Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Norman Project, Part 2: Painting cavalry

Quick photo journal of the painting of a group of Norman knights/Crusaders. The work you see in these pics took about 3.5 hours from start to finish and about 45 minutes to an hour of that was waiting for the washes to dry. I've simplified and organized my painting a great degree over the last two decades.

Primered. Primer covers a lot of my modelling mistakes. I like to paint assembly line fashion, so rarely do one model at a time. When doing cavalry, I'll usually do all the horses in the group the same color/style to make it easier. If I do several different groups the same and then mix them... viola; no one knows they were all painted the same. For this group, though, I'll do the horses different.

The base coat. Sloppy and splashed on, when I wash them, many sins will be forgiven. I chose several colors for the horses as you can see. The two in the center are the same base color but will be washed different shades, and even though it's not real apparent in the pictures, they will look different in person.

Another shot of the base coat. Note I don't do any of the details such as the stirrups or swords pommels n@t. I am exceedingly lazy (hence the use of washes in the first place.) I used to apply at least three colors on every surface and that was 99% 15mm's! I even painted the Virgin and Child on a 15mm King Arthur shield. That was then, this is now though. Now it's base coat, wash, highlight with base coat colors. Done.

Just in case you thought I was lying or exaggerating. In Malory, Arthur had a depiction of Madonna and Child on the inside of his shield so that every time he blocked an enemy's attack he was strengthened by seeing the Virgin Mother and baby Jesus. Well, this is as close as I was going to get to that. At one time I considered it a challenge to make every mini into a work of art. Now, while I still enjoy the painting aspect of the hobby, I am happy with decent looking guys for my forces.

The wash applied. I prefer Army Painter inks that you can see in the back ground.

The light brown horse on the right got a Red wash to try to get that chestnut color, while the two in the center got Dark and Soft washes, right to left. The left bay got Soft as well. All the riders were washed in Soft as that is my usual go-to wash.

Highlighted with base colors and details filled in. You can see the two on the right do indeed show different shades of brown and I'm happy with the chestnut. That was the first time I tried that undercoat and will use it often now. Typically, they really do look better in person, honest.

Note their shields are not done. For starters, the transfers are still on order from England, but also, I am going to do an entry dedicated to just their shields, along with their accompanying infantry. And yes, I hand painted all my 15mm Norman shields.

I'm also going to do a separate blog report on their bases. That'll be up next. It's a time consuming process, but you'll see and judge for yourself if you think it's worth it. I do, usually. Sometimes, I just glue and flock. As always, I'm ever ready for hints, tips or suggestions to make my guys look better or save me a lot of effort.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Norman Project. Part 1: Putting the damn army together.

So, this is something a little different. I thought it might be fun for some to watch a project from start to finish, especially those that aren't really into gaming that may look at this. In this case, my Normans/Crusaders for Saga. The two are different 'factions' but are going to be very similar obviously. I bought enough dudes to adequately represent both lists as they are pretty identical.

I have been using a lot of plastics lately and after some initial doubts, (after all, mini's are supposed to be metal!), I am pretty much hooked on plastics now. Typically I like Gripping Beast or Perry Miniatures for plastics for this game but other companies, like Warlord Games, make great plastics for Bolt Action, Pike and Shotte, Gates of Antares and other fine games. Plus, plastics are generally cheaper. A box of GB plastic infantry will run less than $40 and have about 40 - 44 dudes. About 8 metal mini's will run about $16 at least, so, do the math.

This army was different though. I really didn't care for too many of the plastics that were available (that I could find) and went with metal for the infantry. I was going to go all metal until my local hobby store directed me to Conquest Games for the cavalry. I've a few nits to pick regarding them but overall, very good stuff. For the infantry, I also did a lot of research and decided on Crusader minis. I liked the poses in general, though they didn't come with weapons. This is a universal pain in the ass but more on that later.

All in all I have 15 mounted troops which includes a proxy for a Warlord. (Sixteen actually. The box contained a dead horse and rider. Not useful in game terms but very cool nonetheless. It will get the same treatment as the 'live' ones.) Foot troops include 24 Warriors with spear and shield, 8 bowmen and 8 xbowmen. (These are different in game terms; xbows having greater ability to punch through armor.) As most troops are purchased in groups of 8 and most games are  played with 4-6 points, I have a minimum of 8 points and a few more, depending how I use my purchase points. In short, I'm good with what I got. (Except 4 more bowmen I need.)

Here's a typical cavalry sprue:

You can see there is a variety of weapons and heads to choose from, which is good. The one piece body, while being somewhat confining as per what poses you can make, were also easy to remove and glue in place. The plastics were easy to remove and assemble for the most part. My concerns were: a) 4 dudes per sprue vs. 3 kite shields per sprue. I know some of these guys had round shields but I would have liked the option to field all of them with kite shields. Not the end of the world. b) The weapons definitely needed to go with certain bodies, so there is a bit of similarity to the figures. I needed to be creative and cut and glue some things to make them different but still couldn't make them all unique. My first few tries yielded some wonky poses. Oh well, someone has to die first!

One sprue completed. They're alright, good enough for me. A decent paint job forgives a lot of sins. I'm no modeler as can clearly be seen. At something like $32 for 15 (16) guys, I'll take it. (Gripping Beast are typically $38.50 for 12.)

Here's a few of the leg troopers. (Most likely those who lost their horses on the way to Outremer or had them killed out from under them in their first skirmish.) Either way, they are PBI now. As mentioned, these guys came with no weapons. The rules state they are armed with spears fortunately, as I have those in abundance due to all the other plastics I've bought lately. I cut the spears off the arms on the sprues for a few guys: see the guy on the right front. I used an x-acto knife to trim the plastic hand off the spear and glued it in his hand. That's a pain in the ass though, and hard to do without slicing the spear (or my finger) in two, especially 23 more times! What I did with most of them was to clip the metal hand off the mini and glue the spear with hand attached. It was easier and the poses worked. Super glue is awesome with plastics and metal. If they don't quite align, I can paint them like they are wearing gloves. Easy peasey.

One box of cavarly reading for priming, sir! (Another box is on order.)

24 foot warriors with spear and shield. The shields were separate and needed glued on as well but not a problem. The shield strap didn't quite match up on a few but there was no too much to be done about it. First person who says something gets kicked in the nuts. Don't tell the police I didn't warn you.

One unit of bows and another of xbows. All in all, it cost about $.40 to mount all the infantry. ;-)

Next comes priming and their base coat of colors. It's currently too cold to prime but should warm up in the next few days. In the meantime, I am completing the basing on my Late Romans. They will get their turn to shine soon, so keep a look out. 

Part 2 pretty soon.