Monday, June 22, 2009

bmc jägers, part II...

Being satisfied with the first test figure, I finished the other three figures over the weekend. Why four figures total? Well, I ran out of BMC figures to cut heads off of to make the conversions. Next time I get to a toy soldier show I'll rummage about for some more victims to decapitate.

My painting has evolved into what I call an 'impressionistic style.' Once upon a time I could paint quite detailed 15mm and 25mm figures. But age has taken a toll on my eyesight as well as hand-eye coordination so I've had to adjust my hobby goals. I'm no longer as interested in the details of individual figures. Of course, not being able to see that detail might have something to do with that.

I find that I use much more direct paint application—as opposed to washes—when working with the 54s. This is mostly due to using water soluble Aleene's Tacky Glue as a primer. I do typically use a three color process, though. I normally paint an area with a mid tone, then use a darker shade to add shadows to recessed areas. Next, I dry-brush a lighter tone to bring out highlights.

Sometimes only two shades are necessary. For example, when painting faces I'll cover the entire face with a flesh tone. Next I apply a leather color along the edges of the face, the neck, etc. Typically, I'll paint the eye sockets with this darker color, outline the nose and cheeks, too. Next, a small dab of pink for lips. I usually try to add a bit of life by giving the figure eyes comprised of a white area and a dark pupil. I then apply the hair color remembering to do any mustaches and occasionally eyebrows. Lastly I'll use the original flesh color to pick out the forehead, cheek  bones, nose and chin. Occasionally, I'll dry-brush a lighter tone across the hair to bring out some detail. I believe this level of detail on the face can add a lot of pizazz to the finished figure--though much of it depends upon the skill of the painter. For me, sometimes the extra care on the faces is worth it. Sometimes not. I've had some rather refined 18th century gentlemen come out looking positively neanderthalic. Depends on whether I'm having a good painting day.

I've found a novel substance to use on the bases. I was dissatisfied with simple painted bases. I use to build up the base with spackle, paint, wash and flock it. It's a labor intensive process. However, when I was working on the ECW figures tried a different approach. I paint the base a light brown, dirt color. Then I cover the entire base with used coffee grounds. After letting the glue dry I dry brush the coffee with a light brown. After drying again, I apply some spots of flock and then add some static grass. In general, I'm happy with the results.

I've always liked some sheen to my figures and traditionally applied a satin finish. This is particularly true with 54s where I think a high gloss finish can be appropriate. After all, this scale originated with toy soldiers and I enjoy acknowledging that tradition. Here again, the process I follow for painting the soft plastic figures works well. Once the painting is complete the figure gets yet another coat of Aleene's Tacky glue and is given a good 24 hours to dry (more on humid days). At first I was quite tentative about this. It's a little scary to cover your entire paint job with white glue. But Aleene's dries crystal clear and gives the figure a high gloss finish. It also protects the paint. I was nervous that the glue might not age well, perhaps it would yellow or shrink and crack. I've seen no sign of that, though. The first figures I did this way were completed close to four years ago. How they'll look in 10 or fifteen years... I have no idea. But for now, it seems to work.

For all the books I own on the American Revolution, I'm a bit chagrined to say that I only looked at one to find the colors for the jäger figures. That was John Mollo's 'Uniforms of the American Revolution,' specifically the Brunswick jäger officer, illustration 126. Consequently, my jägers have red cuffs and turnbacks and buff vests and breeches. Now, I'm not going to change anything at this point, but upon referencing Lt. Charles Lefferts' book I see that it appears that all jägers (or 'yagers') officially wore green vests and breeches and the cuffs should be either red (for Brunswickers) or Crimson (for troops from Hesse-Cassell).  If I'd done my research a little earlier and since I'm thinking my first game with these figures will be a knockoff of the battle of Trenton, I'd have painted the figures as Hessian troops, rather than Brunswickers. Oh, well, they have bayonets, too....

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