Thursday 24 November 2016

One method of making a stream

Recently I posted on the AMG Forum a few photos of "My next engagement", which will be the third in our series of test games of the Rank and File rules with a view to refighting Quatre Bras with 28mm figures at 1:20 scale. Here is quick look at the (fictitious) terrain ready.

It includes a rather lazy looking stream and I was asked by one of the members to do a "how I did  it" so I thought putting that on my blog might be of interest to a wider audience.

Some of you will have seen this stream before as it has featured in a couple of my games earlier this year and I'll have to ask your indulgence as I made it back in April and I'm having to rely on photos taken at the time as a memory jogger on the process.

It all started when Kevin devised a map for Test game 2 and I got to thinking about how to do the stream as I was a bit disenchanted with the home made one I had been using, on and off, for about 20 years. I had in store some hardboard strips I had prepared years ago and never got round to doing anything with them.

First of all I laid these down on the table to make them approximately fit Kevin's map. There is a little branch making a millrace.

You can imagine that they were once a single piece of hardboard marked into lengths and cut out. Then with a very sharp craft knife the sides were chamfered to leave about an inch wide flat top and sides sloping down to table level.

Now I'm going through a phase of being irritated by joins in terrain so I decided I wanted to minimise that this time by sticking the pieces together and then reinforcing the joins underneath with masking tape. Then I lightly glued them down onto paper to prevent paint spills on my table top. When it was finished I hoped to remove it as intact as possible and place on top of a books-and-cloth terrain.

Basic undercoat with any cheap water based household paint in some earthy colour
When dry I painted the flat course of  the stream with a
rich brown acrylic
Before the brown had dried completely I went over it with a deep green
(tube above, effect below)

And again while wet, highlights of acrylic white to emphasise the water flow
Below is the branch for the mill in close up
To make the shiny water effect needs at least 3 coats of gloss varnish.
I use the same varnish as on some of my acrylic paintings as it does not take
 too long to dry - even so, be patient
Get a nice even shine that reflects the light
When dry it is time to do something on the banks, and each to his/her own taste on this. You will notice I have prised it off the paper and transferred it in long but manageable sized pieces onto a large piece of cardboard, as this stage is messy. Below are some of the main ingredients I used.
Acrylic Large grain structure gel, some texture - in this case a pot of cheap green
 granules bought at Hobbycraft, and paints of your choice, all put on with an old brush
Be careful to keep your hard earned glossy water reasonably clear of the mixture
I can't remember if this photo is of a lighter colour or just better lighting!
I think it is different as it leads into the next process.......
Some time ago I had scrapped an artificial Christmas tree. I used a lot of it for fir
trees (now long sold) but had evidently kept a lot of the trimmings.
Along with a lot of other kinds of "vegetation brushings" from my store cupboard
(some of it from making La Haye Sainte and Hougoumont no doubt) this was sprinkled
and pressed into the wet acrylic structure gel and paint mix
I appear to have added more dyed sawdust or static grass mixes as the intention is that
 none of the glossy structure gel will still show through. Wait for it to dry thoroughly,
 shake everything off, dry brush with lighter colours if you are not happy with it.
Spraying with matt varnish is a good way of sealing the mess but you will have to
 mask the glossy stream while you do it, or revarnish the water.
Because my stream originated in pieces it was relatively easy to use a sharp knife to cut it at strategic places for moving, and I've since cut it again so it's more like your conventional river sections, allowing some flexibility. At this point though every modeller will know what they want to do with it, but for completeness here's what happened next.

I laid the contours with cardboard, local newspapers and "The Radio Times"
and left a gap either side of the steam so I could put in bushes near "water level"
Now you can see why I wanted to be sure I had the right shape when I made it.
I used a bit more varnish to help seal the few splits I had made in the production process.
Close up near the water mill...........                 
...........and now the bushes have been added for the full battlefield (though some of the buildings got swapped before we played).
Finally the action of our Rank and File test game 2 - The battle of St Metard, is well under way. This was fought by James and Kevin over two days in late April.

Tuesday 1 November 2016

How I paint horses in oils by Kevin East

My wargaming buddy Kevin East rightly has many fans of his superb figure painting style. One suggested he does a tutorial on his method of painting horses using oil paint to get the lovely shading effects. So here it is ......

This is a quick run down on how I paint horses in oils:

 Naturally all the effort goes into the preparation of getting to the oil paint stage (1- 9)  This takes much longer than the oil painting stage itself which is actually the last element. I’ve illustrated a number of different coloured horses in the photos so you can see the progress unfold.


 I use the following method to allow easy access for painting around the whole figure. 
Cut 1" diameter dowelling ( broom stick handle) into 30mm lengths. 
Take hot glue gun and stick model to top of dowelling. ( This provides a great holding implement to gain painting access to all areas of the model). 


Get the horse ready to the stage where oils can be applied: 
1) Paint/spray the whole model black.( can be done before applying to dowelling) 
2) Paint all the horse furniture in standard paints with all the details - basically finish reins, all saddlery etc. 
3) Paint the whole of the horse skin in a brown 'slightly lighter tone' than your preferred final colour. Leave the socks and black area for leggings. 
4)Paint the horses eyes. 
5)Paint the socks and white on the horse in 3 shades. Only touch white where required.  
6)Paint the black leggings two shades of grey (getting lighter as you go) and then wash over with black ink. (This subdues the blatant shading differences. I practice this routine for all the reins too with its relevant colour wash).
7) Paint the hooves in two shades of buff where there is a white sock next to the hoof. 
8) Paint the hooves two shades of grey where there is a black sock next to the hoof. (Horses will have different 
coloured hooves depending on sock variations.
9) Paint the tail and mane the colour you wish and dry brush the two highlight colours on them. 

The horse is now ready for the oil painting: 


Oil paint required:-Titanium white, Paynes Grey, Ivory black, Burnt umber, Indian red (only use a spot of this when mixing the colour you want but it adds great warmth!), Brown Ochre, Raw sienna and Yellow ochre. Also some white spirit is required (unless you use water soluble oil paints – much more environmentally sound!), as well as a mixing palette ( I use the throw away paper ones) Toilet roll is also required
10) Only do the following process on one horse at a time. 
11) Mix a colour wash from the oils that is darker than the 'slightly lighter tone' of the skin colour of the horse. Mix in a lot of turpentine so it is very thin and runny (viscosity of milk).

 Paint the horse skin in this runny mixture so it covers all the areas of the 'slightly lighter tone'. 

Please be careful not to paint the black leggings, white socks, eyes, head stars, saddlery etc.  I use a couple of different sized brushes for this part so I can paint the head and fiddly bits with a fine brush and the rest with a broader brush. Clean your brushes in white spirit. 
12) Once the horse skin is covered take 4 untorn sheets of the toilet roll paper and fold in two. Place the horse in the toilet paper and fold it over the model so both sides of the horse is in contact with the toilet paper. 

Then apply pressure to wipe off excess paint but not too much. Compress the toilet paper under the belly, in between the legs, on the rump and on the face and everywhere (Do not wipe but compress).

The idea is to leave the runny paint in the recesses of the figure and leave smearing over the rest of the horse.
13) Mix a highlight colour from the oils that works with the remaining colour on the model. Mix this paint with a little white spirit. Paint the highlight muscle areas in this colour and merge with the background colour. 

Use of the same two brushes is useful here. 
14) As item 13) - Paint a lighter highlight on top of item 13) and merge. 

15) Leave the horse to dry for at least 3 days.  (Ha! - he should have warned of that in paragraph 1!!! -  now mine won't be ready for Saturday! - CG)

16) Spray gloss varnish. 
17) Spray matt varnish.
18) Paint gloss varnish any metal items. 
19) Remove model from dowelling by use of a chisel under hot weld glue.
20) Base as required.

I find items 10) to 14) in the oil painting section takes me 10 minutes per horse so I am generally getting 6 horses finished an hour. The whole thing sounds long and protracted but it is quick once you get the hang of things.  I hope the photos to support the above have helped in grasping the process. Many thanks to Chris for placing this piece on his  blog.  I hope the viewer finds this interesting and useful enough to try out! Painting in oils is a special experience! 

And here’s some views of the finished models.