Sunday, February 22, 2009

More Foreign Legion

Ed's second French unit is Foreign Legion in their blue overcoats (FR-9). The trousers are the usual white painted in light gray with some white highlights. The kepis, like the other FFL unit, are bright white.

The capote is dark blue. There was a fairly pointless discussion online recently about exactly which shade of blue they were: the main point is, they were the same as the rest of the French infantry of the time. But likely faded by the desert sun and full of desert sand. So your choice, really, as to what you make them look like. I undercoat the central part of the figure with a dark blue, then mix it with a bit of white to create highlights.

So far, the figures don't take long to paint. What really takes the time is all that equipment the Europeans are carrying. Jeez, hadn't they heard of traveling light? Guess not.

I painted the blue waist sash a bit brighter than it should be so that it will show up nicely over the dark blue capote. The haversack is off-white; I used a light tan. Much of the equipment is black--like the pack and the ammunition boxes--and some of the rest is gunmetal gray and I undercoat that black, too.

For speed, the sequence goes something like this: the tan haversack, gray blanket roll (around the pack), black just about everywhere else. The rifle somewhere in there is painted overall brown. I don't try to paint all the black with the same brush: I find it's simpler to paint all the things that require the same size brush at the same time. When all the black is done, I go over all the gunmetal gray parts--the rifle barrel, mess tin and canteen. Silver on the bayonet and brass belt buckle up front and you're just about done. One really nice touch is drybrushing a little dark gray over the black parts like the ammo boxes to highlight the edges, straps and such.

The hands were painted dark brown along with the rifle (right?). Now is the time to drybrush the flesh tone over it. That brown is a little different than the undercoat used on the face but no one will ever notice. And it's a good speedy shortcut.

There are 21 figures in this unit because there are 3 x 6 privates, a bugler, fanion corporal and officer/NCO. The officer I save to paint with the officer from the other FFL unit since their uniforms are the same. The bugler and corporal I paint along with the privates but I don't do the flag or bugle. I could but I'm going to save all the command figures to finish up as a group.

I'm getting close to the end and I'm all about speed right now.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Begin the French

With the Berbers finished, it's time to do the French.

I decided to "warm up" with the Foreign Legion in their white uniforms. These are exactly the same uniforms as the classic blue overcoats--except that the legionnaires are not wearing them. This is, most of the period postcards I've seen, the more common uniform worn in the heat of the North African desert. The bourgeron, pants, and kepi cover are all white. Like the Berbers, I start with dark gray and lighten with light gray and dry brush with some white.

The "on guard" figure above is one of my all-time favorite figures. Notice how the buttons on the gaiters stand out by not applying too much light gray over the dark base. The kepi is pure white. This is probably a-historical but I like the effect. (The "cult of the kepi" really began with General Rollet in the inter-war period.) One way to really make the white stand out is to paint a base coat of light blue under it. For this tip I am indebted to Bob Bowling of RLBPS.

The standard FR-8 unit pack comes with half of the figures in gaiters and no packs and the other half in long pants without gaiters and with packs. If you like, you can ask for all one or the other but almost no one does. I've done those without the packs first, including the bugler. Except for the bugle (which I didn't finish--but easily could have) his uniform is identical to theirs.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Berber Leaders

Finished the Berber leaders and with that, the native side is complete!

I often pull out the leader figures to paint separately as they may have different uniforms or other parts that are unique like drums. In this case it wasn't really necessary but it did help keep the batch size down to 9 and added one extra batch of seven. If the batches get too big, the paint starts to dry on the brush before you get done and that's a very bad thing for the life of the brush.

Same technique as used on the other Berbers. The main difference here is the color of the turban. It was recorded by European observers that Abd el Krim's leaders of units wore orange turbans and his personal bodyguard green ones. So I made the leaders with orange or green turbans. What orange? I couldn't stand the thought of a bright Halloween orange so I went with a more Texas A&M burnt orange--Raw Sienna & Alizarin Crimson pretty much. For the green, a mid-green the color of the prophet.

The figure at the top is (if you'll recall) that unreleased Berber/Riffi leader figure. I rather like him. OK, Ed, you've got the only painted one of him so far. The figure in the foreground below is holding a standard pole--I'll add the standard last. The Warflag site has a number of authentic-looking flags with Arabic characters on them but they're pulled from the movies, a dubious source at best. Abd el Krim, being trained by the Spanish, sought to create an independent Moroccan state and in so doing he created a flag for his Riffian republic. Could use that, too. I'll have to ask Ed what he wants.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

More Berbers

There are four batches of Berbers plus one more of the leaders. I like to do all one pose at the same time: it seems to go faster that way. The leaders go at the end because they often have different things to paint, like swords or drums. I'm liking the 9-figure batch a lot. I'd rather finish 9 figures in one sitting than half-finish 18 figures. Plus, with the larger batches, the paint starts to dry on the brush before you get all the way to the end of the line. That's not good for the life of the brush.

Not much to add to describe these figures. I used a little more of the yellow-brown highlight on these.

Here's a comparison of Ed's Berber (left) with one of mine. Damn, Ed, yours look better than mine! You might be able to see that I didn't paint the eyes on mine--they looked awfully close to the turban. I gotta tell you: in maybe 20 demo games, nobody has ever picked up one of these and said, "You didn't paint the eyes!"

After four years and all those games, my Berbers are showing their wear, especially the bases. I had used matt board (cheap) with acrylic spackling and self-stick magnet on the bottom. Guess why I switched to a metal base with pumice?

Only the leaders to go and I'm done with the Berber side.

Back to the Berbers

Having finished the first unit, it's time to tackle the Berbers in their more traditional dress. Remember the Jawas from Star Wars? Guess where Spielberg go the idea?

I've cheated a bit here. Hey, anything to make the painting go quicker! Started with the usual dark gray undercoat and some dark gray touching up. Here's the cheat: almost the whole figure is painted burnt umber. The paint is a bit on the thin side and you might be able to see it pooling in the shadows, which is what we want. I've left the face unpainted so I can do the red-brown base coat, but the legs and hands are painted over, too. The rifles are not painted because I usually use Rifle Butt, but I have covered the rifles, too.

Next, I use light gray where the gandoura shows in the front and I'm well on my way.

Here they are complete. The face, hands and rifle are done in the usual way. The light colored parts are all light gray, not white. There are two highlight colors over the burnt umber: a yellowish color like Teddy Bear Tan is good. The string or piece of leather catches the dark color along the base and the lighter ones on the top. You may not even need to go over it later.

I did a couple of variations on different batches including starting with Nubian/Dark Umber instead of Burnt Umber. On that batch I even painted the base at the start.

By the way, this figure is modeled after a Berber in a period photograph.