EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Middle Age and Guile

There is no doubt that my eyes are not as sharp nor my hand as steady as  they were when I was a young and enthusiastic 18. 

About 1/2 way through trying to paint a simplified version of diced hose as a break from painting tartan, I started to crack. Painting Old Toy Soldier Style on old 54mm toy soldiers, in batches of 4, is soooooo much easier and more enjoyable than even simplified detail on a batch of 12 30mm Willies!   

Still, can't quit now so I fell back on 2 old tricks: I broke the unit into two smaller batches and then painted one figure all the way through as an example and encouragement. 

Not done yet!
When I started to get interested in old toy soldiers, I was pretty horrified at Britain's habit of representing Black Watch kilts as dark green with a single black over stripe but to be honest the effect is actually pretty realistic, more realistic than any painting style that allows you to see the sett from across the table. However I wanted to match the way my first 30mm figures were painted over 40 years ago.  

Back then, armed with years of wearing one to Black Watch cadets and with a copy of Blum's Model Soldiers to hand. I did a DARK blue base with a wide over stripe grid of dark blue-green with brighter green squares where the green lines cross then added thin black stripes down the centre and edges of the green stripes and again through the centre of the blue squares formed by the green lines. 

That is not only a simplification of the actual sett (pattern), it is also waaay too complicated for a wargame model.
Not Master-Class painting but just fine for my table.(Oh my, those hose are cringe worthy at any distance!)
 This time I omitted the medium green squares and reduced the number of black stripes. At arms length I struggle to see the difference between the old and new figures but they give a good impression of my old kilt. 


Me in 1972! The old photo was faded a bit even before I scanned it a few years back and lost most of the rest of the colour! That's a dark green dress coatee for reference.

My kilt was a generous gift by the Black Watch Cadet Corps after my last parade as Corps Sergeant Major.  I still wear it on occasion. (It used to be a bit big for me....).

21 comments:

  1. Finishing one figure for a start and painting in small batches is a good method for complex uniforms: have done a similar approach. The figure looks great—and you cut a very smart figure in the photo as well.

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    1. I'd have included a more recent pic but for some reason it doesn't come off looking quite as dashing.

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  2. I can sympathise with your dilemma of painting details and straining eyes. The gloss finish also helps to disguise any lack of detail.

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    1. Agreed and the old figures look much better to me now that I've finally glossed them.

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  3. Complex but very nicely done!

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  4. I judge my painting now at arms reach - things look better at a distance !

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    1. True. I don't have to go that far, at about a foot I need to change glasses! The trick is I want them to fit in with the old figures.

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  5. It would be fair to say that I have simplified my style over the years. Thing is, I like them just as much.

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    1. To be honest I like my new simplified style better but I wasn't prepared to repaint the other half of the Highlanders.

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  6. Looks good to me!
    It is a universal truth that clothes shrink with time so being able to wear a 45 year old kilt is impressive.

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    1. Believe me, if they were pants, they wouldn't have fit!

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  7. I still enjoy painting my willies ! and staddens etc but equally my eyes were never that good anyway. I follow one rule when painting - if it works remember how you did it so you can do it again.

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    1. I'm not keen on sharp edges these days, painting Scrubies and old Britain's have given me a taste for smooth, shallow detail.

      Absolutely agree on remembering how but also important to understand why it worked.

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  8. Nice painting. I also like your 1972 picture a lot, what a document !

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  9. I was thinking as I did a little painting today that I let the mini help me paint it. By that, I mean that I make use of the exaggerated details and raised edges to guide or catch the paintbrush as I'm laying down color. That method might work best with a dark undercoat, which is what I usually do. Even if I'm doing a light undercoat to get brighter colors I have started using a dark undercoat and then a heavy almost drybrush of a lighter undercoat, so I still have those dark shadows and edges.

    I also lean towards doing less detail, I often don't paint eyes, for example. Tartan/plaids and even plain stripes still elude me though. I can never seem to get them consistent, even on one figure, let alone multiple ones! :)

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    1. I experimented with dark undercoat in the 90's and didn't like the effect even though I was doing heavy shading back then.

      When painting stripes remember to look at where you want your brush to go, not where it is.

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  10. There is a reason why I play WWII...

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  11. I can certainly relate to failing eyesight and having to paint troops! My right eye is showing signs of going the way of my left, which has been u/s for reading or close work for more than 10 years already. Might be forced to do something about that...

    The method I used for my highlanders was to take a kind of 'representative sample' of the tartan pattern and use that scaled up for the whole kilt. Used on my 25mm Minifigs, it seemed to work. I don't recall which pattern I used, as I took historic licence with the unit, which HAD BEEN a Highland outfit (Perthshire), but by 1809 has lost that status, together with its Highland uniform conventions. I think I based it on a Cameron Tartan much simplified. Probably heinously sacrilegious, but they looked OK to me. https://archdukepiccolo.blogspot.co.nz/search/label/Highlanders
    The Black Watch tartan being so much darker, I think I might well have adopted a method similar to yours!

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