Thursday, 3 December 2020

Show & Tell - Figure Painting Base

Very much caught up in various Christmas related gift-making projects at the moment - tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock - so time for blogging activity is at a premium. So, I have been testing out the idea of doing little 'show & tell' video shorts, very rough and ready recordings that don't demand a lot of preparation or production time. Hopefully, these little movies will fill the gap as it doesn't take too much time out my schedule to grab my iPhone camera and press 'record'!

I've already posted a couple of these mini-movies on the Peg Soldier Facebook Group as their appeal is very niche and they make little concession a 'general audience'. But I think I have the process working well enough, now, that I'm ready to start hosting these sort of videos on this blog.

This particular movie clip covers some thoughts about mounting peg figure projects on a grip or stand so that the figures are easier to paint. I hope you will find it useful and like this new medium...

Monday, 23 November 2020

More Lovecraft Characters Completed

 In between Christmas gifts I'm still trying to get some of my own backlog of projects done. Among these were some H.P. Lovecraft RPG characters I was working on. I'm trying to build a varied 'cast' of characters and that means crafting low-level bit-players as well as 'stars'!

So, with each set I'm including either a general NPC (non-player character) or minion, you can never have too many minions. 😄 In this case I made a 'thug' to pit against my heroes...

If you are a Lovecraft movie fan you might appreciate the next character I added in this set, the 'mad surgeon'. Very loosely based on the cult classic 'B' movie 'Reanimator' my ghoulish saw-bones is a bit tongue in cheek - but, then, I had envisioned this figure being a ready for Halloween...

And finally, I've included a good old Lovecraftian stand-by protagonist - a learned university professor, someone steeped in the esoteric and occult. I've 'armed' him with a mystic tome and an amulet of sorts...

And there we go my cast grows ever bigger. The idea will be that as I play different Lovecraftian scenarios I can dip into my collection of figures to create an ensemble of appropriate peg players.

I've plenty more ideas for additional cast, but one this is for sure and that is I'll need a lot more supporting characters than lead roles. This'll be a long project!

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Little Angels for Christmas

 Well, in amongst all the other stuff going on at the moment I managed to get a set of Christmas tree ornaments done. The theme here was a bit vague (they are a present for one of my wife's friends) but they are a loose mix of angels and fairies... Don't ask me! 😀

Anyways...Job done. Though, despite - to me - it being a bit weak as a project people seem to like them. Maybe I just don't get angels and fairies? 😂

Well, it maybe not my 'thing' but all making and painting is good practise and trying out new things and styles helps me build my flexibility. There are little problems to overcome and challenges even in simple characters like these that add to my experience and skill tool box...

And there you go. I'll have to take a snap of all six in the set together, but for now I'll have to quickly move on to my next Christmas project... The clock's ticking!

Monday, 16 November 2020

Peg Nutcracker Guardsman Complete

 I managed to get another of my peg nutcracker figures done, though I'm beginning to wish I had started these earlier as Christmas looms ever larger on the horizon!

I'm pleased with this little fellow and I'm enjoying this particular project. The slight down side is that I have a lot more of these nutcracker figures to make in time for the 25th of December. Still, onward and upwards.

This character is based on the traditional toy soldier from the ballet 'Nutcracker', a suitably festive story. The uniform is fictional and I tried a new way of making a rifle, simplifying the construction even more. It's just made up of an elongated triangle of lolly stick for the stock and a piece of cocktail stick for the barrel - but I like this stylised shape in this instance as it is suitable toy 'pop gun' like.

Another slight change in my previous construction method for this kind of nutcracker peg is that I did not bother to sand down the 'shoulder' dowel, but left it protruding slightly. I think this looks quite good and it enhances the idea that this is a toy soldier. Less work for me to do! 😁

The only concern I have about this style of peg figure is - being very tall and thin - it's balance. I chose a 3mm thick, 25mm diameter MDF base for these figures and that only just does the job. After I complete this project I will have to think again about basing and stability and I may need to either look at enlarging the diameter of the base or weighting the base (I have been considering adding steel washers to the existing base to give it a bit of weight).

Still, you are always learning. As they are they should look very nice on a mantelpiece for the festive period. 

Friday, 13 November 2020

French 'Chasseurs à pied', 1870 - Part 4

 A long, long time ago I began my Franco-Prussian War project only to then decide to have a hiatus from the hobby for some time. Now up and running again I now am in the position of not only working on new projects but also have several old moth balled projects to dust off - my French 'Chasseurs à pied' are one of these forgotten armies! 😃

Above: Painting 'French Soldiers in the Snow' by Paul Louis Narcisse Grolleron (c. 1880).
Grolleron produced a range of wonderful paintings depicting French troops of the 1870
war. This one caught my imagination and was the basis of my Chasseurs a pied.

It's actually a bit crazy that I stopped where I did with these soldiers as they were quite near completion. However, one of the reasons that I had not completed these sooner - having returned from my 'hobby holiday' - is that these figures were what I call my 'Mk. 1' peg soldier design and I had subsequently moved on to a different design...

Above: Comparison of my early 'Mk. 1' peg soldier construction (left)
with my current 'Mk.2' method (right).

I was of a mind to abandon this project and start again using my revised method of construction but - in the end - did not want to waste the work I had already done. It was a bit frustrating as I really like my newer method for making my soldiers, but I thought it would be a nice way to formally transition from the old to the new by completing this project as intended.

Anyway... Where had I got to? Here's a reminder of where I left off...

As I said, these models were so near completion! The principal job was to do all the outlining of detail - things like the arms and leg division, etc (things that were the very reason that I created my simplified Mk. 2 models , so I didn't have to spend time laboriously outlining things).

Ironically, I ended up producing my prototype Frenchman right along side my prototype Prussian! It's my habit to complete a single example of a unit's figure in order that I can check that I am happy with my colour choices and check for any potential problems before continuing with the rest of the unit's figures...

Indeed, I did come across a little issue, that being the outlining of detail that is base painted with dark colours. An example would be the outlining of the soldiers arms, normally I would outline in black but this just wouldn't show up very well against a dark blue. The solution - obviously enough - was to outline using a lighter version of the base colour, in this case a light blue.

In the above photo you will notice I had to outline (if that's really the appropriate term) the leg division line using a light blue. This is not a method that I am completely happy with and why I ended up changing the way I did the legs of my models.

Anyway, niggley bits out the way, it didn't take long to apply the final details and - finally - I added the facial features. Things like buttons and and eye-pupils were actually applied using acrylic pens.

This all leads to the varnishing. I continue to be a fan of the traditional glossy toy soldier and I think it actually helps produce a better looking peg figure. The application of a gloss layer smooths out some of the imperfections - rough textures - inherent in cheap mass-produced wooden pegs. If you look at the above picture you will notice a mottled texture on the Prussian soldier, the wood was particularly rough on this peg (so much so that even a fair amount of sanding could not get rid of it).

This is just part and parcel of using pegs for modelling, they are what they are. But varnishing helps alleviate most but the worse blemishes. And here's what we ended up with...

I'm pleased with the result and will crack on with the five remaining figures in this unit (plus the unit base). After that I have to decide which will be the next French regiment that I will model - I'm already had a lot of requests that I do a 'red trousered' infantry of the line! We shall see.

Link to all the posts in this 'Chasseurs à pied' project.