OR A TRUE RELATION OF STRANGE PROCEEDINGS IN A SOMERSETSHIRE LOFT

Sunday, 19 January 2014

AT A FORTY-SOMETHING CROSSROADS

An interesting post by Ross MacFarlane here summed up the quandry I have been in for some time. At 45 and still buying and painting figures, I have come to the conclusion that I don't like painting deeply shaded figures in what is the generally accepted wargames style as featured in Wargames Illustrated and on forums such as Lead Adventure. Usually I am halfway through a unit or even figure in this style and I get completely bored with it, and upon basing I find the figure looks drab and dull. Added to this, the fact that my eyes are getting decidedly wonky I am thinking of changing tack.

Following the Renaissance of Old School traditional armies in the manner of Grant and Featherstone I have been painting a couple of projects using  a combination of white undercoat and/or gloss varnish and I am loving the results. I can actually see the figures, they are nice and bright and a pleasure to handle with a thick coat of yacht varnish on them (thanks for the tip Mosstrooper), and I can bang out 3 or 4 individual figures (or more if uniformed units) an evening.

I recently picked up a copy of the PSL Guide to Wargaming by Bruce Quarrie

which I used to borrow on a regular basis from the library. In it are several grainy black and white photos of Late Roman and Medieval armies I used to lust after, rows of the same pose figure, all apparently block painted or with minimal shading and a glossy finish

(how I longed for those Hinchliffe catapults, and look at those smooth shiny shields)

Over the last year or so I have tried a variety of styles and finishes 
3 x 54mm figures, block painted with no shading, from left to right 
white undercoat Klear floor polish varnish 
white undercoat no varnish 
black undercoat matt varnish

25mm Garrison Conan figures, a maximum of one highlight shading
 all black undercoat and yacht varnish

28-30mm Tradition, Tradition, Front Rank and Eureka Miniatures
maximum one highlight shading
 black undercoat and yacht varnish
(to my mind the gloss varnish suits the slender older style figures better than the more squat modern sculpts)

Some fantasy figures with shading and a matt varnish
(dull and a pain to paint)

2 x 25mm Garrison Conan figures finished differently. The shiny feller wins hands down and took about 5 minutes to paint..

So, it appears that I am favouring unipose units, simple paintjobs with little or no shading and a gloss varnish for the smaller figures (and maybe for the 54mm guys, as yet undecided). Is it an age thing?


19 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Sorry, I just wrote a load of gibberish! That Yacht varnish makes my own W&N High Gloss Varnish finished models look matt in comparison! I fully support this different and reverential tack.

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    2. Thanks Gareth. If I could turn out figures like yours I might stick with the accepted shaded approach, but I am too impatient.

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  2. Agreed. White undercoats and glossy varnish win hands down. A fantastic look.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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    1. Thanks Stokes, I have been keeping an eye on your recent work and am inspired by it.

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  3. I think you might have told me how I am going to do my War of the Spanish Succession army. These are Wargames Factory plastics - I have just begun putting together the 6th of my 7 36-figure foot regiments, the 3 24-figure cavalry regiments and 2 artillery batteries already done - and will begin painting shortly. My eyesight being as it is - pretty good in one eye, and the other near blinded by cataracts - I need a simple and quick method, and yours seems to fill the bill.
    Thanks,
    Ion

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    1. Yep, with dodgy eyesight it's a definite bonus to paint like this and it suits post 1700 figures particularly well. I will look out for your WSS figures as I am tempted to go in that direction as well (it's the wigs).

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  4. Interesting.I am not a talented painter.I continue with black undercoat leaving some showing and maybe a black wash.The results are never that pleasing.Perhaps I should give white undercoat a go next weekend.i have varnish awaiting so have nought to lose.
    Great figs btw.

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    1. Give it a whirl, with white or black undercoat. The hardest thing I found was painting each item and deliberately going over the edges so all the undercoat is covered (very important with white uc). Work from the inside out (skin first, then shirt, then coat etc). I use artists gesso as an undercoat (tip from Tidders).

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  5. I like black undercoat best as it does for hats and boots without painting and it can be left in crevices as shading - however white can produce a brighter finished figure . Think the high gloss does suit older style figures best - would not try it with the Perry's figures.

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    1. Hi Mosstrooper. I followed your lead on your 40mm stuff and yes the shiny finish looks best on the older figures, but then I like the older figures best. I just wish Prince August did 25-30mm moulds for SYW stuff , or I could homecast Spencer Smith type figures.

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  6. I like your glossy style very much, Springinsfeld. I too am generally not so enamored of the "wargames style". When done to a high level it can look very good but not all are capable (or have the time) to work up to that level.

    Regards,
    Steve

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  7. Thanks Steve. I don't have the skill or the time to do too much shading, and when overdone I think it can make the figures look like cartoon characters. I wouldn't mind having a bash at flats either for a bit of fun. At school we had a glass cabinet full of painted flats depicting the Battle of Lansdown 1643 which was a great inspiration at the time (I expect they got chucked out or distributed among the snotty kids eventually).

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  8. The Garrison sword & sorcery figs look fantastic in gloss. Any chance you could post more pics of them?

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    1. Thanks Brett. I have a lot painted and even more to do and am trying to set up a new blog to showcase them, but blogger is not letting me do lots of things unless I upgrade to Googleplus which I refuse to do. Trying to find a way round it.

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    2. But, google+ is fun! Joinnnnnn usssssssss! ;-)

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    3. Nooooo, get thee behind me foul tempter. Actually I can't make head nor tale of plus profile pages and it's sooo difficult to get info from them (I couldn't find your actual blog there for instance, but then I'm a technology numpty). Also I like to be Springinsfeld on the internet rather than Mike (just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me) .

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  9. I think they look pretty good with the gloss finish. But have you tried dipping them with that instant army painter shade? Very quick. Looks good. And could be left with a glossy look...

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    1. Hi Ben. Thannks. I have a tub of the Quick shade but haven't used it yet so might give it a go. The Army Painter paints and inks are very good though.

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