Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2014

More Vignettes and Finished Guns. . .

Only about two years in the painting. . .   The Minden and RSM95 gun crews, painted as Palatinate and Saxons respectively in 2012, were finally issued with their guns (purchased well over a year ago) this weekend. . .   Two massive Swedish 4-pounders by Fife & Drum.  I'm already planning to replace the Minifig guns in two other batteries with other Fife & Drum pieces, which are the new benchmark for artillery models as far as I am concerned.
Much afoot here at Stollen Central this past weekend.  Painting, rearranging things so that I could once again set up my 10' x 6' table, and ridding myself of five (yes, FIVE) massive black garbage bags of styrofoam sheeting and old hills.  Ala Charles S. Grant, I will replace these with much thinner sheets of foamcore board, which will provide less dramatic, more gentle slopes for the armies of Stollen and Zichenau to fight over.  

At the same time, I've gotten rid of what was beginning to seem like a genuine fire hazard, so…

More Frigid Weater (and a little Painting) in the Grand Duchy. . .

Our Kid entering Brelau in 1743, and it looks like it might be winter here too.
More extremely cold weather here this morning, and the university has cancelled classes for the day because of it.  Never one to complain, this looks like a perfect opportunity to spend some of the day down here in Zum Stollenkeller finishing up a few things.  I've finally finished (almost) those two Fife & Drum 4-pounder cannon, and there are also another couple of small vignettes that need only a couple of glossy coats of varnish and some groundwork before they are ready for their 'Kodak Moments.'  Stay tuned!
-- Stokes

Brrrrrr, it's Cold!!!

This old print of Washington and Lafayette visiting their suffering troops, who were camped in and around Valley Forge, Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia during the winter of 1777-78, seems appropriate on this frigid January morning.
It's currently -6 F./-21 C. here at Stollen Central this morning with a wind chill factor of -30 F./-34 C.  Minnesota cold!  Barring that, it's a beautiful, sunny winter's morning with sunshine and bright, powdery, squeaky snow on the ground.  The Grand Duchess and I love it while the Young Master wants to play in it and go tobogganing, but the temperature needs to warm up just a wee bit first.  Playing in the cold and enjoying it is one thing, but doing so to the point of being foolhardy is another kettle of fish entirely.  No.  I think it might be better today to enjoy the winter scene from the inside and sit down to the painting table for a couple of hours this afternoon.  Don't you agree?

Photo Experimentation. . .

They might be giants. . .  Another shot of the same vignette, this time against a neutral background in the lightbox.
Goofing around this morning with the camera timer and lightbox.  Here are the particulars:

* Distance between Sony Cyber-shot TX20 camera and subject -- slightly over 8" or 20.5cm.
* Camera flipped automatically into the macro setting.
* Tripod used.
* Self-timer set for 10 seconds. . .  Look Mom, no hands!
* No flash.  Indirect, diffused lighting came from three different lamps each with 100watt "daylight" corkscrew bulb.  One aimed at the top of the lightbox, and two aimed at either side of the light box.  No lights were aimed directly onto the figures.
* Five slightly different pictures were taken.  This one was the best as far as the position of the base and both figures goes.

In Photoshop Elements 9, I pasted in the picture and first cropped it way, way down from the original size, and then used in turn the following bits of editing magic: 1) Select > Al…

Self-Timer Test Photograph. . .

The latest vignette in the series. . .  a generic Austrian cuirassier officer (Minden) and an equally generic infantry officer (RSM95).
Yours truly spent a wonderfully quiet and still winter's day today down here in Zum Stollenkeller, working on the small scenic base shown above.  We had light snow all day, which meant there was little to no traffic on the street, and The Grand Duchess made us special Mexican-style French Toast.  She sliced up a left over length of baguette, soaked it in the egg and vanilla mixture overnight, and, once cooked, we enjoyed it with butter, cinnamon, and sugar on it late this morning.  Can't recall when I've had French Toast as delicious.  And then, bless 'em, The Grand Duchess and Young Master dressed and headed out to the Winter Farmers' Market downtown and then onto some indoor children's things in the same general area.  The house was remarkably still for hours, and it was absolutely great.  I make no apologies for liking my pea…

More Newly Cropped and Sharpened Images. . .

A group of Austrian engineer officers, in various versions of their uniform, argues about the possibility of bridging a nearby rushing river.
After supper and the Young Master's bedtime yesterday evening, I withdrew to Zum Stollenkeller with a fresh mug of black coffee, and fooled around for an hour with editing several photographs of figures (mostly by Minden along with a few select RSM95 castings painted during the last couple of years) and Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.

While my own view is that you shouldn't mess too much with the original image files, which risks making them look nothing like the actual painted figures themselves, Photoshop Elements is wonderful for cropping the pictures of your miniatures, sharpening them, plus fixing minor color and lighting problems without too much trouble.  

Ideally, however, it's still best to take the best photos you can to begin with, which will reduce the amount of editing and fiddling necessary.  By the way, there is a wonderful s…

A Few More Newly Cropped Photographs. . .

Here's a reprise of that Fife&Drum Continental Army command base I painted up during December of 2013.
Thank you for the very kind comments some of you have left about yesterday's new vignettes!  Much appreciated, and I'll try not to let it go to my head.  You know how funny I can get, though, when a few souls make the fatal mistake of bestowing a few words of praise on me.  Listen carefully!  Can you hear the sound of my already fat head getting bigger?

Anyway, home for an hour or so before retuning to campus for a late afternoon meeting with a colleague (sigh).  So, why not kill some time by monkeying around with a few more photographs of vignettes painted last month and Photoshop Elements?  This could be a dangerous combination.  Very dangerous indeed.

Likewise, here are those four marching Continental infantrymen, undoubtedly sneaking off during the battle under the cover of powder smoke.

And here is a vignette that shows how nicely Minden (the Austrian hussar officer…

Three Brand New Vignettes. . .

Hot off the painting table, here are the latest three miniature scenes to take their place in the Grand Duchy of Stollen collection.
Most of the day free today!  One of the fringe benefits of it still being very early in the semester.  Fear not however.  I'll get my comeuppance in a few weeks once things become more, and then exceedingly, busy, which is always the way.  Still, with the Grand Duchess on campus most of the day, and the Young Master happily engaged building his version of Stonehenge, why not wrap up a few things at the painting table?

'The Thrown Shoe.'

So, here are the three latest vignettes, all using 1/56th Minden figures and mostly painted with my usual Winsor & Newton alkyd oils thinned way down with Winsor & Newton Liquin Original.  Smaller details and some limited, fine lining with dark brown have been done with Citadel hobby acrylics as is also routine.  I'm also getting a slightly better grasp on photographing the finished figures using my…

Ernestinsch Sachsen Infantry. . .

An infantryman in the Sachsen-Hildeburghausen uniform described at the Kronoskaf website.
A wargaming friend, remembering my recent nattering on about eventual plans to paint up an 80-figures unit of Ernestinisch Saxon infantry, troops from Sachsen-Coburg, Sachsen-Weimar, and Sachsen-Hildeburghausen who wore a variety of uniforms, asked if I had any additional information besides the decriptions presented at the Kronoskaf 'Project Seven Years War' website.  I managed to dig up a few through the online Vinkhuijzen Collection (courtesy the New York Public Library) a few months ago, and saved them onto my computer for later reference.  So, Stefan, here is what I've got so far, which seems to match up with, more or less, what Mr. Kronoskaf has to say on the subject. 

Another musketeer, this time wearing the Sachsen-Weimar uniform, also described at Kronoskaf.

Since I've got 60+ RSM95 Prussian musketeers, officers, and musicians cluttering a small plastic box here in Zum Stol…

Has it really been 30 years already??!!

A 15mm British flank company figure from the Jacobite Miniatures range (photo lifted from the Deep Fired Happy Mice site) just like some of the figures I ordered and eventually received in 1984.  While I loved them at the time, the 2005 review of these figures by the Deep Fried Happy Mice is scathing, and I must conceded that I see what they mean.
It occurred to me midday yesterday (Saturday), as I put the finishing touches on a few new figures AND kept up a running Q&A with the Young Master, who was playing in the adjacent main outer room of Zum Stollenkeller and occasionally sticking his head through my door to see what I was up to at the painting table, that I've been painting wargame figures and enjoying the occasional game for exactly 30 years this month.  30 years?  Yep.  30 Years!!!  Where in the world has the time gone?

Right after the first of the year, in January 1984, the long-haired, heavily Van Halen and Scorpions influenced me had some Christmas money burning a hol…

Vignettes in Progress. . .

The current crop of vignettes on the painting table, featuring a mix of figures by Minden, Fife & Drum, and one or two by RSM95.
Well, the new college semester is underway, but I'm not quite as busy this time around, which means a little more consistent painting time most evenings.  First off, it's time to clear the decks by finishing these four vignettes, two of which are intended as multibase scenes.  

At the moment, I am at work the various figures in the foreground.  Here, General von Zieten hands a message to an officer on horseback (facings and pelisse fur were done after this photograph was taken) while another officer from the same regiment holds onto ol' Hans Joachim's steed and, nearby, a couple of blacksmiths reshoe a third horse.  After the Grand Duchess' short research trip to Berlin next summer, I'll have a mobile forge from Berliner Zinnfiguren to add to this particular tableux.  

Don't you just love my over-reliance on these French words?  …

Happy New Year from the Grand Duchy of Stollen!

Wherever you are in the world, and regardless of your precise wargaming interests, here's to painting more figures, reducing the lead/plastic mountain, reading more about our chosen periods, and the staging of more games in 2014.

-- Stokes


And I don't know about you, but I've had enough rich Christmas food, candy, and desserts to last me for a few months. . .  Well, a few weeks at least.