Rounds on the Ground

German Heer Light Mortar Team

This is my very first Flames of War team/base. It makes me a little sentimental to see them up close and on my screen. The photos are taken from a camera mounted on a tripod using a Macro lens. The extreme close-ups give the paint job on these figures nowhere to hide. All errors and issues encountered are there for all to see, which I will go over later so hopefully it may help someone avoid the traps. However firstly I will go over a run down of my ideas, the effects I wanted to create, and what I think has worked and what hasn’t.

The Ideas and Effects:-

I wanted to give this team a dug-in feel, however I do realise that they would have been quite mobile and more than likely would have not had time to set up a sandbagged position but then I thought about a defensive scenario. This would also be a well trodden  area so the muddied ground was a must. For a bit of character I created and embedded an unexploded 25-pounder shell (with minimal research) into the sandbags. I also sculpted some extra mortar shells and had them sinking a bit into the mud. The small tree was my experiment into using lichen and foliage to add a bit of height and colour.

Self Assessment – What worked and what didn’t?

I really like the way the mud and its various effects have turned out. The mud on the shoes and the sunken in mortar shells feel right. Also the tree experiment was a resounding success and gives colour, contrast and a bit of height to the piece.

What didn’t work was the artillery shell. I need impact damage to make it seem like it slammed into the sandbags and that their life was saved only by a faulty fuse. Speaking of sandbags, I don’t think that these worked either. I used extremely fine bug netting filled with clay in an attempt to give it a real hessian feel. However, I tend to agree with an observer who noted that they appear to be peanut shells 🙂

The Pitfalls

The attack of the carpet hairs, rawr! The area where I was painting seemed to attract the ultra fine hairs in their droves. They would wait til I had finished painting and then settle just as I left. At times, my fine tweezers couldn’t extract them from the paint. The solution is to recognise this occurring and move your painting area asap. Also quadruple check your minis before varnish so that you don’t seal in these evil fibres permanently. This brings me nicely to the next point of varnish. I highly recommend researching your varnishes online before selecting one, and then trial it on a test patch or piece. I initially thought that all varnishes are a much of a muchness and then just went ahead and sprayed my piece. Of course it looked fine at first but to my chagrin I found out later that it silvered in places and was ‘lumpy’. I had shaken the spray can to death and applied in layers with the correct techniques and yet achieved less that satisfactory results.  Not to ward you off the product as it may be that it is not supposed to be used for this scale and I may have gotten a bad batch but it was the Army Painter Anti-Shine Matt varnish spray can.

Conclusion

OK I know that I have probably been a bit too verbose over a single piece however I want to give my thoughts and analysis. If not to assist a fellow modeller then it will have to suffice in assisting me to reflect and develop my style and techniques. Overall I really like these sculpts and poses and I hope I have done them a little justice.

I have more completed pieces, however I have to present them piecemeal because of my slow painting speed. As always please let me know what you think, good or bad.

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