01 August 2009

What a mess...what a mess...

In a recent post's comments, I said I was going to start to post photos, a division at a time, of my figures completed to date. The above photo show all the Anglo-Portuguese units I have now painted. I started painting on a regular basis 3-4 years ago. At the time, I decided to attempt to paint the forces, at around a 1:50 figure ratio, that were present at the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro in May 1811. This was a pretty ambitious project and I am surprised that I am about maybe a third of the way there.

Above are the Third, Light, First and Cotton's Cavalry divisions, aside from the Scots Guards and 2 regiments of cavalry, which are still left to do. All the command figures (Wellington, the divisional and brigade stands) and artillery are also done.

Looking back now, though I realise there are many problems. It is amazing how little I knew at the time about uniforms. The most glaring error is that the is that they are all in Belgic shakos!!!! Also I bought figures with a firing pose which are a nightmare to pose on the small bases I like. They look good on the base, but are difficult to align into march column. Certainly too late to change out the figures.

It is also interesting to look at my painting style. At the time I use a black undercoat and was a very poor block painter with some elementary shading. I did not appreciate the subtleties of the detail on the figures and never painted in the muskets etc. properly. Well I do not think that I am going to repaint them and they do document the evolution of my painting ability (my wife says I have improved greatly; I do not show her the photos of some of your work!).

Another problem is that I switched from basically Foundry figures to Front Rank figures somewhere along the way. If I remember correctly, I think it was because of the way that Foundry command figures were packaged. When I started to paint the Front Rank's, I liked them and started to buy their basic infantrymen. Somehow or another, I ended up mixing the figures together within the battalion unit. I think I will fix this as much as I can by moving around the figures and repainting the appropriate facing as needed. This I hope will not be too big a job.

I am also going to slightly change my basing scheme. My original thoughts on basing has changed. I am ok with the everything I originally planned, except the the British Infantry battalions. I think now that I will increase the unit size to 14-15 figures (5 bases) from 11-12 (4 bases) figures. You may notice that all my British infantry battalions have an integrated mounted officer while my French units have the mounted officer at the regimental level (3 battalions). The British units look lopsided with one 40x40mm base and three 20x40mm bases. I realise the 3 figure 20x40mm base is not the norm and that most of you use 4 figure square (40,45 or 50mm) bases. I am not really in to creating mini-dioramas so I feel my scheme is more historically accurate, ie. it gives a thinner looking line. I can also suck this up historically as the British arrayed themselves in lines of 2 deep, while the French were 3 deep. Therefore I think it reasonable that my British Battalions when in line are 200 mm wide, while the French are 160mm wide for units with generally the same number of men (500-600).

So how shall I start? Well, I am going to have to raid some of the infantrymen of the 4 battalions of KGL line to build up the other British units to 5 bases and to make the battalions uniformly either Front Rank or Foundry. I hope this is not too much work. In the end I can order some new figures for these units with stovepipe shakos and they should stand out nicely.

I also still want to adhere to some historical orders of battle for my units, so I am still not sure how many figures I will use in the large Guard (Coldstream and Scots)and Light (52nd) infantry units. I would appreciate any suggestions.


  1. Nice collection, John, and by my standards anyway amazing output for just three years!

    I have to admit your change in painting style seems to have been a good decision; after looking at your work on Tetterborn's division, you have developed a really nice technique that works well, especially on the Calpe figures.

    I still use the block painting style- mainly because my attempts at using washes always ended up looking like my cats had thrown up over the minis. You seem to have got the technique down nicely, though.

  2. Thanks Robert,
    Any thoughts on how many base I should use for the big battalions.

  3. Unfortunately, I'm afraid I can't be of much help to you with the British.

    Years ago I bought the seven-volume reprint of Oman's Peninsular War, a bunch of French, Spanish and British, and was ready to do Salamanca.

    Then Front Rank came out with their Russians, and I promptly sold off the British and Spanish in favour of the Czar's hordes and Central Europe! Part of it was that I didn't want to deal with the column vs. line, two-rank vs. three-rank can of wargaming worms.

    For what it's worth, I feel that a lot may depend on the rules you intend on using. If the rules don't distinguish between company sizes, I'd just go for the number of figures I would need based on the Order of Battle returns divided by the figure ratio I was using, and base them in a way that looks pleasing to me, even if it meant differing numbers of figures on the bases.

    That's what I did for my Russians, as the elite company was split in two on each flank. It works visually, which is important to me.

  4. Yah, I agree it really depends on how it looks. Well I moved things around a bit, lost 5 battalions in the process. I am however much more comfortable with how things look. Hopefully, the repainting of the some facings and the touching up of the bases will not take too much time.

  5. Funny how we made a lot of similar mistakes; my Hungarians are in Helmets because I didn't know they were issued the Shakos first for the 1809 campaign.

    My first few units were in firing/attacking poses, too. Boy did I regretted that! Not only is it a pain to put on bases and to do columns, but they're also much more annoying to paint imho.

    Also, after I started with 2 units of 24, I reduced my regiments to 16, so I had to repaint a lot of facings...and some more rebasing.

    Of course,one never learns; I have some more reorganizing to do soon...cavalry and artillery are changing base sizes. Oh well...

  6. Thanks, Iannick.

    We all learn after a while. I am almost done with the revision. I was not as bad as I thought.