Monday, February 21, 2011

British Shoulder Tufts from Yarn

In the past I simply painted small patches of white paint on the shoulders of my British soldiers to represent the white should tufts found on their jackets. The figure to the right, which is of a drummer, shows the tufts very well.

These tufts are actually rather prominent, while the white paint was flat, and thus not very visible. I needed something to make them stand out more.

In the past I have used common yarn for a variety of things, such as simulating tall grass and making the crest of a hoplite helmet. Cutting two small strands of white yarn, and gluing it to the arm, makes for a perfect substitute.

In order to ensure the yarn does not unravel, and to better stick to the figure, once the piece is attached to the figure I thoroughly douse it with thinned Elmer's Clear Glue. (As a side note: I used to use CVS School Glue Gel, which dried clear, but with a slight blue tinge. Elmer's dried perfectly clear and is much thinner - which may or may not be a good thing, depending upon your needs.) Once the glue hardens I use sharp scrapbooking scissors to trim the ends and shape the tuft. In the figures below, you can see the results. (I have placed small light blue arrows to show the tufts, before on the right and after on the left.)


All in all I much prefer the new tufts, despite the additional time and effort taken.

More About Paint Markers

On the Wargaming on a Budget forum the question always comes up: what paints do you use? Once it gravitated towards using paint markers and I was pretty negative about it, given my past experiences. Of course, my experience was quite some time ago and, I believe, was with Testor's enamel paint markers. They were messy, smelly, and prone to "bleeding" paint all over if you pressed too hard. It was almost like using a quill pen. When the paint started to run out in the brush the safest thing to do was to press down on a scrap piece of paper and release more paint. That way if it bled, it did not do it on your model.

Today, things are quite different. As I indicated in my last blog entry, I had made an impulse purchase and obtained a Sharpie metallic silver permanent marking pen and tried it out. On a lark, I decided to try it out to paint the barrels and bayonets of my muskets and it worked. Here are the results:


As you can see, it created a nice, crisp line, and had a fine enough point for me to draw a hammer for the fire lock. Also, this ink is opaque and designed to cover dark surfaces, unlike colored Sharpie marker pens, so I did not have to paint it white first; I was able to mark over the musket's brown paint. Coverage was one stroke. So, this marker is a keeper.

Looking through the Sharpie catalog I noticed several other products of interest, such as the oil-based paint markersMean Streak super marking sticks, and poster paint markers. Because I am currently working strange hours I was not able to get to the local Staples office supply, so I had to settle for the local 24-hour Wal-mart. Unfortunately, their selection of Sharpie products was minimal, but I was able to try two other, comparable products: the Elmer's opaque, fine point, acrylic paint marker, and the @ the Office metallic permanent markers (a Wal-mart only brand that I could not find on their website's catalog).

Here are the tips of the three markers:


Elmer's Paint Marker

As stated previously, these markers are opaque and acrylic. I chose a fine point white to test out. As you can see in the picture above, it has a fairly nice body that comes down to a fine point. This is a traditional "paint marker" in that you press down to release paint. What differs from the paint markers of yore is tha, being acrylic, it doesn't really smell and it dries fairly quickly.

Don't be fooled, however. You can end up with a mess if you press down too firmly while marking. This happened to me when I was not thinking and I was trying to get paint into a crack. I pressed down to get in deep and the paint poured out. Fortunately, the damage was recoverable; it only painted over a black backpack and not over any detail. Here are the final results:


I painted the two straps on the bedroll and the two straps on the pack. Coverage was surprisingly good, given how thin the acrylic paint was. As the pack is balsa wood and the bedroll oak, bleeding of the paint line was worse on the balsa, but it was acceptable. For where it was bad, I simply went back and touched up with black, which I often do with hand-painted lines anyway.

This probably requires more experimentation to see how valuable it is. Given the large size of the tube, it is not exactly a precision instrument like a paint brush is.

@ the Office Metallic Marker

Like the Sharpie marker, these markers are opaque ink, not paint, so problems with flow and pressing too hard are not a problem. The point is not as fine as with the Sharpie, but still adequate.


I tested this pen by drawing the gold piping on the kepi of a 1" (25mm) figure. The line was fine, coverage was adequate (needed two strokes in some spots), and control was very good. Given the thick point I can see some problems with not being able to get into tight spots and therefore having to follow-up with a brush. Either that or buy a second and trim down the point even finer. Given that I bought this pen in a pack of eight metallic colors, that isn't something I want to do a lot of.

Nonetheless, I can see the utility of this marker, so it is also a keeper.

I hope this has been of some help. Let me know if you have any questions.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sharpie Metallic Silver

Once upon a time I tried to paint figures with paint markers and it was not a pretty sight. The other week or so I was going through the office supply store (uh oh!) and I found a pretty unique Sharpie pen: a Metallic Silver one. I set it aside and used it for marking various dark objects and it worked well. Nice and smooth.

Yesterday I was looking at some toothpicks about to be used for muskets for my British and dreading painting the silver lines to represent the barrels when I spied the Sharpie and decided to give it a try. It worked great! In fact it worked better than a paint brush for some reason.

Given the medium I am now working with - wood - I wonder if the paint markers might not be a good choice after all. Sharpie has an interesting variety of glossy, oil-based paint markers that are both opaque and permanent. I think I need another trip to the art or office supply store...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Artillery - Part 3 (Painted)

The artillery piece, a French Napoleonic 12 pounder, (by the looks of it), is complete. Or, at least, I have decided to stop fiddling with it and move on to the artillerymen.

Since building it I have found out a few more terms. What I was calling the "trail" - the two vertical pieces that the axle passes through and the barrel rests on - is actually called the "cheeks". The pieces extending out of the barrel, allowing it to elevate, are called the "trunnions".

In the final analysis, the cheeks are too thick (high). They should have less body. If I find the right sized staple, I will add it to the barrel as the handles, but otherwise I am done.

I did a little "weathering" using ink washes, but wasn't very successful because, well, smooth wood doesn't have too many recesses for the wash to pool into, so I ended up with a few disguised brush marks.

Still, I am happy with the results and would happily put it on the table for a game of Song of Drums and Shakos. I am sorely tempted to make the artillerymen Imperial Guard, but really need them to be line. But first, to finish the six British infantry on the bench, plus the French Ligne Eagle Bearer, and the four King's German Legion Light Dragoons, and the ...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Artillery - Part 2

The Gun Carriage Braces


In order to control the spacing and reduce the flex of the frame, the gun carriage needs bracing. Looking at pictures and painting of gun carriages, I generally see one at the end of the trail - horizontal to the ground - and one at the front - vertical to the ground - to support the gun barrel. Additionally there are one or more in the center, sometimes as a box. As you can see, I added a simple brace to support the center, and the back of the barrel. I'm not trying to be accurate here; this is a representation of a Napoleonic artillery piece.


I found that simply gluing the braces was not enough. There was still too much flex, which in turn caused the bond to break. Out came the drill. As I have been doing with my figures now, for example with the arms, I drilled holes through the carriage into the braces, then inserted the dowels. I used wire snips to cut the dowels shorter.

A side effect of using the wire snips, which pinch the wood before it cuts, is that the dowel ends look like rivets. So, I won't file these flat.


Another view of the gun carriage, showing the front brace.


The Barrel Support

The barrel is supported on the gun carriage by bars on each side of the barrel, which rest on a depression of the gun carriage. For the bars I drilled a hole through the barrel from one side to the next and glued a dowel into the hole.


I sanded a depression into the gun carriage over the axle.


I then sanded a depression into the forward brace so the gun barrel can rest on it.


Here is the final assembled artillery piece. I've placed one of my figures to the right to show it for comparison purposes. From a height perspective, this piece is probably appropriate for field artillery, while the barrel is more proportioned for heavy artillery, like a 12 pounder.


That said, I am happy with the piece and it will serve as an interesting center-piece for a skirmish scenario.

Next up: paint it as a French artillery piece.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Artillery - Part 1 - A New Labor of Love

So, I have made a Vivandiere, a drummer, an officer with a bicorne, experimented making a pickelhaube and a hoplite helmet, so what next? How about an artillery piece and crew?

Here we go, my new labor of love.

The Wheels


Most of this model is made from balsa wood because of the ease with which it can be shaped (sometimes too easy to shape) and because I have a lot of it laying around. The wheel should be about chest height, so I draw a 1 1/2" circle for the outer part of the wheel. The balsa is 3/16" thick.


The center piece, which will hold the spokes and the axle, is a 7/16" dowel cut 1/4" thick.


Although an artillery wheel in Napoleonic times should have 12 spokes, my dowels for the spokes are too thick and the center should be slightly larger so I have to use only 8 spokes. I am sure the purists will scoff, but they probably would about all of the other figures, so who cares?

Drill the 1/16" holes in the dowel and put the spokes in. Drill a hole through the center for the axle.


As the outer diameter of the wheel is 1 1/2", the inner diameter will be 1". I used a 1" fender washer to draw it, using the whole in the center of the washer to mark the center of the wheel. Now comes the hard part: cutting out the circles inside and out. It took me three tries to get two wheels that work. (I can't wait to get that laser!)


Center the spokes on the wheel and mark where the spokes should be shortened. Note that the spokes are slightly longer than the inside diameter of the wheel even after being trimmed.


Using the trimmed spokes, mark the wheel where notches should be made. Use your Dremel to sand out the notches.


Make sure the notches go deep enough that the spokes will sink down below the surface of the backside of the wheel.


On the frontside, it looks a lot better than the backside. This also helps you better to shape the wheel.


Using the Dremel sander (shown below) you can indent the wheel, leaving only outer area raised. This will represent the iron binding on the outside of the wheel, with the inside wooden.


Here is a view at an angle, so you can see the indentation better.


Here is a fitting with the axle in place. Glue and filler will cover the spokes notches on the backside.


The Cannon Barrel

I found a spindle used for a chair rail that looked just right. I think it cost me about $2.50 for two spindles, with each spindle able to produce two barrels, so that is about $0.63 a cannon.


Start by cutting off the bottom piece.


Cut off the top. The center piece is now the basis for the cannon barrel.


Using a Dremel I hollowed out the muzzle end.


For the opposite end I added a 1/4" flat head plug. It would have been easier to use a round head plug, or better yet a mushroom button. But, this is all I have at the moment.


Glue the plug on the end and shape it by rounding it off.


Here is a basic fitting of the barrel on the axle and wheels.


The Trail


I took a piece of 3/16" thick balsa wood and marked out some preliminary measurements. The piece is 3 3/4" long - basically slightly longer than the barrel - and 1" high. The other measurements are shown in the figure below to give the basic "curved" shape of the trail.


The figure below shows the trail cut out and fitted to the wheels and axle. Note that my measurements are off as the trail's angle has the tail off of the ground. Oh well. Nothing a sander can't fix.


Here is the fitting of the barrel to the trails, wheels, and axle.


That's it for now. Need to add the cross-pieces for the trail and the spindle for the barrel so it can be elevated, then it is on to painting and maybe a few little details.

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