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Tuesday, 29 May 2007

And now for something completely different....

One of my other 'little jobs' from the past few weeks has been doing some work for a mate who has just become a daddy... He and his wife asked me to paint a mural on their nursery wall. They opted for woodland animals... A bit of a different scale to 28mm wargame figures, I think you'll agree!!! Paints used were those little Homebase DIY tester pots of wall emulsion with colours liberally mixed to get the shades I wanted... Different, but great fun to do and, at three months old, little baby Isabelle has already begun to notice that this particular wall looks different to other three in the room... (aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh).....

Sunday, 27 May 2007

1500pts British Kingdoms Army

As promised, here they are: 1500pts of Age of Arthur British Kingdoms. All shields and standards handpainted...fool that I am!!!!

The Whole army. Three views.... Bit of work with Adobe Photoshop on the first one to get some sky in there...

First, the Rex (obviously Latin for 'king,' Rex is a title that any very powerful British Warlord could give himself if he felt like it and had the force to back up that claim...) with his Teulu (pronounced 'Taily' - these are his bodyguard, comitatus, etc.) I have fielded them as heavy cavalry because I can and because somehow, an Arthurian army without them just feels plain wrong, even though there is diddly-squat evidence that 'Arthur' (or any of his more 'historical' contemporaries) ever really fought with such cavalry..let's face it, the Teulu could fight on horse or foot as they needed to. In WAB, you can't be dismounting and remounting warriors so I've bitten the bullet and gone with cavalry...

The Rex is accompanied by his battle-standard bearer, an 'Uchelwyr' or minor nobleman, carrying the dragon banner.

Next, the spearmen or 'Combrogi'. The chap in the green cloak in the first pic is a 'Tiern' (high ranking nobleman.) He's there to boost the fighting power of this unit and he certainly did that in the game on Tuesday!!

These are a handful of pagenses (skirmishers) with javelins...

The Cavalry. These are mounted Combrogi, light cavalry with throwing spears, shields and javelins. I like these guys...very handy!!!

Lastly, a bard. He doesn't fit in points-wise, but he will be part of my 700pt character retinue for campaigns, so I've stuck him in these pics.

I hope you like them! I'm very pleased with the overall effect. They seem to 'hang together' pretty well, largely due to the unified unit standards (themes and colours) and the choice of red, black and white as shield colours. I'm looking forward to playing a few more games with them. So far, they've played two: One close- run victory and one bloody stand-off...

Next in line for the paintbrush, three javelin-armed mounted combrogi and four javelin-armed Teulu models for my late 6th/7th century Northern British variant...

Friday, 25 May 2007

The Thinking behind My Army

Before I post the first finished army pics, I thought I'd just share the rationale behind what I am doing with this army.

Initially, I was planning on a Romano-British army, simply because that's all I'd seen out there in wargame land and because what I'd read suggested that was the way to go. Also, my reading of Philips and Keatmans fantastic 'King Arthur, The True Story' really inspired that idea. It was only when the Age of Arthur book actually came out and I read the historical background, that I began to rethink. Anyway, I ploughed on, detemined to field an Ambrosian Twilight of Britannia list. I even bought additional Roman models to add to the mass of GB Arthurian/Germanics I'd already got. However, I played a couple of games with that army while painting and found myself oddly dissatisfied. I found myself playing just like I do with FOTW Romans...badly!!! So that prompted a rethink and I tried a British kingdoms list. It felt very different, with rock-hard characters, Teulu and warband infantry and I found myself playing more aggressively, and just plain..better! So I bought the West Wind models and 'British-ised' them with round shields (see earlier post) and that's the army I've completed...I simply removed the very overtly Roman troops and popped them away in the storage cabinet until I could think of what to do with them.

Then came the news that Morris and Jones were planning a 7th Century campaign day based in Northern Britain. I was really keen to get involved, but would have to field a later army.... and it was then that it struck me... I could actually do three armies in one here. So this is how...

The current British kingdoms force has 3 infantry blocks containing about 70% round shield models with the rest oval shield Arthurian range, some armoured. I figured that would be entirely appropriate for a Brtish kingdom that had started out as a warlord in charge of an old Romano-British frontier garrison who declared himself Rex. As time went on, the Roman equipment would begin to wear out, although the descendents of the original military garrison and their armourers, smiths, etc still retained their knowledge of Roman arms techniques, so some Roman armour , helmets and shields still remain in use, although only in a minorty among the combrogi. Gradually, the equipment and tactics would evolve to that seen in later kingdoms, very 'skirmishy' - lots of javelins, etc and obviously all round shields, armour very much limited to Teulu and leaders...

So, by replacing some of the round-shield foot models with the Roman chaps I've relegated to the storage cabinet and by re-arranging unit numbers, I can field the army of the Roman Military Civitas that preceded the Warlord's take-over-much more of a late, late Roman looking force.

By painting a few more round-shield unarmoured types, I can replace the oval shield types competely to field a much later force - 6th-7th century...Even better if I replace some of the current Teulu with West Wind's javelin-throwing ones.

Genius! with one an a half armies' worth of figures, I can field 3 different variant armies!

So, here's the scenario:

Romano-British civitates force: Represents the garrison of Hadrian's Wall near Carlisle-the Western end of the wall, the Civitas of the Carvetii.

British Kingdoms force: Represents the early stages of the kingdom of Rheged that emerged from that civitas, aiming for the time period of late 5th early/6th century-ideal as an 'Arthurian' force as well:

Northern Welsh force represents the kingdom of Rheged from the time of Urien onwards (mid 6th century until the kingdom's absorbtion by Northumbria.)

So that's where I am now. The British kindoms are what you'll see in the pics in my next post. The next job will be to get some troops done for the later period, along with a foot Teulu, before finishing off another dozen or so Roman foot models and a couple of oval shield cavalry to complete the earlier army...

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

A First Victory!!!

It's amazing what a lick of paint can do for one's generalship!!! Yup, second outing for the British Kingdoms boys (first outing fully painted) and we managed a (very rare, but bloomin' welcome) 656pt 'close-run victory.'

I was playing against my mate Carl who was once again using my Late Romans (we were practising for The Beast's Hot Lead event in July) and we played the 'Roman Road' scenario from the Age of Arthur book. Basically, I had to start in column of march with 1500 pts while Carl's 1000 ambushed me and tried to prevent me exiting his table edge (short table edge...). See the book for more details. Anyway, it was a tremendous battle... In the end my Teulu, complete with General and army standard exited safely (gaining me STACKS of victory points) while my brave foot troops slaughtered Roman cavalry and cataphracts and one unit was slaughtered by Roman pedes. I was denied a Mighty Victory due to my mounted combrogi failing a crucial panic test and getting stuck on the table, being beaten in a fight by bloody Roman archers (ok, with a bit of help from their general and ASB...) Great fun, but a bit of a sod of a scenario for the defender if his 1000pt army is small in numbers, (as the Romans were really, with expensive troops, equipment and all...) as there was just too big a gap for me to pile through. Also, my cavalry gained me an advantage (which I partly blew by getting the mtd combrogi in trouble, but hey ho...lessons learned!!) that infantry armies wouldn't have...

Anyway, as I say, a rare victory for me which could have been better if I'd not made a couple of stupid errors, but Carl acknowledged that he'd made some mistakes too. If he hadn't made those, it might well have been much closer.

First game on the new gaming boards as well. I have to say, both of my armies on such nice new boards did look rather cool!! Sorry there are no pics, but we didn't have time or enough light.

Full British Kingdoms army pics at the weekend, I PROMISE....

Oh, and the bloody heating/hot water still isn't fixed and is going to cost me a smal bloody fortune when they come back to complete the job...GREAT!!!

Tuesday, 22 May 2007


Sorry...please excuse the over-enthusiastic fanfare leading this message...but I've only gone and completed the painting of 1500 points of British Kingdoms..... I know.... Unbe-flamin'-lieveable innit?!! (In the immortal words of Age of Arthur co-author Steve Jones, "About bloody time!" and I can't argue with him really!)

Anyway, I finally applied the last blob of static grass at 10.30pm on Monday evening after a frenzied weekend of paint-slapping....well, I have a game this evening and wanted to play with all painted toys...although, note to self, be careful...not varnished yet!!!!!

I shall be taking some full army and finished unit pics over the next few days and will post highlights both here and on the WAB forum.

To be honest though, it's not QUITE as much of a celebration as it could be, as I don't think that my list is a great gaming list...I could use a second unit of skirmishers, so I'll be doing those over the next week or so, but even so...after almost 16 months of painting it is GREAT to have at least something resembling an army painted!

Anyway, must get on...bloody hot water/heating system failed over the weekend and this morning is to be spent working from home so I can phone innumerable heating engineers to get a repair quote...sigh......!!!!!

Friday, 18 May 2007

Not Long Now...

Yup, unbelievable though it may be, after nearly 15 months of painting, I am within a gnat's bollock of completing the core 1500pts for my Arthurian army! I reckon I've got about an hour's work on the last 5 Pagenses, then about 3 more evenings on the last 8 foot Combrogi and then I'll have 1500 lovely points of British Kingdoms. Bloody fantastic!!!

The plan then is to paint a couple more unarmoured cavalry (I've had to temporarily sub a couple of painted Teulu types to get my mounted Combrogi to painted gaming strength-and I painted too many Teulu anyway...) then I will have a less Roman looking light cavalry unit.

Next, it's a foot Teulu, which will be fun...having to paint replica banners...bugger....

I then need to paint about a dozen more Roman types (you know, big oval shields and stuff) and a couple more armoured cavalry and I can field a pretty good looking Twilight of Britannia Romano-British force (I'll just swap some non-Roman looking types for the Roman looking ones to do that...)

At the same time, I want to paint some very British looking fellas on foot and a few javelin-throwing West Wind Teulu cavalry so that I can create a 7th Century Northern British army.

The basic idea is that there are about 75-80 models that can fit into all 3 armies, with the remaining 30 or so filled by the very specific variants to personalise it all. It's a bloomin' great plan, but will probably take me another 6-8 months to do... Then of course, there are the Saxon allies.....

Anyway, I'm off out to a charity pub quiz now, organised by a mate from work. My team are calling ourselves the Magnificent Seven...there are indeed seven of us, but I am not sure how magnificent we'll be as my day at work has resulted in my brain turning to soup! Great! The upside is the very nice fish n chip supper that precedes it!!!!!

Hopefully, if I can summon up the energy tomorrow, I'll post a bit about why I've chosen the armies that I have and how I see the history of the three linking together. It sounds bloody clever, doesn't it? Well, don't hold your breath, but I hope it'll interest someone out there somewhere....

Monday, 14 May 2007

This weekend, I has been mostly reading...

An aside from painting stuff today...

After my mammoth post on Saturday, I settled down to a bit of a read. My other half had toddled off to Birmingham for a wedding dress fitting thingy, leaving me 'home alone'. So I went to the bookshelf and found a dusty little paperback that I'd picked up from Amazon last year: 'The Shining Company' by Rosemary Sutcliff. Yes, it's a book designed for folk from 10 years old, but, by golly, it's one of the best 'Arthurian' books you'll ever find! Detailing the last stand of the people of Gododdin at the Battle of Catraeth (Catterick) around 600AD, it's a story of coming of age through the horror of war and the valour, yet futility of battle. Ok, you have to excuse the stereotype Saxons with horsetail banners and huge axes and the artistic license of warriors wearing face-covering mail masks, but once you've got past that, it's bloody fab. Beg, buy, borrow, steal a copy...errr...ok, don't steal, but you know what I mean!

Which reminds me, if you want a CRACKING Arthur story, also check out Sutcliff's 'Sword at Sunset' which is her attempt at the story of the Romano-British Arthur, for grown ups, this time! It really is a belter of a book, with all the ingredients (again, excuse the generic barbarians, but I honestly can't recommend it highly enough! Both Sutcliff books are available on Amazon as I type (in fact, have just ordered two more that I last read when I was about 12, but can still remember as being the dog's dangly bits, so to speak, so have ordered second-hand copies to re-read when painting has driven me bonkers!)

Am currently reading 'The White Phantom', second in an Arthurian series by Patrick McCormack. It's bloody great! The first book, 'The Last Companion' is superb as well. They tell the story of Bedwyr, last of Arthur's Companion cavalry, 10 years after the disaster at Camlann. With a cracking plot of vengeance, ancient chalices, etc, with tantalising glimpses of Arthur's life told in flashback, if you like the period, for Heaven's sake read these books! The warfare is small-scale and very realistic (i.e. tactics, weapon-handling, etc). Very good indeed and providing serious inspiration as I battle to complete the first 1500pts of my various Arthurian armies...

Talking of which, back to the paintbrush...sigh........

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Using the Foundry 3-Colour Paint System

This is how I paint my rank and file models. The example figure is a West Wind Arthurian Romano-Britsh Spearman with a Foundry round shield and a Gripping Beast spear, mounted on a 20mm Games Workshop (GW) base. He's undercoated with GW black spray paint. I always use that!

I always use the Foundry shade, mid-tone and light in that order on rank & file models. Characters occasionally get additional highlights. Games Workshop colours are occasionally added. In the notes below, assume Foundry unless you see GW mentioned! Oh, by the way, apologies for the variation in background tone! It's because this chap was painted in with 7 others over a few days and some painting took place in the evenings, some in daylight...

I always use the same system. I start with mail armour if there is any as I drybrush that. None on this model so that's easy!! Then it's the flesh. I basecoat with the Foundry shade tone. I try to be fairly neat as it means less tidying up later. I aim for a reasonable coverage, but patchy isn't a disaster as we'll be building up the colour with the highlight shades. After the basecoat is dry, I add a little GW Brown Ink into the eye painting eyes for me, matey!! (Actually, I used to, but you can't see 'em on the table top so I no longer bother!)

Then it's the mid-tone and light, onto the raised areas of nose, cheeks, chin, etc, followed by GW Tanned Flesh applied to the bottom lip.

Then it's the trousers. Peaty Brown on this model, but I use a variety of browns in a unit of these chaps. Same as with flesh-use the three tones, each highlight successively smaller on the raised areas or where the folds might be if they aren't sculpted! That's a good tip actually, even if the sculptor hasn't sculpted folds in cloth, painting a few in with the highlight shade works well. Oh, while we are talking cloth, when painting cloaks and other large flat areas, really REALLY good painters do a technique called 'wet blending' where they blur the edges between highlights with a wet brush. Looks bloody great, but is a pain in the ass to do and I actually prefer the hard lines on the table top as you can see'em clearer. However, blending is GREAT for photos of characters, etc and lots of fantasy figure painters do it. Anyway, I digress.. Trousers...

Next, the tunic. See above for the 'how to'. You'll note that I've painted folds onto this. The colour is Storm Green. I always use muted colours for 'Dark Age' models for the simple reason that there were no colour-fast dyes back in those days and they'd be using natural plant and mineral dyes which would quickly fade.

This chap also has an undertunic which I've painted Madder Red as it's a nice complimentary contrast with the Storm Green tunic.

Next, the leather - boots, straps, belts, etc. I use two colour schems for this. On this model, it's Bay Brown, but a cool alternative is a basecoat of GW Scorched Brown, highlighted with GW Dark Flesh and finally GW Vermin Brown. I often use that for characters as it's more 'shiny'.

Next, the rear of the shield. I paint it as planks of wood (some are sculpted like that but not this Foundry shield) using GW Scorched Brown as a base with fine lines of GW Bestial Brown as a woodgrain highlight. At this point I usually paint any buckles, etc using GW Shining Gold.

After that, it's the shield. I am using 3 colours (white, black and red) in this army for shields so the army 'ties together' visually. This shield is done in a 'Roman' style using black and white 'rays'. The white is GW Bubonic Brown, highlighted with GW Bleached Bone and GW Skull White, as that gives a lovely 'off-white' colour. The black is simply Charcoal Black mid tone and light straight onto the GW undercoat. The highlight strokes can be fairly need to be too neat! For flat tone shields, I paint round the boss rather than lines radiating as I have here, but it's the same principle..fairly bold and brave strokes.

Next, the iron. I paint the shield boss and spearhead or sword blade. I use GW Boltgun metal as the base for this, highlighted with GW Chainmail and Mithril Silver, although I don't use the final highhlight on the spearpoint. I then give the shield boss (and helmet if he's wearing one) a wash of GW Black Ink (diluted 60% water) just to tie the colours together and to accentuate the moulding of details (rivets, etc.)

Next, it's the hair. I tend to put on the shade tone as a basecoat and drybrush (VERY CAREFULLY!!) the highlight shades. I use a wide variety of browns in a unit, but this is Bay Brown. If a model has a moustache and beard, I paint the basecoat on and then brush very fine lines of the light only to give the imporession of hair. It looks effective!!

After that, it's the spearshaft, which is done with a basecoat of GW Snakebite Leather and highlighted with flicks of GW Bubonic Brown. You could use Spearshaft Brown for this. I don't because, before I started using Foundry colours, I painted an entire Late Roman army using GW colours and did their spears with the method used here. I want the models to be interchangeable, so...

Then I base it by gluing on GW fine base sand and when the glue is dry, wash it with neat GW Brown Ink. When that's dry I drybrush GW Bleached Bone over it and tidy up the base edge with GW Chaos Black.

Then, stick on a few clumps of static grass and we're done!

So, there we are! How to paint a British/Welsh Arthurian spearman in my style. Unashamedly based on Kev Dallimore's (et al) style, but done in my own way.
One day I'll do a similar article about horses...the bane of my painting life!!!

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

My God! I've made it at last!!!

It's true you know! I discovered yesterday that the great Dave Woodward of figure painting and blog fame, has put a link to my blog on his own blog and referred to my stuff as 'eye candy'. Cheers Dave!! Glad you like my humble efforts! Dave's blog is here:
In that particular post, he also talks about West Wind models and as I've painted a few I thought I'd share my views on them. I think that they are very nice models. Well sculpted and neatly cast, with good, dynamic poses. The separate heads are a God-send as the variety is so much enhanced. I still think that Soapy's new stuff for Gripping Beast has the edge in foot figures for the Arthur period, but West Wind's Romano-British cavalry do it for me. The riders are superb, especially if you combine the best heads from the Romano-British cavalry head pack with the least barbaric looking heads from the helmeted Saxon head pack. They then look superb and very much suit the later 6th/7th century Northern British kingdoms (Rheged and Strathclyde, Gododdin etc) as the poses are dynamic and are pretty much all 'overarm javelin throwing' which is bang on for that later period. Sadly, the horses are brilliantly sculpted, but too big! I've solved it by mounting them on a variety of Foundry, Arizan and Gripping Beast horses and that works well. Sadly, you'll have to wait a while for pics, because I can't start them until I've got a full 1500pts painted up and I've painted a dismounted Teulu (bodyguard unit, for the uninitiated.) I may paint up one as a taster if you are very very lucky (and if I get bored painting yet more bl**dy spearmen!!) Also, West Wind do some lovely vignette packs, with the 'burning a druid at the stake' being my current pick of the bunch. Seriously, if you are building either a Romano-British or Saxon army, check these guys out as the figures do mix well with other classic ranges out there!
However, you should also check out Musketeer miniatures Saxons, as they are the BEST Saxon models so far (still waiting for the new Gripping Beast of course, but in the meantime...)

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

A Few Old Pics...

Thought I'd pop these on here just for those of you who haven't seen 'em elsewhere. Some luvverly Arthurian cavalry and a nice shot of two character models in an impromptu duel.. One of those happy photographic incidents where it all came together!!

Anyway, enjoy!! Foundry 3-colour guide to come by the end of next weekend...

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Thank God the bank holiday is coming

Have just started the next 8 models for my Arthurian British army. Hopefully the long weekend will see me break the back of them...What you'll get after I've finished them is my step by step guide to the Foundry 3 colour system, with one model used as an example at each stage of the process. Remember, I'm not Kev Dallimore, I just use my version of his style and I am painting an army for the wargames table, so the model you'll see is rank and file not a character.
Watch this space over the next few days...

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Gaming Table

I've just made a new gaming table for WAB. It consists of 4 sheets of 3 x 2 foot MDF. I glued on lots of patio sand in patches (with neat PVA) then when dry, painted the whole lot with dark brown wall emulsion. Once dry, I drybrushed (using a Games Workshop tank brush) the sand with 2 lighter shades of emulsion using tester pots... Then I sealed the lot with diluted PVA, 1PVA : 5 water.

The next step was to dilute PVA 50:50 and stick on LOTs of Hoch Static Grass. Once the excess had been removed, I varnished them with two coats of Plastikote Satin polyurethane varnish...Et voila...

New Stuff-West Wind models.

Well, it's Wednesday and I've got some painting done!! Six more chaps finished since Sunday evening. Here are some of them, West Wind's new Romano-British infantry. I have added Foundry and First Corps round shields from my bitz box to make them look less Roman and they've got Gripping Beast spears. They are lovely to paint and they blend well with the GB models in my army. However, the dynamic poses make them a little hard to rank up, so be careful when basing...