Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On the Highland Trews

"... the trews was undoubtedly the ancient dress of people of condition or of any respectability both in the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland; it was more especially worn by persons on horseback often without boots; it was commonly made of a kind of chequered stuff called Tartan though sometimes of stuff of one colour only. It completely supplied the place of breeches and stockings covering the feet the legs and the thighs. As a winter dress, particularly in time of snow, it was reckoned infinitely preferable to the kilt. When the trews were worn upon a journey, the plaid was carried over the left shoulder and drawn under the right arm."

On the Highland Dress
Sir John Sinclair
October, 1796

A highland warrior I am painting wearing his finest tartan trews.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Macpherson Banner Raised!

I was able to spend a quite day at home yesterday getting a lot of painting done and completing something that I have been looking forward to doing since I began this project: raising the Macpherson banner.

This is a flag that I designed myself and it is based on the Macpherson coat of arms. It is printed on standard paper and the folded around the flagpole. The two sides of the flag are glued together with standard white glue and then shaped into a somewhat realistic flag-ish shape while the glue dries. This is my first attempt at doing this and I think it turned out rather well.

I had some difficulty getting the pikes to stay in the pikemen's hands properly, but then realized that a little superglue at the butt of the pike where it touches the ground solves the problem. This gives a second contact point that will prevent the pikes from becoming twisted and coming free.

My models are finally starting to look like a proper ECW regiment!

The Macpherson banner is raised for the Royalists.

Touch Not the Cat But a Glove!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Albrecht Dürer: Irish Warriors and Peasants

For a historian and wargamer, the ability to glance back through time and get fleeting glimpse of what the uniforms, weapons and armor of the warriors, peasants and leaders of the armies of a certain period were like is very valuable. There are many published guides for such things, but I personally get most excited about sources from the time - usually sketches or paintings that depict the garb and dress of the warriors.

In 1521 Albrecht Dürer painted Irish Warriors and Peasants. This is a fantastic painting (Dürer is one of my favorites) of soldiers of the time and how they dressed and carried themselves. At left is an Irish warrior in his quilted war coat, conversing with a Scottish gallòglach (or Gallowglass), who is carrying his claidheamh mhòr (great sword) and longbow, followed by another gallòglach wrapped in his feileadh mhòr (great kilt) and followed, finally, by two bare foot Irish kern (peasant warriors) carrying pole axes. The kern would have always accompanied the elite mercenaries to assist them with their weapons and gear.

While there is no doubt that Dürer took some artistic liberty in his drawing, I would safely say that it is a fairly accurate portrayal of what he had seen. This painting won't help me much with the garb for my current ECW project, but there is no doubt that it will be useful for a future project I have yet to dream up as I have a great interest in the warriors and soldiers of Scotland and Ireland.

"This is the attire of soldiers and  peasants in Ireland, beyond England."
Albrecht Dürer, 1521 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Scots with Traditional Highland Weapons

With one sleeve of the regiment's shotte complete, I have decided to move on to painting a few Scottish highlanders carrying traditional clan weapons such as the basket claymore, targe, dirk, and Lochaber axe. These charging highlanders will be at the front lines of the unit's "pike block" and will represent the varied types of weapons typically found in these Royalist highland levies of the ECW.

This is a couple of photos of the work-in-progress of the first such figure I am painting - a ferocious highlander in his feileadh mhòr (great kilt) and carrying his basket claymore in one hand while in the other is a dirk. I will be affixing a targe to the arm carrying the dirk.

Friday, July 20, 2012

AM BRATACH UAINE (The Green Banner)

In a thread over at The Miniature Page (TMP) forums about a Macpherson flag that I recently designed for my current ECW project, Neil J pointed me to an absolutely fantastic example of a Macpherson banner that I had been previously unaware of - the Am Bratach Uaine (The Green Banner).

This banner is said to have been carried during the 1745 Rising. This is much later that the English Civil War period, but we can still learn a great many things from this banner when thinking about what may have been carried by the ensigns of the ECW.

Firstly, I am very surprised by the amount of detail on this flag. Typically banners and standards carried into battle are to signify a unit's identity and their allegiance. This was easily done at the time with large fields of color and simple, basic iconography. I do not know the dimensions of the Am Bratach Uaine, but this Macpherson flag is by far the most detailed and complex example of this period I have seen in my admittedly short experience. There is a lot going on in the design of this flag.

Secondly, I was unsure until now if the clan motto "Touch Not the Cat But a Glove" was actually used on banners carried into battle. I'm happy to have a primary source answer to that question and will plan on adding the motto to the Macpherson flags I will be working on in the near future.

And lastly, Another motto or slogan, this one in latin, makes its appearance along the bottom of the banner. PRO REGE, ET PATRIA (For king and country). Again, this is something that I can include in some of my own ECW flag design now that I have a good source.

This is a beautiful flag and I look forward to seeing it in person when I make a trip to the Clan Macpherson museum in Scotland next year.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Some Royalist Scottish Muskets Based

Last night I was able to get eight of my completed Scottish muskets based. I am using 40mm square bases and the figures ended up looking pretty good four to a base - there is that sweet spot between too much room and too cramped that I think looks about right for wargaming. My process for basing these is as follows:
  1. Find a reasonable mix of four models that work well together and arrange them on the base, playing with angles and depths until they look "right".
  2. With a pencil, mark the location and angle of each model.
  3. Using a gel superglue, I then attach each of the four models to an unpainted base.
  4. Take an old brush and coat the exposed base in white terrain glue while avoiding feet.
  5. Dip the base in the scenic ground layer of choice, making certain that all the glue is covered. For this project I am using Woodland Scenics Fine Ballast in brown. This product has a nice dirt/mud feel that I will later cover with grass, flowers and stones.
  6. Once the glue has dried, shake off any excess sand.
  7. Spray with a matte clear-coat finish. This will protect the figures during handling and will also seal the basing material so it doesn't come off all over the table.
I was having a blast all the way up until step 7, when the clear-coat I am using currently (GW Purity Seal) decided to leave a "light dusting" on all of my models. I was absolutely furious. I had taken all the proper steps to prevent such a thing from happening (because I know it does), but it did it anyway.

So, in the end I have two bases done and ready for some scenery detail while some of my hard work was tainted. My hope is that when combined with the rest of the army this mishap will go unnoticed and will be forgotten - but I am still pissed.

Royalist Scottish Musketeers awaiting the arrival of their regiment.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Things still going... but, slowly

Things have slowed down a bit with my project - you know, Real Life, work, distractions - all that stuff that keeps one from settling down at a workbench to paint and leave that other stuff behind for a time. The bases for my Scottish ECW regiment arrived from Warbases and they are remarkable (that may seem a strange word to use when describing bases, but it is true!). I went with the 40mm square premier bases and they are of very high quality. With those in hand, I am anxious to clear-coat several of my finished figures today and get them onto a base or two so I can see how they look.

Of course, I forgot to order some round bases for my command figures. :)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Warlord, the new Games Workshop?

Over the course of the last year I have noticed a very interesting trend in the business model at Warlord Games that makes me think they are making a strong push to be the "Games Workshop" of historical wargaming.

To own the space and dominate the market, one must first publish a wide array of rule sets, expansions and army lists. Warlord has done this with the release of Hail Caesar, Pike & Shotte, Black Powder and, the brand new set, Bolt Action. These are all very polished and seemingly popular rules and books that get people playing and, more importantly, brand loyal.

Next comes the wave after wave of models that any player will need to support all of the rule sets. Individual models, boxes of plastic sprues, starter kits and complete boxed armies. All produced and sold to a market of your own creating. Brilliant.

Of course, there are some negative connotations when having a conversation about Games Workshop but I am not here to make a judgement call - only time will tell us if Warlord goes down that same path - but I cannot help notice the empire that they are building. Something to keep an eye on.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

ECW Royalist Scottish Muskets: WIP No.3

More work complete on the lads carrying the muskets for my Scottish ECW regiment. The painting of these sometimes goes slowly - as you can see, I am painting a tartan or two on the plaids slung over their shoulders. I enjoy the models that include a bow (either carried on the back with a musket in hand or shooting a bow with the musket discarded on the ground). These are all Eureka models.

I am nearly complete with the first 'sleeve' of shotte and will post some photos of them all posing together in a few days hopefully.