Un-painting the Renedra ramshackle house

The above scene could have come straight out of a western movie, with the gunfight taking place at a dilapidated old farmhouse on the prairie.

However this photo isn’t a movie still, but a shot of my latest project: building the Renedra kitset of a ramshackle house. This 1/56 scale plastic kit replicates a typical North American cabin or farmhouse. The style and construction means that can be used from 1750-1900 … and beyond.

The designers (the Perry twins, I wonder? They certainly did some of the other Renedra kits) have done a great job of representing a house that has been left to wrack and ruin, with the roof caving in, the porch falling to bits, and the weatherboards rotting away.

My aim in painting this model was to make it look un-painted and un-loved! The method I used to ‘un-paint’ this house was similar to how I did Renedra’s earlier ramshackle barn kit, seen on the left in this picture. There’s a detailed description of my un-painting method on this posting from 2013.

Here’s the rear view of the house. The kit comes with a number of accessories to dress it up (or dress it down, if you like!), such as the rickety ladder and broken cartwheel you can see in this picture.

Other than the planked floor, there is no interior detail on this kit. So I didn’t attempt to do any painting inside. However, I did make the roofs so that they can be removed if required.

Completing this house spurred me to photograph it with my collection of western figures, even though I only have five of them – my smallest gaming period! But I suspect my main use for this model will be for games set in the colonial New Zealand Wars.

Painting guide: British grenadiers with Contrast paints

After my previous posting showing off my latest project in which I used GW Contrast paints to complete a unit of 18th century British grenadiers by Crann Tara Miniatures, I’ve been asked by several people for tips on how I went about it. So here we go!

Undercoat

After the usual preparation involving cleaning up any flash and washing the figures in water with detergent, I spray them with GW Wraithbone undercoat. This is great fun, as it really brings out the detail.

I understand this undercoat is especially formulated to go with Contrast paints. But how much difference it would make to use another brand, I don’t know.

Equipment and lacing

When I paint with ordinary hobby paints, I usually do the coat and breeches first, then equipment and facings last.

However, with Contrast paints I find it works better the other way around, starting with the equipment and lacing, then filling in the uniform colours later. When the uniform is a darker colour than most of the equipment (eg red or blue), this technique gives a clean edge.

  • Lacing: Skeleton Horde (you might prefer Apothecary White for other regiments)
  • Belts and haversack: Aggaros Dunes
  • Cartridge box and sword: Black Templar
  • Sword handle and belt buckle: Basilicanum Grey with a second coat of Aggoras Dunes
  • Fur knapsack: Wyldwood
  • Waterbottle: Basilicanum Grey

Mitre caps and flesh

This was the part I was most anxious about. There is a lot of detail on those mitre caps, but it is all so minute. But if someone could sculpt it, surely I could paint it!

I start by giving the whole cap a coat of Apothecary White to bring out the white lacing. I then use a very fine brush to paint in the crown emblem with Aggaros Dunes, and squiggles of Blood Angels Red and Leviadon Blue between the raised white detail. This is where Contrast paints come into their own, as they flow quite easily into the gaps. I finish with the lightest of dry-brushing with normal white paint.

The backs of the caps are done exactly the same way – a coat of white over everything first, then filling in the red and blue gaps. Again, this is sort of a reverse from the normal procedure, where I probably would’ve painted the white lace last.

By the way, I use really cheap fine brushes by the truckload which a friend bought me from the online seller Wish. Although cheap and nasty, they actually work better and last longer than I expected. But when the point does get ragged, at just a few cents per brush I can simply throw the brush away and grab another from the box.

Adding the flesh is one of my favourite tasks, as this makes the figures come alive. I use one light coat of Gulliman Flesh, and that’s it. All the shading, eyes, fingers etc appear by themselves!

Weapons and boots

One of the parts I most dislike (and I have no idea why) is painting weapons and shoes. I start with the strap, then the barrel, and finally the woodwork. I add a highlight of normal silver paint to the bayonets to make them look a bit shinier.

  • Straps: Aggaros Dunes
  • Barrel: Basilicanum Grey
  • Bayonet: Basilicanum Grey with a highlight of normal silver
  • Woodwork: Gore-Grunta Fur
  • Shoes: Black Templar

Uniforms and leggings

Now at last the best bit – the uniforms. This is quite a painstaking stage, but great fun. The Contrast paint flows really nicely into all the little gaps, using a fairly small brush.

The leggings are done with a coat of Apothecary White. This makes all the buttons pop, and gives a line to the bands that I can later follow with black.

Up till now my figures have looked sort of French or Austrian. But now they are definitely British!

  • Coats: Blood Angels Red
  • Facings and breeches: Leviadon Blue with a highlight of normal medium blue paint
  • Leggings: Apothecary White with Black Templar bands

I paint the officers and drummers using exactly the same technique. The only additional task is the sash, painted first in normal violet paint, then covered with a light coat of Blood Angels Red, which turns it into a nicely shaded crimson.

And there we have it – a company of grenadiers all done!

But how do Contrast paints on a light undercoat come out versus using normal hobby paints on a black undercoat. Well, you choose! The three grenadiers on the left are Minden Miniatures painted the normal way, and the three on the right are the Contrast-painted Crann Tara figures.

Using Contrast paints for 18th century British grenadiers

Last night I completed painting this company of 18th century British grenadiers from Crann Tara Miniatures, the first part of my latest big battalion. They’re not based yet, but I just couldn’t resist forming them up on my desktop for a photo opportunity.

Crann Tara Miniatures (now owned by Caliver Books) make a beautiful line of 1/56 scale figures that are much more anatomically correct than most other ranges.

I decided to paint my battalion as the 8th (King’s) Regiment of Foot. My main painting reference was the above illustration by Frédéric Aubert of the Kronoskaf website.

Whilst this famous painting of the Battle of Culloden 1746 by David Morier isn’t actually depicting the 8th (instead, it shows Barrell’s Regiment), the uniform is very similar, with blue facings and breeches.

I used GW Contrast paints almost entirely for this project. The only exception was that I added a top coat of Foundry medium blue to the turnbacks, as I felt the shade of Contrast dark blue I used didn’t stand out enough.

The beauty of Contrast paints, besides providing their own highlighting and shading, is that they flow so easily. The back of those mitre caps were actually quite simple to do, as the paint filled the gaps between the lines of lacing by itself.

The biggest challenge was doing the fronts of the mitre caps. However, once again Contrast paints came to the fore. These caps won’t bear too close scrutiny, but from any distance they look the part, as you can see.

Next task will be another two companies of the same size, but of hatmen in tricornes rather than mitre caps, as well as a variety of various officers and NCOs.

PS: I’ve now posted a detailed painting guide on how I did these figures. Enjoy!

Lockdown and the Barryat of Lyndonia’s latest big battalion

On 17 August New Zealand’s long streak without local transmission of COVID-19 came to an end. This was the first coronavirus case detected in New Zealand for nearly six months.

Almost immediately the whole country went straight into what we called an Alert Level 4 lockdown, which had worked successfully for us during the initial outbreak last year.

Based on what had happened in Australia, where some states had delayed locking down when their first cases of Delta appeared, our government opted for the ‘go hard and go early’ approach. To us wargamers this strategy sounds somewhat like rolling a double-6 to seize the initiative before the enemy can!

This approach has so far appeared to be the right way to go (touch wood!). Though we aren’t out of the woods yet, especially as New Zealand’s vaccination rates are so low.

My wife and I were on holiday in the South Island when we went into lockdown. Travellers were initially given 48 hours to get home, but this was too tight for us to get a ferry booking. We actually weren’t too dismayed, as where we were staying in the town of Cromwell looked like a pretty nice place to lock down!

But despite the undeniable beauty of Cromwell, home is always best. So when the government gave travellers another 24 hours to get home, we managed to catch the last ferry to Wellington.

Of course a benefit of having made it home is that I now have access to all my hobby stuff, and time to work on it! So I have started to paint another big battalion for my ‘imagi-nation’, the Barryat of Lyndonia.

An additional British battalion means I’ll have an equal number of real-life opposing forces if I want to play a game based on actual history (British/Prussian vs French). I’m using 1/56 scale Crann Tara Miniatures, half of which arrived just before lockdown, whilst the other half are currently on their way from the UK.

I especially wanted a unit that had the blue breeches worn by royal regiments, so as to differentiate them from my other British battalion in red breeches. So I’ve chosen to depict the 8th (King’s) Regiment of Foot, which was commanded from 1745 to 1759 by Edward Wolfe, father of General James Wolfe of Quebec fame.

The King’s Regiment (centre figure above) used the White Horse of Hanover (the symbol of the Royal Household) as its badge.

Why this regiment has managed to make it into the Barryat’s army, no-one knows! But I’m sure I can come up with a suitable back-story.

This will likely be my most challenging paint job ever. These guys have lots of little bits of lace everywhere. They don’t call this period the Lace Wars for nothing! Look at those cuffs and sleeves, the lacing on the fronts of their coats, and the intricate lace wings on their shoulders. And let’s not even mention the grenadiers’ mitre caps!

Note that the above picture of the 8th Foot uniform in 1756 was created by Frédéric Aubert for the Kronoskaf website.

With my current basing system for my 60+ figure battalions, as shown with Gale’s Regiment of Foot above, I have nine bases of 6 infantry figures each, and all my officers, drummers and NCOs are on small freestanding bases. But this makes for really fiddly setting up and moving.

So for this latest unit I am going to experiment with a new basing system of just six bases of 10-12 figures each, on which character figures will also be standing alongside or behind the ranks. The only figures left freestanding will be standard-bearers and the mounted officers.

Keeping flags freestanding will allow flexibility in which units I wish to represent. And it will also allow the big 60+ figure unit to be broken into two or three smaller ones if required for a specific rule-set.

If this new system is successful, I see a major rebasing project for all my existing Barryat of Lyndonia units!

As a side project, and completely unrelated to the Lace Wars period, I have also finally assembled the Renedra ramshackle house kit I bought from our local pharmacy (true!) a few weeks ago.

It still needs painting, but looks good. I plan to use the same colour-scheme as I did with Renedra’s similar ramshackle barn kit a few years ago. This could be said to be more like un-painting than painting!

Tree-ferns for colonial New Zealand Wars

To play the colonial New Zealand Wars, you need lots of trees to form the bush-covered landscape that was a feature of so many of the actions.

Whilst any old wargaming tree will do the job, if you really want to replicate the look of New Zealand, you want ferns. Not just any old ferns, but big tree-sized ones!

At a recent model railway show I purchased a couple of plastic boxes of fern and undergrowth detail produced by Brian Roulston, a rail modeller from Paekakariki for his Scenic Textures range.

The boxes were filled with all sorts of miscellaneous shrubbery. I am guessing it uses as a base the plastic stuff you sometimes find at budget stores, but it has been painted and texture-coated to take away the bright shiny green look.

Amongst the plastic plants were some ferns with pre-textured stalks (none of these are visible in the above photo), which I thought could make excellent tree ferns, or ‘ponga’ as they are called here in New Zealand.

I bought some large heavy metal washers to make the bases. I used a hot-glue gun to attach the ‘tree-ferns’ to the bases. I then glued miscellaneous bits of the other shrubbery from the Scenic Textures box around the base of each tree.

I coated the bases with my usual recipe of PVA glue, followed by mixed-grain sand, and then two types of flock. The final touch was to add some dead ponga leaves on the floor or hanging from the trunks.

To celebrate the completion of my grove of ponga ferns, it’s time for my 28mm Empress Miniatures Māori warriors to perform a haka (traditional war dance).

Renowned Northland Māori chiefs Hone Heke and Kawiti seem quite pleased with their new shrubbery.

Oh oh, trespassers! A British officer and his two men make their way cautiously through the typical New Zealand bush.

Perhaps a little more at home in the bush than their British comrades, these local militia are ready for anything.

So there we have it – a little more greenery for my colonial New Zealand Wars games.

A Zulu War game and a South African feast

Searching through a bric-a-brac stall at the local market the other day, I found a couple of tattered old photos of soldiers and warriors in combat.

Looking more closely, these pictures seem to have been taken during an action of the Zulu War of 1879.

Well, actually, that’s all a lie! These are actually photos taken during a wargame a group of us here in Kāpiti, New Zealand, played last night.

Our game pitched Zulus against British, in a test run of Dan Mersey’s colonial skirmish wargaming rules The Men Who Would Be Kings.

Mine host was Herman van Kradenburg, whose collection includes a whole cupboard of figures depicting the wars of his former homeland, South Africa (like the rest of the pictures in this article, click on the photo for a closer look).

Our initial intention was to play the scenario where the British are trying to get a wagon train across the board. However, our memories had obviously failed us, as there is no such scenario in TMWWBK! So we changed to playing a simple meeting engagement, but left the wagons in place anyway. This was just a fun game after all.

The mass of figures that Herman produced from his magic cupboard looked absolutely spectacular on the table.

During the game Herman regaled us with his knowledge of the history of the Zulu War.

Particularly interesting was what he told us about and the different types of warriors and how they used their weapons.

The British also looked splendid in their scarlet coats and white tropical helmets.

The British weren’t all regular infantry, but also included these irregular allies wearing part African, part European clothing.

Right through the game this giraffe was quietly chewing on the leaves of an acacia tree, totally ignoring the tumult of human combat taking place around him.

Here are four of the happy wargamers – Scott Bowman (owner of probably the only pharmacy in the world that has a well-stocked wargaming department!), mine host Herman, fellow South African Rudolf Pretorius, and Ste Haran (like Scott, a British ex-pat).

The fifth happy wargamer was of course yours truly, seen here poring over the TMWWBK rules, whilst Scott considers his next move. [photo by Herman van Kradenburg]

Adding to the African flavour of the night, Herman cooked us a delicious pre-game meal of South African delicacies, including boerewors (sausage), chakalaka (spiced vegetables), samp (maize) and beans, pickled curried fish, bhajia (chilli bites), green fig preserves and home-made bread.

Our pre-game meal was so delicious, and the atmosphere so companionable, that our game started late and we didn’t have time to play to a full conclusion. But, hey, it isn’t about winning or losing – especially with such a wonderful night of feasting, fine figures, friends and fun!

Vignettes of Napoleon and his staff

Continuing on with my recent Napoleonic mini-projects, I’ve painted a few figures I’ve had lying around for years. They depict Napoleon (centre) with some of his staff (left), a sentry and a courier (right). They’re pictured here standing in front of an old resin model of La Belle Alliance, the French command post during the Battle of Waterloo.

You would think a model of Napoleon himself would be very important for any Napoleonic wargamer, so would never have been left lying around unpainted! But for some reason this Perry figure (right) has sat round for a number of years, and has only now got to the painting table.

Perhaps this is because I already have another Napoleon or two in my French army. However, just as I have a number of Sharpe and Harpers in my collection, and also at least two Dukes of Wellington (here and here), I’m obviously not too worried about clones!

I actually painted the group around the table (left) many years ago. But all the other figures in this picture are from the set that has been languishing up till recently without paint.

Perhaps discernable in this picture are the two distinct painting styles I have used over the years:

  • I painted the table group on the left with my old method of a black undercoat followed by the Foundry paint system of layering three colours to build up the shades and highlights.
  • Whereas I painted all the other figures in this picture using my current style of a creamy-white undercoat, and then GW’s Contrast paints to automatically deliver the shades and highlights with just one coat.

In this closer look, we see Marshal Ney with his distinctive red hair, leaning on the map-covered table. Marshalls Soult and Drouot stand on either side.

Even if you knew nothing about the Napoleonic Wars, you would surely recognise the figure of Napoleon himself. This is no accident. Napoleon cultivated an easily recognisable image by keeping his wardrobe simple. In the midst of the finery around him, Napoleon stood out by dressing in the green and white uniform of a colonel of the Chasseurs à Cheval (light cavalry) of the Imperial Guard, topped by his famous bicorne hat, and often wearing a grey overcoat.

Napoleon is depicted here standing with his ordnance officer, Gaspard Gourgaud, wearing a light blue coat and grey overalls. Gourgaud held this position from 1811, and was to eventually accompany the Emperor to his final exile on St Helena.

On the left is a stalwart sentry from the Old Guard. Napoleon took great care of his Guard. The Grenadiers of the Old Guard were known to complain in the presence of the Emperor, giving them the nickname Les Grognards, the Grumblers. The Guard received better pay, rations, quarters, and equipment, and all guardsmen ranked one grade higher than all non-Imperial Guard soldiers.

To the right a courier salutes after dismounting his horse. I’m not 100% sure what unit he is from, as I merely copied the colours of the example on the Perry Miniatures website. But I have always liked the French penchant for red trousers (which became more evident in the later period of Napoleon III).

Well, that’s it with painting miniatures for the moment, because I have reached the very bottom of my ‘lead pile’. So I now have the enjoyable process of deciding what to purchase next. And now that the Perrys have started a brand new Franco-Prussian War range, maybe there is an opportunity for more of those madder red trousers!

Making a Spanish village on the cheap

This posting is a combination of two articles that first appeared on the now-defunct Kapiti Fusiliers website in around 2005 and 2007. I am republishing these articles because they describe how I made the Spanish buildings that sit in the background of several of my more recent postings.

Making buildings for wargames

Can’t afford miniature buildings? Fusilier Roly Hermans shows you how he made his own complete 25mm Spanish village for less than $NZ40.

Since I started back into wargaming a few years ago, almost all my hobby finances have gone into miniature figures. So the terrain for them to fight over has been sadly lacking. But no longer – I’ve now made a whole village for myself.

I’d often thought about scratch-building some houses, but never really known where to start. The breakthrough came when I discovered a product called “foamboard”. This is a 5mm-thick sheet of foam, backed on both sides by paper. It can be easily cut with a craft knife, yet is sturdy enough to make a strong model. It also has another neat advantage, which I’ll come to later. Foamboard can be bought in large sheets from stationary shops – I got mine coloured black, which saved a lot of undercoating later on.

The first step in planning to build miniature houses is exactly the same as that for painting miniature soldiers – research. I wanted my terrain to go with my Peninsular War miniatures, so visited the library and got out some landscape books about Spain. I also looked for design ideas in catalogues of commercially made wargames buildings.

From the library books, besides learning about the design of Spanish houses, I was also able to extract some doors and windows from the photos, and scan them in to use on my miniature buildings. The resulting sheet is shown below, for anyone who wishes to use these doors and windows (click on the image to see the fullsize version).

Once I worked out the design of my houses, I drew the shapes of the walls onto the foamboard and cut these out carefully with a craft knife. I also cut out the openings for the doors and windows, all sized to match the windows on the above mentioned sheet.

Now comes the bit where foamboard has a really neat feature: the corner joints can all be easily rabbeted (I think that is the technical term!). I got this idea from Major Tremording’s Colonial Wargaming site [sadly this site is now gone too, but the article concerned can be found on Wayback Machine]. Rather than explain it in detail here, I suggest you look at the illustrated instructions on how to rabbet corners on this page of his site. The technique is surprisingly easy, makes tidy corner joints, and also saves the complicated mathematics of allowing for the thickness of the construction material at the design stage.

If you want to add features such as corner-stones, do so now. I used cardboard from a cereal packet, cut into small strips and folded around the corners of a couple of the houses. Rather painstaking, but worth it for the effect (see the house on the right, above). I also glued on some random patches of brick-paper which would represent where the plaster had fallen off the building.

Once the house is constructed using the rabbeting technique, then comes the exciting part – texturing and painting. I coat the walls with thinned-down PVA glue, then sprinkle them with a mixture of fine and coarse sand. Once dry, another coat of thinned-down PVA is applied to seal the sand onto the walls. They look pretty terrible at this stage, but, never fear, the next step of the process will fix that!

Painting is done with several colours. Firstly I outline the patches of bricks in black. Then I apply a dry-brush of yellow oxide artist’s acrylic to the walls – the sand is very thirsty, so you have to use tons of paint to do this! Next, a dry brush of arylamade yellow, and finally a dry brush of titanium white.

Now the house is ready for its windows and doors. Simply glue these in place behind the respective openings. I then glue some scrap foamboard behind the paper windows to make them stronger (I don’t want anyone poking a finger through them!). I make shutters out of corrugated card, and some windows have foamboard window boxes with scenic flock plants.

The final stage is the roof. I was planning initially to use a technique described by well-known terrain modeller Gary Chalk, in which he uses cordouroy cloth, set with PVA glue, and dry-brushed. However, I found a perfect product in my local hobby shop – a sheet of plasticard that has been pre-moulded into pantiles. This was the costliest part of my project (all of about $NZ20!), but the resulting roofs do look the part.

And there you have it, one complete Spanish village. By using the buildings in different configurations, and using a few freestanding wall pieces to connect them, the layout possibilities are endless. Now I am inspired to set up a scenario game at the next club night, involving the British and French fighting over my village terrain.

And here is the second Kapiti Fusiliers article, which appeared in May 2007.

A peaceful little village somewhere on the Peninsula

Recently Fusilier Roly Hermans added a few new Spanish houses to his terrain, and painted some Perry civilians to inhabit them.

A year or two ago, I made some Spanish houses out of foam-core board for my 25mm Peninsular War games, and wrote an article for this website on how the construction was done [i.e. the article above].

Being a regular visitor to Paul Darnell’s beautiful Touching History website [now no longer existing] I snapped up his book on terrain-making, and used it as a guide to make some more buildings to add to my collection.

I was also impressed with a fantastic 40mm game put on by the Durham Chosen Men [yet another defunct website] and liked their half-timbered ‘bodega’ so much that I copied it to give a bit of variety to my otherwise plastered buildings.

Looking at all the resulting buildings, I realised that they looked a bit spartan without any landscape detail, such as streets, courtyards, gardens and so on. So my latest project has been to tie all my buildings together as a fully landscaped village.

I laid out the village as a crossroads with a small plaza in the centre. Each quadrant of the village is a separate small baseboard, so I can break it up into several smaller hamlets if necessary. I’ve made the buildings themselves detachable from their baseboards, so that I can still use them individually.

A view of the churchyard, with the plaza and bodega in the left background. Note that I still need to put plastic tile sheeting onto the roof of the bodega.
A ground-level view of one side of the village. The exposed stonework and the windows are done with textures printed out on the computer, while the shutters are corrugated card.
The cobblestones are also just print-outs of texture images from the internet, jazzed up with a little sand and flock glued on in patches.
The churchyard will work perfectly well as a stand-alone terrain piece.

The village now needed some inhabitants. Just in time Perry Miniatures released a very nice range of Carlist Wars civilians. Although this period is a few years after the Napoleonic Wars, the costumes would not have changed that much, and so they were perfect for my purposes. 

The Earl of Uxbridge, still with two legs

In January I penned a short Quick Fire! article for Wargames Illustrated. Payment was a figure from their ‘Giants In Miniature’ range. I chose a model of the Earl of Uxbridge to add to the general staff of my Napoleonic British army.

This is a very nicely sculpted miniature, depicting the Earl in hussar uniform sitting astride his horse. He is in a casual stance, hand resting on his horse’s hindquarters as he turns to look behind him. Man and mount are a single casting.

The Earl’s horse looks every bit a thoroughbred, rather than the sturdier horses my cavalry are mounted on. I usually paint my horses with oils, which is a messy business. But for this one I tried something simpler. I just painted it with Humbrol red matt enamel, darkened the lower legs with black wash, then coated the whole horse with GW’s ‘Grunta-Fur’ Contrast paint.

I also painted the Earl himself entirely with GW’s Contrast paints. The elaborate gold frogging on his uniform was very simple to do with just one quick coat of Adrodas Dunes. The paint does all the work of shading and highlighting by itself! I am really pleased with Contrast paints, especially their flesh and other lighter colours, and also their red. Darker colours such as blue or green don’t come out quite so well in my opinion, but are fine for the lazy painter that I have become lately!

Most of the buildings in the background of these photos are ones I scratch-built quite a few years ago. They’re made of foamcore board, coated with glue and sand, then dry-brushed with beige, yellow and finally white. The windows and doors are simply printed-out paper fund on the internet, and the roofs are textured plasticard intended for model railway buildings.

Henry William Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey, KG, GCB, GCH, PC (17 May 1768 – 29 April 1854), was styled Lord Paget between 1784 and 1812 and known as the Earl of Uxbridge between 1812 and 1815. He took part in the Flanders Campaign and then commanded the cavalry for Sir John Moore’s army in Spain during the early part of the Peninsular War. His liaison with Lady Charlotte, the wife of Henry Wellesley, made it impossible for him to serve for the rest of the Peninsular campaign when command passed to Wellington, Wellesley’s brother.

During the Hundred Days campaign, Uxbridge led the charge of the heavy cavalry against Comte d’Erlon’s column at the Battle of Waterloo. The most famous story about Uxbridge was when one of the last cannon shots fired at Waterloo hit his right leg, necessitating its amputation above the knee. According to anecdote he was close to the Duke of Wellington when his leg was hit, and reputedly exclaimed, “By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg!”, to which Wellington replied “By God, sir, so you have!”

Perry vignette of Wellington and his staff

I love vignettes. When I see a well-presented game, my eyes are initially drawn to the terrain, and then to any vignettes. The actual fighting forces only come third!

So my last few painting projects have been a series of vignettes depicting British camp life during the Napoleonic Wars produced by Perry Miniatures, culminating in this wonderful portrayal of Wellington and his generals studying a set of maps spread across a table.

Seated at the rear, Sir Thomas Picton leans forward with his right arm on the table, his civilian hat and stick lying discarded on the table beside him. He is intent in conversation with Sir Edward Pakenham, resplendent in full uniform, and perching with his foot up on the bench.

Bald-headed Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole sits with his back to us, taking something from his pocket, whilst the Spanish liaison officer Brigadier Miguel Ricardo de Alava leans forward in his chair. An aide-de-camp stands nearby, arms crossed nonchalantly behind his back.

General the Earl of Wellington himself is instantly recognisable, not only from his simple attire and ‘Wellington’ boots, but right down to his distinctive hooked nose.

Considering the subject matter is a fairly static group of standing and sitting figures, the animation sculpted into them is surprisingly dynamic. The poses are all so natural and unforced.

Meanwhile Sir Stapleton Cotton, gorgeously uniformed in hussar full dress, has just arrived. He hurries over to the table, having handed the reins of his mount to a passing private, who is no doubt admiring the tiger-skin shabraque draped across the horse’s back.

These figures were painted almost entirely with GW Contrast paints. I love the way the lighter colours work really well in providing instant shading and highlights. But I do sometimes find that darker colours such as blue and black can turn out a bit blotchy. This is exacerbated in these pictures, as blue is a notoriously difficult colour to photograph properly.

The Spanish buildings, by the way, were scratch-built by me many years ago. The windows, doors and exposed stonework are printed paper. The shutters are corrugated card, and the roofs are cut from a plastic sheet intended for model railway buildings. The wall texture is just sand that has been spray-painted black, then dry-bushed with ochre, yellow and finally white.