Napoleon and Wellington at my house


It’s such a nice day today at my place, and I have the house to myself for a few hours. “What can I take pictures of in these perfect photography conditions, to put up on my blog?” I thought to myself.

Then my eye was caught by two command bases in my display cabinet. These two 28mm Wargames Foundry sets were both painted back in 2002 (what, 12 years ago already?!). “Aha,” I thought, “it would be interesting to look at these to see how my painting style has changed or stayed the same over the years.”

So, firstly, Napoleon and his staff …


This command base is based on the famous painting by Vasily Vereshchagin, depicting Napoleon and his staff at the battle of Borodino in 1812.


Well, the first close-up shows one thing that I hope has changed – those EYES!  Oh my, oh my, how couldn’t I see at the time that they were far too big and Tunderbirdish?!  These days I have given up painting eyes at all, just hinting at them with dark wash.


My basing style has remained remarkably the same since 2002.  I still use natural sand and crushed shell sprinkled over a thick coat of PVA [or white] glue. Unlike most wargamers, I don’t paint the sandy surface at all – I just leave it the natural sand colour.  Then I finish off with patches of several shades and textures of static grass and flock.  So this basing technique has stood the test of time.

Now, the Duke of Wellington and his staff …


I think by this time I had begun to use the rubbed oil-paint technique for horses.  But white horses (or greys, to be exact) can be really difficult, and I’m not sure I carried it off well here.  The horse furniture came out great, though.


Check that horse on the right with the human eye?!  Nowadays I paint horses’ eyes plain black.  I add the tiniest spot of white I can do in the middle to give a sense of gleam.


Back when I painted these figures, I hadn’t leaned about shading or highlighting.  And, actually, I think these simple block colours come out tidier in photographs than my current three-levels of shading.

4 thoughts on “Napoleon and Wellington at my house

    1. Thanks, Mark. Just over the last few weeks, our neighbours have started to build a house on their property, which has now removed much of the natural background I used to use for my photos.

      So this was my first attempt to find somewhere else on my property where I could have a natural background, and it seems to have worked well enough. I thought the leaves would appear too out of scale, but the depth-of-field blurring helps disguise that.

  1. Great photo of Chateau Hermans, complete with the historic United Tribes flag…in keeping with the NZ Wars project. However, I would be worried if you had the Tiro Rangatira flag flying. Perhaps you could get Grahame Black from GMB Flags to produce a 28mm United Tribes flag for you. Keep up the good work!

    1. Well spotted, Wayne! The United Tribes flag is one of my favourite flags with its simple and classic design. And I like the history of it being New Zealand’s first flag. King William IV approved this flag in 1834, and a drawing of it was circulated through the Admiralty with instructions to recognise it as New Zealand’s flag. However, I don’t think it was ever carried in a warlike setting, so no real use for a wargame. In actual fact, Hone Heke flew a large American flag on his waka (war canoe) in the Northern War!

      The other flag you mentioned (which I haven’t got yet) is the Tino Rangatiratanga flag, which is the national Māori flag of New Zealand. Although this flag does not have any official status, it can complement the New Zealand flag on days of national significance.

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