22 June 2016

Over the Hills and Faraway. . .

Making my way around the table, gluing the various layers in place, and using various Charles S. Grant titles to hold everything in place until dry.  Nice, weighty books as useful for holding sections of foamcore board flat while the glue dries as they are interesting and inspirational readsAlso appropriate for hills inspired by those seen in these various Wargaming in History titles and Wargamers' Annuals during the last several years.  David Chandler titles would have been overkill.  They're also less convenient being on a lower bookshelf.

Cue the Led Zeppelin!  Painting in the same bright green as the tabletop to follow in the next couple of days.

-- Stokes

19 June 2016

Finetuning the Hills. . .

 Here is where things stand at the moment.
Still messing around adding layers to hills and ridges this afternoon with the help of my small, blonde assistant. Happy Fathers' Day everyone!

-- Stokes

18 June 2016

A Pair of Terraining Loons. . .

 The Young Master hard at work late this afternoon coloring the Hasenpfeffer River.  That's the village of Hasenpfeffer on the summit of the hill by the way.  A lake, pond, and mill run were later added.

The Young Master and I spent the second half of our Saturday afternoon working on eventual hills.  By all accounts, a great deal of fun was had by all.  After supper, the three of us retired to the rear deck where the Young Master spent an hour running through the sprinklers, as the backyard was watered, while the Grand Duchess and I enjoyed, coffee, tea, and some kind of small lemon zest cookies.  Two short Star Wars stories followed just before bed after tooth-brushing and pajamas.  It has been a good day here at Totleigh-in-the-Wold.

-- Stokes


 Here is nearby Hasenpfefferwald complete with insects, a taxi, and prehistoric creatures.


More of the finished forest over on the painting desk.  There is even more in a nearby closet.  I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 trees on various bases thanks to the help of my partner in crime, the Young Master..

17 June 2016

There's Nothin' Shakin'. . .

The Young Master checking out several of the two dozen Zvezda trees we assembled yesterday afternoon.  This was the first time he really and truly assisted with something wargaming-related.  It took us about 90 minutes and was fun despite the tedium of sorting through everything.

But the leaves on the trees.  Or pine needles as the case may be.  Yesterday was a rainy day, so the Young Master, who finished school last week and is now into his summer vacation, spent most of the day hanging around with me in Zum Stollenkeller Mk II here at Totleigh-in-the-Wold doing one thing and another.  We began by playing with a large cardboard wardrobe box, which functioned as a rocket, an anthill, then a skyscraper.  Without slowing down, YMP next moved to playing with his large collection of plastic dinosaurs, Legos, and then Matchbox cars.  All of the great things that six-year-old boys do in fact.  A full lunch with Dad at the dining table was in there somewhere, and YMP enjoyed everything and was extremely polite at the table, which isn't always the case although we try.  Oh, Lord, how we try.

But back to our time together in my basement den.  At one point, the Young Master spotted a plastic bag of Zvezda pine tree parts idling on my painting desk and asked to see them.  Well, before we knew it, we were both up to our elbows with sorting these into piles of different sized tree layers and trunks before we next started to assemble them into coherent trees.

Longtime visitors to the Grand Duchy of Stollen blog might recall that I purchased two packages of these Zvezda evergreen trees years ago, way back in the winter of 2007 I think.  A few of them have featured in some of the games and photo shoots I've staged for the blog over the years, but I never managed to get around to assembling all 24 trees.  

Well, the years went by and everything was tossed into a plastic bag at some point where all of the pieces became hopelessly mixed up as the trees came apart.  So, this time, I got smart.  Once the Young Master and I sorted everything and assembled the trees, I returned last night late, well after his bedtime, with some Crazy Glue gel and cemented them together. Amazingly, I managed to accomplish everything without cementing my eyelashes or anything else together.

This evening, I'll glue the foliage to the trunks, and Robert is your mother's brother.  The finished trees will be sprinkled in among the deciduous cake decoration trees already attached to those great laser-cut plywood Litko terrain bases that I painted several days ago.  I've also got a few small bases left that will have only evergreens attached to them to place on higher levels of hills, to approximate wooded ridges for instance, which are the next part of my pledge for The Great Terrain Challenge of June 2016.

-- Stokes


And then the inflatable solar system arrived in the mail this Friday afternoon.  That's the Young Master's friend, the intrepid Lieutenant Bee in her space-going Lego helicopter.

13 June 2016

Can't See the Forest for the Trees. . .

Here is an example of what I'm blathering on about below.  I've included the 1/56th versions of von Moritz and von Ziethen for size comparison.  Incidentally, some of the smaller Litko terrain bases might also be just the thing for command vignettes, which is, now that you mention it, another idea I've had banging 'round inside the ol' noggin lately.

During freer moments over the weekend, I plugged away at bases for 72 or so cake decoration trees, long in my possession and have featured occasionally in games over the years.  I attached these to Litko terrain bases of various dimensions and then painted said bases in a Glidden latex (emulsion) color otherwise known as 'Deep Shaded Green.'  The color seems only right for shaded forest, wood, copse, and thicket floors .  

Due to a minor miscalculation on my part -- something that never, EVER happens in my universe I assure you. . .  ahem -- I have yet to affix my two dozen or so Strelets (???) Russian evergreens to bases simply because I ran out of bases and must order more.  SighStill, you  can see from the accompanying photograph what my thinking is with these various tree bases which are in the spirit of Charles Grant Sr., however with more random (much less straight) edges denoting wooded areas than was the case with his bases of two-three Merit trees as seen in The War Game and in the peripheries of various magazine photos way back when and once upon a time.

For some months this last winter, on a related note, I toyed seriously with the idea of adding grassy terrain cloths to cover my table and give it a more realistic look.  Then I realized that doing so would require more realistic looking trees, buildings, and so forth.  I must admit that I kind of like all of the stylized, scratch-built buildings I have amassed during the last ten years of so, and the cake decoration trees aren't that bad.  In the end, I decided to remain with my stylized, old school look as an homage, of sorts, to departed wargaming greats like Charles Grant Sr., Young and Lawford, and, of course where the basing configuration of my units is concerned, Peter Gilder.  It works for me.

Just a few larger bases of trees to assemble and paint this evening ater the Young Master's bedtime, and then it's onto a slew of Minden/Fife & Drum artillery limbers, horses, and riders for the rest of June and July.  Tally ho!

-- Stokes

05 June 2016

Ernestine Sachsen Regiment with Kurmainz Grenadiers. . .


Painting the laser cut Litko bases this aternoon in the same green as my tabletop, Olympic Grassy Meadow, which helps them magically recede into said surface.


Here's the entire regiment from above with the as yet unglued figures in place.


And here is a shot of the line from almost 30mm soldier level.  The regimental line stretches a staggering 22 inches in length when the staff and color bearers are placed in the center!

Basing in progress, but nothing is tacked permanently down quite yet.  From right to left, my versions of: The Kurmainz grenadiers, Sachsen-Weimar, Sachsen-Coburg, and Sachsen-Hildburghausen contingents.  Just about there after a year and half of sporadic painting.  Whew!

-- Stokes


P.S.
10:15pm, and I have just finished gluing the figures in place.  Tomorrow evening will see me addressing a few final touch-ups, and then I am calling this particular project done.  It's time to do something else for a while.  At least until I get the itch to paint another 80-figure infantry unit that is.  Those forthcoming Minden/Fife & Drum Hessians look mighty tempting. 

The Sachsen-Hildburghauen Contingent Is Done!

Here is one half of the monster 80-figure regiment -- the now finished Sachsen-Hildburghausen contingent is in the blue coats -- with its second coat of acrylic gloss all dry.

Made the big push to get things wrapped up and apply two coats of Liquitex acrylic gloss varnish to the Sachsen-Hildburghausen boys yesterday (Saturday) afternoon and evening.  That went so quickly that I also took the opportunity to apply a second coat of the stuff to the 19 figures, completed at the start of March, at the conclusion of a friendly painting challenge that several wargaming friends and acquaintances and I scrambled through in February.  You'll observe a hastily taken photograph above of this half of the regiment.  

Today, once I have made a Sunday breakfast for the Grand Duchess and Young Master, I will begin permanent basing of the entire 80-figure unit!  This will be fun because I have a bunch of laser-cut Litko bases which should really smarten up the various contingents comprising my version of the Ernestine Sachsen Regiment of Infantry.  Why I waited so long to purchase and use professionally made plywood bases and continued to cut my own from thick card is hard to fathom, but there you are.  About as sharp as a mashed potato sandwich as my maternal grandparents used to observe wryly. 

I cannot recommend laser-cut bases highly enough however, and there are a number of companies around the globe at this point, besides Litko, that produce similar in plywood, MDF, and/or plastic in various possible thicknesses.  I've even set aside a few of the smaller so called terrain bases, which are completely amorphous shapes, to use as staff vignette bases when I get back to painting a few mounted generals and ADCs.  All terribly convenient and, frankly, much nicer looking than anything one might cut by hand unless you channel Da Vinci, or possibly Giotto.


 Here is a photograph of the waiting bases.  


My planned basing scheme, shown above, is based on careful study of various battalion diagrams in Christopher Duffy's The Army of Frederick the Great, the base organization and dimensions stipulated by the late Peter Gilder in his In the Grand Manner rules, and the unit organizations suggested by Young and Lawford in Charge!  Simply put, four companies of 16 privates, one officer, a musician, and an NCO each.  The drummers will be placed in pairs on each flank and two of the four company officers will be based singly to take up their places in the front rank on either flank.  NCOs, along with the drummers, will make up a third rank when the battalion is in line (I've tossed in an extra pair of NCOs). The mounted colonel, standards, adjutant, and an R.S.M.  will occupy the slightly smaller base in the center of the battalion. It should all make for a suitably busy tableau once everything is done, yet moving the unit from here to there in games will take appreciably less time than when figures are ALL left as unbased singletons.  Nice in theory, but. . . 

Anyway, watch for another photograph or two late tonight once everything is all done.  Then, I've got a 30mm version of The Hundred Acre Wood to whip up.

-- Stokes



03 June 2016

Sachsen-Hildburghausen Contingent Almost Finished. . .

Here is where the current batch of figures stands.  Not brightened at all to avoid blitzing the raised areas and other details.  Still not as good a photograph as some that I've taken in the past with my lightbox, but it is a work-in-progress picture after all.

Well, Sir. . .  I took the Friday afternoon off from article writing and made a real push to address a bunch of small details on my version of the Sachesen-Hildburghausen contingent that was part of the Ernestine Sachsen Regiment.  A few tiny touch-ups still to do.  I also see, much to my chagrin, that the eight musketeers in the middle distance still need their white shirt cuffs painted in, darn it!  This evening after the Young Master's bedtime then.

In other hobby news, I received a bunch of laser cut bases by Litko in the mail today, so the next thing to do after the figures above get their gloss varnish and are based up with the rest o the 80-igure regiment, is to begin preparing 10 or 12 Minden/Fife & Drum Prussian and Austrian gun limbers, riders, and 40-48 limber horses for basing and base-coating.  This should be fun and round out my various two-gun batteries and crews nicely.  I've also go a few ideas for additional horse colors to keep things from getting too dull.  You know.  You've got to beat the Tedium Demon at his own game.  Hmmm. . .  That sounds like a line from an old Motorhead tune.  It should have been on Side B of the No Sleep Till Hammersmith live album.

In the same package, were a bunch of amorphous "terrain bases" of various sizes, to which I'll eventually affix my large collection of 5" cake decoration trees (72 of 'em for about US$5.99 if memory serves me correctly) after slapping on a couple of coats of medium dark green latex paint.  This will make more sense when I post a few photographs of the finished items at month's end, but the idea is to have a bunch of wooded bases that can represent everything from lines of trees and small thickets to larger copses, medium sized woods, and even extensive forest areas without to much trouble.  What I envision is something similar to the two-three tree bases that show up in old photographs of Charles Grant Sr.'s games, but modified a bit to reflect my own thinking about demarcating wooded areas in a somewhat more realistic way on the wargaming table.

-- Stokes

01 June 2016

Photo Cropping Experiments. . .

One of the 19 figures currently underway whose face turned out rather nicely.  Notice the darker pigment in his eye sockets and on either side of his nose and mouth?

Monkeying around this Wednesday evening with the online photograph editor Pixlr.com, which allows you to achieve many of the same effects as Photoshop Elements, although the names o certain functions differ between the two, which makes the learning curve a bit steep.  In particular, I have brightened and sharpened the photograph of the current works-in-progress here as well as run the auto levels (colors?) adjustment function before finally cropping it in four ways.  

What I intended was to highlight is how, when you apply your fleshtone thinly enough, the pigment will settle in the eye sockets and along the sides of the noses and mouths as it dries, making these areas a bit darker.  Conversely, the cheekbones, noses, and chins will show up a bit lighter (remember the white basecoat?) when the paint is thinner, providing instant shading and highlighting with neither the muss, nor the fuss of the three-shade method that is currently so popular.  You may not care for the my more subtle results, but it works or me.  See what you think.

-- Stokes


 Here is a close-up of two of the better faces before the completion of mustaches and dressed hair.


Here's a third face on another figure that I am pleased with.  Many of the RSM95 figures exhibit faces that are simply full of wonderful character.  The late Seve Hezzlewood was indeed a master sculptor.


And here is the entire batch of 19 figures once again after sharpening of the raw image and fooling around with a few adjustments and filters in Pixlr's online editor.

30 May 2016

Sachsen-Hildburghausen Infantry Update. . .

Really beginning to come together at this point through more careful (ok, tedious) painting.  You know.  To remain within the lines.

I've spent about three hours during the last couple of days plugging away at these 19 RSM95 Prussian musketeers.  We're getting into that less than exciting multitudinous tiny detail painting territory now.  Sigh.  This means lots of straight lines: shoulder belts, bayonet scabbard, hair queues, musket stocks, musket straps, gun barrels, etc., etc., etc.  You get the idea.  

It's funny what goes through your mind as you zone out during the zen of painting, and why it has never occurred to me before now is anyone's guess.  But these items all require the careful painting of dashes and lines of various lengths and thicknesses.  Not the most exciting part of figure painting in any scale.  Still, things are coming together, and I've managed to accomplish quite a bit in short spurts of activity between cooking tasks yesterday and time, more or less, to myself today although the Young Master and I did have an extremely pleasant father-son walk around the neighborhood late this afternoon for an hour or so before supper.  

Still lots of other minute details to take care of, but my version of the Sachsen-Hildburghausen contingent that was part of the larger Ernestine Sachsen Regiment is beginning to come alive.  Visually speaking that is!

-- Stokes



 Came across this new image of the Sachsen-Hildburghausen Regiment, ca. 1753, this afternoon during a break in painting.  He looks rather different from the figure shown below on which I have based my painting.



 And here, again, is the illustration I have used as a guide in the painting of my figures.

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