base for Swordpoint with the archers instead of more seen below.

As usual, all the images are clickable with the exception of the last five which are small files.

The last four images were taken by David Imrie at the SESWC club in the same year that the Perry's produced their first HYWE miniatures in metal. so quite some time ago. That might explain why I have such small files- I probably published them on what was at the time a full website leaving the size of the files fixed.

Still, I think they are worth adding as they are an early illustration of my penchant for vignette style basing.

So, what of the future for my Late Medieval collection and in what direction? For some time now I have been very taken with the superb sculpts from both Clamore Castings and Antediluvian Miniatures. All my HYW armies are of the Late HYW variety and I have long wanted to go back in time and put together something from the early stages of the war. After what must be many years of procrastination I have finally decided to step back in time to before the opening of hostilities of the HYW and to the time that the Warbow was to first prove it's immense potential on the battlefield; to the time of The Battle of Dupplin Moor and the year 1332. Although there is a short time gap between 1332 and the opening of hostilities in the HYW at the Battle of Sluys 1340 by mixing and matching miniatures from Claymore Castings and Antediluvian Miniatures I should be able to build very accurate armies for both sides. 

I will be using the Claymore Rules when they are published after having had a few chats on the net with one or two people involved in the playtesting; they really sound as though they are going to do the trick! No mean feat as I have spent about 30 years looking for a good set of rules for the Hundred Years War. 

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Wargaming A Re-Think/Planning for Isolation Games.

I've been having a bit of a re-think regarding what I need to be painting, playing and why. For reasons that I will not delve into again and as things stand re: Sars Cov 2, I am unable to get to the club or any shows for the foreseeable future. This has come as quite a blow to me as we I value my club gaming deeply and another year of not being able to get to a show is almost unthinkable. Unfortunately this is my reality for now and something that I have to come to terms with. I suspect that I am not alone in this(?).

I suspect that I am a bit late on the question of how to play games safely during the pandemic. There has certainly been a lot of virtual games played via Zoom etc. I can honestly say that if I had realised that I would not be in a position to be out and about at the club hows again, I would have jumped into that early on. However naively it seems, I honestly thought that being double vaccinated would have enabled me to be out and about again.

I have spent over a week tidying/wading through the studio space (just to give you some idea of how big the job is) and I now have room to put up my 6' x 4' table. Originally the plan was to expand the table size but for now this is what I have and the surface I have to play on.

So, where does that leave the painting? The three armies that will continue to command my attention and they are, of course, my Anglo Danes and Early Byzantines and Enemies mainly for Swordpoint from Gripping Beast (other "Ancients" sets will hopefully be played- the units are based as to make them as ubiquitous to as many rules sets as possible). 6th CE Byzantium and 11th CE England are my main areas of interest and where my passions reside at present. This is unlikely to change in the long term.

Anglo Danish Unit:

Early Byzantine Unit:

But what of being able to play games? As indicated I cannot go out to the club safely so I am going to have to do a rethink of what periods, which rules and what terrain I am going to concentrate my time upon.

Thus far my thinking lies something along these lines....

I wanted to find a set of rules for the Sudan of which I already have a the beginnings of reasonably sized collection. I have a copy of A Good Dusting, Sands of the Sudan and the Black Powder Supplement Blood on the Nile but all of these rules appear to me to play better on a larger sized table. The first meaningful set of rules for my current needs I discovered two years ago via a demo game the Iron Brigade(?) were exhibiting on a Wargames Illustrated YouTube video Kevin Calder's Up the Nile rules at The Other Partizan(7:15 in- see image above). And later another YouTube WI Up the Nile review of the rules quickly made up my mind to order a copy. I was quite enamoured by the idea of the rules centering on attrition; no base removal until the unit was "dead" etc. I ordered a copy of the rules from the publisher, the ubiquitous Dave Ryan at Caliver Books read them through once and was surprised to find that I picked up all the basic concepts quite easily! Anyone who knows me will know that my brain is a bit of a sieve when it comes to digesting wargames rules so this was a major tick in the box for me! The game can easily be played on a 6' x 4' table which was ideal.

I have has a copy of the first edition of Death in a Dark Continent for about a decade now and again, these are rules that can easily be played on a 6' x 4' table. during my five year wargames hiatus Death in a Dark Continent had been tidied up and released in hardback book by North Star so this is another natural choice for me. I have no miniatures however, what wargamer worth their salt does not like to indulge in the  pleasure of scrolling through page on the net choosing miniatures?!?

I also have an eye on getting into playing Congo from Studio Tomahawk and will be basing the miniatures I am using for Death in a Dark Continent on sabot bases so they are fit for more then one purpose. I have had a copy for years and they have never been played!

Same thing re: basing for The Men Who Would Be Kings. A ruleset that I am very familiar with. It's a  very adaptable set and can brought forward and back in time with ease.

I am also thinking of Infamy, Infamy! using Late or Middle Imperial Romans and their Germanic foes and also have a very keen eye on the Italian Wars Rich and Nick from the TooFatLardies on Twitter currently have in a playtest stage. I still have an eye on using Furioso for larger battles but as explained above, this is something I am going to have to keep in the shelf for the future.

I am also finally going have to take serious look at putting some terrain tiles together. I have a couple of gaming mats which will do for now. However, given that I am stuck at home and have most of the material needed to make some terrain boards I feel like I have no excuse to at least have a go at them. This is something that I will be turning my had to at a later date, I need to get the miniatures painted up to get the projects off the ground.

I would love to hear from anyone who finds themselves in similar circumstances or perhaps those who just play solo games on a limited (6' x 4') space and what solutions you have managed. I have an email form on the right hand side of the blog should you prefer not to leave a comment and get in touch in a more private fashion.

In summary, at least temporarily, things are going to be scaled down and a few new adventures begun.