No time for Sauerkraut men!

The second of my grenadier squads was finished a while after the first. I needed an inspiration for the base theme. I wanted to create a linkage to the first base, develop a dynamic scene, and have lots of ‘points of interest’. The idea came to me to have the entire platoon’s bases occupy a landscape spanning from the edge of a wood through to a rural farm area. At one stage I was also considering incorporating a river/water feature within this landscape however I decided that too many elements would dilute the theme.

My Ideas for effects:-

After coming up with the rural farm area transition idea I determined what were details that would best express the theme. I liked the idea of have a fenced off area that would contain a ploughed field growing crops. After painting the figures I realised that a lot of their poses were action oriented. From this, I decided that this squad would have the appearance of storming out of the ploughed section to either assault their foes, or be promptly seeking cover.

The ploughed ‘rows’ were sculpted from the basing clay (Das), with the cabbages being sculpted out of green stuff. Initially I thought to make the fence all out of wood (picketed), however I felt that this would essentially ‘shut down’ the lighting and viewing angles to a great portion of the piece. The fence posts are from a pack of craft wood pieces that have been drilled with a small drill bit and pin vice. The 36 gauge brass wire is feed through all of the post holes and then glued and clipped at either end. To complete the tie in with the first squad I placed a few toadstools

What worked:-

I like how the crop field turned out, it portrays the farm area concept well. It does take up a decent portion of the base however I like it way it sets the character of the scene. The cabbages came out well; it was my second foray into sculpting additional details out of green stuff. On a side note, I will say that sculpting is an art that requires lots of practice to master, even with the minor pieces. I will keep finding details to sculpt to help develop additional skills in this area.

The fence posts and related details turned out how I wanted them to. The wood was a colour I mixed up on the palette, with the shading being black wash and a very diluted dark brown mix. The material itself had all the rough wood texture that I needed to get the effect I wanted.

What didn’t:-

The fencing wire is completely out of scale. I have thought about alternatives and my thoughts have turned to the possibility of using fine fishing wire. On the subject of fencing wire I don’t feel that the rust effects came out as good as they could have. At the time I mixed up a red wash and applied that randomly. Looking at it now, it appears too ‘pink’. I have since purchased various pigments that I will use for rust effects in the future.

The clump grass on the left hand fence post was completely unmanageable and would not set in the way I wanted it to. What I really wanted was to have the fence post surrounded by long grass. I have since invested in a full set of various tweezers to give me greater control when applying the grass effects.

Conclusion:-

This piece was quite interesting to conceive and execute. It was made after a bit of a break from modelling and painting which meant that some of my skills were a bit rusty. The dabbling into the sculpting has tweaked my interest in that aspect of the modelling hobby. I will be looking to expand upon this as I see this as being an excellent skill to have to create all of the extra flavour to colour a scene.

This discussion has all been in the past tense as I am still running through my earlier batches of work. Looking at the soldiers, having the benefit of hindsight, I can see all of the inaccuracies in colour choices, the misidentification of equipment, as well as the poor techniques utilised in the painting process. However this is a learning process and I don’t want to go back and continually correct these pieces. As it is I have probably painted and repainted those soldiers at least three times. As I kept getting better I repeatedly went back and applied what I had developed to the previous figures. In the end I decided that I can’t get better without seeing where I have come from.

I hope that you enjoy this squad, if you would please take the time to provide some feedback that would be appreciated. I understand that this blog system requires you to enter in an email address in order to comment. Don’t worry I do not store these addresses and use them for nefarious deeds, in fact I am pretty sure that I don’t even see them. If you are concerned about it I am pretty sure that you can use an ‘anonymous’ email address which should suffice.

I have some completed AFVs to show as well as some tutorials, tricks and tips to share. I will also have some posts discussing research material, delving into other people’s fantastic work, reviews of reference books and other related material. I wish to diversify this blog so look forward to a range of posts in the future.

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4 Responses to No time for Sauerkraut men!

  1. Weebl says:

    I love the arrangement of your guys in this piece, it really gives the feel that they’re moving out as a team keeping their eyes peeled and covering all sides. The colour change to represent the upturned dirt in the cabbage bed is awesome.

    Also you mentioned static grass on your test terrain piece? I noticed your grass has improved since your first few bases. Excuse the n00b question but how did you get your grass flock standing erect like that in the first place? Is there some special tool you use and how long does it take? Surely you don’t use tweezers to do it all? Which grass flock did you buy or do you make your own? And what glue to hold it in place?

  2. Gonzo says:

    I like the details on the teams bases, your comment about the fence wire are sound though I’d be hard pressed to notice the scale difference. I particularly like the toadstools and cabbage, adds so much to the teams and makes my meagre attempts at basing seem basic in the extreme! I’ll be following your progress!

  3. minutiaeofwar says:

    @Weebl This was my first real decent attempt to make the grass stand more upright. As I had mentioned on previous posts that I really don’t like the grass lying flat. On this occasion I experimented with laying out the glue, applying the flock, tipping the whole piece upside down and tapping the bottom. This did an alright job, I then went back to the grass with a wet brush and caressed and coaxed it further. Very time consuming. I have since found a near perfect solution that I will discuss in the future 😉 The flock is a games workshop product ‘scorched grass’. It’s not bad to work with and the variation is nice. The glue is PVA or white glue – hit up your local craft shop.

  4. minutiaeofwar says:

    @Gonzo I have had a peek at your blog and you have an impressive force coming along there! That Soviet infantry is going to be a blast 😉

    Thank you both for your kind comments.

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