Friday, June 11, 2010

Making them perfect

As I was reviewing the troops on the painting table I realized that, due to drawing and painting the details on free-hand, there was a lot of variation. For example, so cuff flaps are longer, some lapels wider, some coat tails fatter and so on. So I got to thinking about that and how I might do a better job of making them more uniform, when I read the following passages from Uniforms of the Retreat from Moscow, 1812 by Philip Haythornthwaite and Michael Chappell:
"To determine the uniform worn by a regiment at a particular moment is never easy; to do so for 1812 is difficult as that year saw a general redesigning of the costume of several European armies. Early in the year both France and Russia issued new clothing regulations which altered the appearance of much of the army, though it should not be assumed that because a uniform was introduced on, say, 1 January 1812, it would automatically be worn from that date. Firstly, the new style would usually only be adopted when the old uniform wore out, for simple economic reasons, and secondly the change could be delayed for months as it was often impossible to send the new uniform to units spread over vast areas of territory, or to have them made locally.

Because one member of a unit is known to have worn a certain uniform it is incorrect to assume that all his fellows did likewise, as the system of sending drafts of men to existing units often resulted in more than one pattern being worn even within the same company.

It is only half correct to describe anything as '1812-pattern', as uniforms were not produced by the same factory. Often local tailors with limited knowledge produced garments from the scant written instructions available, consequently achieving their own interpretation of the official pattern. In some cases regimental commanders deliberately ignored the regulations, many designing their own uniforms (particularly true of the Staff, Murat for example) and regimental musicians were often dressed according to the colonel's whims.
So, that actually made me feel better. Draftees, variations from local tailors, variations from different factories, variations directed by the Colonel, and even looting the uniforms of your own dead from other units could produce variations within a single company.

Back to painting. The uniforms are getting their final touches and then I will produce a tutorial with pictures before moving on to the faces.

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