One third of my battalion of Minden Miniatures French is now completed, and held its first parade today. This battalion is not based on any real historical unit, but on the French regiment depicted in the Stanley Kubrick movie Barry Lyndon.
Here are all the French figures I’ve painted so far (click on the photos for a closer view):
- Three drummers in French royal livery – one drummer will be assigned to each of the three companies I plan to have in the battalion.
- Eighteeen fusiliers/grenadiers – each of the three companies will have eighteen rank and file figures. One company will be made up of grenadiers, the others of fusiliers.
- Three officers and NCOs – in this case, a company officer, a standard bearer carrying the Flandres flag as depicted in the movie, and a sergeant (seen to the right of the fusiliers).
- A battalion gun manned by four infantrymen.
As you can see from this still from Barry Lyndon, the French have red facings, whereas in real-life the Regiment de Flandres had blue facings. The facings are bit pinker in the movie than how I have painted them, but as I am not a stickler for accuracy, and as I had Foundry’s standard three-step red paint on hand, I was happy enough with the colour.
I’ll be basing the eighteen rank-and-file men in each company on three 45mm-wide bases, each containing six men in two ranks of three (thus each man having a frontage of 15mm). I’ll put the drummers, officers, standard-bearers and NCOs on individual bases. This basing system will provide flexibility to split the battalion up for varying rules, but will allow me to display the figures in large formations like those depicted in the iconic wargaming book Charge! or how to play wargames.
There’s something simple and unfussy about French coats with no turn-backs. I also like the way Minden have equipped these men with linen packs and the archetypical large leather-covered cartridge boxes.
My method for painting the white uniforms is rather simple and impressionistic, but has worked pretty well, I think. The trick is to do the white before anything else.
- Using black undercoated figures, block paint all the white uniform areas in Foundry’s arctic grey (or a similar light warm grey colour) and let dry.
- Dry brush the entire figure with white paint.
- Paint the highlights of folds with white paint.
- Now carry on and paint the rest of the figure, using GW devlan mud wash where necessary to re-define the edges of any areas that have been lost in the white dry-brush.
I’ve given the unit a battalion gun. As such guns were manned by men assigned from the regiment, they wear the standard white infantry coats rather than the blue and red French artillery uniforms. The gun is actually a small Napoleonic cannon by Minifigs. But with a lick of red paint, it vaguely resembles the little Swedish-style cannons used as battalion guns during the period.
Here’s an action shot of the brief scene in Barry Lyndon in which a battalion gun is featured.
My previously painted British battalion waits eagerly for their opponents to be finished! With each battalion having more than sixty figures, building this army is going to be a very slow process. In fact, I’m relying on a fellow gamer who is collecting similarly based Minden figures if I’m ever going to get a game with them.
A parting shot of my first company of French on parade. I’m particularly pleased at how the faces turned out … and they weren’t too difficult to paint at all:
- Cover the whole face with light flesh paint, and let dry.
- Cover the whole face with GW sepia wash.
- Pick out the forehead, nose, cheeks, chin and ears with the light flesh paint.
- Put a dab of GW devlan mud wash into the eye sockets and inbetween the lips.
- Add a tiny amount of GW black wash into the sculpted eyes.