Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Armagnacs (part une)

In attempting to get close to a point of partial completion with my HYW armies at the end of this year (which I have failed to do) I realised that I'd overlooked the fact that earlier in the year I'd finished about fifty-odd French figures, a mix of men at arms and retainers, which I found carefully tucked away in a box. So these are the first group of six bases. Until now I'd hesitated basing them, as I want to use as many pre-printed flags as possible, due to their high quality, and to align flagbearers to respective knights where I've painted specific heraldry on surcoats. So these figures are those who have generic French flags (from Adolfos Ramos, LBMS, et moi). Future basing now appears to be held hostage to a future date when new HYW flags are available - so anyone who can influence Grahame Black or Steve Hales to release some more, will have my eternal gratitude! Figures are Perrys with a couple of Citadel Miniatures interlopers, all brushwork is mine.

This will probably be the last blog on here for a short while, as I switch my attention to my Burgundians and things plastic on t'other blog. However I have made a 2010 resolution to complete these armies.

Friday, 4 December 2009


Between 1418 and 1436, the Armagnac faction of the Dauphin Charles, sought to renew ‘the auld alliance’ and recruit Scots to bolster the fighting against the English and Burgundians. This was despite the fact that James I of Scotland was still captive in England, as he had been since 1406. Around 5,000 Scots were involved in campaigns, contributing to the French success at Bauge, but suffering heavy casualties at Cravant in 1423 and Verneuil the following year, after which their numbers and importance don’t appear to have recovered.
This first contingent are spearmen, continuing the tradition of the Scots ‘schiltron’. However in the first quarter of the fifteenth century they had a mix of arms. It appears that higher numbers of archers were recruited, presumably to deliberately counter the English longbows.
These Perrys have been painted by Jim Bowen (with 3 added by me, as I realised when basing up that I’d miscalculated how many I needed!), many of them bear the Scottish ‘saltire’ badge, although I decided to have them fighting under a French flag.
Scots archers and men at arms to follow.

Saturday, 14 November 2009


Just a quick post, with a vignette that I did a few weeks ago. A man at arms, usable for any army, taking on fluids (probably wine not water) after the battle. The camp follower is a Foundry figure from their Swiss wars range. The useful wayside cross in the background is Bicorne from their ECW range (I think). More anon.

Saturday, 7 November 2009


Four bases of English 'scurrors' painted allegro, using the Army Painter dip. Having read avidly Dave Imrie's Saxon Dog blog over the last few weeks and having been impressed by the quantity and quality he's acheived by brushing on the dip, I thought I'd succumb and give it a go in the hope of increasing production levels, without compromising too much on detail. Also these figures are not 'core' to the English army and may see action on the table only on rare occassions, so I felt I had little to lose.
I'm pretty pleased with the results. I undercoated the figures with a light grey enamel and then just blocked in the colours, using much paler tones that I would normally use - all those Foundry highlight shades look like they may get used after all. This approach felt very odd and distinctly uncomfortable having painted figures with a shade and highlight style for more than 30 years. However just when I was thinking it may have been a bad idea, came the 'eureka' moment when the dip is applied (by brush) and all the figure's details are picked out and some decent shading applied. When dry I then picked out some highlights, with the same colour as the base, on some cloths and on the faces. I chose the 'Dark Tone' dip, on the basis that it would have greater impact on the plate and mail armour. The dip finish is gloss, so figures were matted down with a spray of 'Coat d'arms' matt varnish.
Horses were traditionally done but I will test dip on some soon.
Overall results are a 7/10 for quality (but only if you study the figures close up) and a 11/10 on time saved - doing these 'nomally' would have taken me probably 3 times longer.
Figures are Perry and pennon from LBMS banner sheet. Basework to be completed and photo'd in artifical light - not great pics I'm afraid.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Bedford at Ivry 1424

John duke of Bedford was Henry V's oldest surviving brother, following the deaths of the King and the duke of Clarence. In Henry VI's minority Bedford became Regent of France and as such led the war effort and secured the significant victory at Verneuil in 1424.
The chronicler Jehan de Waurin, one of the key sources for the wars, was in attendance with the English army that year and describes Bedford when the English army besiged the town of Ivry in August. He wore a specially made surcoat, bearing the combined red cross of England and the white cross of France, signifying to all in attendance and behind the walls of the town, his legitimacy as Regent of the two countries, now legally combined following the Treaty of Troyes.
I'm assuming that he continued to wear this for the remainder of that year (at least) and so have made some marginal modifications to one of the Perry commanders to re-create Bedford. I decided to put the French cross on blue (although many contemproary illustrations show it on red) to create some contrast. The figure in the middle of the base is a lovely figure sculpted by the 'count of wymborn' on Steve Dean's website; others are Perrys.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Longbowmen (II)

A small contingent of English longbowmen defend the crossing point of a tributary of the Seine, somewhere in Normandy.
The remainder of the English longbowmen for now; another 9 bases completed here. I'd like to do another three to take the total to 18 and so retain the 3:1 ratio with the men-at-arms. Figures painted by me and Jim Bowen on a roughly 50-50 split. Couple of older Citadels tucked in amongst the ranks including two plastics (before the current plastic 'renaissance'). The commander figure is Sir John Harrington (whose 19th century descendant appears to have invented the water closet!) who I've used as I had the GMB flag! Another St George flag is to be added to these for completeness. The terrain board is made by Keith at Realistic Modelling Services, who has a top-notch product.
Bases with defensive stakes are still to be completed.

Friday, 16 October 2009

literary inspiration?

Those nice people at Amazon have sent me some reading matter - Conquest - the new book on the conquest and loss of English Normandy, from 1417 to 1453. The last blog-related book I read was Anne Curry's Agincourt which was an academic study, well researched and suggesting new insights into the armies, campaign and battle. I'm expecting Juliet Barker's approach to be much 'lighter', indeed the preface is ended with her stating "I hope that the reader will be entertained as well as informed". It looks like Barker's taken a straight narrative approach, using only secondary sources, but hopefully one that's anchored to the existing historical evidence. I've had a quick look at the section covering the battle of Verneuil, where she's taken the established view of the battle - sadly making no reference to Dr Michael Jones recent published reinterpretation. However the read should keep me sufficiently enthused for the next 6 weeks, to keep my project moving, although time spent reading is not time spent painting! I'll post a brief review of the book when read.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

The washing of the longbows*

Just a short WIP update. With the launch of the Perrys WotR range looming somewhat (circa 12 weeks and counting down), my focus is now to get both armies to a stage of semi-completeness asap. First up are the English longbowmen, which need several more figures adding to get them to a close-to-planned state, ie 20 bases rather than the 24. I'm testing achieving this by a possibly speedier painting process, on a psuedo-production line basis, as the finished figures will get mixed in when based to achieve a non-uniform medieval appearance.
So I've tried is to use washes more than I've ever done previously - not the complete dipping process (which personally creates a finish to my liking) - but Games Workshop washes, as I've read generally positive reviews about.
I stared using them on the padded jacks of these archers. The jacks were painted in Foundry Buff Leather (mid-tone 7B) and then had GW Devlan Mud & Sepia 50:50 mix washed over. This adds deep shadows in the thin creases of the jacks - which is difficult to achieve by hand - as well as dulling the overall colour and creates some contrasts with the raised surface areas. I've then picked out highlights using the Buff 7B straight from the pot.
For hands and faces I've applied the same method. Foundry Flesh mid (5B) with GW Orgyn Flesh wash and then highlights on nose, cheeks, chin and forehead with 5B again. Not much facial details show with these helmeted figures, but I think next time I'll pick out shadows on the eyes, nose and mouth with my usual method (Plaka Red Brown) post wash and before the highights to achieve more depth and contrasts - although this will add to the overall time to finish a figure.
Overall I'm satisfied with the final figures, and which feel like they've been a little quicker to complete (although no stopwatch was set). Am now contemplating using the washes more; on the other clothings at least. They do create neat natural shadows and exploit the fine sculpting of the castings. However the trade-off is that washes do 'dull' the paint they're applied over and I don't want a 'dipped' finish, so adding the highlights as I'd usually do, will still be needed.
I'll post up the next batch and we'll see...

* with apologies to Donald Morris.

Monday, 7 September 2009

The Maid of Orleans

Here's Joan of Arc vignette base, to inspire the French to kick the English claimants to the throne out of the Loire valley castles and back into Normandy (ie a plus one on all morale tests!). She leads one of her aides, Sire de Kermoysan (k 1450) and her personal contingent of herald and flag-bearer. The flag carrying Charles VII's royal arms is a temporary one and will be replaced by Joan's personal pennon (when GMB produce it, I could bring myself to try and paint it, whenI know that GMB's will surpass my attempts by miles). Kermoysan has had a head-swap so that he's not rudely looking at Joan through a closed visor and the banner-bearer is an ex-Citadel figure with bill replaced to hold flag.

Joan passes by a group of Cistercian monks who have travelled from the local monastery to witness and venerate the holy miracle that they have heard about. These have time-travelled from the Perry's Crusader range.

Am now thinking that things should be balanced up a bit with a Henry V or duke of Bedford vignette- better see what ideas I can muster for their layout.

French Crossbowmen II

Thanks for the comments on the basing from the last posting. Taking these onboard I've completed the next French crossbow company; adding casulaties and arrows. These are having to advance into range without any pavise protection and taking the resulting casualties. Figures are Perry (with some converted to carry bows) and couple of older Citadel.

I've purchased some transparent perspex movement trays, from James at Oshiro to enable the figures to be used for Impetus ruleset, this being designed for larger base sizes. I like the clear perspex as they are less intrusive than others I've seen and I don't have to paint them to fit with my basing style. James will make these high-quality trays to order; mine being 100x50mm - a great service I'd really recommend (as well as the lovely handmade buildings and terrain he offers).

Am now re-planning to see how far I can get to a near-finished state of affairs before those pesky Perrys release the 'Wars of the Roses' range - due 'before Christmas' I've been told.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

work in progress

Just a quick update to confirm that there's still life in this here blog and that some painting progress has been made during the family fortnightly vacation to France. However painting al fresco was an interesting and challenging experience, not usually encountered in the UK climate. My main problem was to find sufficient shade and then to cope with the glare of sunlight, plus the problem of paints drying out in the heat - still not something I need to concern myself with now I'm back to the dull and damp British summer!

Pics above are in progress shots - Joan of Arc (nearly complete) and a French knight who'll be part of the same vignette (along with some monks marvelling at the visionary maid!) - the latter has a simple head swop to provide a little variety. The plan is that he'll represent sire de Kermoysan, 'Le Bourgeois' (the Burgess) who has heraldry of 7 white scallops on a red background (wish me luck!). Also the French crossbows completed on aforesaid break.

Looking at these has made me realise how much the final basing really 'finishes' my own figures. I've read many views on when a figure really comes 'to life' and for me the seachange occurs at the basing stage, when everything seems to fall into place. I often feel that i spend too long on basing, in proportion to the figures, but then again it's probably time well spent.

When these are completed, I'll post more pics.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Four Vignettes

One of the great attractions (and distractions!) to building any army is the creation of the non-standard troops; those command stands, personalities, casualty markers and general hangers-on. These are the first I've completed so far.

So above are; Etienne de Vignolles, nicknames 'la hire' (due to his alleged temper and hatred for the English). La Hire was a captain at the battle of Bauge in 1421 and a prominent leader of the French reassurgence at the seige of Orleans and the battles of Jargeau, Beaugency and Patay in 1429. He died 1443. His flag is very distinctive, bearing bunches of grapes. Its a Freezywater one, which I plan to 'upgrade' to GMB when one's available.

Next, the duke of Alencon command group. The Alencon family were a leading French noble family in the fifteenth century; Jean was killed at Agincourt and his sceond son (also Jean) was a leader in Joan of Arc's armies at Jargeau and Patay. He died 1476. Here he discusses the finer points of the French battle plan with Jean d'Aulon, who was squire to Joan and later a chamberlain to Charles VII of France. He died 1458. The flag bearing his armsis GMB and his personal banner by LBMS.

The bowmen are from the Perry pack of 'longowmen preparing', which i think best captures this period and which I hope will be extended at some point, not too distant. Not really a combative group; as this is definetly a 'before' not during battle activity.

Finally a vignette showing what war for many professional soldiers of the medieval period was all about (besides looting) - the opportunity to capture a high-ranking nobleman in order to share in the potentially lucrative ransom paid by his family for his release. According to Anne Curry in 'Agincourt', despite the high numbers of French prisoners killed on Henry V's orders during the battle, many Englishmen still secured ransoms for captured nobles taken back to England, in the following years.

These are last posts for few weeks as I'll be on summer hols in France - but am hoping to snaffle away some crossbowmen to do between dips in the pool and glasses of local vin.

Friday, 12 June 2009

English Longbowmen (I)

The famed English longbowmen, who have their place in historical posterity for their successes over the French in the key battles of the Hundred Years War. These are the first completed & based figures, Perrys as usual, painted by the talented Jim Bowen (couple of mine sneaked in - they're the ones that don't have the fine flowing paintwork!), who has an amazing skill in his use of the colour palette, as well as creating some beautiful, convincing facial details.

I've based the defensive stakes on 50mm wide bases, to be used seperately on the gaming table. My current plan is for a total of 24 longbow bases, based on a 3:1 ratio with the men at arms; the Normandy conquest being the last period before the 'bows-to-bills' ration started to climb significantly.

French Men at Arms (I)

The first completed French men at arms, 8 bases. Wanted to try and achieve sense of some movement with these figures as they advance in chaotic manner towards the English, under arrow fire on the verge of making contact for melee.

The figures are a mix of dismounted knights with their retainers, alongside some professional soldiers raised for the campaigns. The heraldry on the knights has been researched as pertinet to the Henrician campaigns in Normandy and northern France following Agincourt and I'll add a note to the underside of each base re the actual figures portrayed. Total of 24 bases planned and next figures for basing-up are underway.

All figures are Perrys - with a couple of older Citadels sneaked in - flags are GMB (have used the smaller version of the 2 per sheet from GMB for the dismounted figures and larger will be for mounted figures or command vignettes) and arrows chez moi.

Friday, 1 May 2009

bows and arrows

Here are the arrows that i've had cast up - excellent service by the way from the
Pic shows the two types of sprues that I made in their raw casted state; they are intended to be stuck into bases where troops are attacking longbowmen - mainly for HYW but I'll also use for my Swiss army. Second pic shows how they can be used to add some variety on figures by adding them for 'ready to loose' figures - have also added bowstrings with some thin metal thread found in Hobbycraft (in UK).
I have plenty of arrow castings at the moment(!), so if anyone's interested I'd be happy to sell you some for a nominal fee to cover my costs.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Encore Pavisers

Just managed to miss an April update I'm afraid...but progress has been made.

Oh er, it's ... another French urban paviser unit; this time advancing into English arrows. This unit represents Rouen, the largest town in medieval Normandy, using more of the excellent LBMS pavise transfers.

Although this is the third urban milita (one to go) it was actually the first one I started and has been on and off the workbench for many months now, for some reason I really struggled getting it done and changed the composition many times - the 'rejected' figures are now destined for the last milita.

The arrows are my own castings, nicely made for me by Pete at which seems the only way I can to get hold of suffiicient volumes to allow me to place them in most of the French bases (and have some for other future and past Ancient & Medieval projects). The limitations have been my own sculpting abilities, the originals were metal rod with fletchings made from green stuff and Magic Sculpt. The feathers maybe just a tad oversized, but they are good enough for me for what I want to use them for - will post up some sprues of them for closer inspection.

In the interim between militias, I've been gradually adding French Men at Arms and I've just received some pro-painted English longbowmen, ready for basing - more anon.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Salute - new Perrys Plastics

Well, big surprise at Salute today. New 3-up masters for a plastics range that Michael Perry's making were to be on show and although the 'hot money' was on Crimea, low and behold it's Wars of the Roses. The first plastics box will be mixed bills and bows from the pics above, and then (if I recall correctly), a box for men at arms and another for mounted troops. Michael also said he plans to add metals, as per their formula for ACW and Napoleonics.

Afraid the photos I took are poor - the masters were well protected in a glass cabinet - but the detail is absolutely fantastic. Am sure Perrys will post some proper pics on their website now the proverbial cat's out.

Looks to me like the figures will be useful for any North European armies from 1450-1490s. Am already trying to decide on either a complete replacement of my ageing Burgundians or a new Wars of Roses armies... an embarrasment of riches and conversion potential awaits... approx 6 months to them being available ... can't wait!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Fortified Watchtower

This is the piece-de-resistance for my medieval collections to date, which has been made to use with both my HYW and Burgundian-Swiss War collections.

The core structure is a Hudson and Allen resin keep, which has been beautifully enhanced by John Boadle of 'Architectual Miniatures'. The brief to John was to 'modernise' and further fortify the casting to represent a structure as it would be in the fifteenth century. So John's exquisite craftmanship has added wooden pallisade around the main tower, breteche over the doorway, extra loopholes for handguns, a wooden boulevard (which is seperate) to protect the rather exposed entrance and the high gothic windowed room at the top of the heightened tower. John also painted the model.

I was frankly stunned when i saw the finished item, after providing him with an outline of what I wanted to achieve; after all the basic H&A casting is a very nice piece as it stands. John's also added on lots of other lovely details. I now have ambitions to enhance the H&A castle gate and walls to the same standard, but that will have to be a 2010 project. More immediately I'm looking forward to making some artillery seigeworks, and perhaps a terrain base with a moat, as well as using the tower as a centrepiece for some gaming scenarios.