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!

Irish contingent joins the Barryat of Lyndonia’s army

Meet the Regiment di Balibari, the latest foreign unit to join the forces of my 18th century ‘imagi-nation’, the Barryat of Lyndonia.

Back when I was a schoolboy, one of the first wargaming books I ever read was ‘Charge! Or How to Play Wargames’ by Brigadier Peter Young and Lieutenant-Colonel J Lawford.

I still vividly remember being entranced by the picture on the back cover showing a close-up view of a line of red-coated soldiers. Behind them stood an elegant officer carrying what appeared to my untutored eye to be a green Union Jack. To one side waited a drummer, resplendent in his green and gold coat.

Ever since, this little group has represented to me the ultimate in 18th century sartorial military fashion. It is only a wonder that it has taken me nigh on half a century to finally replicate these childhood heroes in miniature!

Crann Tara Miniatures do a beautiful range of charging French infantry. I thought their action pose would be great to represent the fighting élan of an Irish regiment. So in went my order, which arrived in New Zealand from the UK quite quickly despite COVID.

This shot of the first few figures I painted shows the incredible detail, anatomy and posing of this range. Even un-based, they look amazing.

As with most of my more recent units, I used Games Workshop’s Contrast paints for this project. I love the way these paints flow, and the automatic shadows and highlights they provide.

In my previous style of painting, I would have started with the basic uniform colour first, and then built up the detail and clothing. However, I have now reversed this, and after a undercoat of Wraithbone, I now paint all the equipment in first, as you can see with the two figures on the left of the picture above. I leave the main uniform colour (in this case, red) till almost the last step. The Contrast paint flows into the gaps beautifully, and disguises any overflows from painting the equipment.

The flag that I thought was a green Union Jack was actually the flag of a real Irish regiment in French service, the Regiment de Berwick. However, instead of the straight lines of the diagonal St Andrew’s cross depicted on the book cover, most versions I have seen of this regiment’s flag have a wavy cross.

Also, the real Berwick had black cuffs and facings, whereas the figures in the picture appeared to have green.

So in true imagi-nation style, I decided my regiment would be fictional. And thus was born the Regiment di Balibari. This name comes from the Chevalier de Balibari, who in the novel and movie ‘Barry Lyndon’ is an itinerant professional gambler whom the Prussians suspect is an Irish spy in the service of the Austrians. He uses the Italian name ‘Balibari’ instead of his true Irish family name ‘Ballybarry’.

To represent that all-important ‘green Union Jack’, I bought a set of paper Berwick flags from Flags of War. I did think about trying to amend the St Andrews cross to match the cover photo from ‘Charge!’, but in the end I decided this was too difficult and stuck with the wavy cross on the Flags of War products.

I painted the drummers in green coats with gold trim, as per the book cover image. I think in the real Irish regiments in French service the drummers actually wore red like the men. But this is an imaginary unit, so I can follow my own rules!

Here’s a back-view of the regiment. You can see two of my four NCOs following the line to make sure no-one falls behind.

I really like the simple style of coats that haven’t been turned back. And they make painting so much easier too!

The regiment consists of 54 rank-and-file, divided into three companies of 18 figures, each company having two ranks of 9. This is fewer companies than a real regiment would have had, but matches the organisation in ‘Charge!’.

Each company has a frontage of 12cms. This does mean the figures are packed in quite tightly, almost shoulder-to-shoulder. But I think this looks more realistic than widely-spaced figures.

Click on the image above to get an impression of what the regiment’s full 36cms of frontage looks like – and that isn’t even counting the three drummers to the side!

So, what’s next for the Barryat of Lyndonia? Well, surely any imagi-nation gamer worth their salt would want to have the unit on the front cover of Charge! – the Erbprinz Regiment in their Prussian grenadier-style mitres, resplendent in light-blue and scarlet uniforms. Watch this space!

My latest article in Wargames Illustrated

I’ve been lucky enough to have another article published in ‘Wargames Illustrated’. I submitted a piece for their ‘Quick Fire’ series, and was chuffed to see it appear in Issue 397 (January 2021).

In the short article I describe how when photographing miniatures, there’s a real thrill when every now and then one of the pictures unexpectedly stands out from the rest.

The article is accompanied by some examples of what I call my ‘serendipitous photographs’ – pictures that I think came out particularly well, despite no extra effort on my part.

The limitations of a hard-copy magazine mean the published pictures are quite small. So, for anyone who may be interested, here they are full-size (click on the pics to expand).

I liked the way that the trees in my garden accidently came out looking like a castle on a hill overshadowing this unit of Landsknechts. (Warlord Games)

There’s more info on this unit in my old posting: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2020/06/02/lockdown-landsknechts/

This is probably my favourite photo – a recreation of Philippoteaux’s famous painting of the Battle of Fontenoy. (Crann Tara and Minden Miniatures)

There’s more info on the original painting and my diorama version in this posting on my blog: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2020/01/31/at-last-my-favourite-painting-in-miniature/

British and French third-rate ships-of-the-line battle it out, as a Spanish brig circles warily. This photo was taken with a simple hand-painted sky background, and sitting on the paper sea that comes with the Warlord ‘Black Seas’ starter set. (Warlord Games)

You can find out more about these models in this old posting: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2019/11/08/black-seas-fleets-finished/

A battalion of French light infantry marches forward in the moonlight. (Front Rank)

This is a really old picture. I recall I added in the ‘moon’ using a graphics programme, as the lighting of this photo came out by chance looking just like moonlight (well, I thought so anyway!).

There’s more info on this unit in this old posting: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/tartanish-and-thunderbirdish-napoleonics/

Māori warriors from the colonial New Zealand Wars perform a fierce haka (war-dance) in the face of the enemy. (Empress Miniatures)

There’s more info on this unit here: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/photos-of-finished-colonial-new-zealand-wars-figures-and-terrain/

A pre-war colonial French column of Panhard armoured cars arrives in an oasis village. (Mad Bob Miniatures)

Below is the same picture, but with some special effects to make it into an old-fashioned snapshot. 

You can read more about these models here: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2020/02/15/motorised-foreign-legion-security-patrol-in-1930s-morocco/

On parade! The Barryat of Lyndonia’s artillery contingents

In Part 8 of this series of postings in which I am reviewing the armies of my ‘imagi-nation’, the Barryat of Lyndonia, it’s time to take a look at the artillery contingents.

As described in Part 1, rather than having its own army, this imaginary eighteenth century state contracts its troops from real-life European countries of the time.

The artillery contingents come from Britain and France – which has no doubt led to many a fisticuffs argument in local hostelries when carousing gunners from these two habitual enemies run into each other!

The French gun and limber are made by Fife and Drum Miniatures (also available from UK company Crann Tara Miniatures).

Apart from the horses, they are all painted with GW’s wonderful Contrast paints (which have truly revolutionised my style and speed of painting).

I’ve chosen to paint the guns red, which means they are from the mid-part of the eighteenth century, as the French later converted to blue. I reckon the red looks more dramatic!

Whilst the gun crew are all glued onto the base, I’ve kept the gun itself removable so it can be attached to the limber if I wish to portray the piece on the move.

The number of horses is really just representative, as I think this would be far too much a load for just two horses to haul!

And here’s the British Royal Artillery contingent. This model also comes from Crann Tara Miniatures.

Gunners normally wore quite subdued uniforms (maybe due to how they could get so worn and dirty working the guns). But the British bucked this trend, and festooned their Royal Artillery’s uniforms with lashings of lace and piping.

I thought all this decoration would be quite hard to paint, but the Contrast paints almost did the job by themselves, with just the barest modicum of precision on my part!

I particularly like the British officer with his crimson sash, whom you can see on the left of the above photo.

Note the civilian driver on the right. During his period armies hired civilians to lug their guns about. Once in battle, I bet many drivers would’ve scarpered off, leaving the guns pretty well fixed in place.

Again, the gun can be attached to its limber.

British guns were painted a grey-blue. I must admit I didn’t get the shade quite right on the gun, compared to the limber. Maybe the gun is older and has faded in the sun!

Whilst painting the big guns, I also took the opportunity to re-base the smaller battalion guns that I had painted several years ago.

Battalion guns were the small-calibre cannon that formed integral parts of some individual infantry units.

Here we see the battalion gun of Gale’s Regiment of Foot, supporting the advance of the company of grenadiers.

These figures are by Minden Miniatures.

And here’s the battalion gun of le Régiment des Royal-Cravates.

Battalion guns were often manned by infantrymen from the regiment, rather than actual artillerists, which is why these gunners are in white rather than French Artillerie blue.

Go back to Part 7 of this series: the Truchseß Dragoons.

On parade! Le Régiment des Gardes Françaises

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Some visitors to this blog will have a sense of déjà vu reading this article, as I only posted about finishing painting this unit of le Régiment des Gardes Françaises back in March this year.

But as they are one of the foreign contingents in the army of my ‘imagi-nation’, the Barryat of Lyndonia, they’re re-appearing here as Part 5 of this series in which I’m reviewing every one of the Barryat’s units.

As I’ve previously mentioned (e.g. in Wargaming Illustrated #385), the Barryat’s army is made up of contracted foreign regiments from all over 18th-century Europe.

I chose the first three regiments, British, French and Prussian, because they had appeared in ‘Barry Lyndon’, the book and movie on which I very loosely based my imagi-nation.

But I’ve now exhausted the ‘Barry Lyndon’ units, so any further regiments in the Barryat’s army are based simply on which ones I like the look of – what amazing freedom that gives me!

the_battle_of_fontenoy_1745

My favourite-ever military painting is Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux’s The Battle of Fontenoy featuring Le Régiment des Gardes Françaises.

So when I saw that Crann Tara Miniatures had a range of Gardes Françaises figures sculpted in the same 1/56th scale as my other Minden Miniatures regiments, the die was cast!

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I just had to come up with a good back-story of why a contingent of such a prestigious French regiment was in the Barryat’s army.

Fellow New Zealand wargamer Wayne Stack made the suggestion that they could have been part of the dowry from the marriage of one of the younger daughters of the French king…or possibly one of his favourite illegitimate daughters. That sounds plausible enough to me!

By the way, this particular pic is not of Crann Tara miniatures, but of some old 30mm Willie figures.

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As with the other regiments of foot in the Barrayt’s army, this was quite some painting effort: sixty-six privates, along with four NCOs, three officer, two ensigns, and three drummers – a total of 78 figures!

I painted this unit almost entirely with GW’s Contrast paints. These worked beautifully, flowing well and providing shading with no effort from me. Just look at the officer’s stockings, the wood of the muskets, and the men’s faces – this shading all  happened by itself!

If you want to read more on how I painted them, take a look at this earlier posting on my blog.

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Here’s the massed effect of the whole battalion in line, officers to the front, NCOs to the side and rear, drummers on the flank.

And in this short video, the unit looks pretty impressive when the camera pans along the whole line, with its frontage of nearly half-a-metre.  The accompanying music is the actual march of the Gardes Françaises.

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Before I based these figures for the Barryat’s army, I just had to arrange them to recreate my favourite military painting. You can see more pictures of this recreated painting here.

Go forward to Part 6 of this series: the Lynden Hussars

Go back to Part 4 of this series: Infanterie-Regiment Kubrick

The most boring uniform of the 18th century?

Surely the Hanoverian Freytag Jägers wore one of the most boring uniforms of the mid-18th century! Plain green coats, with green turn-backs and cuffs, the only hint of ‘colour’ a single white strap on the left shoulder; buff breeches and gaiters; and plain hats with no trim and just a green cockade.

The whole attire was so dull, one could almost believe this was the first real attempt at camouflage, helped even more by the field-sign of a spray of leaves in their hats. As the Freytag Jägers were originally drawn from hunters and gamekeepers, perhaps that was actually the case?

I used GW Contrast paints for these beautifully sculpted 1/56 Crann Tara figures.

Perhaps in hindsight I could have used a more vivid green and a lighter buff to make the colours ‘pop’ a bit more. On the other hand, maybe they’ll be harder for my opponents to spot on the table!

So these rather dull Freytag Jägers will never be one of my favourite units. And just because of that, they’ll no doubt fight much better on the table-top than any of their much more gorgeously costumed comrades in the armies of the Barryat of Lyndonia!

Barry Lyndon and friends

Meet Barry Lyndon, governor of my 18th century imagi-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia (see ‘Wargames Illustrated’ issue#385, November 2019), as he leaves his chateau to go for a stroll with his friends. 

The figures on foot are by Crann Tara Miniatures. They are modelled on a set of four mounted figures that were originally made by Minden Miniatures, which I purchased back in 2013. [Correction 1 Sept 2020: I’ve been informed that although I bought the foot figures from Crann Tara, they are in fact made by Minden Miniatures.]

Above are the mounted and foot versions of Barry and his lady-friend. By painting them in exactly the same colours, I’ve ended up with a mounted and foot version of each figure. This should make them interestingly flexible for use in scenario-based games – not that I get to play many games!

Here’s the more colourfully-clothed duo with their mounted equivalents. As I painted the mounted figures back in 2013, I didn’t still own the exact same paints – but they’re close enough.

Also, the figures on horse-back are painted in the black-undercoat method I used to use, whereas the foot figures are done mainly with the GW Contrast paints I now favour, on a cream undercoat.

I’ve also recently painted this ADC by Crann Tara Miniatures. The sculptor has frozen the galloping horse in time brilliantly, the rider desperately holding his hat onto his head, with his hair-queue and coat-tails flying out behind him.

I haven’t painted him wearing a real-life ADC uniform. Instead, I chose an entirely fictional palette of blue and red that will allow him to fit in anywhere he is required.

Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince

The latest regiment in my 18th century fictional army is a unit of light troops, the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince.

“Ah, but they’re not fictional,” I hear you say, “they’re a real French unit!” True. But my ‘imagi-nation’, the Barryat of Lyndonia, contracts real-life regiments from all over Europe to man its armies. This cunning subterfuge allows me to use any real-life units I like!

These wonderful 1/56 scale figures (i.e. about 28mm) are produced by Crann Tara Miniatures. The detail is beautifully sculpted – just look at the lace on the men’s pockets and the officer’s lapel.

The models are depicted wearing the conical red hat called a ‘pokalem’, with a chamois front flap decorated with the French fleur-de-lys, and a white plume.

The Volontaires wore a uniform based on the livery of the House of Bourbon-Condé: chamois with red cuffs, collar, turn-backs, left-side lapel and waistcoat.

I once again followed my new-found passion for using GW’s Contrast paints, which are perfect for painting such detailed figures. Every bit of shading on these models was done by the paint itself – I just slopped it on!

The way I have organised my unit is not based on real-life, but is of my own devising, though influenced by the 1967 book ‘Charge! Or, How to Play War Games’ by Brigadier P. Young & Lieutenant Colonel J. P. Lawford.

Here’s one of my two companies, with an officer on the left, twelve infantrymen on four bases, and a drummer on the right.

With the two companies grouped together, I have quite an impressively large unit.

You’ll see the men are arranged in a ragged firing line representative of light infantry, rather than the more regimented line-of-battle troops.

I guess this is the sight that I, as the player, will usually have of my unit on the wargames table (unless it retreats or routs, of course – which in my case is quite likely!).

PS: I did this posting using the new Gutenberg editor that WordPress have foisted upon us. My, what a non-intuitive application! An awful a lot of swearing and cursing went into getting this fairly simple posting formatted properly, I can tell you!