Monday, 8 February 2016

French Crossbowmen - Aventuriers (2)

The preparation and modification work is coming along. I have the first twenty figures (four each of five different castings) done.

The old TTG figures had enormously long crossbows compared with the others so I cut these down in length first. I cut the (rather Landsknechty) hats off the Old Glory figures and made new hats or helmets from Milliput. I also modified the sleeves and tunics on the Roundway and Venexia figures to make them look less medieval / like Swiss or Landsknechts respectively.

In most cases, I made new bows from 0.7 mm brass rod, flattened with a hammer and then filed and bent to shape.

I don't like the as-supplied Old Glory crossbows with their fat strings (about 3" diameter, scaled up) and solid metal between the bow and string. After removing the first two bows and making new ones, as described above, for the others I just drilled out the filled-in portion and did a lot of filing to make the bow and string as thin as possible.

With some figures having strung bows, I decided (slightly reluctantly) that I would have to string the others. This didn't prove as difficult and fiddly as I had expected. I cut suitable lengths of wire, pre-bent it by pressing the middle against my cutting mat and trimmed to length. I put a small blob of epoxy on the ends of the bows and another in the middle of the 'string', placed them roughly in place with tweezers then nudged them into place with the tip of a needle in a pin vise. The strings and bolts are from the wire on a bottle of Rioja and about 0.25 mm diameter - well over-scale but still much thinner than the cast ones. For those without a stirrup on the end, I made a U-shaped piece from offcuts and glued them on.

I'm not sure which figures to use for the last four. I have changed my mind on this a few times but I think I'll probably use the Black Hat / Gladiator Games figures - these are rather bulkier than the others but people vary in build and, as long as the crossbows match, I think it will be OK. We will see.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Scenery - another building

I finished this building a while ago but it has taken until now to get some photos of the finished thing. I tried to make this look as though the buildings had grown together over time in a slightly haphazard way, as often seems the way with old residential buildings. This was a much more complicated structure than the first one but I am much happier with the effect and think it looks more believable for a 16th Century village.

As I mentioned in the first write-up, I wanted a much less regular effect for the stone work so used different sizes of stick-on blocks. I did this by cutting three or four different width strips of card at a time and then chopping varying lengths off as I worked. I left one section without block work to represent rendering - partly for variety and partly because I was getting rather bored of tiny card rectangles.

I broke the construction down into several sections and only stuck it all together towards the end. Again the roof tiles were from sheets of Wills pantiles - not quite right and too big but I think the overall effect is OK. Once all the little pieces of card were in place, I gave the stone work a way over with a mix of PVA and filler to strengthen it and bring everything together by softening the sharp edges and adding texture.

The ridge tiles were made from bamboo skewers sanded to shape and then with razor saw cuts to represent the joins between tiles. To break things up a bit more, I painted individual blocks in for or five different shades of brown, grey and green with quite a high contrast before a lot of dry-brushing with lightened shades of the original stone colour to bring it all back together. I quite like the effect although I accept it isn't especially true to life.

Shutters and other woodwork were painted next, with the roofs and doors stuck on and the three modules stuck together last of all. 

As an aside, I'm not so sure about these external shutters. A lot of the photos I have seen don't have visible shutters so they may have been internal - certainly that would be a lot easier. 

I have only made one village area piece so far but I'll probably do another. As with my other FoG-R terrain, the idea is that only the area really matters for the game and everything must be able to be moved around to make space for figures. This seems to work less well for built up areas than for other scenery because buildings are so much larger and don't tend to be randomly distributed. It would be nice to have some walls, cottage gardens, carts, water troughs, carts, middens and the other paraphernalia of village life but I can't attach these to the buildings because that would make them too big to move out of the way during the game. I'll try to do these as stand-alone pieces but I'm not happy about the hard shadow line around the bottom of the buildings and it may need a bit of experimentation to find the right balance of game practicality/flexibility and appearance.

I'm making a small barn to add to these. I would like to have a church or tower of some sort too although the FoG-R terrain sizes don't give much space for such large buildings.