Sunday 8 June 2014
Italian Wars French 1 – Reisläufers 1
Finally I have some new painted miniatures to show you. These are the first 4 bases of the first pike unit of Swiss mercenaries (Reisläufers) for my French army for the Great Italians Wars. To begin with, there will be two units of Swiss pikemen, each consisting of 6 bases – 3 standing and 3 advancing. The plan is to eventually bring them up to 9 bases each with an extra 3 bases of attacking pikemen in the front rows.
The miniatures are from Pro Gloria and very nice they are too. They required very little in the way of cleaning up, which is always a big plus in my book.
In a stroke of genius (ha!) I have decided to do the units as combined Reisläufer/Landsknechts units, which means they won't be 100% correct for either faction but I'd like to keep all my options open. In line with this, the flags, when I get to them, will be removable.
The Italian Wars project have changed a bit since I talked about it last time. Originally my plan was to make a couple of French units to fight against Dalauppror's splendid Imperial Landsknechts/German mercenaries. However, since our good friend Søren, of Black Powder Games, joined us as the Imperial player the plan changed – and the project grew. After some discussion we decided to move to a slightly later period instead of the early wars, as we were keen to paint up some lovely colourful landsknechts and gendarmes in full regalia. There's really nothing quite like the spectacle of two armies for the Italian Wars on the tabletop. So instead of Fornovo, our focus will now be on the period of the battle of Pavia, ie the 1520s.
This had the added bonus of us being able to use the army lists straight out of the Pike&Shotte rules, which would give us a rough guide to our forces – always a welcome thing when you start up a new period.
My plan is still to paint up a core starter-force to get some games going, and then add to it when I have the time and inspiration. By now, I probably hade enough miniatures in the lead mountain to at least double the number of units, but first things first. If it's one thing I have learned, it's that you should start small and then add to it, rather than try to paint too much from the start. I have the "boxes of shame" (ie half-finished projects) to prove it ...
The modest starter army will consist of:
2 units of Swiss pikemen, 6 bases each
2 units of gendarmes, 3 bases each
1 medium artillery, 1 base (I might do another base of artillery if I have the time)
2–3 command bases
As you can see there are a fair number of miniatures left to paint. It's always easier to get painting when you're working to a set deadline, so Sören and I have schedueled a first game in late August. Hopefully we'll both be ready by then!
Back to the Reisläufers then. These models actually proved a bit of a challenge to paint, for several reasons. The first was it always takes me a couple of miniatures in a new army and period to get a "feel" for them, add to this models from a new manufacturer that you also have to get a "feel" for, and it was a bit of trial and error before I got the colours and details right.
Second, I made the mistake of trying to paint too big a batch at the same time. I find 6–8 is about the sweet spot for me personally, but as I knew I had quite a few of these buggers to paint up I tried to push myself and do double this amount, This proved a bit too much, at least for the level of finish I went for here, and from now on I think 10–12 will be my absolute limit in terms of what I'm comfortable with (again depending on the level of finish) and I will do the rest of the pikemen in batches of 8 (or 2 bases).
Third, I was going for a very bright finish on these models, and therefore I wanted to avoid using my regular technique that's largely built on washes. In my experience, washes can dirty up the models and the end-result can feel a little grubby. This looks great on eg Dark Ages miniatures, but this time I wanted something different. Instead I tried the Foundry three-step method. Now, I'm normally using a lot of Foundry colours as I like the triad system although I don't use it as intended. Instead I add washes and mix the shades to get the results I'm after. This time I tried the system straight out of the bottle, so to speak, and wasn't very happy with the result. The main problem was a lack of contrast, especially in the darkest recesses. So I had to go back and add washes to get the contrast I wanted. I think the root of the problem might be that I'm using brown undercoat instead of black and this obviously makes it impossible to blackline the different areas and get a good definition. Well, whatever it was that caused the problem – no time saved was saved by using the three-step method so lesson learned.
Well, as I said, a bit of trial and error, and hopefully the rest of them will prove easier to finish.
Thanks for reading – have a great week everyone!