More paintings of ships and planes

I’ve been doing more painting … but painting paintings, not miniatures! Well actually that isn’t quite true, as I have actually been painting miniatures as well, but they’ll be the topic of another posting.

As I develop into the hobby of painting pictures, I’m finding that I am increasingly drawn to ships and planes. I’ve already featured a few of these in earlier postings on this blog.

So let’s look at my latest efforts.

I came across a picture of a sailing ship against a sunset on an old CD cover, and thought that it would make a wonderful subject for a painting. But I also wanted my picture to tell a story.

So this is HMS Herald in 1840, sailing off Kāpiti Island on the west coast of New Zealand. She was taking Major Thomas Bunbury of the 80th Regiment around New Zealand to get as many Māori chiefs as possible to sign a copy of the Treaty of Waitangi (an agreement between the British Crown and Māori).

Off Kāpiti Island the Herald met the canoe of famed chief Te Rauparaha, who came on board and signed the treaty (actually, he signed it twice, because unknown to Bunbury, he had already signed previously!).

I was quite pleased with how the frigate came out, especially the translucence of the sails back-lit by the sunset. Though that sunset is pure artistic licence, as I don’t think the meeting between Bunbury and Te Rauparaha would have occurred in the evening!

I learned one valuable lesson from doing this painting. If you are going to tell a story, make sure the subject of that story is large enough to see. My Māori canoes are so small that some viewers don’t even see them until I point them out!

Above you can see a slideshow showing the stages of completing this painting.

My next painting is also a scene from New Zealand’s nautical history. It depicts the ships of Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, the war-yacht Heemskerck (right) and the smaller fluyt Zeehaen (left).

In 1642 Tasman was the first European to sight the shores of New Zealand. But he never landed, after a cultural misunderstanding led to four of his sailors in a ship’s boat being killed by Māori.

Painting the ornate stern of the Heemskerck was an enjoyable challenge, in which my experience of painting miniature figures really helped.

I chose to show the Heemskerck with its top-masts cropped off. I feel this makes the picture more dramatic than if I had portrayed the entire ship.

I’ve had lots of compliments about my portrayal of the sea. I was trying to get the effect of the sun glinting on the swells.

I’m also really pleased with how the fat little fluyt Zeehaen came out in the background!

Above are the stages I went through to paint these two ships.

This painting is based on an old Air New Zealand publicity photo I came across, which I figured would make an unusual painting. I must admit I was as much taken by the wonderful Morris van as with the plane itself!

I am particularly pleased with the metallic effect on the plane’s engines. This was a case of trial and error, and there are many coats of paint under the engines, each one unsuccessful until I came up with final effect.

In researching this painting, I found out more information than anyone could ever need to know about as prosaic a subject as air-stairs! For those interested, these stairs (with their natty Cadillac-style wings) were made by Hastings-Deering.

My wife worked for many years as a cabin crew member for Air New Zealand. Though I hasten to add that she isn’t old enough to have worked on this DC8 in the 1960s!

Above you can see how the DC8 picture was put together.

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Finally, here is a sneak peek at my next painting. Once again, a part of New Zealand’s marine history – Her Majesty’s Bark Endeavour – the ship that Captain James Cook sailed round the coast of New Zealand in 1769.

This is still a work in progress, as the sails and rigging needs lots more work. It is also the largest work I have endeavoured to do so far (see what I did there?!) – at 28 inches across, it is twice the size of my other works.

An unplanned landsknecht army that came from nowhere!

This is kind of weird, as I never planned to build a 16th century landsknecht army. I don’t know much about the period, I have never played any games in this era, and I have no-one particularly interested in building up opponents for this army.

Nevertheless, I now find that I have sort of organically reared a moderately sized landsknecht army.

It all started with one freebie sprue of Warlord Games’ plastic landsknecht pikeman. I painted them up on a whim, and then thought, ‘Why not buy one box just to see what a pike block looks like?’

Then the one pike block grew to two, then three. And when a fellow gamer mentioned a joint club order to Old Glory, I couldn’t resist seeing how a pike block of their more animated metal landsknecht figures would look in comparison to the rather staid poses of the Warlord plastics.

Along the way I realized I also needed some hand-gunners, then some zweihänder (two-handed) swordsmen and halberdiers, a cannon, some generals … and before I knew it, a landsknecht army had grown from no-where!

So for your delectation, here are some pictures of my latest additions to this unplanned army.

I mentioned above that I had been curious to see the animation of the Old Glory landsknechts. I had heard these were one of the better ranges that Old Glory put out, and I must say I was indeed quite impressed when I received them.

Apart from a couple of the officer poses that looked over-animated to my eye, the figures in general looked pretty realistic. And boy did they convey the famous panache of that slashed and be-ribboned landsknecht clothing!

I think I must have dipped my brush into every paint-pot I own to paint these guys, and even then mixed a few additional colours myself. I am really pleased at the resulting spectacular mélange of different hues and tones.

My painting style is pretty impressionistic. So from close-up the figures look a bit messy, but they do really pop when you stand back to normal tabletop height.

I rather like the officer in red in the above picture. The flags were made from images I found on the web.

This wee fifer is one of my favourite of the Old Glory figures. He looks like he has stepped right out of a renaissance-period print. Again, my slap-dash paint style is obvious here (from the GW Contrast paints that I like to use).

Above is the third of the Warlord Games pike blocks I painted. I intended that this regiment might hail from Bavaria, thus the blue and white flags. But to tell the truth I don’t know how realistic this is (as I said, I don’t know much about the period). But it is cool to look at, and that’s all I want!

For those intrigued to know how Warlord Games and Old Glory landsknechts match up, here are a couple of comparison close-ups.

As you can see, the faces of the Warlord figures are very realistic, even with no more than just a single wash of GW Contrast flesh paint. The poses are quite static, but look very natural.

Meanwhile the Old Glory figures have very active poses, and their clothing is much fuller and more flamboyant. I had to drill their hands to take the pikes (which are plastic spears from Fireforge Games). Their faces are not quite so finely sculpted, but still capture the look of the period.

A group of halberdiers, also from Warlord. The right arms are made out of metal, so they were a bugger to attach to the plastic figures. In the end I had to pin them, which was a bit of work. But I am pleased with the result.

These figures are from the same box as the halberdiers, but equipped with the plastic zweihänder swords, so a cinch to glue on compared to the halberds.

And of course I needed some handgunners. These are mainly by Warlord, but there are a couple of Steel Fist Miniatures metal gunner in there as well.

The handgunners look great defending this scratch-built farmhouse.

The cannon is by Steel Fist Miniatures. I like the way the figures are posed pushing the gun into position (though I imagine such a large gun would actually take more than just two men to move!).

Winners of the big hat competition are these two generals, the only mounted figures in my army so far.

I am currently mulling over what type of cavalry I should get. I don’t want to go overboard (famous last words?!), so just one unit. But should they be heavily armoured gens-d’armes, or maybe some lightly armoured pistol-wielding reiters?

An interlude with a Connie and two Airbuses

Whilst taking a brief pause with painting my Landsknechts (I’m waiting for an Old Glory order), I’ve returned to my other hobby of painting pictures with acrylics.

My latest three paintings have all had an aviation theme, though of a civilian nature rather than military.

My late father-in-law was a pilot with a now-defunct airline called Skyways of London. This Lockheed Constellation was one of the aircraft he flew.

The Connie is in my opinion one of the finest looking airliners ever, with its fish-shaped fuselage, triple tail and stalky undercarriage. I copied the basic shape from a photo I found online.

My picture shows the aircraft landing at Manchester Airport, recognisable by its distinctive multi-story control tower visible in the distance.

In the foreground are a trio of enthusiastic plane-spotters! Their bicycles were actually one of the hardest parts of the painting, and even now I’m not sure I’ve got the angled wheels on that left-hand bike correct.

If you’re interested in how my pictures come together, here is a step-by-step slideshow.

The colour quality changes with some of the pics, as they were taken at different times of the day. But you get to see my method of layering the different components of the painting.

This painting shows an Air New Zealand Airbus on its final approach to Wellington Airport. The passengers will be having a bouncy ride as the aircraft lands in the face of a gusty southerly wind blowing up Evans Bay!

The large fern design on the side of the fuselage was challenging to paint. Air New Zealand’s ‘koru’ logo on the tail, based on the Māori symbol of a new unfurling silver fern frond, was also quite tricky.

The Hollywood-style WELLINGTON sign on the hill is real, with its fly-away design reflecting the city’s nick-name of ‘Windy Wellington’.

My brother-in-law is an avid wind-surfer, so I sought his technical expertise in how the sail should be angled in these wind conditions.

Again, here is a step-by-step view on how I created the above painting.

And here’s another Air New Zealand Airbus arriving at the gate on a drizzly night.

I worked off plans to depict the front-on view, but it still surprised me how boxy the bottom of a sleek Airbus looks from this angle.

I thought the reflections from the anti-collision light beneath the plane would be difficult to depict, but in the end when you simplify them down, they are basically just dry-brushed orange downward strokes under the wheels, engines and fuselage.

The beam from the white taxi light worked quite well, more-or-less by accident when I haphazardly slashed in a diagonal white streak on the ground. I do have to fix the light source though, as the taxi light should be at the top of the nose wheel strut, not the bottom.

I was quite pleased with the marshaller. I’ve never been good at painting humans, but this simple view from behind came out quite well. His arms may be a little long, but that could be just an optical illusion because of his batons!

And here is the step-by-step slideshow of how I painted the layers of this picture.

I may have time to do another painting or two before my Old Glory order arrives – and I have some ideas of other interesting subjects to depict. I may even pluck up the courage to try a military painting some time. So keep watching …

A colourful diversion into Landsknechts

This new period caught me more-or-less unawares. Whilst I’ve always liked the renaissance era as such, particularly novels set during this period (especially if they feature Leonardo da Vinci – I can thoroughly recommend ‘The Medici Guns‘!), I never thought I would ever collect a renaissance wargames army.

But my latest painting project has indeed been a renaissance one – Bavarian landsknechts, commanders and a gun – and I plan on adding to this army in the near future.

This new fad actually started two years ago, when on a whim I bought and painted a box of Warlord Games landsknechts. My intention at that stage wasn’t to build an army, but just an interesting one-off painting project to keep me occupied during New Zealand’s first covid lockdown.

I was happy with how they came out (as you can see above). But even then I never gave any thought to expanding my one unit into an army.

I don’t really know what it was that led me two years later to suddenly decide to buy another box of Warlord Games landsknecht pikemen, and then to order a few extra metal landsknechts from Steel Fist Miniatures. Whatever it was, it came hard hard and fast, as I had them all assembled and undercoated tout-suite!

This despite knowing absolutely nothing about the period (other than the afore-mentioned novels, and watching a season of ‘The Borgias’), nor even how a renaissance army should be organised.

And here is the result: the second pike-block in my little army. I chose to give them Bavarian flags to differentiate them from my first block.

I have probably shot myself in the foot for using these figures for gaming in my area. Rather than the 40mm wide bases that come with the Warlord box, and seem to be accepted as the de facto base-size here, I though they should be on 30mm bases to give more of a packed-in appearance. So that’s what I’ve done, games-standard sizing be damned!

However, I am sure that (once I eventually find an opponent) we can fudge a bit to play our respective base-sizes in the same game.

I was especially pleased with how Games Workshop’s Contrast paints worked so easily to replicate those colourful uniforms. Their flesh tone also does a fantastic job on the beautifully sculpted Warlord faces.

The armour was done with basic silver paint, followed by a black ink wash, then a Humbrol gloss varnish followed by a satin varnish – though the gloss varnish was probably an unnecessary step. It has certainly turned out looking like real metal.

I mixed in some Steel Fist Miniatures figures to provide a little more variety. Here you can see a Steel Fist officer drawing his sword on the left, and a drummer on the right. These figures are a smidgen bigger than the Warlord plastics, but as you can see, they fit in OK.

I also got this impressive gun and its crew from Steel Fist Miniatures.

This photo also reveals that whilst my figures look reasonably good from a distance, from close-up you can see my style is very impressionistic! But overall I hope I have achieved the effect of a team of scruffy, gun-powder-coated gunners.

The gun comes with two barrels – this one with the ragged burgundy cross, and one with fleur-de-lis. I have only lightly glued this barrel onto the carriage, so I can interchange it if I want a French-aligned force.

“You call that a hat?! Now THIS is a hat!” The first of these two Steel Fist commanders sports a big hat, the other an even bigger hat!

Here’s my whole landsknecht force so far – two pike blocks, a gun, a handful of arquebusiers, and the two commanders.

I also have a box of Warlord arquebusiers undercoated and ready to paint, so the ‘shotte’ part of this pike-and-shotte army will soon be extended to 36 figures. Keep watching this space!

Painting 40mm figures, and some tugs

After a long hiatus, I’ve finally painted a few more miniatures. They are 40mm metal figures from a New Zealand supplier, Triguard Miniatures, so I feel I am doing my patriotic duty to support them!

On a whim, I bought two sets of these figures to try them out. I chose two of my favourite uniforms of the 18th century. Firstly, the Gardes Françaises.

And secondly, some British grenadiers.

Each pack contains twelve figures, basically two variants of the privates, and one officer.

Here’s the final result of the grenadiers. As you can see, they look pretty good, even just quickly painted with GW Contrast paints, and with no attempt at basing.

There was a small amount of assembly required (heads, arms and swords). I really hate glueing together metal figures, as I always worry how sturdy they will be. Though I did manage to pin their heads on, so at least they shouldn’t come off in a hurry!

To face my grenadiers, here are the Gardes. The complex lace on their uniforms was quite easy to pick out in this scale.

Again, some assembly is required, and I must admit I wasn’t so happy with how some of the head-to-neck joints turned out – some of them look quite gawky!

The muskets also look rather precariously balanced on their shoulders so as to fit around their tricornes. How in the world did 18th century soldiers ever shoulder arms without knocking their hats off!

Here we see the 40mm figures arranged beside a base of 1/56th (roughly 28mm) figures by Crann Tara Miniatures. They are indeed very hefty models!

I don’t know if I will ever actually game with these large figures, but they will look gorgeous in my display case.

I’m actually dithering whether to make them look more like traditional toy soldiers by gloss varnishing them and leaving the bases untextured – something I would never do with my 28mm miniatures.

So why has my figure painting been in a bit of a hiatus, as I mentioned in my opening sentence? Well, its because I have been spending time painting pictures, a new hobby I have taken up in my retirement.

This is the tugboat ‘Natone’ moored at the Wellington docks in the very early 1900s. She was actually skippered by my wife’s great-grandfather. I did a lot of research to find photos of her, and then spoke to several steam-tug enthusiasts to get the colours right. The buildings in the background are still there today, though of course ‘Natone’ has long since gone to that great shipyard in the sky.

One of the enthusiasts I consulted for ‘Natone’ was so impressed with the final pic, he gave me my first ever painting commission. He wanted a picture of the steam-tug ‘Toia’ in Wellington Harbour during the mid-1900s.

I depicted her backing over her prop-wash as she manouevres out of the tug berth. Again, the background is researched to be as authentic as possible.

I’ve also painted a couple of birthday presents. This one was for my wife. It shows, Mount Ruapehu, her tūrangawaewae.

The tūrangawaewae is the Māori concept of tūranga (standing place), waewae (feet), often translated as ‘a place to stand’. Tūrangawaewae are places where we feel especially empowered and connected. My wife has been coming to this mountain for skiing ever since she was a child, so it is a very special place to her.

For my 94-year old mother, I painted her childhood home in the town of Weert, the Netherlands, where she lived until she emigrated to New Zealand in 1953. Her house is the one with the round window in the attic.

The 8th (King’s) Foot joins the Barryat of Lyndonia 

After a long gestation, the latest regiment of my imagi-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia, has finally arrived. The Barryat doesn’t have its own army, but contracts foreign regiments to fight its battles (clever!).

Initially the Barryat’s contracted regiments were all ones that had appeared in the Stanley Kubrik film Barry Lyndon. But as all the main units from the movie have now been used up, the Barryat is now employing random real-life regiments such as this one, the British 8th (King’s) Regiment of Foot.

The real 8th Foot fought at a number of the more famous battles of the mid-18th century, including Dettingen (1743), Fontenoy (1745), Falkirk (1746), Culloden (1746), Rocoux (1746), and Lauffeldt (1747).

The figures are all from the range of superb 1/56th scale metal models produced by Crann Tara Miniatures, which are now owned by Caliver Books in the UK.

In fact, I’ve really got to praise Caliver Books for being able to complete this regiment. You may recall that I previously posted about painting the grenadiers of this regiment, and said I was awaiting the remainder of the figures to be shipped from the UK.

After they still hadn’t showed up by several weeks later, I contacted Caliver Books to check the date they posted the package. I wasn’t angling at getting replacements (truly!), but Dave Ryan immediately replied saying that consignments did occasionally get lost, and that he would resend the missing figures, which he promptly did at no further cost. Now that is excellent service! The 8th Foot and in fact the entire population of the Barryat of Lyndonia salute you, Dave!

The colours (flags) are by Flags of War. This is the first time I have used their paper flags, and I must say I was very impressed with them. The shading and highlighting gives the effect of the light shining through the cloth.

Two hints for using paper flags:

  • Firstly, after gluing the two sides together, lightly crunch up the flag from the top corner by the finial down to the diagonally opposite bottom corner – this gives the effect of the weight of the flag dragging it slightly down, which you won’t achieve by just rolling the flag vertically as many people do.
  • Secondly, always paint the edges of the flag to match the design, so as the cover up the unsightly white edges of the paper.

The 8th Foot carry two colours:

  • King’s colour: Union flag, the centre decorated with the white horse of Hanover on a red field surrounded by a blue garter and surmounted by a gold crown; the motto “NEC ASPERA TERRENT” underneath; the regiment number “VIII” in roman gold numerals in the upper left corner.
  • Regimental colour: blue field with its centre decorated with the regimental badge as per the king’s colour. The Union flag in the upper left corner with the regiment number “VIII” in roman gold numerals in its centre. The gold king’s cipher surmounted by a crown in the three other corners.

The drummers of the 8th Foot wore the royal livery of red cloth, lined, faced and lapelled on the breast with blue, and laced with the royal lace (golden braid with two thin purple central stripes).

By using deep bases (60mm) I can put my officers at the front, and the NCOs and drummers behind the line.

The figures were painted almost entirely with GW’s Contrast Paints. I love the way these paints flow, and how they automatically provide some basic shading and highlighting. These figures won’t ever be painting competition winners, but they look fine from normal viewing distance, especially en masse.

Speaking of ‘en masse’, this regiment is big by wargaming standards. There are 54 privates, 3 officers, 3 sergeants and 3 drummers, along with another 8 figures on the command stands, and of course the mounted colonel. A total of 72 figures!

Here’s a picture of how I have organised the regiment, loosely based on the battalions in the old wargaming book Charge! or How to Play Wargames.

The nicest-looking AWI game I have ever played in

My most memorable American War of Independence wargame took place nearly 20 years ago at the Wellington Warlords’ (the wargaming club of New Zealand’s capital city) annual wargaming competition, ‘Call to Arms’.

At the 2002 event, one of the demo games at ‘Call to Arms’ was a refight of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, put on by three of the Friday Night Fusiliers – Paul Crouch (3rd from left), Steve Sands (far left) and [a very young-looking!] myself (2nd from left).

A few years after this game, Paul moved to Australia and sold all the wonderful troops in these photos. However, I heard from him recently that he has decided to re-do this project, buying up and painting the troops all over again. He has set up the Sons of Liberty blog to follow his progress.

In talking with Paul, he told me he still has hardcopy photos of the original 2002 game. So I suggested he copy the photos so we could look back at what I think was one of the finest AWI wargames ever, even though it took place nearly nearly two decades ago!

The original Battle of Guilford Courthouse took place on 15 March 1781, between General Cornwallis’s 2,200 British troops and the 4,500 Americans under General Greene.

In the above photo, the British redcoats march out of camp on their way to do battle against the Americans. In the foreground are two cannons and some of their Hessian allies.

The figures and the scenery used in this game all belonged to Paul Crouch. In the main, the figures were by Front Rank, but there were also a few Dixons and Foundry figures.

Paul, Steve and myself were all firm “visual” wargamers, rather than “competitive” or “simulation” players. For us, the main thing was the game had to look good – to be a moving diorama, in effect.

A closeup of the British advance. You can almost hear the drums beating and the fifes trilling The British Grenadier! Behind the redcoats is a battalion of Loyalists, wearing green coats and white trimmed hats.

The British flags were by GMB, who made the best flags around. Paul made the Loyalist flags himself. Note how the flags are realistically shaped – too often the effect of such beautiful flags is spoiled by having them standing out straight like boards.

On the left flank of the British advance are some British light troops, some German Jägers, and even a few Indians.

Paul’s bases were beautifully done – each base was like a mini-diorama. And his figure painting was absolutely exquisite. He used a black undercoat technique and acrylic paints.

The British advance steadily across the clearing towards the first fence-line, where a line of Americans can be see waiting. Behind them, way off in the distance, are more troops in front of the Guilford Courthouse.

The base cloth we used really set off the figures well. It was green baize, but had been sprayed with a mixture of colours. Under the baize was an old carpet which had been laid over some pieces of wood, giving the effect of slightly undulating ground.

You can also see this same photo at the top of this posting, but retouched to make it look a little more real.

Nervous American militia await the redcoats behind a typical switchback railing fence.

These are not the steadiest of troops. But if they can get off a good volley or two before they run, they might slow the steady British advance.

Steve Sands was busy for several nights producing much of the fencing used in our battle.

One of the features that really made this game was the fact that all our battalions were big (at a time when 12-figure units were the popular standard). Each unit had at least six bases of around three or four figures each. Anything smaller does not look anywhere near as good.

The British have forced back the militia through a line of trees. The militia stop, rally bravely, and try to hold the next fence-line. A British and Hessian volley rips through the air.

In the foregound is the last line of American defence. But these troops are no mere militia. These are the regular American infantry, the Continentals. They’re made of sterner stuff, and the British might be worn down by the sniping of the militia before they get to Continentals’ line.

A close-up of the British and Hessian volley. We were using a very simple set of rules called Gentleman Johnny’s War, which made calculating the effect of volleys such as this very easy.

You can never have enough trees in a demo game, especially one set in America. Paul had a huge amount of Woodland Scenics trees, which really looked good on the table.

For the sake of the simplicity, it was decided that trees only interrupted visibility, but didn’t hinder troop movements.

One of the British units charges towards the militia.

By sheer coincidence all the figures in this photo are posed perfectly, as if this was a set-up shot. The charging infantry are in a running pose, while those firing are pointing their muskets. Behind the fence, the militia take pot-shots.

No, the militia can’t stand yet another British volley, so they turn tail and they’re off. But, just as in the movie The Patriot, have they done enough to whittle down the British before they come to grips with the waiting Continentals in the foreground?

Our first sight of the magnificent Architectural Heritage model of the Guilford Courthouse itself. This is a miniature of the actual building. If you look very carefully, you’ll even see the judge standing in the doorway, no doubt encouraging the steady Continentals lined against the fences.

Paul always liked to dot his games with little bits of scenery such as the haystacks you can see in the picture. These were for visual appearance only, and didn’t effect play at all. They were simply moved out of the way when troops passed through.

From behind the Continental lines, you can see the last few militia, and way off in the distance a Hessian flag denotes the British advance.

During March in America, there wouldn’t really have been autumn (‘fall’) trees! But the occasional touch of autumn colours in the trees just gave a lift to the table appearance.

The white house in the far background was hand-made by Paul.

The judge looks on as the battle rages between the British and the Continentals. In the end, the British manage to puncture the Continental centre and creep round their left, so the Americans have to yield the field, just as happened in real life.

Note the barricade of barrels in the foreground – another nice scenic touch.

You would think that General Cornwallis must be feeling pretty pleased with himself. However, in real life the battle cost him 532 casualties against the Americans’ 260.

So instead of pursuing his defeated enemy, he retired to the coast. If this game had been part of a campaign, the result might have been pretty much the same.

There is more fun with scenics in the background – an ammunition dump and wagons to bring powder and balls up to the guns.

One of the most asked-about units in the game, but one which never really came into play, was Tarleton’s Legion. This was because the main protagonist in The Patriot was apparently modelled on Tarleton (though one cannot say that the film representation was at all accurate!).

In the real battle the cavalry did get to grips, but in the game the day was won before they even got onto the scene.

So, just as in real-life, a marginal British win. But more importantly for the Friday Night Fusiliers, a win for presenting the sheer beauty of hundreds of exquisitely painted figures marching and fighting across a gorgeously terrained board!

A special thanks to Wayne Stack, a fellow Fusilier, who took all these wonderful photos as part of an assignment for a police photographer’s course he was on at the time! He was enthusiastic when I told him that Paul still had his photos, and readily gave us permission to publish them here.

I hope you have enjoyed looking back at this spectacular game, and that you’ll follow Paul’s progress on his blog as he recreates his exquisite armies.

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!

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!”