Thursday, January 31, 2019


Romanian Cavalry displaying Ed M's Free-handed Hungarian Knots!

Despite closing my last post promising to do something simple after a long string of conversions and hussars, this post, dear readers, finds me steeped in another involved project, one with figure conversions, equipment assembly, and some rather involved painting schemes.  Go figure.  At least I'm returning to something I've done before...

...More Hungarian Artillery! Dig those crazy candy-stripes!  

For my current project, I decided to expand my available Hungarian artillery from 3 to 6 batteries in order to give me the flexibility to stage larger games.  The first ten days of the project have been consumed with assembling and painting the guns and converting the gunners. Readers unfamiliar with this blog may wish to peruse the earlier post on the conversion work involved with producing these units.  I am now engaged with  painting the gunners...  

..."What," I hear you asking, "does any of this have to do with hungarian knots?" Well, I'm glad you asked.   Having now painted an entire Hungarian army, along with a smattering of similarly involved uniforms  here and there, I have become immersed in "hungarian knot-ology."  And, given that I'm adding these details to a set of figures at this very moment, I thought I would take this opportunity to share my technique for free-handing hungarian knots (and similar loopy things) to figures that don't have them.  As usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX.
My hungarian knots begin life as three solid discs on the cuffs (in this case, red)...
 ...which I then fill-in (in this case with black) to create the loops.

There's still cleaning up and whatnot to be done on these figures, but I think these shots convey the idea.  In this case, the red on brown is low contrast, so I do red details on the thick side in order to help them stand out.  Additionally,  I filled-in the loops with black for the same reason (I also underpainted the lace lines and pockets in black to help the red stand out).  For finer hungarian loops, you would just make the dot inside larger, which would cause the loop line to be thinner. Except for the odd command figure, I generally stick with three loops on a cuff, which provides about the right amount of definition when viewing with the naked eye at game-table distance. 
In about another week (ugh, am I slow!) the new gunners will be ready to join their already-finished comrades (above) in the Hungarian Artillery Park.
For higher contrast combinations, I fill the loops with the uniform color.  The red on white in the top picture nicely illustrates the three-loop rule of thumb.  For braided knots, I add braid-colored dots last (in the above case, the loops were first done in yellow and the black dots were added last to give the braid effect).
This process works equally well for trouser knots. 

 There: the secrets of Hungarian Knotology revealed!

Saturday, January 19, 2019


The "other" Totenkopf Regiment (with white busby bags).
The 2nd Leib Hussars (approx 1866)

Greetings, dear readers. I am happy to report that not only have I arrived at the much-anticipated "other side" of the recent unpleasantness at work, but I have marked the moment with the happy completion of my most recent work-in-progress...
...the Northstar 1866 Prussian 1st Leib Hussars (Ta, daaaaaa!)
The same figures, pro painted, as shown in a review in a Recent Wargames Illustrated

These being newly released figures, the only painted samples I could find in my research were the pro painted ones (above)--a high standard to emulate, indeed. Before I go too far, I have to say that these figures (and the Northstar/Helion 1866, cavalry in particular) are exquisite sculpts. However, I would have to say that they are also not "entry-level" figures. I find them quite challenging (that might just be my approach, though). The detail is certainly there, but there isn't much relief to guide the brush, and the equipment and accoutrements are often "nested" (one on top another, or overlapping). As such, these things wind up taking extra "trickeration" to look distinct and "right" to the eye: alot of effort expended on things like canteens, muskets, straps, and such before getting to the fancy uniform details, like hungarian knots, that draw the eye.  (I do believe that rendering the other bits does enhance the overall look of the figure, so I'm not suggesting it's wasted effort).  Anyway, without further ado, here is my study of painting these figures--for those who may be painting them themselves or the just plain curious. As usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX.
The Prussian Leib Hussar, aka "Totenkopf" regiment, goes back to the Seven Year's War and Frederick the Great. In the disaster of 1806, it was one of the few units that came through with a sound combat record and possession of its colors. In 1808, it was reformed into Leib Hussar regiments Nr 1 and 2 and remained in service through the continental wars of the 19th Century (the timeframe concerned here). I chose to go with the "traditional" representation of the 1st regiment, with the red busby bags as opposed to the 2nd with white.

One peculiarity of the mid-century Prussian cavalry was that the striping in the musician's "swallow's nests" was diagonal as opposed to vertical. I was concerned that doing these as such, even if gotten right, would wind up looking wrong. Thus, this was one of those details that I was prepared to do "wrong" (ie, vertical) in order to look "right." However, the diagonal effect worked out fine to the eye. Interestingly, these and the Northstar Austrian Hussars (which I did as Romanians) lack the sabretache, although I did not notice it until painting these. Not sure why that is, but it doesn't detract from the figures. 
 Prussian hussar officers had brown busbies as opposed to black.
I did make some deliberately "wrong" decisions on the details on the back of the uniform. I originally painted the trefoils on the shoulder blades realistically--in other words, as loops with black centers. However, the optical effect of this rendered them virtually invisible; they looked like uncorrected stray marks at the end of the piping lines. Thus, I re-did them with solid centers, which nicely suggests the loop and brings out the detail. Oddly enough, the loop on the back of the collar, painted realistically with a hollow center, does look right to the eye (go figure). All the bits on the cartridge belts, the small bit of carbine belt diverging from under the cartridge belt, the wolves teeth receding under the saddle roll, these are all indicative of the kinds of details that I mentioned taking "trickeration" to bring out. (For anyone interested in more of the minutia of how I painted these figures, there's a summary at the end of this post).

Left, 1st Leib Hussars (Northstar) and (right) the 5th Blucher Hussars (Foundry). I was concerned about how well the Northstar figures would mix with my Foundry Prussian hussars. The side-by-side eyeball test put those concerns to rest, thankfully. I'm not entirely sure that were I to do another hussar regiment whether I would go with Foundry or Northstar figs.  Both lines are fine, and each has its advantages.
Of course, the Leib Hussars fit in nicely with their Northstar bretheren, the Prussian Uhlans.
My entire Prussian 1866 cavalry contingent, ready for action: Foundry Dragoons, Cuirassiers, and Hussars. Northstar Uhlans and Hussars.
Black-garbed fellows with skulls on their hats--no Prussian force is complete without 'em.


                                                  *More boring details of painting: 
The cartridge belts are light gray touched over with flat white. The black uniforms are flat black drybrushed with dark gray (as are the busbys). Another interesting point of the uniform is that the officers' headgear was brown otter fur (his headgear is underpainted black with two levels of brown). The totenkopfs (death heads) are flat steel with a touch of shiny silver. The red busby bags are the dark red (Testor's Signal Red) drybrushed with a brighter flat red. The troopers' barrel sashes are underpainted in black, alternating with the dark/bright red combination and a light gray drybrushed with flat white. The officer's distinctions were silver--which I rendered in flat steel brushed over with a shinier silver. The officer's cartridge belt was silver edged in the attilla color (in this case black). Thus, the flat steel is centered in the belt with a bit of edge left. Technically, the officer's saddle cloth should have an elaborate floral motif in the front and back corners, but I decided that trying to represent that would wind up looking like a mess, even if rendered well, so I left it off. The saddle rolls are dark gray, black washed and then drybrushed with light gray. The leather belting is Humbrol flat leather. The carbines are Humbrol "Brown Bess" with flat steel barrels and brass fittings--all black washed and then the stocks are drybrushed in a touch of lighter brown with the metals highlighted. The flesh is Humbrol flesh with a black wash--then gone over to bring out the face details. The eyes I do in light gray and don't bother with eyeballs--given the dark wash and the shadows, the bit of lighter color in the eye socket is sufficient to the eye. There's probably more (I haven't mentioned the horses, for instance), but I think this will suffice.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

LUTZEN, 2019

The holiday distractions followed by heavy preparation to deliver a workshop at work in the third week of January have combined to suck much of the oxygen out of the room, hobby-wise.  Suffice it to say that I'm very much looking forward to the end of this week when all will be behind me.  Nevertheless, dear readers, there has been some modest time and energy available for the hobby, so I felt that I ought to introduce a small breeze of a report to clear out the stale air of the Year End post. As usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX in this report. 
On Friday, I was invited over to my friend Ralph's for a playtest of a pike and shot game (Battle of Lutzen, 1632) that he will be bringing to our club's February Game Night. Above Left, sharp eyed observers familiar with the battle will pick out the Imperial positions to the left and Protestant to the right, with road and ditch between them and Windmill Hill on the Imperial right. Above right, the fired town and the battery on Windmill Hill as seen from behind the Imperial position (hard to pick out, but there are flashing LEDs under the cotton in the town: a nice effect!).
Above: the pike and shot era is always a visual treat, but any game with Ralph takes it up a notch, with first rate terrain and superbly painted figures. This was a scaled down version for two players, mainly to check out some rules systems for the era (this being the first foray of these home-rules into the Thirty Years War).  The game night version of the game will feature enough figures for six players and be even more of a sight to behold--a reminder of why we play miniatures. 
Above Left, a closeup of the Imperial left wing cavalry: cuirassiers screened by Croats.  Above right, the Protestant array, with the Protestant left wing cavalry in the foreground. I took the part of the Imperials in the game.
Above Left, the Imperial "forlorn hope" musketeers holding the ditch at the start. Above Right, their ground-level view looking towards the Protestant array: Yikes! 
Above Left, in the role of the King of Sweden and Captain-General of the Protestants, Georgus Adophus contemplates his left wing cavalry.  Above Right, the scene from behind the Imperial right wing cavalry early in the game: this wing would see lots of action, with the Imperial dragoons and cavalry shielding the battery on windmill hill from the Protestant left wing cavalry.
Meanwhile, on the Imperial right (seen from behind the Imperial cavalry, above) the action would be more deliberate, with the Croats harassing and slowing down the Protestant horse while the cuirassiers held their ground and threatened from behind. 
Above Left, Georgus Adolphus maneuvers the Protestant main body while Ralph looks on from his "control" chair on the edge of the action. Above Right, the Protestants have seen off the forlorn hope and are at the ditch...
...eager to discuss the tenets of Protestant Doctrine, the Scots are the first to cross...
 ...while the Lombards, equally eager to advance several finer points on Catholicism, look on... 
...after a brutal exchange of views, the Scots are obliged to retire and reconsider their arguments.
At this point, it was getting rather late and we had achieved the aims of the evening's playtest, both in terms of what Ralph needed for his rules and upcoming game and in terms of playing with toy soldiers after a long week, so we called it a night.  Thanks to Ralph for hosting and to George for the "push of lead" from the other side!

In other news, there has been some work on the painting table as well, albeit at a leisurely pace: coming soon, my Prussian 1866 Leib Hussars (watch for them).


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