The End of the Beginning

As has been mentioned previously my work was rudely interrupted. However, with renewed vigor, I got stuck back into the painting. A fresh start called for some fresh material and so I purchased a blister of Midwar Panzergrenadiers. Taking them home I got stuck into the long process of cleaning and preparatory work. This involved many hours of scalpel work; cleaning flash and re-carving miscast detail.

During the cleaning process I discovered that one specific posed figure always had the left side of his face missing/collapsed. It was very noticeable and I suspect that many others who have cracked open this blister have had an encountered with this unsavoury gentleman. So I took the plunge, gathered the sculpting tools and greenstuff and got cracking. Having not used greenstuff for anything other than filling gaps I was somewhat nervous before my attempt at 15mm face reconstruction. I have some pointers that may assist those wanting/needing to do the same:

  • Mix the greenstuff thoroughly, when you think it’s mixed properly go another round of mixing. Only mix a tiny amount as it dries surprisingly quick.
  • Constantly wet your sculpting tools while you work, freshly mixed greenstuff is very sticky and this will help you to shape it better.
  • Work under a strong light, this has two benefits: you will get an excellent view of your work in progress, and secondly the greenstuff will set quicker creating a firmer base from which to carve fine details.
  • Use small amounts of greenstuff and build up the detail rather than glob on a lot at once. It’s much harder to remove excess material after you have carved detail without disturbing your current progress.
  • If you have left over greenstuff roll it into  pipes of variously thicknesses. When hardened this shape is versatile and can be used to model lots of miscellaneous items: empty tank shell casings, crowbars, support struts, etc.

This gave me a whole new appreciation of all of the fine artists who sculpt the miniatures that I work with. I found it incredibly difficult and more than once my patience was tested. In the end I was happy with the final result, now I could begin painting (keen-eyed observers will be able to pick him out in the various completed bases of the platoon).

And so I start the presentation of my first Panzer Grenadier Platoon. Rather than dump a whole wad of images in one giant hit, I will endeavour to present a base every one or two weeks.

I have previously posted the efforts that I had put into some test terrain bases to be used as a guide for future work. As you can see I have used one of them as a literal guide. I really liked the effect that I achieved with the muddied tank tracks. Also I am happy about the base complexity, nice transitional colour tones and variation, lots of detail. I used this terrain to decide on the general theme for the platoon’s basing. My basing concept is that the armour has already rolled through the Russian lines and that this platoon is working on the clean up operations to secure the new frontlines.

As for the Grenadiers themselves I am really pleased with how they turned out. A fair bit of research has gone into identifying the equipment and the colours that they would have been. Additional research lead me to attempting uniform markings, ranks and Waffenfarbe, with some nice results.

I have stated previously that I won’t be so cynical with the pieces so I am going to state the things that I feel that I can improve on with the platoon here, future posts of the bases will refer to these points which I won’t reiterate. Some of the things that I will attempt to improve on are

  • Painting the Machine Guns better
  • The cap on the canteen is an incorrect colour for the time period
  • More complexity and better transitions in the flesh tones
  • Finer eyes
  • A different tone of green for the mines, gas canister and grenades. They appear too bright and artificial.
  • More detail all round

I completed the whole platoon using a production line system. I have the entire platoon lined up and work down the entire line of figures in many phases. Previously I would work from start to finish on a cluster of three to five figures. The production line has improved the speed at which I work and as I work down the line I get better at doing completing that phase’s operation. On some of the phases I improved so much that once I had finished the phase I had to go back and “improve” the first fifteen or so figures to match how the final figures turned out. For example this happened on the Zeltbahn phase, I had to go back to the start of the line to redo all of the camouflage.

In conclusion I very happy to have completed what is, for me, a major unit of work. I am also pleased with the results and I feel that this entire platoon is a marked improvement on my style and pushed the boundaries of the finish that I could achieve. Of course there is plenty of room for improvement but this is a big step forward along the way. As always I hope that you enjoyed viewing and feel free to leave a comment. One last thing, I am experimenting with using different coloured backgrounds for the images, please let me know what you think of it.

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