Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Change of mind

I looked at the pic of the second spearman again, and decided that he was just too colourful for the way I envision the Etruscans. The blue on the shield and plume just seemed too vivid for 300BC, so I repainted him to give a black shield and black/white plume. I am happier with the result.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Second spearman

The second completed spearman. Technique for this one was exactly the same as the last. Now that I have painted one of each type of figure, the rest will be done in batches, and will hopefully be quicker.

Second spearman

So here is a work in progress shot for the second type of spearman, this time with an Etrusco-Corinthian helmet and hoplon shield. The black undercoat/white drybrush stage showed up that he was wearing a scale type cuirass rather than what I thought was a linen or leather one. As a result of this discovery, I drybrushed the whole figure with a bronze colour as it was easier to do at this stage than trying to do it only on the cuirass after the rest of the colours were done. Next was the basic colour blocking-in. The spear armed hoplites will be painted in various colours for variety and visual impact. The pilum armed guys I think will be painted in a consistent, uniform colour. This is for two reasons: firstly, on a whim (!) and secondly, as the figures look so similar, this will be a way to easily distinguish between troop types during the game.

First figure done

The first spearman is now finished. A thinned down brown wash was brushed over the whole figure, adding depth to the recesses, but still reaving the main colours showing through. Once that was dry (which didn't take long when balanced on top of a radiator whilst the heating was on!) thinned dark brown was used to pick out some of the detail missed by the wash - things like muscle definition on the flesh areas, and some folds on the clothing.Gold was used to highlight the bronze areas, belts were painted in, and a light flesh tone used to highlight areas like cheekbones, the nose and the knuckles. I also painted a couple more coats of thinned white paint to the face of the shield. I will be using transfers for the shield designs, but that will come later.

There you have it, one finished Etruscan spearman. He won't win any prizes in a painting competition, but still done to what I like to think is a very acceptable gaming standard.

..and so the paints come out!

...And so to the first figure, one of the converted spearmen, wearing a plumed Montefortino type helmet, a bronze cuirass and carrying a hoplon shield. I usually paint in batches, but the first figure of any type I always paint in it's entirity start to finish to give me a feel for the miniature.

1. The first stage as always is to undercoat the figure, my usual technique, and the one used here is to undercoat in matt black.
2. Once the black undercoat is dry, I then drybrush with white. This picks out the detail, and the lighter colour means that the brightness of the colours painted over the top is retained.
3. Then the main colours are blocked in, leaving some of the black base coat showing at the joins. This first stage usually looks qhite rough, but the later stages will tidy the miniature up.

Cut 'n' shut

Another thing I noticed with the pack was that there was no figure that could be easily identified as the general. The pack containd a chariot figure with a spearman driver, which I guess under v.1 would have been the general's element. For the Etruscan League army, however the general is a cavalry element, so the chariot driver was surplus to requirements. The pack contains 9 cavalry figures, which is more than enough for my purposes, but they are all the same casting, which is an unarmoured rider with a wide brimmed sun hat. Emboldened by my drilling and sticking with the spearmen, I decided that a conversion would be in order to make a general.

The picture shows how I went about the (admittedly quite basic) conversion. Picture 1 shows the original cavalryman figure with his Greek cowboy hat. I simply cut his head off with a sharp knife (picture 2), then did the same with the chariot driver, making sure the cut edges were flat and clean. I then drilled a hole in the rider's neck stump, and a corresponding hole up the middle of the charioteer's disembodied head. Next I clipped a small lenth of wire (using an off-cut from one of the Xyston spears). The wire was long enough to fit into the hole on the rider, protuding far enough for the new head to slip over the exposed end. Once I was happy with the fit, it was a simple enough job to superglue the wire into the hole and the head onto the wire, as shown in picture 3. The general is now resplendent in his new crested Etrusco-Corinthian helmet, no doubt the envy of all his mates!

Chop and Change

The army from Magister Militum was put together according to the DBA v.1 lists, which are slightly different from the newer v2.2. There are sufficient figures in the pack to make up the v.2.2 army, but there needed to be some adjustment to the figures. Incidentally, I did speak to the guys from Magister Miltum about this, and they are in the process of updating their DBA packs to confom to the v.2.2 list. They did say, understandably, that this is quite a time-consuming task, so I guess it's not going to happen overnight! I look forward to the change to v.2.2 complient army packs because I do feel that Magister Militum's figures are amongst the best on the market, and the out of date army packs were the one fly in the ointment for me.

I decided to put together an Etruscan League army (list I/57b) which contains 4 elements of blades (4Bd) and 4 elements of Spear (4Sp). The army pack contains enough heavy foot to make up 8 elements, but in the wrong proportions. There are eight spear armed hoplite type figures and twenty four pilum armed hoplite types. I figure that the pilum armed guys would do for the blade elements, but I only need sixteen.

I decided therefore, that for the remaining eight I would remove the pilum, drill the hands and add a spear. I have some Xyston wire spears in my bits box, which I decided would be ideal. I also decided that if I was doing that for the eight pilum armed chaps, I would do the same for the eight spear armed ones. The reason for this was that the moulded spears struck me as a little short, and in any case, wire spears are more resilient.

The pic shows a before and after shot of the conversion. Picture 1 shows the pilum and spear figures straight out of the bag. Picture 2 shows one of the pilum armed hoplites with the weapon removed and the flash cleaned off. I used a sharp craft knife for this, and I have to say it went a lot easier than I anticipated. I then used a pin vice with a very thin drill bit (1.5 mm I think) to drill through the hand. Lastly, picture 3 shows the two figures with their new, longer spears added. I used some ready made wire spears from Xyston for this, cut down with a pair of wire clippers to the desired length. The spears are superglued in the holes, and also glued to the figure's base for added strength. Two down, fourteen to go!

Next Project - Etruscans

Well, here is the next project to go on the blog. I played in the Welsh Open DBA competition recently, which was held at the Crusade 2008 show at Penarth (near Cardiff). I used my Medieval French army, and through a run of lucky dice rolls I managed to win. This was as much of a shock to me as to many of the people I regularly play against. The prize, generously donated by Magister Militum was an Etruscan DBA army. I will be documenting my progress with these guys here on the blog, for those of you who may be interested.