Monday, 30 November 2015

Feeling Two Tents? Not any more!

Hello again - it's been a while since the last post, so apologies for that! Up until a few days ago, I hit a wall in terms of painting.....real life, rubbish weather here in the UK, and general tiredness have take their toll in the evenings, so the brushes were being neglected. However, I finished off the last of my sheep earlier this week, which seems to have shaken off some of the lethargy, and I'm ready to get cracking again. No longer tense.....

Multi-period real estate from Renedra
Speaking of tents...... as mentioned in the previous post, I thought I'd write a small piece about the canvas shelters that are going to grace the tabletop in my ECW project. These are two of the lovely plastic tents from the Renedra Limited 'Ridge tents' set, which I picked up at the Partizan show last spring. I've still got two more to paint up at some point, as well as the camp beds that come with the set, but these beds are possibly 'out of period' for the 17th century. The camp fire is the other part of the set, which I've mounted on a circular base from Warbases.

Photo from Yahoo

Shelters in one form or another have featured in military service for thousands of years. Even if the rank and file still slept in the open, then at least their leaders or commanders would have had some form of tent or headquarters, befitting their status. During the wars of the 17th Century, shelters would have taken many forms, as shown in this woodcut of the 30 Years War.

Photo from Yahoo
There are many different types of shelter here - ranging from simple canvas sheet 'tents' in the foreground, to more ornate tents in the background, and shelters made from either canvas or wooden panels or 'sheets' on the left hand side of the picture. I like the idea of making some wooden shelters or canvas sheet tents at some point in the future, but for now I'll stick to the Renedra ones, and possibly get some dog tents from them as well.

The back of one of my tents, pitched near water. A soggy night ahead?

I put both of my tents on uneven shaped bases from Warbases, to protect them from damage and chips to the paintwork. They were undercoated in Wargames Foundry Canvas 8A shade, then painted over in the 'body' of the tents using Canvas 8B, leaving the 'sewn' lines where panels meet, and shading in the A shade. Then they were given a substantial highlight with Boneyard 9 B shade, followed by a final highlight of Boneyard 9B +9C mix, along the lines of the creases, ridges, and 'edges' etc. Having spent countless days and nights in these sorts of tents over 20 years  of re-enacting, I was especially keen to keep them to a more 'realistic' shade of canvas, instead of the more usual white that often graces the war-gaming table. Although these types of tents will be bleached by the sun, they often maintain at least a semblance of the pale cream canvas colour. The word "canvas" comes from the 13th century Anglo-French canevaz and the Old French canevas. Both of these words are derived from the Vulgar Latin cannapaceus for "made of hemp". Sadly the pictures haven't given a true representation of how creamy-white the models are, but I'm sure you'll get an impression.

Don't forget the tent pole!
The picture above shows off the entrance and interior of one of the open tents. I used a mix of diluted PVA glue and offcuts from a doormat to represent straw laid down on the floor of the tent. The tent pole is made of a cocktail stick, painted up. This only came about after I showed my significant other the (I thought) completed tent. "There's something missing," she exclaimed, "... a tent pole!" Thanks, love! So one was hastily added, and the subsequent slight gap was covered up by a small amount of foliage. On Living history camps, there's an oft seen sight of fresh herbs hanging in front of tents - either to dry for cooking, to prevent bad smells, or to ward away evil plague-bearing 'miasmas'! A simple touch, yet one that adds a touch (or should that be whiff) of authenticity!

Another aspect of camp life is the stowage and general clutter. I have painted up some stowage piles from Ainsty Castings trade goods range. I've now got a range of items, such as chests, barrels, fleece 'bales', and goods in wicker baskets, to go around my tents and houses. These not only give a sense of life to the table, but also offer cover for my troops.

Lastly for this post, a few words on some small bits of terrain I made earlier in the year, to show where there is 'rough' ground. These were put together using 3mm thick ply, cut and sanded to various shapes, then they were glued together with PVA. Modelling clay was used to smooth out the slopes, then I covered them in my usual PVA covered with sand 'mix'. Once dry, they were painted up, and various types of Woodland Scenics foliage added. I think they've turned out nicely, and again add another dimension to the table top.

Rough ground out of roughly trimmed off cuts...
Below are a few pictures of the completed assembly, and some scenes of camp life. I've still forgotten to take a group shot of my buildings, so that will definitely be in the next post! As will the start of the Scots......until next time!

Time for drill
A prisoner meets an untimely end...

... and Tam McLeod plans revenge!

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Buildings for my ECW 'Donnybrook' project.

Back in March of last year, I posted an entry detailing the start of my work on the buildings I'm using for my Donnybrook ECW project. Looking back on it, it's a) hard to believe that it was so long ago, and b) not exactly an exciting post - a few pics of cut out wooden bases, and some unpainted buildings! Hardly inspirational, is it? So hopefully today's post will be a bit more gripping.

Some where in Scotland...Dragoons prepare for action.

The buildings are from Hudson and Allen Studio, available from Vatican Enterprises of America. They are described in the catalogue as 'Scottish Highlands village set #2' and '#3', which sums them up fairly well. I picked them up a few years ago, from a company based in the UK, but now I'm not sure if there's a dealer in Britain anymore, as Ebob miniatures - listed on Vatican's own website - doesn't seem to have them shown. If anyone knows differently, or can tell me the ins and outs of exporting from the States, potential costs and tariffs etc; please let me know. I'd love to get some more of these buildings, as well as others in the Hudson and Allen range, which are perfect for the ECW period and earlier.

First up is building 'Number 2' - this is a smaller bothy type with a large lump of rock next to it. It's got that feel of being nestled into the ground, and out of the two, I think it's my favourite.

The completed cottage
 In some senses, these types of buildings might be described as 'bothies', but this is probably a misnomer, as a bothy is more of a 'working' type of building, a shelter for farm labourers, or somewhere to sleep for a few nights, maybe whilst out moving sheep, or working on the land. These types of building were common across the northern part of Britain, and the Scottish lowlands and especially the Highlands and Islands, from medieval, and later periods onwards, in one form or another.

Photo courtesy of Bing

More accurately, perhaps would be a 'But and ben', a phrase derived from the Scots language to describe a two room house, with inner and outer chambers, with the 'But' bit describing the living area, and the 'ben' part the sleeping area. Another idea suggests it a phrase from the Dutch language - buiten /binnen or 'Outdoors/Indoors'! The general impression is one of a stone-built construction, usually thatched, which acts as a permanent residence, and in some places, maybe having one part specifically dedicated to the housing of cattle or other livestock. This type of building has been in existence for a long time across much of northern Britain, and was incredibly practical, with a low profile to avoid the extremities of weather and keep in heat, and with the livestock providing a small amount of warmth. Smelly perhaps, but homely at least!

From Bing. At the Newtonmores Highland Folk Museum

 I'll let the pictures do the talking from now on.

From the top
The rock, painted up using Wargames Foundry's 31 Granite tones

Detail of the rear door
The left-hand side of the building (viewed from the front)
The second building, described as 'Number 3' in the Hudson and Allen/Vatican Enterprises catalogue, is a longer building, and with different doors, clearly tries to portray the type of building that might have housed livestock, as well as people.

People to the left, cattle to the right?

Staunchly defending his home...
Detailing of the roof, and the left hand side of the building (viewed from the front)
... Or maybe, with just one door, this is the front!...
Reeds growing around the 'animal waste' exit....Poooooooh!!!
An early morning scene...
I've painted these buildings up using a range of palettes, working from a black undercoat of Humbrol enamel Black 33. These buildings will always have a special place in my heart, as one of the kids helped me to undercoat them - with supervision of course! Start them off at an early age, and all that... I know that spraying them probably would have been quicker, but I find a brushed-on undercoat is more useful for getting in all the nooks and crannies that can be missed with a spray undercoat, especially under the eaves etc. After that, it was a case of different greys - usually Foundry's 32 Slate grey palette. I used the 31 Granite palette for the rock on the first building, so probably should have used this for the whole building, but I wanted a slight contrast between the two 'parts' of the building. I steered away from the usual pale yellow thatch, that seems so beloved of wargamers painting these types of buildings. Whilst reeds can be a pale colour to start with, I wanted to give a 'lived-in' weathered feel to these buildings, so used a darker palette, mainly drawn from the Foundry 29 Moss palette, with a few judicious spots of a dark browny-black wash, and 'mouldy' patches using 28 Phlegm green shade 'a', and the French Dragoon 70 shade 'a'. A while ago, I was inspired by Simon Chick's Harness and Array blog, and his beautiful buildings, which use a paler, more bleached (and in my view more realistic) tone on the woodwork. I decided to try and use the 31 Granite (a and b tones) palette as the basis for this, but with a slight wash here and there of black, and then a last paler shade of 12 Drab b and c tones, to give that browner tone of the wood. I've used this mix of shades on the doors, and on the exposed wooden beams on the roofs.

Defend the whisky, boys!...
Brave men of the Covenant advance....

I've realised I've not got a 'group' photo of my buildings together, so I'll rectify that for the next post, and also include some pictures of the other type of shelter that features on my table, namely some tents! I'll also include some thoughts about barrels and other bits and bobs, which have featured in these and previous pictures. Then we'll get to the Scots. I'm in a slight painting 'dip' at the moment, so that'll encourage me to get cracking again. Best wishes, until next time!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

All creatures great and small.....

Now that my New Model Army (or Newly Modelled English Army, in light of my previous post!) Faction is complete - at least in it's 4 point basic stage, without any revisions - it's time to turn attention to the Scots, and the other parts of my Donnybrook ECW project. So first up, it's the turn of the creatures inhabiting the table alongside the soldiers.

Pikeman Dolittle talks to the animals...
Back in January, I wrote about 'fluff' on the battlefield table top - the bits of scenery and accessories that aren't necessary for game play, but look rather good and set the scene, adding atmosphere and context. In skirmish games, this type of scenery can take a role of greater importance, acting as cover or hindrance to individuals or small groups of figures. Sometimes though, 'fluff'  is purely aesthetic - after all, who really needs chickens?!!

Well, I reckon things like this - little cameo bases, livestock, small scenic items and so forth, really set the scene. I've always been inspired by gamers who put effort into such things, such as Sidney Roundwood and his objective markers, The Two Fat Lardies, and especially Simon Chick, with his Harness and Array and Je Lay Emprins blogs. Their efforts to 'set the scene' are sublime and often innovative, and an example to follow.  My Celtic Cross instantly sets the scene for the table, giving the onlooker the impression that we're somewhere in Scotland or the north of England, or Ireland. Highland cattle or the buildings again suggest Scotland or Northern Britain. So when it came to painting up livestock for my game, I wanted to be reasonably accurate about my animals - if somewhat anally retentive about the level of detail!

First up on the animal painting itinerary, appeared my Highland Cows, from Warbases. I finished these off a while ago, but still have a soft spot for them.

Next, came a goat, I think from Irregular Miniatures, picked up at the Derby World's show in 2014.

I decided to paint this particular example up as an example of the Cheviot goat - one of the types of British primitive goat that was introduced to this country around Neolithic times. I thought that this breed would do nicely for a 'multi - period' goat, suitable from at least Iron Ages times, right up until the 18th century at least.

Photo courtesy of Bing.


My chickens came from Warbases, and after a bit of internet research, I decided to paint these up as a type called the 'Scots Grey'. This is a breed that has been in existence for at least 200 years, and that originated in Scotland. I thought that this would be a good 'bog-standard' chicken to have scratching around my northern farmsteads, suitably drab, but fairly eye-catching with its speckled markings. They were a real pain to paint, with a black base coat, and two sets of grey highlights (yes, two!...) which seemed to take ages to 'dot' on, but I think they're worth the effort.

I didn't chicken out on the markings......

The original. Photo from Bing.

The most recent creatures to enter the 'Donnybrook Ark', are my sheep, from Hovels. I wasn't too sure how these would turn out, but I have to admit, I love them! I've got one more from the pack of six, still to paint, as well as two from Irregular sculpted in a slightly different style. I surpassed myself in the painting stakes with these sheep, putting in probably way too much effort on them, for what they are. I started off with a black undercoat, then dry brushed them with 11C Rawhide from Foundry, then another dry brush of 29C Moss. Next was a thin wash of 30C Raw linen, then when this was dry, another dry brush of Boneyard 9B, then one of Boneyard 9C to finish off. The eyes were dotted in using Spearshaft 13A. Ears were filled in using Boneyard 9A. The face, ears and legs were painted using a mix of i) Arctic Grey 33B and Boneyard 9B, then ii) White 33C and Boneyard 9B mix, and iii) a final high light of pure white. Phew! The horns on the ram were done with a range of browns, picking out the details of the grooving on the horns' growth.


Cheviot Sheep. Photo from Bing

I based these sheep on the Cheviot, a white-faced breed that has been used for wool in the border regions of Scotland and England for centuries. It has been recognised as a hardy breed, since at least 1372. The wool of this sheep was often used in the tweed industry, and the animal has a similar appearance to styles of 'white -faced' sheep that were introduced by the Romans, so I might be able to use these models as far back as the 1st century on Roman villas.

In need of a shepherd!
At some point, I'll get round to painting some civilians from Wargames Foundry, one of whom is a shepherd, so he'll do nicely for looking after these creatures. Apart from the three remaining sheep, I'm about there for my livestock. I've based them upon small bases (from Warbases), individually or in pairs, so that I can spread them out a bit. They might also be used as 'booty' in raid scenarios.

Apart from domesticated animals, I'm also thinking about 'wildlife' as well. I bought a pack of Red deer from Warbases   at Warlord Games Games day in 2014, and I've recently got hold of some of their rabbits as well.

What's up doc?....Bunnies for the pot!

Hopefully that has given people a few ideas about including animals in their games - at the least, they look really good, and they'll be a talking point! Next up will be a post on the buildings that are going to feature in this project. See you soon!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Completed NMA faction......and a little light reading!

Hi all! A week or so on from the last post, and it's time to show off the last of my NMA faction as it stands at the moment, for Donnybrook; before moving onto other parts of this project. I've also been going through a couple of books, which give a fuller picture of the Dunbar Campaign, and one of the characters involved - General John Lambert.

First though, a massive thanks to all those who continue to comment - either here or on other forums - and offer support and praise. It's all very humbling to get nice feedback about the figures and scenery I paint and create, and I'm glad that people are getting pleasure out of my efforts. I enjoy modelling and painting, as well as sharing my work, and if it continues to inspire people in the way that other bloggers have inspired me, then I'll keep going! Thank you!!!

First up then, the completed NMA Faction for Donnybrook. It's worth 4 points with a hero, so it works well for the basic version of the game.

The completed faction, with Activation cards and shaken makers.

I managed to grab these pictures when there was better light, so I also took some close ups.
Major Robert Hawkins

The Shot
Gentlemen of the Pike
The Horse

A few words about the soldiers in this faction. They represent troops of the New Model Army, formed by The Committee of Both Kingdoms on 6th January 1645, and coming into practical existence around April of that year. It would appear that the term 'New Model Army' might only date from the 19th century, but judging by contemporary records from 1646, the term 'New Modelled Army' was in use, describing the way that existing regional forces had been used to form a centralised newly modelled or organised army. There are existing contracts for coats or 'cassacks' and breeches that date from August 1645 and February and March of 1646 (the old style calendar meant that these contracts were drawn up in 1645 - the new year in the Julian Calendar began in March), that show that certainly from this time onwards (ie late 1645 - early 1646), the new army was equipped in its famous red coats. However, as many of the soldiers from the three armies - Essex's, Waller's and Manchester's - that were used to create this new force were probably wearing red coats issued earlier, it's likely that by the time of the Naseby Campaign in 1645, many of the soldiers were already in red, even without the issue of the new uniforms.  Certainly by 1650 and Dunbar, this army would have been in the famous 'Venice red' that began the 'legend ' of the British Redcoat.
A Tawny orange 'montero' hat....a veteran of Essex's army, perhaps?...
Breeches were of 'grey or some other good Coloure'.  Regiments were distinguished by different coloured 'facings' or cuffs, and 'tapes' - the ties that held the coats together in place of buttons; 'ye tape to bee white, blew, greene, &'. I decided to paint mine yellow, as I can use these figures to represent another regiment with yellow facings from earlier in the Civil wars, though not all the figures from Perry Miniatures are sculpted with cuffs. Charles Fairfax's regiment had blue colours, and thus are likely to have had blue facings, but this is the only English regiment for the Dunbar campaign for which we have a sense of what colour facings or standards were shown. My figures could arguably come from for example, Colonel Alban Coxe's or Colonel William Daniel's Regiments.
'Blow off your loose powder'
Musketeers were equipped with bandoleers, with bottles or 'Boxes' ' bee coloured blew with blew and white strings....'. I've chosen to paint a few of my shot with these blue bandoleers, to give a feel of the New Modelled Army. I did draw the line at blue and white strings for the bottles though! There aren't any contracts as far as I can tell, for armour for the Army, so my pike don't wear any, though doubtless some might have held onto helmets and possibly some back and breast.
'Order your pike...'
Pike were 'of good Ash sixteen foote long wth steele heads at three shillings Xd a pike...'. Interestingly, it would appear that by 1645, a ratio of 3:1 of shot to pike was more likely, instead of the more familiar 2:1, and this leads me on to the composition of my New Model Army Faction, in light of my recent reading.

The book on the right - 'Cromwell hath the honour but...: Major General Lambert's Campaigns in the North 1648' (P.R.Hill and J.M.Watkinson) is slightly off topic, but gives a good feeling for the character and experiences of one of the Parliamentarian commanders, John Lambert. Lambert was a major figure in the later years of the Civil wars, heavily involved in the defence of the north against the Scots and the Preston Campaign in 1648, and the Siege of Pontefract Castle;  as well as being one of the Army commanders in the Dunbar Campaign. He seems to have been a good leader, popular with his men, firm but fair, and generous in his terms with prisoners and the public. He was injured in a skirmish on 30th July 1650, as he led the rearguard of the retreating English Army, and his horse was shot in the neck and head, whilst Lambert was 'himself run through the arm with a lance...' and was captured, although quickly rescued later in the action. He seems to be an interesting character, and if I ever get deeper into this campaign and paint up a model of him, I'll write a fuller post about his life and career. I picked up this book at the Partizan show in spring of 2015.

Last week, the other book (on the left) - 'Dunbar 1650: Cromwell's most famous victory', by Stuart Reid, dropped through the letter box. It's one of the Osprey 'Campaign' series (No.142), and has given me food for thought about my Faction composition. Judging by the performance throughout the campaign, it seems as though I'm (just about) justified in giving my New Model Horse their 'Elite' status, although this is based purely on the numbers of veterans and battlefield performance. If I was running a campaign, they'd probably be merely Regular or 'trained', as the Scots often got the better of them, especially the Covenanter lancers.

The same would go for the foot - certainly by the time of the battle, the infantry were in dire straits, having lost many men (Reid suggests as many as 4-5000!) to sickness and malnutrition, caused by atrocious weather and a shortage of supplies. Having crossed the Anglo-Scots border on 22nd July, the English Army had to wait until mid August to have any tents! Only 3 out of the 8 regiments of infantry came directly from the 're-modelling', and one - William Daniel's - had only been recruited earlier in the year, intended for service in Ireland!  So a 'trained' status for the infantry might reflect the impact of the arduous conditions and experience, in a more realistic way. In terms of how this impacts on my faction, for the future, I may consider having 16 regular shot - worth 2 points, a unit of 4 elite pike (1 point), 6 elite cavalry (2 points), and a regular unit of 6 Dragoons (1 point). It would appear that 2 companies of Okey's Dragoon regiment were equipped as regular horse, but 4 companies acted in the 'usual style' mounted infantry role during the campaign. For now though, expansion plans are to add another 3 elite cavalry, and another 4 elite musketeers. This gives me a 6 point force, with 6 cavalry, 4 pike and 12 shot - more realistically reflecting the 3:1 ratio of musket to pike, and reflecting overall battlefield performance of the New Model army from 1645-1651. On that note - I'm going to keep my cards saying 'New Model Army'. Anachronistic, it maybe, but people feel familiar with it!

That is for the future though, so the next few posts will be about buildings, and livestock - including chickens and sheep! Then it's the turn of the Scots.....See you soon.
The Scots are coming.....