Saturday, 10 March 2018

Casualty Markers

For a while I have had this project steadily gaining progress in between others and with some gaming looming this month I've made an effort to complete it. 

These four new casualty markers join the previous set for which you can read more about here

They're all mounted upon dial counters from Warbases which for my games of Lion Rampant are an excellent resource as none of my figures are individually based - they also make for neat little vignettes.

These all represent dead and injured cavalrymen and I've now almost got a casualty marker for each unit but certainly at 6 English and 6 French there's enough for a larger game of Lion Rampant.

First up is a downed Gendarme which I rather like the look of, he's unhorsed and winded pleading for ransom or perhaps just asking for a soldier to lift him up.

The body was created using various parts from the Perry Foot Knights set onto which I then sculpted a rich coat. The shoulders were then worked upon to raise them and a Steel Fist Miniatures head and plume was added at the end which really finishes the model off nicely and pins it in the early sixteenth century. 

Sadly this was the only figure that I took a pre-painted photograph of, doh !

I then painted the completed figure in neutral colours without field signs so that he could be a downed Gendarme or Kings Spear.

Next up, a little down the pecking line is a Man at Arms / Demilancer unhorsed by an arquebus ball to the ribs. He's taken off his helmet for comfort and expired from the wound.

This was a fairly straightforward conversion though I had to build up the ground under the head to get the right angle and to position the back properly. Each leg was cut off then filed, repositioned and set in place which also required me to sculpt new feet. Again, all parts were from the Foot Knights pack with the exception of the head which was from the Mounted Knights set.

On to the light cavalry here's a downed Border Horseman with a wound to the face. This was made using the light cavalry set and as above the legs had to be cut, filed and repositioned. I also had to build up the back of the legs and boots a bit. To complete the figure I added a nice targe (thanks Oli) and sculpted a hefty strap across the chest to hold it.

To close here's a Stradiot face down in the mud. This was perhaps the hardest piece to put together. I used a Perry Ansar figure as a dolly to which I sculpted the distinctive padded coat, hat and boots. It's a bit chunky but certainly has the right look about it.

That's all for now

All the best


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Face Tutorial

By popular demand here's a brief tutorial on how I approach painting faces. For the tutorial I have selected a converted figure using the head from the Perry Ansar set with added cloth cap and hair.

These heads have very expressive faces which I thought were perfect for this tutorial. Other than the washed shade colour I have not completed the rest of the figure so that the face stands out.

The image above is the finished result at a reasonable level of magnification and what follows are extreme close ups which I hope my painting stands up to !

I use Pro Arte Prolene Plus brushes and Wargames Foundry paints. I shall mention the colours and brush sizes as I go. If you use other paints the process I describe will hopefully still be of some use.

Step 1, black undercoat. I was an early convert to the black undercoat as it really suits my painting style, specifically the wash process.

Step 2, shade colour. Using a size 2 brush the whole figure is painted in the shade tone of the palette used, for the face this is Flesh Shade 5A.

Step 3, wash. Using a size 2 brush the face is washed with a mix of 1 part Scarlet Shade 38A, 1 part Bay Brown Shade 42A and half to 1 part water, you don't want it to be too liquid, a few practises will get it right; try it and if its too thick just brush the face with water whilst it's still wet, dab with a tissue then start again.

The wash in this example is fairly dark, in fact it's a bit darker than I usually go as I wanted to emphasise the tonal process. But the formula is the way I like to work as it really makes the face stand out on the finished model.

You'll soon establish a wash shade that you're happy with. Once I've washed the flesh I then add a little more Bay Brown Shade and Leather Wash Brown 47B and some water to the mix and wash the remainder of the figure.

Step 4, first highlight. Using a size 1 brush re-apply Flesh Shade 5A carefully, (the wash colour has effectively become the shade tone and the shade colour is now the mid-tone).

You want to achieve definition between each area, I paint in the following order; bulb of the nose, bridge of the nose, nostrils, upper lip left and right, chin left and right, top eye-lids, forehead above left eyelid then right, lower eyelid, crows feet, cheek bones, connecting line from just above the nostril down to the chin on each side, left and right jaw.

Step 5, second highlight. Using a size 1 or 0 brush apply Flesh 5B to the bulb, nostrils and bridge of the nose, upper eyelid, upper brow, cheek bones, upper lip, chin, jaw and aforementioned connecting bit.

Paint the lower lip in Madder Red Shade 60A. Be careful to leave the previous colour showing through, you are not simply painting over the last layer but highlighting it. Leaving some of the previous colour will add definition.

Step 6 third highlight. Using a size 0 or smaller apply Flesh 5C to the bulb and bridge of the nose, the upper brow, chin and jaw line.

Again remember that you are highlighting the previous colour and not overlaying it. Here's a side view so you can see how important the definition on the cheeks and jaw-line are in building the face.

Here's the completed face prior to the rest of the figure being complete. It has a lived-in and slightly dirty look to it, you can lessen this by varying the amount of water to the wash mix and indeed the composition of the colours in the wash. I've added a final touch of Flesh shade to the area beneath the cheek bone to bring it out a bit.

The shadow below the cheek bone is what pulls this all together and that's where the wash does its job. You may prefer this to be quite dark and heavy as in this example or vary it with lighter tones, it just needs to be darker than the Flesh shade colour. If it's too dark that's not necessarily an issue as you can re-touch it as I have here. You may also wish the wash to cover almost all of the cheek as in the preliminary stages here or much less, it depends on what the model and your preference presents.

Here are a few examples of finished figures where varieties of the above wash formula have been applied;

I hope that is useful and that I've explained it well, feel free to ask questions in the comments.

P.S. yes I am indeed working on yet another unit of archers !

All the best


Saturday, 10 February 2018

Archers of the Dorset retinue and a brief study of early Tudor livery coats

My first project of the year has been to complete my existing retinue of the Marquis of Dorset by adding some supporting archers.

You can review the creation of Dorset's retinue in the original blog posting here

I completed the bill for this retinue back in 2016, this was the first unit I created after figuring out how to convert and sculpt coats on to the Perry WOTR plastics so it's been interesting to compare the new figures to the old. I've certainly got better at the sleeves and hair and moreover creating a production line and reducing waste in the green stuff as well as a couple of other details which I shall explore below.

The bases comprise 10 figures as follows;

3 converted using my dollies
2 converted with gambesons showing
5 fully converted figures in coats

This has proven to be a good formula to maximise variation and to push my abilities. There are 2 character figures of which I am particularly proud and also took the time to take some photographs so hopefully you'll be able to better appreciate how they were put together.

Rather than just having a base of archers doing what archers do I was keen to create something of a mini vignette within one of the bases and this chap was the basis for that. Perhaps he's shouting something to a nearby friendly unit or possibly abuse at the enemy.

To achieve this pose I used a trumpeter arm from the WOTR set along with one of the expressive heads from the Ansar set. I mention it each time but this set has really been instrumental in achieving variety and life in my collection, particularly as it features a considerable proportion in soft caps for which the heads make for easy conversion.

I also wanted to have the coat open for further interest as well as a quiver. I made the quiver first using the arrows from the WOTR set as a base. After this I then sculpted the coat and pushed the quiver into it whilst it was drying, finally I then sculpted the girdle which attaches it to the belt. 

At this stage I decided the figure was most definitely shouting abuse and required a friend to help him.

This was a bit harder than I thought to create, the gesturing arm is from the WOTR set but it was too high and needed to be cut down and re-modelled to get the right look, after some practise I decided the fingers needed to be at or slightly higher than the eye-line, this hobby has some interesting avenues ! To achieve this after a lot of failed attempts at kit bashing various arms and parts thereof I eventually went with cutting the hand off and modelling the rest of the arm from scratch.

Note, I know this gesture is dubiously associated with archers taunting the French. However if you're as interested in researching historical hand gestures as I was you'll find it's nonetheless still offensive as a variant of giving the finger so it's win win however you look at it.

As a vignette they work rather well together and after basing they really made the unit;

The rest of the figures were similarly modelled in coats though much less complex especially for those which utilised one of the dollies as a base;

In painting the figures aside the uniform coats I added elements of Dorset's livery of Mulberry and white to the clothing and quivers of some but not all of the figures, altogether they really complement the original unit.

With all this talk of coats I thought I'd add a couple of interesting historical details on that subject. Thanks to the inheritance of a full war chest this army was perhaps the finest Henry put into the field throughout his reign and yes they really were almost entirely in uniform.

First up here we have an account by a Venetian Ambassador commenting on 9 April 1513 on the fleet leaving England;

"69 ships sailed out of the Thames in Holy week, 10 or 12 of 300 to 1000 tonnes. 10 others were in Southampton. Besides, 6 rowbarges, bettwe for landing than galleys. 16,000 soldiers and 32,000 mariners. Captains, pilots, soldiers and mariners have jackets and coats of white and green."

Secondly many thanks to Nigel for sending me this wonderful German account of Henry VIII's meeting with Maximilian on 14th August 1513:

"He had not many mounted men, but had his footguards or halberdiers with him, of whom about 300 all clad in one colour ran with him on foot. [From a tower the King showed the Emperor] what belonged to the town (the town of Therouanne and state of the siege). Whilst both lords were on the tower the King had placed all his people who were in camp in lines everywhere three or four deep. He conducted the Emperor through to inspect this. They are really big strong men having a captain to every hundred, and their pennon on a long spear as our horsemen carry them. It is carried with both hands in front against the breast. Some have English bows, some crossbows, certain of them maces with long handles and certain of them long spears; and almost all are clad in long white coats edged with green cloth and wear breast plates, and steel caps on their heads. For their field music they have a fluteplayer (schalm) and a bagpiper (sackpfeiffer) who play together and certain of them a trumpet."

Lots in there to think of, not least the bagpipes !

Lastly the main sources in English referencing coats and other items are the letters and papers mentioning the cost of such items, here they are featuring in the lead up to the anticipated Scottish incursion;

‘Paid for wages, coats, and conduct money for the retinue of the Earl of Surrey, for one month, beginning 20 Aug. 4 Hen. VIII.; viz. for 500 coats of white and green at 4s. each; to Lord Surrey, for himself 5l. a day; to Lord Barnes, marshal of the Army, 6s. 8d. a day; 10 petty captains 2s. each a day; 22 demi-lances, 9d. each a day; one spear 18d. a day; 162 archers 8d. each a day; 2 surgeons 8d. each a day; 1 trumpet 16d. a day. Wages &c. for the treasurer of the wars and 15 men of his retinue; viz., a coat of white and green for the treasurer, 4s.; wages of the treasurer at 6s. 8d. a day, for 42 days from 5 Aug. to 17 Sept.; a coat of white and green for Thomas Warton, clerk of the wars, 4s.; his wages at 2s. a day for 40 days; for coats of white and green, for 13 soldiers at 4s. a coat; their wages at 8d. a day. To Wm. Butteler, sergeant-of-arms, for coats of white and green for himself and 2 soldiers; his wages at 2s. a day; his 2 soldiers at 8d. a day’

Note that these are for soldiers in Royal Livery being part of Surrey’s contingent then thereafter you have coats for some men of office and a few others. Uniforms were not provided for the rest of the Northern army so livery badges and in some cases (Stanley) livery coats were used though I suspect some may still have worn white for identification.

As for the French campaign here is a log of 1514 recording the return of arms and equipment from various sources following the French campaign;

‘11 June, 7,350 bowstrings, 1,900 stakes. Of Sir Sampson Norton, 28 July, 120 half-barrels of gunpowder, 100 gross of bowstrings, 2,000 iron and lead shot, 100 ditto, 500 marespikes (at different times) 3,691 ditto, 1,000 bills. Of Thos. Hart, 5 May, 21 lasts 6 barrels of gunpowder. Of Lord Lisley, by John Gelston, 10 June 5 Hen. VIII., 51 sheaves of arrows, 668 bills. From the customer of Pole, by order of the Bp. of Winchester, 3 brass guns, 1 iron gun. From Will. Bussheler, 4 April, 170 pair of harness and 12 cables. From John Hode, 12 April, 340 harness, 32 cables. Of John Blewbery, 9 Aug., coats of white and green cloth 638, white and green chamlet 13, white and green satin 4, damask’

There’s quite a lot to take from that but note the numbers and the different cloth used for the coats, you have the soldiers then the better fabric for the officers.

This time, same year but recording the navy;

‘Mr. Arthur Plantagenet for the Nicholas of Hampton and Ant. Poyntz for 3 Bristol ships. Coats, white and green, 80 to the Michell Compton, and 558 (including 1 of damask, 4 satin and 13 chamlet)’

I'm now about halfway in modernising the infantry via conversion;

NB that's not all of them, as I write I'm looking up at another cannon and some English Pike....oops

Next up could be a number of things as I have a few concurrent projects, perhaps a brief face tutorial as I've had a few requests for that, watch this space.

All the best


Sunday, 21 January 2018

Last call for Custom Dice

Back in December I mentioned that I had commissioned some bespoke dice and to gauge interest I would be submitting a bulk order at the end of January.

I've received a few orders and this is a final call for anyone who is interested in getting some. 

Here are the available designs;

Tudor Rose & Red Dragon from the Tudor coat of arms

Fleur de lys & Louis XII Porcupine 

In addition to these I'm also going to commission an Imperial Eagle on a yellow dice using this image;

I'm not sure if the talons and beaks will be red but at a 16mm frontage it's not going to make too much of a difference.

The dice are priced at £10 plus P&P per pack of 12 as follows;
  • 12 Tudor Rose
  • 12 Dragon
  • Tudor mix pack, 6 of each
  • 12 Fleur de lys
  • 12 Porcupine
  • French mix pack, 6 of each
  • NEW Imperial Eagle pack
To submit your pre-order contact me via email stating what you'd like and your delivery address and I shall confirm the P&P inclusive price. Full payment is required via Paypalto reserve your order;

To give you an idea of the P&P based upon a large letter it'll be £1.50 for UK, £4.00 for the EU and £5.00 for the U.S. 

I will submit the order at the end of the month and all being well I hope to be sending out the fulfilled orders about a week later, I'll email to confirm.

All the best


Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 a Year in Review

Here's a round up of the highlights of my gaming and painting year. I'd say it's perhaps been my busiest and most enjoyable yet with easily the most output by a wide margin. In no particular order;

French cavalry

In this project I worked to double my quota of French cavalry which required Gendarmes, Men at arms and Mounted Archers. The work required ranged from very laboured and intricately painted Gendarmes to converted / sculpted Men at arms and Mounted Archers.

This was a real labour of love which took several months and towards the end as I wanted the figures to be ready for a particular game I really felt the pressure to get them done.

It was certainly worth it as they are perhaps the unit that I am most proud of and they're very imposing on the battlefield. Moreover though it may seem somewhat idiosyncratic I'm especially pleased with the attention to detail and proportions of troop type, they have a historic rather than generic feel to them.  

Landsknechts in French Service

Staying with the French I was keen to have a unit of Landsknechts in French service. I seem to have to be in the Landsknecht zone to get them done but when I'm there I just don't notice the time pass. Again I've paid particular attention to detail and used historic sources. A year doesn't seem right without a Landsknecht project and you can never have too many ! 

Tudor Infantry

Slowly replacing my existing units with those in base coats as well as creating new units has been to my mind a necessity for the Tudor army.

The year began in a fairly laboured manner of converting every figure which took quite a while. However the kind support and encouragement from Oliver James of Steel Fist miniatures led this in a new direction with the creation of the Tudor Dollies which easily halved the time it took to create the figures. This then led to a brief foray into casting and making the figures available for sale. I've been really surprised with how well these have been received and where I've sent packages to.

Carts & Artillery

This was a fun project with multiple diversions. It began as the creation of a converted Tudor heavy bombard which then required a bespoke cart for which I ended up with 3 interchangeable loads. To round it off I then created a scene for a Wargame of pioneers and soldiers working to lift a mired gun from a river.


What a year it has been for gaming. Where do I start, well the main focus this year along with Oliver Green has been to playtest and develop our amendments to Lion Rampant which has involved a lot of correspondence and some really fun gaming weekends throughout the year. I've also inflicted this upon Simon Chick both in Home and Away games which was great fun.

Most recently I've gone to the effort of getting some bespoke dice made to add to our games which I'm really looking forward to using.

Moving from skirmishes to big battles I was invited by Michael Perry to Nottingham to take part in an excellent Franco Tudor game in the Summer which was an absolute pleasure and a great social occasion -  I think I even managed it without requiring morning after paracetomol this year !

Last but not least I've had lots of games as part of what I have titled the Jeff's shed Wargames Association here in South Wales. True mini games from a variety of periods with a beer and general catch up.

That's just about everything of note, have a look back over the blog posts of the year if you're interested in more of the detail. It's been a blast and I'm looking forward to where 2018 will take me.

If you're interested in some dice or dollies drop me an email;