Painting 6mm Figures

**This post has been updated as the steel paper originally recommended for basing is no longer available**

We have a 6mm Napoleonic game at the club tomorrow and Mark has added a Brigade to his French Army for the occasion.

6mm figures are ideal for large battles, but many people think they must be difficult to paint – like anything it is easy if you follow some simple rules and don’t make the mistake of trying to paint them like larger figures.  Here is a quick guide on how.

The figures are 1/300 scale Heroics and Ros and the units are the 4th and 46th Line Regiments comprising GB Dalesme’s Brigade, belonging to GD Carra St. Cyr’s Division of the French 4th Army Corps in May 1809 as well as the General’s of GD St.Hilaire’s Division.

Here are the 2 packs of French Fusiliers (FN26), half a pack of French Voltigeurs (FN4), half a pack of French Grenadiers (FN27) and some assorted generals (from FN 17 and AN8) that need to be painted, straight out of the packs.

It always pays to rinse the figures in warm soapy water before starting to get rid of any mould grease, then work round the edges of the figures with a sharp hobby knife to get rid of flash and any casting mismatches.  There is some surgery on the general staff figures to removed unwanted plumes, marshal’s batons, etc, as they were all to be used as French generals.  The figures date back to when most people painted their flags and the old style metal flags need removing – good flags really do make or break 6mm figures, so this is worth your time – don’t skimp and put paper flags round the metal – the results don’t look good.  Small nail clippers are a good tool to nibble the flag off the flagpole.  Try to avoid the eagles, but you can always glue them back on with superglue if they break off!

FIRST TIP – Now base the figures, as they are easier to paint this way.  The figure in this post used mounting card with steel paper underneath, but steel paper is no longer available.  Instead I now use 40thou plastic card with self-adhesive non-magnetic ferrous sheet on the bottom – this needs to be the thick variety as sold by First4Magnets product code FFU620(SA)-1M. The infantry are on a 1″x.5″ base for our house rules, four bases to a battalion.  One battalion is on an open order base (combined Voltigeurs of the Brigade) and this uses a 1.5″ base.  There is one combined battalion of Grenadiers and four Battalions of Fusiliers.

SECOND TIP – Now undercoat all over with a black undercoat, making sure that every cranny is filled.  You can use spray, but for this size an old brush can be quicker and less messy.  DON’T USE WHITE FOR UNDERCOAT – if you do you give yourself a massive painting headache trying to cover the undercoat and then shade the figure to avoid it looking like a paint blob – this a technique for bigger figures!  Your black undercoat on 6mm means you have already painted anything black on the figure and you have already shaded it – don’t worry that all you have at this stage is a load of black blobs:

THIRD TIP – It is essential on 6mm to use lighter shades than the colours you are depicting.  This is partly to offset the black undercoat and partly to ensure the colour looks right at a distance.  Your eye perceives small objects as darker than they really are.  If you use dark ‘correct’ shades, all of the figures will simply look like near black blobs when you have finished.

There are three key colours we now need to add.  First Dark Blue for the coats and some of the horse furniture.  Citadel Ultramarines Blue was used, which is a middish blue pigment.  When you paint the coat use a fairly small brush (for these a 101 was used).  Work down the line painting the same feature on each base.  From the front do a stroke down the left arms of all figures, then the same for the right arm, shoulder to hand (don’t worry about paint getting on the hands).  Do another stroke to join these up under the chin, then fill in the lower chest, leaving the black undercoat showing in the crevices between the chest and arms.  Repeat round the back.  The horse furniture was also painted now (light crimson for the French generals, Vallejo Carmine was used) again don’t paint right up to the next colour – leave black showing around the furniture:

Second main colour is white (and white is – well white, Humbrol white here), for the trousers or breeches (both were used, so for a bit of variety I have done one regiment in each here), as well as coat lapels, which are a prominent feature on French line infantry.  Paint up the leg from above the footwear (all left legs from the front, all right legs, then reverse and do the back – a final tidy up to join the legs at the front.  Breeches are best done with a horizontal stroke around the leg as far down as the knee.  Leave some black showing between legwear and coat.  A simple stroke down the middle of the chest for the lapels.  Also touch in the drumskin on drummers.  To make the command figures stand out a bit better white scabbard and drum supports have been added, but you can omit this!   Regimental plumes and pompoms were also done at this point (a simple dob on the pompom):

Now for the last main colour; red/scarlet.  Before doing this the Voltigeurs plumes and epaulettes were painted (both regiments used green plumes with red tips and green epaulettes for their voltigeurs at this time) in Citadel Goblin Green – another strong middle shade.  Humbrol scarlet is used for the red here, which is a nice bright shade.  Paint a red line above each hand for the cuffs (again don’t worry if the paint slops onto the hand).  Then paint the grenadiers plumes and a dob on each shoulder for the prominent epaulettes.  A dob of red added to finish the Voltigeur plumes and the fusilier plumes are also quickly dabbed in (one base each of dark green, sky blue, light orange and violet for each battalion):

You are nearly there now!  Paint the back of the rawhide knapsack with leather – leave the sides black (this is Humbrol Leather) then a stroke horizontally along the back and a touch in from the front on each end of any grey you have to hand for the rolled greatcoat on top of it (shades varied enormously for this item)  Brass for the drum body and Voltigeur horns.  Masses of gold lace to finish the generals (worth taking some time over these as they are few in number) and the eagle on the flagpoles.  Optional extras are a small dob of brass for the helmet plate at the front and the visible sword hilts on the voltigeurs, command figures and grenadiers.  Senior generals horses are painted white with a black bridle.  The colour makes them easy to pick out.  Regimental command horses are painted leather and brigadier’s horses left black.  You can leave the underside of the horse as well as the mane and tail black for contrast, a few white flashes on the noses of some of the horses also make a lot of difference.

Lastly a stroke of silver along the top of each musket and any bayonet and drawn swords all over.  Leave the rest of the musket black (it really is not worth using brown for the woodwork – the black keeps it looking thin in scale and most musket wood was in any case quite dark, but you can paint the body brown first if you really want to).

Finally add a dob of flesh on each hand and a stroke of flesh across the face to finish the figure.  Don’t overdo the face and leave black around it.

Finally finish with an overall coat of matt varnish to protect the figures from handling (I use Vallejo which sets with a good clear finish):

FOURTH TIP – Don’t skimp on basing, as bad basing really ruins any figures and especially 6mm – you would be better off cutting corners on the figure painting.  Flock also is not good with 6mm – it tends to make it look like the figures are moving through a patch of dense scrub!  These figures are finished with Basetex.  DON’T USE TOO DARK A GREEN.  If you do it will kill the figure painting.  Use a light spring green for both the basing and the terrain.  Basetex green is way too dark for 6mm, so a mix of about half and half green and sand is used here, stored in a sealable sandwich box.

First work the green around the base of each figure with a small old brush:

Now use sand to cover the bases (and the sides).  A cocktail stick works well to pick up and poke the Basetex into place.  Make sure you ‘bury’ the sides of each figure base.  Some printed labels are added at this stage for the generals:

Once dry use a really old big brush with a few bristle left to work over the top of the sand with your light green mix – working quickly using a mixtures of dabs and strokes and leaving the sand showing through the green:

That just leaves the flags, which really finish off each unit.  The ones used here are adapted from those available free online from Warflag, reduced to around 20% size.  Print these on a printer using pigment (not inkjet ink which will run if it gets damp).  These were printed on an Epson printer as all Epson printers use pigment based cartridges.  Use thin 80g/m paper.  The flags are glued with simple PVA, which lets you work with the flag to line up the sides before it sets, then given a ‘crinkle’ to give the flag some life before the glue sets (easier with thin paper).  A pair of tweezers is useful to ‘pinch’ the flag around the pole.  Once dry it is well worth running round the edges of the flag with a matching colour to get rid of the ‘white edge’ effect – use a little thinned paint for this.  Finally flag poles are finished in a dark blue, covering up any glue stains.

Here is the end result:

Each close order battalion sits on a 2 inch by 1 inch piece of magnetic ferrous sheet (which is why the bases have steel paper/ferrous sheet on their bottom – allowing them to grip the magnetic sheet).   As the magnetic sheet looses its magnetism over the years, it is easily replaced.  This is why you should not use the magnetic sheet on the figure base – not so easy to replace!  The four bases on each sheet can be re-arranged for the required formation (those above are in column).  Finally the whole lot sit on a brigade manoeuvre base (8″x3″), which is simply a sheet of steel paper with some Woodland Scenics Spring Green mat stuck on top.  This allows the brigade to be quickly moved until it gets into contact.

 

 

Somethings Mythic This Way Come

Andy puns as Shakespeare rolls in his grave…

I’ve had these figures for ages, I probably bought them when I was at university 40 odd years ago, and indeed first painted them back then. They had surfaced from the depths of the loft for some reason and as they were looking very tired, I decided they needed sprucing up. I’ve no idea who manufactured them. They may turn up in in a Dragon Rampant or Broken Legions game at some point. All paints are Vallejo unless otherwise stated.

The first figure is a minotaur, his (human) body was painted with Medium Flesh and heavily washed with Army Painter (AP) Flesh Wash, his head was painted Matt Black with German Black Brown eyes and Pale Sand horns. His tunic is Deck Tan, washed with AP Soft tone with Bronze fastenings. His axe has a Beige Brown shaft with Gunmetal blade and Bronze metalwork.

His base has some flagstones, these were painted London Grey, dry brushed Light Grey and washed with Army Painter Dark Tone, the remainder of the base was covered with Basetex and painted with a couple of shades of green.

The second figure is a demonnette of some foul dimension. Her skin is Metallic Copper, with MIG Rot Braun creases and an AP Red wash. Eyes are Golden Yellow and horns Black. Her snake is Luftwaffe Camouflage Green with an AP Green wash and the orb in her right hand is German Camouflage Bright Green with a mixed wash of Silver and AP Green wash. Base the same as the Minotaur.

Armoured Bears

Mark J (also known as Mark2), who recently joined the club after being away from the hobby for a while, paints some Germans.

Latest addition to my 20mm early/mid Russian Front 3rd Panzer Division army. Back in the 90s I played a lot of Rapid Fire and I have a fairly large collection of tanks and vehicles, mainly Matchbox and and SHQ, with a couple of aircraft, assault boats and a pontoon bridge thrown in for good measure. Recently recovered this collection from an old mate up north, however the infantry were missing, probably KIA!

Planning to adapt this collection to use Chain of Command rules, and have started to paint some 20mm Eureka miniatures. They are a little on the tall side, but nicely cast with plenty of detail. These guys are Panzer Grenadiers in great coat, there’s one rifle section and a command section with a radio operator.

I used the Vallejo Flames of War German infantry paint set and GW Nuln Oil wash and Adminstratum Grey for the uniform highlights and general battle field look. For the bases I used small gage grey gravel
and dry brushed light grey to white with a Nuln Oil wash for the snow effect.

I’ve recently been reading about the 3rd Panzer Division and their exploits around Kharkov during 1942. These guys are part of Kampfgruppe de Beaulieu, this group was formed around March 1942 and consisted of 12 Panzer IIIs and a panzer grenadier battalion, its orders were to push back the Russian advance to the east of Kharkov and to take back the Babka River line which they did, despite freezing temperatures and poor supplies. I have another 5 rifle sections to do and a couple of heavy support sections, if anyone has some Russians it would be good to take them on some point in the future.

Eadmund the Moon

Stephen bares his soul (and more besides).

This one has been in the bits bag for ages. It’s an Irregular Miniatures figure which, it’s fair to say, aren’t among the best. That said, Irregular do paint up better than they look in bare lead. That’s not saying much though.

So, this is Eadmund The Moon. I painted him up for SAGA as a Personal Champion. We don’t use the Swords For Hire and other bits in the Age of Vikings book that often. Not sure why.

I based Eadmund up on a larger, Hero, base. Irregular’s stuff is quite old and their 28mm stuff is more like true 25mm. To hide this lack of stature I made a miliput stone and plonked him on that to lift him up a bit. I also filed off the shield, which looked…well…poor. I stuck on a spare Gripping Beast shield (looking at the size of the shield on him will give you an idea on how slightly small he is).

And that’s Eadmund The Moon. Coming to a battlefield soon to give Andy and Jeremey a good taunt!

Building the Rammas Echor

Tony F takes us through a Middle Earth scenery build.

Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy made a few diversions from the original books – some of these were forgivable changes (although some were a bit more puzzling and unnecessary). One of these was to turn the Pelennor Fields, scene of the largest battle of the War of the Ring, into a fairly barren, scrubby plain, instead of the area of fields and farms described by Tolkein. I get why it was done – the massed ranks of thousands of CGI orcs, trolls and other beasts looked far more impressive lined up outside the gates of Minas Tirith, which wouldn’t have worked so well had they been broken up by barns and oasts. He also omitted the Rammas Echor, a defensive wall many miles in length which surrounded the whole of the fields of Pelennor. Situated along the wall were a number of forts where the garrison was stationed.

Phil and I thought it might be fun to game out the initial assault on the wall, when the defenders were thrown back to the city (Sauron’s forces however made the mistake of not leaving a small force at the gates of the wall when they advanced on Minas Tirith, giving Theoden’s Rohirrim unimpeded passage).

The closest historical equivalent to the Rammas Echor is probably Hadrian’s Wall. I used a milecastle as the basic model for my small fort, with gates front and back and a small courtyard. The wall was made from 2″ thick high-density insulation foam, of which I had just enough to make three 2′ lengths, each around 3″ high, plus the fort walls. The centre wall section has an arched gateway leading into the fort with a smaller gate at the rear of the courtyard. The basic cuts were made with a fine-toothed handsaw (ie a carpentry saw), the gateways were cut out with a hot-wire cutter which I traced around a card template. The other two wall sections each have a small bastion for archers. The faces of each wall section were scribed with a ballpoint pen to represent stone blocks.

I wanted to mimic the design of the city walls in some way, particularly the distinctive shape of the battlements. I drew out a short section of battlements and had this 3D printed; I then made a mould from silicone rubber and proceeded to mass-produce them in resin (I needed about 80 sections in the end) – the resin also happens to be almost exactly the same colour as the foam. These were attached to the walls using a No More Nails-type industrial adhesive (a solvent free version – a solvent based one would probably attack the foam) which has proved to be pretty robust.

The walls were painted over with a mix of pale grey emulsion paint, PVA and wall filler, then drybrushed pure white. I ran some thinned-down black paint around the bottom of the battlements for shading.

Wooden parts (the gates and a couple of firing platforms) were made from balsa and/or coffee stirrers with plasticard for any ironwork, then painted with cheap Hobbycraft acrylics. The firing platforms also helped strengthen the sections of wall over the gates, which were fairly weak once the gateways had been cut out.

Inside the fort I placed some thatched buildings (from Caliver Books) along with odds and ends such as barrels, carts etc. The fort was garrisoned by a couple of dozen warriors of Minas Tirith – can they hold out until the cavalry arrive …?

This post was also supposed to cover the game as well, but we’ll leave that for another day…

In Her Majesty’s Name Supporting Characters.

Andy creates a cast of thousands (nearly).

I picked up these figures at Cavalier a year or two back, together with some German Jägers, I sold the Jägers on but kept these two; originally sold as Feldwebel Krieg and Mad Mick McFarlane as part of their IHMN range they can now be found on the Northstar website as The Count’s Bodyguard and Ruaridh McGowan.

They’ll probably fight under nommes de guerre as I don’t use their “official” IHMN companies. Tony and Marcus have suggested the one on the right looks like a young Doctor Nefario.

Both figures were cleaned up to remove any mould lines and then washed in soapy water to remove any release agent. They were then stuck to their bases, which were built up with 4Ground base render, and undercoated matt black. All paints are Vallejo unless otherwise stated.

Exposed skin was given a base coat of Brown Sand, a top coat of Medium Flesh and Army Painter Skin tone wash.

“Feldwebel Krieg”’s jacket is, appropriately, Dark Prussian Blue with Flat Red trim, trousers are London Grey. Belts, holster, boots and hair are Matt Black. Buttons and belt buckle were painted Gunmetal Grey.

His main weapon is a portable flame thrower, the tank, connecting hose and projector were painted Gunmetal grey with a black handgrip on the projector and red and copper dials and indicators on the tank.

“Mad Mick McFarlane” is wearing a white lab coat with a Red Leather apron, Brown Sand gauntlets and German Camouflage Black Brown boots. Buttons were painted Bronze and the boot buckles Gunmetal grey. His somewhat unkempt hair was painted Mahogany Brown.

He has a selection of tools strapped to his apron which were painted a variety of browns with Gunmetal grey metalwork, and probably has more in his bag which was painted German Camouflage Medium Brown.
He carries an arc pistol and arc generator, both of which were painted Bronze, with Red and copper dials and a Copper connecting cable. The pistol has Beige Brown woodwork.

Apron, bag, gauntlets, pistol and arc generator were given an AP Dark Tone Wash. Both figures bases were finished off with Basetex.

And finally, “Mad Mick McFarlane” testing his arc pistol:.

A Modelling Miscellany

Here’s a few things I’ve been up to over the last couple of weeks.

First up is a tower.

Actually, I did this earlier in the year. It’s made from two tubs of healthy snacks – cheeselets (the wider, shorter, tube) and a Pringle tube (smokey bacon flavour – lovely!). The stairway is made from balsa that was skinned with miliput and then scribed to make it look like stonework. Then a few barrels and sacks were added to make it looked lived in.

Next up are some wall bits. I bought these at Cavalier from Debris of War. I already had some walls, bought many moons ago, so I had to paint these to fit with what I already had. Either that or re-paint the whole lot. I’m not a big fan of stark grey stone. It looks artificial and most stone is actually a brown colour of one sort another. Certainly the stone someone builds a wall out of, anyway. Back when I did the first walls grey is all I knew. So these had to be done like that as well.

Another purchase at Cavalier (this time from Scotia/Grendel) was a dragon. I ummed and ahhed for quite a while about what colour to paint it – I prefer to steer clear of bright red or green fantasy dragons. My preference is for a more believable colour (given it’s a dragon). I already have a brown dragon so I couldn’t do that again. Instead, I decided to go with green but a more drab variety like you see in nature. Once done, though, it looked too green, so I decided to add some patternation to the scales – some brown stripes. I’m not entirely happy with the result, to be honest. I think it may get a re-paint at some point.

And yet another purchase at Cavalier, and another from Debris of War – a ruined…thing. Church? Building? Something.

The tiles were a print out of a medieval tile texture I found on the internet. This ruin is going with other ruin bits that can be put together to form a ruined church or abbey complex.

Last up is a scratch build. I’ve tentatively called it a ‘Templar Hostel’ because that’s what it was made for. I don’t know what they would have really looked like, so it’s quite speculative. It was built for this year’s Open Day (presuming that still goes ahead).

The Beasts of War

Andy reconnects with his inner animal.

A couple of years ago I got a druid figure free when I renewed my Wargames Illustrated subscription, you can see him, and how I painted him, here.

He’ll be a magic user in one of my Dragon Rampant armies, but he needs an escort, and what would be better for a druid than a collection of animals?

I picked up a pack of Reaper Bones “Companion Animals” at SELWG (I think), these comprise a bear, wolf, puma, wolverine and eagle.

These are made from a type of polymer, and there is a warning on the Reaper Bones website that they may not respond well to some spray undercoats, so these were undercoated with a couple of coats of brush on acrylic matt black.

The wolf was painted with London Grey and then dry brushed with Dark Grey. The other animals were painted with various shades of brown, part of the eagle’s feathers and the other animal’s muzzles were painted black. Teeth, where visible, were painted Pale Sand. They were then given a generous wash in Army Painter Soft Tone or Dark Tone washes.

The bear’s base had a few sections of stone so these were painted London Grey, dry brushed Light Grey and washed with Army Painter Dark Tone, the remainder of the bases were covered with Basetex and painted with a couple of shades of green.

In addition to the Reaper Bones animals I had a couple of others, a nominally 10mm Giant Ape from Magister Militum who stands around 33mm foot to top of head so fits in OK with 28mm figures and a small wolf, manufacturer unknown.

The wolf was painted in the same way as the Reaper Bones wolf, apart from the mane which was painted black and dry-brushed Black Grey.
I decided to try and paint the Giant Ape as a silverback, so he was given a second coat of matt black, and his lower back was then dry-brushed Black Grey and London Grey. Teeth were painted Pale Sand.

BPM 97 Scratchbuild

John Lambert shares his latest Zona Alfa projekt.

I’d bought into Zona Alfa intrigued by the period, the campaign system and the terrain building potential. One of the mission objectives in the rulebook scenarios involves a broken down APC. I wasn’t going to splash out £20.00 for a resin cast model so what could I do instead?. Scanning the ASDA shelves for Gaslands stuff I came across this for £3.00.

Could I use the bits from this as a basis for a model ?

I’d remembered that this brand was secured by screws and not rivets so opening it up took a matter of minutes. I was left with a cab, fuel tank, wheels and chassis. I could use the fuel tank, cab and upper chassis as extra terrain pieces later. What about the lower chassis and wheels?

I’d got this plan off the internet and hoped it would work

The wheels were the right diameter but the wheelbase was 1cm too long so I’d have to cut the chassis and join the pieces with 2 x 30 thou plastic card – my go to modelling material for 45 years!. The track was a bit wide 2mm but I could live with that. I’d sketched out templates for the sides and front of the body, cut them out from 20 thou plastic card and quickly had the basis of the bodywork, which warped overnight!.
I decided to build the front wheel arches from strips of 30 thou card to provide better rigidity and to ensure a square structure. Referring to internet photos I found the bonnet top would be quite complex to make. I used 2 pieces of 60 thou plastic card and sanded this down with wet and dry to get the right profile.
On to the detailing, I decided to be systematic. First I added access doors to the rear and roof hatches from 20 thou plastic card then side access doors from 10 thou plastic card. Cupolas above the driving positions were from 40 thou plasticard. Hinges were from plastic micro rod and I made catches from microstrip and micro rod in long sections that I could then cut to size. These WIP shots show the detailing in progress – there’s more than I thought when starting this project!

I painted the body in dark green, dry brushing with lighter green and using a section from the packaging for the windows. The chassis I painted black and dry brushed grey and light brown before fixing to the bodywork.

Overall I was pleased with the results – a good project for isolation. More episodes to follow!

Forward To The Thirteenth Century

Stephen goes time travelling.

I decided to update my medievals. Actually, down-date might be a better way to think of it.

When I started collecting medievals I decided to go with early 14th century. If I’m honest, I really wanted to do 13th century (think Baron’s War of Simon de Montfort), because that’s where my interests lay. But there were few miniatures available for that and the ones there were I didn’t really like.

So I chose early 14th century (think Crecy and Poitiers). However, I recently made the choice to go with my heart rather than mind.

I’ve taken out the later figures that wouldn’t look right in the 13th century and they’ve gone into the ‘fantasy human army’ box. And I replaced them with figures more suited to the 13th century.

I asked around the club if anyone had some of the Fireforge plastics to have a look at. Andy did. And he kindly let me have a sprue to have a play with. I thought the details were good and the style of armour, clothing and equipment is right for the period.

Problem is, every time I see how people have put them together (and this is a general fault I find with plastics) they always have that crouching need-a-sh*t pose, head at 90° to body, and arms doing a double fist-pump. They just look like child’s toys.

Since they were plastic I decided I’d give them a bit of a chop. I thought I may cut the legs off and re-pose them. In the end I didn’t. In fact, in the end the surgery was quite minor. Generally, I replaced the weapons with better-proportioned spares from the spares box. One or two arms I cut at elbow and wrist. I also cut some hands off at the wrist to have them at different angles (due to the casting process I find that the arms on plastics tend to be ‘flat’, and it looks more pronounced once the arm is stuck to the body).

I think the key to the Fireforge figures (and, again, plastics in general) is to think about the pose rather than just stick them together. Maybe even stand in front of a mirror and pose yourself to see how they should go together (make sure you don’t get seen by the family or they’ll think you’re and even bigger bell end). It means you will have to do a bit of cutting here and there to make the pose fluid and as if that the limbs and head belong on the body. But plastic is easy to cut and easy to glue, so it’s really not that difficult.

In the end, I was rather happy with what I came up with. It made me re-think my opinion on them. Just minor surgery, and thinking about the pose, makes a great deal of difference.

Now I have what I wanted in the first place – 13th century medieval.