Sunday, 29 December 2013

Army Painter Undercoat & Some Spanish Militia

So, having resolved to empty my painting desk of half finished units (see my last post) I've made a start. This is likely to result in figures being finished in a somewhat random order - as I have a lot of random half-finished units where I ran out of steam / was enticed by some new figures before I could finish older ones.

Back in March 2011, I had the urge to splurge on eBay and was lucky enough to pick up a couple of bits and pieces including some 15mm AB French horse artillery crews. At about the same time, I came across the Army Painter dark blue undercoat. Essentially, the AP argument goes that one can paint one's army quicker by spraying your figures in the main uniform colour undercoat, blocking in the other colours and then dipping the figures. My eyes glazed over as I looked at the pile of French Legere in the big box and suddenly this seemed like a wonderful idea. So at Salute 2011, I bought a can.

On the basis that I wanted to test out the theory before plunging into battalions of Legere I thought I'd do a French Horse Artillery battery first. My first thought was that the AP Dark Blue went on a little heavily (my normal undercoat is the Evil Empire's Skull White spray (it's expensive but I've never had a problem with it). The picture below shows the figures right after they've been sprayed.

Now I'm slightly underwhelmed by their argument for reasons I'll go into  - first, because the spray seemed rather thick I was loathe to to work the can like I do with the GW sprays - this meant that there were a couple of areas that didn't get great coverage and I had to go in with a paint brush (and this was prior to the Army Painter people bringing out pots of paint so I had to touch up with some mid-blue from Miniature Paints - which seemed close enough in tone to work). My next issue is probably because I'm used to working from a white undercoat - I found it quite hard to get good coverage for things like flesh over the dark blue base. My other problem was that I'm used to painting things like jackets up to the edge of the colour, and leaving things like crossbelts white - I just come back at the end and touch up where i've slopped over. Obviously, with this method I had to reverse my normal practice and maintian a steady hand whilst painting the white belts. To be honest, I'm not sure if it actually saved that much time painting these figures - possibly I need to try a battalion of Legere after all to see if it is any easier when one does a lot of figures.

Below is a picture of the gun crew after they were given a coat of AP Dark Tone (I went a bit too heavy on at least one figure and the AP pooled on the brim of his shako). Apologies for the poor picture quality. And before anyone says anything, I know they are manning an unpainted gun - it was all there was to hand (cannon are going to be the subject of my next post) and I didn't want them to be standing around an empty space. The flash has made them look a bit paler than they are in real life - they're actually a quite dark blue.

And the final pictures are of the other unit finished this week (apart from basing, and the flag being added) - a battalion of Spanish Provincial Militia (32 figures) wearing the M1805 uniform. As with my previous Spanish these were sprayed white, colours blocked in and then Army Painter Dark Tone was brushed on - they still need the flat varnish to be added. Figures are again by AB.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Ocana 1809 & Desk Tidy

So, a couple of weeks ago I was looking at my painting desk, and for obvious reasons decided to have a bit of a tidy up (there is also a shelf you can't see that has various figures primed but not yet painted). My next thought was that I should clear up the numerous half finished projects (in 15mm alone there are Spanish ABs, AB French artillery, some AB early Austrian Chevau-Leger waiting to be painted as Spanish cavalry, AB Austrians and a few OG French).

As I returned some figures to the Bollinger box where they belonged I resolved to have a clear out. So a few figures were despatched to Paul ( Napoleonics In Miniature ). And since then I've been fitting in a bit of time whenever I can painting up odds and ends. One thing that has irritated me no end is the number of Citadel Paints (particularly the new pots) that have dried solid over the last few months.

I've also been admiring one of my new acquisitions - the French Histoire et Collections volume, Ocana 1809, this is a very nice English language volume in the same style as Hourtelle's books on Wagram, Austerlitz and so on. It has maps, reports from French officers after the battle, and the very useful uniform plates we expect. 

The other book (in Spanish) is also called Ocana 1809 and has better maps and some uniform plates - it also has an OOB with numbers for each battalion. It is an Osprey style of book - they have quite a selection of books on other subjects too - I picked up two of these while in Valencia in late September (Medellin 1809 and Almonacid 1809) but my Spanish isn't good enough to make much out of the text. I think if Guerreros y Battallas were to publish these books in English they would do really well - many of the subjects aren't covered elsewhere at all. 

Ocana was quite an interesting battle - at the end of 1809 the Spanish, emboldened by their success at Bailen, made a dash for Madrid with an army of 53,000 men. The French, taken by surprise, managed to concentrate 40,000 men under Soult - although smaller in numbers, the French units were mostly veterans, whereas many of the Spanish were freshly raised units. The French attacked against a strong Spanish position (there was a ravine across the front of much of their position), their dragoons drove in the Spanish cavalry on the flanks and the French infantry attacked, the Spanish broke, thousands were captured and Madrid was secured for Joseph for some years. Ocana was one of the pivotal battles of the Peninsular War and, because the British weren't there, mostly ignored by English writers.

I've started working on more Spanish infantry, and have bought appropriate flags from Adolfo Ramos, and recently a couple of sets from Pete's Flags - both of these produce very nice flags. I've also been looking at 15mm artillery for a review (this little project has turned from a short post into a very long post - but hopefully I should have something up next week), and now have a glut of guns to join the excess of everything else in my leadpile!

Have a very happy Christmas everybody!