Monday, 4 April 2011

Pour la France et la République

Last year I finally started on a Napoleonic Army after years of avoiding them due the expense and difficulty painting them.  I had briefly flirted with a Baccus 6mm army but got so little enjoyment out of painting them I shelved that. 

However once Perry, Victrix and Warlord started producing the 28mm Plastics then the expense thing was not really an issue and so it was just the time and skill needed to paint up a decent sized 28mm army. 

Painting is a big bit of the hobby for me so I decided to take this on.  I chose the later Napoleonic French. 1812 onwards and purchased my first box of French Infantry from Perry Miniatures.

I was determined to learn lessons from past folly with this project by organising and planning the army from the start. Unfortunately I am one of those wargamers that buys pretty toys and starts painting them with no idea how I am going to use the figures painted up (hence my single Prussian Sky Fortress for Dystopian Wars!).

For 28mm I did not want to base each figure individually as the army would ultimately be quite large.  At the same time I wanted to have some flexibility in respect of rules and be able to use the figures for various games including skirmish games and bigger battles.

The chances are that the army would be used for Black Powder more than any other rule set so that was the reference point for organisation.  

It was also important not to be too ambitious in respect of the scale of my army.  I wanted it to be in a position to play quite early and also have the opportunity to add to it over time.  Given the time I have to paint (about 1 hour a day on average) trying to do battalions of 36 figures each was simply going to take too long.


8 out of 10 Line Infantry and Grenadiers/Guard were based 40x40mm bases with four figures a base.  2 out of 10 based individually on 20x20 mm bases. 

4 out of 6 Light Infantry based on 40x40 based with 2 figures a base with 2 out of 6 on individual 20x20mm bases.

These were then placed on 100x40mm movement trays with 10 figures per tray.  

Two movement trays together with a 40x40mm Command Stand makes up a “unit” for Black Powder.  This allows for a frontage in line of 240mm and allows the unit to form Line, Attack Column, March column and Square relatively easily (see below).

Cavalry had a similar System.

6 out of 8 Cavalry based on 50x50 bases with two figures per base.
2 out of 8 Cavalry based singularly on 25x50mm bases.
Command and Musician figures a based singularly.

Cavalry are then formed on to 100x50mm movement trays with 4 figures per tray.  Two trays (8 figures) plus a command/musician make up a “Unit”

My logic here is that with relatively few figures I could put together a number of “Brigades” each with 2 to 3 units in and maintain enough flexibility to represent the different formations.

A “Brigade” could be made up of a Brigadier and Staff (say 3 figures) and 3 of the above “units” (about 60-70 figures).  Added to this are 4 Voltiguer/Light Foot bases that can be attached/detached to the foot units.

  A Cavalry Brigade of 3 “units” would be about 27 mounted figures.

Artillery can be based on singles due to the small number required.  I experimented with basing the artillery piece separate to the crew so the piece could be reversed and placed next to a horse team for limbered and then the crew “attached” to in when unlimbered.  I wasn’t happy with the result of this though so decided to base the artillery with crew and spend a few extra quid on a limbered piece to replace the unlimbered when playing.

Paint Schemes.

My painting skill definitely falls in to the “mediocre” category.  Though I do enjoy the research I felt that basing the army around particular historical formations was a waste of time as my painting skills do not allow for extensive detail on the miniatures such as shako plates etc.  The Perry Miniatures are perfectly designed for paining bulk armies as so many are in great coats than one does not have to spend hours and hours picking out the piping and uniform detail.

There has been a lot of discussion about “dipping” recently, especially with the Army Painter specialist dips now available.  I opted for “dip lite”.  I simply did each miniature in the base colours and then painted a heavy wash using the Games Workshop Sepia ink.   I found this just the finish I was looking for.  I plan to take much more care over the officer and character figures of the army than the core troops.

It has taken me a long time to come up with a basing method that I am happy with.  Now I use a coat of PVA glue with fine to medium ballast mix.  I then seal that with a coat of watered down PVA mixed with dark earth coloured paint, dry brush that with a light/sand colour and then pick out veins of static grass and flock with the odd feature of grass clumps etc.

The Result.
So far I am happy with the result.  I should be in a position to field the army in a few months and I can also keep adding to it and steadily enlarging the unit sizes.  Let’s not kid anyone; when compared to what we see on Saxon Dog’s website, this army is not going to win any prizes for painting but I am satisfied enough so far on how it looks on the table top.

I am currently taking a break from the blue and white of the French to work on a 15mm Wallachian army for Impetus which I started a long time ago before getting side tracked.  However once complete I will post a photo for the full army which should be:

2  Line brigades,
1 Guard brigade
1 Light Cavalry Brigade
1 Heavy Cavalry brigade.

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