We woke this morning here at Totleigh-in-the-Wold, to a wintry scene outside, about three inches of fresh snow! No great tragedy as far as I am concerned since I am a big fan of winter weather, but perhaps it is a bit much when you consider that it is already April 9th. The tulips have been threatening to open here since before Easter after all. Sadly, however, there is not quite enough snow on the ground to drag out the toboggan or strap on the cross-country skis one last time. Sigh. But as Pete the Cat is fond of saying, "It's all good."
In more soldierly news, I mad a big push last night and earlier this afternoon to wrap up the 20 camp followers I have been tinkering with since the end of February. They are now almost finish save or a coat or two of carefully applied acrylic gloss medium, which I'll address this evening [actually accomplished in the company of the curious Young Master during Saturday afternoon]. The Grand Duchess has an all-day event on campus, which, I fear, will stretch into the evening hours for her. She has been instrumental in its planning, and thus even busier than usual the last few days, which has given yours truly a bit more time in the evenings once the Young Master has retired for the night.
Last but not least, I am finalizing things today and, as they say, pulling the trigger for a large order of Minden/Fife&Drum limbers, riders, and horse teams for my existing six or seven two-gun batteries of guns. This is my BIG project for 2016, although I am adding bits and pieces here and there as I muddle through all of it. For instance, there is another new and different wagon by Black Hussar Miniatures wending from Berlin, Germany to our front doorstep as we speak, which will be a nice addition to my large-ish transport train that took much of 2014 to assemble. In addition, there is a small package of four assorted dogs produced by Westfalia Miniatures in the UK, which looks like an eventual nice addition to the collection. One of you suggested a couple of years ago that a dog or four might be visually satisfying to include on a general's base and as part of the general hubbub of camp life. These pooches and hounds should do the trick nicely.
By the way, Black Hussar Miniatures now offers a very nice range of 28mm 18th century figures and wagons to enliven any tabletop setting. The same is true of Westfalia Miniatures although they are more Napoleonic in focus, but it strikes me that the wagons and carriages they offer could easily be pressed into service for earlier, pre-Revolutionary conflicts during the 1700s too. If you are looking around for items like these, it is worth scrutinizing the websites of both companies. The horses produced by both are particularly well sculpted, almost on a par with Richard Ansell's work for Minden, Fife&Drum, and Crann Tara.
And now, I am off to fix breakfast for the Young Master, who has a pile of fresh croissants waiting for him in the kitchen -- he developed true Continental habits while in Berlin last summer -- to enjoy after his cereal and orange juice.
The Young Master's sense of humor has really come out in the last ten days or so. In fact, he sat next to me while I glossed figures for about two hours earlier this afternoon and was terribly funny as he narrated what Dad's stuffed IKEA rat, who resides down here in Zum Stollenkeller Mk. II, gets up to during the wee hours of the morning when the rest of us are asleep. To say I was in stitches for most of the time is something of an understatement.
Sunday Morning. . .
I found a very useful online photo editing program late yesterday evening after the Grand Duchess retired for the night. Pixlr.com, whose set-up and layout once you open things will seem somewhat familiar to anyone who has experience using the various versions of Photoshop. While not quite as straightforward as Photoshop Elements 7, which I have used for several years now, you can fairly easily brighten and crop photographs as well as adjust the color in a variety of ways. There also seems to be good online support as well as a variety of online tutorials, all of which mean that I have, at least for now, found my new photo editing program.
"But I thought you were a dyed in the wool Photoshop Elements man, Stokes old boy!" you might say to yourself. Well, normally yes, but back at the start of February, high winds one Friday evening zapped my desktop computer, a Sony Vaio all-in-one beast, here at home. After two weeks in the University tech repair shop, said computer was returned in full working order and with several important updates, BUT Photoshop Elements 7 had disappeared from my 'desktop', and I have been unable to locate the disk to reload it. Neither have I yet got around to ordering a newer version from Amazon, so Pixlr.com will fit the bill nicely until then.
In any case, I spent an hour or so noodling around after midnight with the first two photographs in the post and Pixlr.com to get a feel for using it. Not bad, but the brightness seems to be a good deal stronger that in Photoshop Elements 7, which leave things looking washed out if you are not careful, and the already pale fleshtone of the figures becomes less distinguishable from the white. So, a softer touch is required with this particular program. In addition, I have yet to locate the single quick fix button, and whatever it is called by the Pixlr.dom folks, that Photoshop Elements 7 featured. The new program is not completely intuitive then. Nevertheless, it is better than nothing, and will at least help me get some marginally better photographs up here on the blog as and when items are finished at the painting desk.