Saturday, January 28, 2012

Roman Heavy Infantry - Groundwork

The focus of this post is the groundwork for my two heavy Roman Infantrymen. The scene of this battle is set in what is known today as Ceylanpinar Turkey, on the border with Syria. The land is arid, dirt and scrub land. I began to build my groundwork with Apoxie Sculpt after putting toothpicks in the holes drilled previously for the pegged feet of the figures. After initial rough shaping the toothpicks were removed and the feet of the figures were pressed into the putty to locate. I always dip the feet in water first, in order to ensure they will not stick to or lift the putty.

Once dry I added more putty to further finalize the desired shape. Some surface detail was worked into the putty while wet using various tools at hand. I rolled the surface of rocky areas with a toothpick that had bits of dried putty attached. This rough surface helped bring out a rough rocky look to certain areas. I also work some areas with a bit of broken balsa wood which also creates that rocky effect. I constantly test fit the figures to make sure I haven't lost a tight and natural connection between the feet and ground.

After everything has thoroughly cured I began shaping with my Dremel tool, using various grinding bits. This further shapes the surface and helps develop sharper rocky surfaces in scale with the figures. This can either be subtle as on this base or more dramatic as seen in many of my previous projects. The photos below show the groundwork after all the putty work was completed.

The next step was to apply a scattered coat of very fine sand to the surface of the putty. This is attached using a 50/50 mix of waterproof Elmer's wood glue and water. The thinned glue dries quickly and being waterproof, will be impervious to any paint or additional products that will be applied later. The scrub grass is the usual mix of model railroad static grass and some of the finer bits of leaf seed material that I collect from my White Birch each spring. This is all attached with the same glue/water mix. After I have primed the surface I will apply one or two of those wonderful little Fredericus-Rex tufts of grass to vary the scrub.

The groundwork is at this point complete. Prior to priming I may add a few small rocks here or there to add a bit more variety to the surface. I will also be inserting some fine brass wire to replicate the shafts of arrows stuck in the ground. Paper fletching feathers will be applied prior to priming. This is a battle and the arrows are an important part of the story.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Roman Heavy Infantry - Assembly & Staging

Now that I have completed a large portion of the assembly and prep on these two figures I have spent some time staging the two figures. The base has a distinctive shape that works well to encompass the two figures, their long spear shafts and the battlefield debris that will be directly in front of them. The shape should also draw the viewer towards the action. My desire is to keep the two figures as close and compact as possible. This photo shows the figures without the shields attached so they seem further apart than they actually are. Additionally the front figure will most likely be holding two smaller throwing javelins in his shield hand.

My vision should become clearer as the groundwork is sculpted. There will be a slight downward slope from the viewers left to right, with a broken shield, weapons and spent arrows on the ground.

As to the figures, the spear shafts included in the kits have been replaced with brass rod for strength. The spear points will be glued back on after priming. Swords and shields will be painted separately and attached in progress. The shields will be quite colorful and distinctive.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Project - Roman Heavy Infantry, Battle of Resaena 243 AD

My brain never stops planning projects and in the case of this little grouping I have chosen to continue my run of late Roman subjects. The two figures shown are SR-39 and SR-60, both Heavy Roman Infantrymen from Soldiers in similar and complimentary poses. This should be a fun little project.

The base I have chosen to use is a Ken Thomas burl base in an interesting shape that I have had around waiting for just such an occasion as this. Both figures are wielding long shafted spears that I would prefer to keep within the confines of the base to limit the possibility of damage. The shape of the base is such that depending on the positioning of the figures can both protect the figures and possibly draw the eyes of the viewer into the drama of the vignette.

The photo below shows the kit components prior to cleaning and assembly. Both are sculpted Laruccia and are masterfully detailed in every respect. As is usual for my figures all lance shafts will be replaced by brass rod including the small throwing spears that the top figure carries along with his shield in the left hand.

The Battle of Resaena was fought in 243 AD near Ceylanpinar Turkey, between Roman forces under Praetorian Prefect Timesitheus and a Sassanid Empire Persian Army under King Shapur I. King Shapur I is the subject of a very nice portrait figure also sculpted by Laruccia for Art Girona of Spain. I plan to paint this figure to be displayed alongside this pairing sometime in the near future.

The battle was part of a larger campaign ordered by Emperor Gordian III (Emperor 238-244) in an attempt to reclaim territories lost in previous years during the never-ending conflict between the many claimants to the Roman throne. The Romans were victorious but Timesitheus fell ill and died shortly afterwards and was replaced by Philip the Arab. Gordian's troops eventually revolted due to lack of pay, purportedly killing Gordian and raising Philip the Arab as Emperor (Emperor from 244 -249). Various versions of events exist but it is known that Philip completed the campaign prior to returning to Rome.

Karl von Fasbender Update

As so often is the case, one finishes a piece only to find that a modification needs to be made due to faulty research. Such is the case with our friend here. In the course of researching the piece I utilized as one of my resources a plate in the Osprey Elite series book on German WW1 Generals. That plate showed what appeared to be a Navy Blue collar. After sending Ulrich the photos I was informed that the collar should have been green. In looking at the plate again I discovered that a written reference to the shoulder boards in the plate being green is in the back of the book but the appearance in the plate is of a blue edging. Obviously there was some sort of color shift in the printing process. Either way, I was forced to repaint the collar as seen here. Fun Times!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Karl von Fasbender Bust Completed

I spent the weekend completing this box art for Ulrich Puchala's kit of Karl von Fasbender. What at first might appear as a simple subject without much color soon shows it can be an interesting subject for the painter. The fun little details were the shako crest with it's enameled Bavarian crest and the challenge of realistically representing the glasses hanging at the front of his uniform.

I really enjoyed this kit and plan to paint many more from this wonderful line of busts. Thanks for the opportunity Ulrich! Now on to Zeppelin!

Vexillarius of Constantine the Great Completed

After all the little tweeks and touch-ups I am marking this project as complete. This is quite an amazing little figure and one that I am happy to add to my case full of Roman subjects. I'll limit the words and focus on the photos.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Soldiers SR-59 Vexillarius -Update #7

Lots of minor details to complete but this figure is nearing completion. I wanted to show how the standard turned out.  Quite a bit of time was taken on making the gold trim appear "stitched". I have a bit more highlighting work on the vine motif and the lettering, details on the tunic designs, leather and armour as well as the "Chi-Ro" on the standard. Should be completed this weekend (fingers crossed).

Monday, January 2, 2012

Soldiers SR-59 Vexillarius -Update #6

A bit of work on the latest Roman project. I have completed the cape, leather, sword and scabbard and begun the Labarum design and further details of the tunic. The hem and sleeve bands and details started as Dioxazine Purple with some highlighting. The purple is drying glossy so a touch of clear flat will no doubt be required. I will wait until I finish further highlights and shadows to see how it looks. Further highlights of light Cad Red were applied to the tunic to get it closer to the color it should be. The cape is Cad Red Deep and Medium with Light Cad Red highlights. Once the figure is completed I will add some weathering around the hem. All of the gold bits on the standard were started using the usual mix of gold inks and Burnt Umber.

Choosing how to paint the Labarum has required some research as well as conjecture on my part. I have included a picture of coinage from the period following the battle to show how the Labarum was depicted at the time. Descriptions of the Labarum clearly state that Constantine's image was depicted on the cloth but the coins show three round shapes. This has been explained by experts as a period requirement not allowing the actual image to be depicted on the coin reverse. I don't know whether to believe that or not. Some have said that the three discs represent three images of Constantine or the trinity. The box art from Soldier's depicts a face on image of Constantine but I have been unable to find any reference to support that choice. My belief is that this is again, conjecture on the part of the artist.

In the end I chose to use the image style used on coins of the period, side-on. This is due to a desire to not copy others unnecessarily when no independent reference exists. The only thing that is known for sure is the wording in Latin "In Hoc Signo Vinces" or "In This Sign You Will Conquer" supporting the story of Constantine's supposed vision and subsequent purported conversion to Christianity. What you see in the photos is my first basic color layer of gold on the standard. More work will go into the image, edging and fringe. 

Saxon Vignette Update

It has been quite a while since I last updated (or even really worked on) this little vignette but there has been progress of a sort so I thought I would start off the new year with an brief update. I did do more work on the groundwork as well as a bit of color work on the figures. Trying to find a color palette for three figures that unifies the scene without looking like it was a planned thing can be difficult. I want to go for an earthy tonal value throughout and so I have begun with various greens and browns. There will be splashes of brighter colors such as red and golden yellow to add interest and definition. I hope to spend some time on this once I finish my current Roman subject.

General Ritter Karl von Fasbender - Update #1

First of all, Happy New Year to everyone out there that follows my little blog! Last year was a mixed bag of good and bad for everyone including myself and I hope that 2012 will be a better year for us all. No complaints about the hobby however with lots of amazing miniatures released and the promise of more wonderful pieces this year.

I have been working on three of Ulrich Puchala's very nice WWI era busts and my focus has been on this one representing General Ritter Karl v. Fasbender. All that you see here is in early stages but you can begin to get a feel for the subject. I won't be happy with the face until I have done some more work on details, highlights, shadows and complete the Shako and uniform/coat collars.

Below is a triptych photo showing the process of painting the face to this point. My only thought is the shape of the moustache doesn't taper downward like in the photo. This changes the likeness somewhat for me but still it is a good representation.