Thursday, 31 January 2019

Something old, something new

Happy New Year! First post of 2019, and it's nice to be back.

In this post, in response to a lovely comment from a follower on Twitter (more on that later), I thought I'd revisit in more detail, my markers for my The Men who would be Kings Sudan project. I've added to these since I mentioned them briefly in this post, and my first figures of 2019 are the last of the markers - British 'pinned' markers.

As followers of this blog may realise, I've always liked more visual ways of recording information about unit status' on the table, rather than a simple piece of paper or unusual markers. In my previous project - Somewhere in Scotland  - my Donnybrook rules ECW skirmish game, I used markers to show if a unit was shaken or if they were unloaded. I wanted to do the same with my Sudan project, so I set to, to make 'Leaderless' and 'Pinned' markers for both my British and Mahdists, and additionally for the Mahdists, some 'Gone to Ground' markers to represent their ability to....go to ground!

First up were my Mahdist markers. I used my usual Warbases 2mm thick mdf circular bases, of varying diameters. If you're having a go, pick which ones you think fit your figures best. I tend to use diameters of 4 and 5 cm, with my leaderless markers at 4 cm, gone to ground markers at 4cm, and pinned markers at 5 cm. This slightly wider diameter for the pinned markers, is due to the fact that I've added an MDF 'cell' or cut out square frame from Warbases to accommodate a die, to show how many pinned 'points' are on that particular unit.

My Mahdist bases

People have asked me how I do the writing, so to start off with, I found a suitable font I liked, and typed up the labels for each 'brand' of marker. This was then added to a parchment coloured background, using Word on the computer, but equally, one could print out the text on cream coloured paper. Cut out these words, and then stick them down on the base using sellotape or any other clear adhesive tape. I found the best way was to stick the paper with the words onto the tape, using the static properties of the tape, then carefully add these to the base. Trim the excess tape off using a sharp modelling knife blade, leaving a couple of mm of tape as a border around each label. 

After that, you could paint up the figures and glue these on in the usual way, or I'm my case, I glued on the unpainted figure . This was done for my Pinned and Gone to Ground markers, with pinned markers getting casualty figures from Perry Miniature pack SA12 Beja dead and wounded, and gone to Gone to Ground markers using figures from the evocative sculpts from pack SA11 Beja taking cover, spears/swords. I added some stones, or larger pieces of gravel, cat litter (clean!) and other pebbles etc with superglue, to get some larger 'texture', then used my usual mix of sharp sand and smaller pieces of tallus and cat litter.

The tallus and sand mix is stuck down in the usual way, using a PVA and water mix. I use a brush to 'dab' drops of the mix down, and make sure it doesn't obscure the lettering. Make sure that the sellotape/clear adhesive tape is firmly pressed down around the paper, and sealing it totally onto the mdf base. If there is the slightest gap, then the watery glue mix will get under the tape, and soak the paper - disaster! I usually do 'round' the writing first, and move any excess sand and glue from over the writing with the end of a paint brush. As the tape is shiny, it's sometimes difficult to get the glue water mix to adhere to the tape, if there's a wide border round the writing, but this also works in your favour, as you can push away any excess glue and sand with the end of paint brush, if it covers any writing by mistake.

Here you can see how I have added the sand and PVA around the edge of the writing, 
which is sealed under the sellotape.

Once the rest of the base has been 'PVA'd and sanded', as I call it, including carefully round any figures, then let this dry, then shake off any excess, and seal it once more with another diluted mix of PVA and water. Let this dry, and now it's time to paint up the bases.

A few years ago, I took the decision to paint all my wargaming figures' bases and my terrain using the same colours. I use Games Workshop's Steel Legion drab - a colour similar to the old Graveyard earth tone - as a base colour. Then I use Wargames Foundry's No. 10 Sand triad, to dry brush the sand, gradually getting lighter through the A, B, and C tones. Depending on how heavily you dry brush these on, especially the A tone, you can control how the colour of the Steel Legion Drab comes through or not. With desert terrain, it is worth drybrushing a bit heavier, to lighten up the overall tone of the bases. These colours do for desert terrain nicely, but with the addition of green or scorched static grass, and green foliage and tufts, they take on a summery dry-soil feel for European, American and Mediterranean theatres, and for me they work. Even better, is the fact that when I decided on these colours, I asked my local DIY chain store to colour match these paints for me, and I now have tester pots with these four tones in. The store have also saved the 'recipes' for these tones on their system, so I can always head back and ask for top ups. Ideal for building my terrain boards, when I need larger quantities of these paints! This paint is the Valspar acrylic paint range, for household decorating, and works brilliantly. 

Once I've got the bases painted, and the figures painted and varnished, I add on foliage - grass tufts of a suitably desert-like nature in pale browns and scorched greens from Great Escape Games, and small lumps of greeny-brown clump foliage from Javis Scenics. I drybrush the grass tufts with Sand tone B as well, to dull them down even more. 

I've also been a bit 'gory', and added blood to my bases, seeping out from under bodies, or smeared on the floor or clothing where the poor victims have crawled away from danger. I've not gone overboard with this, preferring subtlety rather than outright shock value, but I did add gloss varnish to the blood on the desert floor to show its liquid state. Gruesome, yet effective and thought-provoking. 

Leaving a trail of blood behind him, this wounded Mahdist seeks shelter

The Leaderless markers, I chose to represent abandoned detritus of war - reflecting a unit in chaos and without order. Weapon and shields were taken directly from the Perry Miniatures SA30 Plastic Mahdist Ansar box set, and I used shields, spears (with trimmed off hands hidden under shields), rifles (the same process), and swords in scabbards. 

As for the British markers - it was a similar thing! No Gone to Ground markers though, and my Leaderless markers used ammunition boxes from Redoubt Enterprises, and pieces from the Perry Plastic VLW1 British Infantry 1877-85 set. The Pinned markers - including one poor chap who is literally 'pinned' to the ground with a spear (thanks to Nick from Too Fat Lardies for that joke!) come from the Perry miniatures pack SB20 British dead and wounded. I painted them up in an eclectic mix of colours, including redcoats, to reflect the ad-hoc nature of my 'force' for my game - but more on that in another post. 

I hope you like them! Any questions, drop me a comment, and I'll try and get back to you. On another front, I've also joined Twitter - where I'll be posting on a daily basis if possible, with news of projects, hobbystreaks, painting, and games. If you're of such a persuasion, follow me on there, and I hope to see you soon!

Best wishes, and see you next month!