Monday 1 May 2023

GW Contrast Paints on 15mm Horses

 My first purchase of the GW Contrast paints was with painting horses in mind. There are times when I quite like painting them but when you have a hundred or more to do for an army, short cuts are helpful.

My first go with them left me unimpressed. The colours I used didn't produce much noticeable difference in shades, so I ended up doing as much highlighting as before. Their flow did, however make it quicker to apply the base coat and there were less times where a deeper groove in the detail was missed.

I did use them for other figures, and once I had more experience I decided to try again with the horses.

The main difference with my earlier attempt was that I now tried to dilute some of the darker colours. This made a great deal of difference and took better advantage of the range of shades which could be produced.

I took some reference pictures of the various colours I used, largely so that I could remember. There are some colours (mostly more browns) which I have since bought and will also use.

The horses are all War and Empire, mostly from the Skythian range. Undercoat is Halfords white - I have tried GW primer as well but the Halfords is easier for me to get.

Wyldwood  Gore Grunta Fur  Basilicanum Grey  Black Templar
Skeleton Horde  Aggaros Dunes  Dark Oath Flesh  Gulliman Flesh
Cygor Brown - very dilute to undiluted

Other than diluting, these are the colours without any further highlights or washes. Some are better for horses than others but a bit of additional highlighting or washing has given a good range of horse tones with less work than I would normally need. 

Note, I have tried (not entirely successfully) to do a bit of white colour balancing, so tones will vary.

Darker colours can be achieved by applying more paint, without giving a noticeably thick coat. Black Templar, for instance, would need to be much darker for a black horse, but it is a very useful colour even if the rest of the horse is done with other methods. It gives a nice black for manes and points - the strength of the black can be adjusted easily to give a fade. The horse in the above picture ended up as a darker blue roan with some spotting.

Wednesday 9 August 2017

Hussite War Wagons

War wagons are one of those things I've often wanted but had shied away from for many years. I think I bought the first of these at a show where there wasn't much else I wanted, so I got them just because they were there.

It is possible that the use of this kind of converted wagon first started in Poland and then spread to Bohemia where they were used to great effect in the Hussite Wars. They were then adopted by Hungary and in Germany, with similar types being used in Russia.

Below are some of the wagons I have. The crew is a real mix. There are figures from Donnington, Khurasan, Minifigs, Irregular, QR, Vexillia and Mirliton. The Donnington peasants are particularly useful, with very Bohemian style clothing (15th century - not 1950s Greenwich Village).

Some of the wagons have a crew which looks more professional which I use for the later 15th century such as the Hungarians.

These are the two styles of wagon from Irregular Miniatures. The wagon itself is the same in each case - the separately cast side planking is the difference. I think the style of planking is randomly provided.

They also do a wagon of the same style which comes with a small artillery piece.

I have more Irregular wagons than any other, with enough to have some shooting to the left and some to the right.

Note the stone thrower - the wagons often had containers filled with stones for bombarding the enemy. Some other wagons have the stone throwing Swiss figures from Khurasan in them.

Alternative Armies

This wagon is from Alternative Armies (until recently sold as and originally by Tabletop Games).

The wagons require more construction than the Irregular pieces. The sides of the actual wagon are separate but come with different options including the open ramp for one side. They come with horses but I decided to do them in a static pose.
It took a while to work out how to get everything together but once it was cleaned up of flash etc. they went together quite smoothly.

Alternative Armies (rear view)

This one has an artillery piece from Minifigs deployed alongside. The gunner is from QR, the shield bearer from Irregular.

 It also comes with a small section to go under the wagon - I haven't put these in as they are difficult to see but perhaps I will get round to it one day.


The Minifigs wagon has a one piece body with separate side hoarding. It is also provided with the under cart protection. It comes with two pairs of horse but I used Irregular horses for all the wagons.
The body of the examples I had from Minifigs needed a bit of tidying up including some filling but nothing too onerous

The comparison picture shows that the three companies go together pretty well. Each of them has its pluses and minuses. The Alternative Armies one, while tricky to put together, is probably the most accurate with its ramp and the suspension poles. It also doesn't have a driver's seat - the driver would probably have ridden one of the horses. However, the modern recreation at the Hussite Museum in Tabor does have a box for the driver to sit on.

I also have some by QR miniatures. These are much smaller though still pretty nice. Each pack has two wagons - one is dug in with its wheels partially buried.

Museum have fairly recently produced a range of war wagons. These look nice, and follow several modern reconstruction. However, I'm not convinced that the modern artists have interpreted the sources well - hinged side panels have become propped up roofs.

There are some very pretty war wagons on various websites, whereas I have gone for the plain wood look. This is based on contemporary pictures such as the Schlact im Walde* and the picture at the head of this blog.

What I will need to do is to add flags to some of the wagons. There are specific designs for different parts of the Hussite army. Since I have rather a lot of wagons, I may add some Hungarian heraldry to a few, as in Győző Somogyi's book on the army of Matthias Corvinus.

There are some clips online from a trilogy of Czech films made in the 1950s covering the Hussite Wars, There is certainly a political dimension to them, but the efforts to get a historical look are laudable. This is a clip of the Battle of Sudomer which has some good shots of war wagons. Note also the teams of unarmed pavise bearer and crossbowman. The music chosen by this editor may not be to everyone's taste :)

Wagner, Drobna and Durdik's book on Medieval Costume, Armour and Weapons has a particular emphasis on the Bohemians and shows several good pictures of wagons. Worth looking at, despite its age.

Much newer are the pair of books on die Heere den Hussiten. The plates aren't as interesting as the same company's book on the Teutonic Knights, so if you are not a German reader then I wouldn't recommend them.

*A wonderful source for the late 15th/early 16th century in Germany. One thing it shows is the wagons moving around the field, but how typical this was and how much is artistic licence is of course debatable. This and two subsequent posts give more details of the battle. A short account by von Berlichingen is here - this confirms that the wagons were attacked while still trying to form a wagenburg.

Monday 31 July 2017

Stradiots, Hussars and Genitors

There was a parallel development of light cavalry at opposite ends of Europe which reached its height as the 16th century began.
The roots were, of course, far older. In the East, there was the steppe tradition which had come into Hungary and its neighbours many times. As Hungarian society changed, the number of locals who could provide skilled light cavalry began to decline. However certain regions and sections of society maintained their traditions for longer, in part due to the influence of the Tartars to the east and increasingly the Ottomans to the south.

These are QR Miniatures from their Polish late 16th century range. They look very similar to the illustrations of Hungarian horse archers from the late 15th/ early 16th century in the Army of King Matthias  so I have used them for these. A couple in the pack are armed with firearms so I have not used those. Others have cartridge boxes on their backs which I could have tried carving away but they are easily overlooked. 

These are QR Miniatures Serbians. Serbian cavalry entered Hungarian and then Polish service as their homeland was occupied by the Ottomans. Their style influenced the local cavalry, with the use of a lance being emphasised instead of a bow or crossbow. One of the theories for the origin of the word 'Hussar' is that it comes from Serbian. Over time, 'Serbian' may even have been a description of the style of cavalry rather than being a reliable indicator of the origin of all the men.
The figures seem to have been based very much on the Polish hussars in the Battle of Orsha painting*. Link has a number of close ups - I've shown a detailed view of the hussars at the head of this page. Also in the painting are similarly dressed figures who have bows as well as lances. They are likely Lithianians, though the green flag may originally have been blue.

The flag I have given them is Hungarian from here - it was a style carried at Mohacs in 1526.
These are some of my favourite figures.

These are some figures from the 'By Fire and Sword' range. Again, they are intended for a later period than I am modelling, so some have holsters on their horses. A bit of chopping and painting soon hides them though. These are from the 'Transylvanian' range. Most are actually sold as Szekelers so that is what I am using them as. They are quite similar to the Hungarians shown in the Babenberg family tree. I wonder if the blue trousers are significant - they seem to be increasingly a feature of Hungarian military wear until they became a standard part of the uniform in the 18th century.

These figures would probably work as Moldavians and Wallachians as well, and perhaps Lithuanians if they are not as dolled up as the ones in the Orsha painting.

A comparison shot of the QR Serbians with BFaS Szekelers. Since they are likely to be unfamiliar to many, I've put a comparative Essex element next to them.

Apart from the comparative Essex figures, these are Stradiots - those in the centre element are from Venexia, those on the right are Mirliton. All the Stradiots are mounted on Vexillia horses - some have had the Eastern style rump covers added.

Stradiots were recruited by the Venetians in their territories across the Adriatic. They were initially Albanians though their name is probably Greek. This has a selection of pictures of Stadiots and Hussars - there is often argument about which are represented in certain pictures.

For a while, the Venetians paid them according to the number of heads taken (see Commynes), so some of the horses have Xyston severed heads hanging from the saddle.

More stradiots and/or hussars can be found in Maximilian's Weiss Kunig including plates 75, 77, 82 and 83.

The role of stradiots and Albanians in war can be seen in various contemporary histories such as Chalkokondylas, Bembo and Commynes

Most of Western Europe used little or no light cavalry for most of the Medieval period. The main exception was in Iberia. The conditions, the Morish influence and the availability of suitable horses meant that the use of light cavalry continued through the reconquest and beyond.

These are mostly Donnington New Era figures from the new Islamic range and I really like them. There has been a lot of attention to detail, using mostly Ian Heath's pictures I think. These in turn are based largely on the 'Conquest of Majorca' and the 'Cantigas de Santa Maria' . There are many other examples here.

Berber horsemen continued to look very similar over the next centuries as can be seen in the Conquest of Oran.

The same picture shows how the Christian Spanish had changed by this time.

This shows the Essex Andalusian horse next to jinetes of the 14th century and some from the late 15th/early 16th. Even by the 14th century the equipment had become heavier. The middle figures are by Alain Touller, those on the left by Venexia (though on Vexillia horses). Both ranges are unfortunately OOP. [Update: Venexia are available from Lancashire Games. Vexillia are now OOP though].

*Watchers of BBC's Being Human may remember that Orsha was where Hal made his, umm, lifestyle choice.

Sunday 23 July 2017

Bohemians, Hungarians and Poles

I have been steadily replacing the pictures which were stored on Photobucket. I thought I ought to add a few new things.

Some time a year or so ago, I thought I would add a few things to my 13th century Hungarians so that I could use them as 15th century Hungarians.

The knights were obviously ought of date, so I painted some new ones. I needed some Serbians, so that was new lead. 
In fact, by the time I was finished, there was nothing from the 13th century army which was going to be used.

This post covers the infantry I used.

The best description of the 15th century Hungarian infantry is from Matthias Corvinus. Matt Haywood's useful site on Eastern European armies of this period has the information so I won't repeat it.

This sounds to me very like the Bohemians portrayed in action against Maximilian just after the end of Corvinus's reign. This has been debated on the DBMM and DBM yahoo groups in some depth so I won't go into the pros and cons.

Bohemians found their way into a number of armies after the end of the main Hussite Wars. There were various opportunities for these experienced soldiers in Germany, Hungary, Poland and with the Teutonic Knights as well as in their native land which was wrangled over by the neighbouring states and local rulers.

Even though I think these men probably fought in a similar fashion for these various employers, the DBMM lists portray them in different ways. 

The Hungarian lists separates out the various parts described by Corvinus. The 'shield bearers' are spear elements. For these, I used Vexillia's own Polish pavise bearers. There are only two poses but it is enough IMHO. They are very easy to paint, with quite a lot of armour. 
The pavises are from Minifigs. Not only do you get quite a lot for your money but they have no stand to get in the way. The shield designs are a mix of Bohemian and Hungarian origin, including some from Maximilian's victory parade. Some have St George, St Michael or David fighting Goliath, though on the battlefield the designs are very hard to see.

Various pictures of Maximilian's battle at Schoenberg 
exist ncluding this: 

As well as the various engravings of Schoenberg (aka Wenzenbach or the Bohmenschlacht), Maximilian's tomb has an interesting representation. Maximilian and his men are shown in fashionable armour of some timeafter the battle but the Bohemian opponents are wearing more typical armour of the 1480s. The scene is dramatised but gives some idea of the variety of arms being used.
See here for another couple of portrayals of the battle as well as a discussion of the Hussite soldier (in German).

In the sidebar is a link to Uwe Tresp's work on the Bohemian soldier which covers their tactics, weaponry etc. through the 15th century.

The 'MM list also has some Blade elements. I'm currently using some of the Polish figures from QR miniatures which are part of their 13 years war range. The figures are pretty good though rather chunky compared to the Vexillia figures. Some of the other figures have what looks like a goedendag but I suspect it is an ahlspiess as shown on Maximilian's tomb. The QR figures may get replaced - I have a variety of Minifigs figures which match the size of the Vexillia figures better, and despite being old they have some character.

 The Polish, Hussite and German lists all have double based BwX with Bw behind. They appeared in the German and Hussite lists for the first time with the current edition and it caused a problem - they had inferior bow as a rear rank which isn't according to the rules. As it isn't clear what would happen in various circumstances, the tournament organisers have generally decided that they will cost and act as BwX/BwO. (Update: the DBMM lists printed by Lulu have altered the classification in this way).
For those unfamiliar with DBx terminology, BwX usually represents a thin crust of shield bearers with some kind of melee weapon protecting larger numbers of shooters.

As I had already painted the late 15th style pavises for the Hungarians, I decided to go with more straightforward heraldry for these. I could have made some sabot bases to turn the spear into the front rank of the BwX but decided to go the whole hog.

The shield devices are city militia devices according to the very nice sheets of Polish and Teutonic heraldry like here.
They have been made for the Tannenerg/Grunwald period whereas these figures are mid to late 15th century. Some are for towns which rebelled against the Teutonic Knights, allying themselves with the Polish king. In contrast to the rather busy designs on the later pavises, I used red and white designs almost exclusively.

The painting of the Battle of Orsha shows Poles using a pavise and shooter combination in 1514. There are some debatable points about the accuracy of the painting but it is good to look at anyway.

 I know comparison photos are often useful.
These are handgunners - from the left:
QR - QR, Mirliton - Donnington NE, Donnington NE - Mirliton.

The final Mirliton figure is noticeably smaller than the other figures which it came with. I think it was made for the Condotta range which has slightly smaller figures than the Swiss-Burgundian range.
 Crossbow men -
from the left:
Vexillia-Mirliton, QR - QR

Saturday 1 July 2017

Photobucket wipe out

Up until now, I've used Photobucket to host my pictures. With their change to T&Cs making the majority of the pictures here no longer visible, I shall need to update the links to a new host.

I'll try an make this the incentive to add some new content as well. I've had stern words from a couple of people I know telling me to get a grip as it has been a year since I've added anything, so I shall endeavour to do as I've been told :)

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Maximilian, the Landsknechte and the Swiss

As I said in a previous post, I have wanted to do some Italian Wars figures for a long time. 

One of the spurs was that Venexia were going out of production and the UK supplier was selling off the stock. Since these are some of my favourite looking figures, I decided to buy a good number of the various types of cavalry.

Hopefully, the range will see the light of day again but various issues have delayed their re-release by the new owners of the moulds.

The above photo is mostly of Venexia figures. Knights in sallets are from Mirliton. I gave some of these a green stuff skirt which was fashionable from around the start of the Italian Wars. 

The trumpeter is from Mirliton - he has a new hat and feathers added to give more of the 'Triumphzug' look. 
The 'candy cane' lance look is very popular with wargamers but may have been rather more restricted in reality. They do appear like this when used for banners such as in various of Diebold Schilling the Youngers illustrations.

My main sources for the troops of Maximilian are given in the last post. 

Landsknechte from Old Glory 15s. One feature that marks them as Hapsburg is that they have St Andrew's cross slashing on many of the figures.

Most of the standard bearers have the flags in a single hand as in most period pictures. Command packs are sold separately and are rather large. You may be able to negotiate buying smaller numbers with OG though if you are having a decent sized block then plenty of command adds to the look.
I mixed swordsmen and halberdiers into the front ranks for the visual appeal. They are also on some of the command stands so that the full blocks have mostly pikes to front and sides with halberds and swords around the banners and drums.

An attempt at peacock feathers.  

Talking of banners, the photography makes the shades of white stand out more than they do in real life. They also lose the texture. I've recently started using some water damaged tracing paper which has a nice crumpled texture. It also makes doing the opposite sides easier. They have sturdier than the strong tissue I used for my Byzantines. 

Old Glory crossbowmen. The red flag in the foreground was carried by the forlorn hope. The flag in the rear is carried by some of Maximilian's mercenaries in Schilling the Younger.

Luzern, Korporation Luzern, S 23 fol., p. 386 – Illustrated Chronicle by Diebold Schilling of Lucerne (Luzerner Schillling) (

Old Glory arquebusiers. The flag is another carried by some of Maximilian's men in Schilling and here

Luzern, Korporation Luzern, S 23 fol., p. 521 – Illustrated Chronicle by Diebold Schilling of Lucerne (Luzerner Schillling) (

Maximilian married Mary of Burgundy after the death of her father, Charles the Bold. Their daughter, Margaret, was regent of the Low Countries and was still using English archers in the early 16th century - 1500 were sent to help against Guelders for instance. (see Stow's Annals) where they joined an army of 10000. The DBMM list assumes that the Burgundian Ordonnance lance structure was still in place until the end of list in 1506, though with slightly fewer archers per knight. I think the 'MM list could be continued until the end of the covered period i.e. 1515 since Margaret continued as regent with a good deal of independence until then.

There are some archers in the 'Weiss kunig' though at least some are likely English.
The Camisado blog has a collection of Weiss Kunig plates showing archers. Some are carrying Burgundian saltires but may actually be English at Guinegatte in 1513.
In others, English seem to be shown in different costume, such as kettle hats. One plate shows the archers looking like Landsknechte.

I used Freikorp/QRF/TSS figures for these. I like them though they are slightly 'old school' compared to most of my figures. There is a mixture of Burgundian and early Tudor figures.

The yellow and red is said by Stow to be the livery of the Duke of Burgundy - perhaps Margaret's own. Poynings' men received new coats of this red and yellow along with Henry VIII's white and green. How this was arranged isn't clear, only that "these four colours were 'medled' together." They received these coats after campaigning in Guelders so did not wear them in action.

Old Glory artillery. The gun colours come from various sources including Maximilian's zeugbuch. 

When Margaret campaigned against Guelders, there were apparently 36 English serpentines as well as Poynings' archers. These are given individual names in Stow, such as the Antelope, the Cockatrice, the Mermaid, the Rose and the Normandy.

For much of the period, Maximilian and the Swiss were on opposing sides. Things particularly came to a head with the Swabian War which really ended any pretensions that the cantons were part of the Empire.

These are Khurasan figures. Some of the figures have Swiss crosses moulded onto their armour or as slashing.

Most of the standard bearers are converted pikemen. The way he holds his pike makes it easy to give him a one handed banner. Flags are hand painted.

The figures are rather smaller than the Old Glory landsknechte. This is exaggerated both by the slighter build and the very thin base of the Khurasan figures.

I only have enough Swiss to be able to provide an ally for the French. I have bought some of the Donnington Swiss for using in earlier periods. I shall paint these with far more use of cantonal colours as shown in some of the chronicles.

Friday 28 August 2015

Maximilian on the Road

A couple of years ago, I decided to branch out a little from the two areas which this blog has covered so far.

Decades back, I had some Italian Wars figures and I decided I'd have a go at the period again. I wanted to include landsknechte, but they had to be suitable for the end period of DBMM i.e. 1515. I looked at various options and the most sensible would have been to go for something from around 1500, before all the slashing took hold. I wasn't even sure if this style of clothing would be within the period.

I looked around at the sources and kept bumping into three particular period pieces made for the Emperor Maximilian. These were the paintings showing the 'Triumphzug'* (a triumphal procession), the 'Weisskunig' and 'Theuerdank'. All three were from the end of his reign with the majority of the illustrations completed by 1515. While some of the pictures are fanciful, landsknechte were shown in the slashed tunics pretty much as worn by the figures from Old Glory 15s. Some of the armoured figures have helmets which are probably a bit late but I liked them enough to include them. The trousers in the prints tend to be more fashionably ragged than the OG figures but at least the figures aren't in the much later pluderhosen.

 The figures duly sat in the lead mountain for a while but I decided to paint them to use at this year's Burton DBMM doubles competition. I'll try to take some shots of those in the next day or so.

When I used the army, I had some generic late medieval looking cars for the baggage but I didn't think they suited the army. What they needed was some of the baggage shown in the Triumphzug. When I decided to take the army to Britcon, I used the time I would normally need for last minute painting to have a go at some conversions.

 The first two wagons are more or less straight out of the bag Magister Militum examples. The only change is that I have moved the axles - medieval and early renaissance wagons seemed to put the rear axle nearer the back than seen on later types, even though much of the rest of the construction is the same.

The horses are from Irregular miniatures. I was going to use some Magister Militum figures on foot to lead the horses but the pictures show the drivers almost always riding. I cast around in the lead mountain and found some Welsh mounted longbowmen in a suitable pose. They were given a variety of greenstuff hats, puffed sleeves and capes plus a wire whip.

I thought some street furniture would look nice and used some items from this print of Nuremburg. The cross has the 'arma Christi' -  the spear and sponge from the crucifixion. It is made from strips of wood - a first attempt in plastic strip looked like it would snap as soon as was inconvenient. The stone shrine is made of greenstuff and square section polystyrene.

The last wagon uses some spare wheels which I think may be Magister Militum left over from my Flemish wagon laager.  It carries the barrel of a siege gun. The original painting shows another cart with what looks like the carriage, wheels etc. The barrel is made from greenstuff though I'd have done better to start with a plastic or wooden centre. The ropes are made from twisted wire.

So many renaissance pictures show a rather gruesome side of life that I thought I'd have a go at portraying. Breaking on the wheel was used as a punishment for various things; the offenders being tied to a wheel while they had their limbs
smashed with an iron bar then being hoisted up as a warning to others, dying a lingering death if they had not been able to bribe the torturer first for a quick end.

The wheel is a Langley offering, the victim and ravens are greenstuff. I couldn't make my mind up what to do about the wire for the flying bird - it stands out less against a wargames table. I should probably have attached the wire to the wheel instead.

Several  scenes of the Weisskunig show execution scenes. I already had a spare swordsman so I thought I'd have a go at making the victim using a wire armature. He came out a bit chubby but I was fairly pleased overall. The header picture shows the end result.

There was one thing on the Triumphzug that I really wanted to do and knew that I couldn't have got right so I needed to buy the basic figure for a conversion. One of the last scenes shows camp followers and one of them is leading a pack goat which seems to be carrying pots and pans.
I haven't yet seen anyone with one of these in their baggage so I thought it was a must. I had to wait until Britcon to get one from Donnington. He came with a goat herd who became the figure next to the goat on the painting. He has been converted to have a bit more of a stoop as well as gaining a large pack. There is some kind of creature on the pack - I'm still not sure if it is a cat, a dog or even a fox as different versions show it slightly differently. Mine does have the animal but it is so small that you wouldn't really know.

Also on the base is a pack donkey. This is an Essex mule but his pack has been made larger to fit the look of the painting. I've also extended the ears though the attempts to make the mane look like a donkey's didn't work.

I had a couple of spare pack horses and these were given the pay chests. They should be mules going by the painting but I decided to keep them as horses. The horses are by Donnington with the chests coming from one of the Donnington wagon packs and the blankets made from greenstuff. Their driver is also from Donnington with a suitable hat added.

The last couple of items are Baueda tents.
The first is painted as shown for Maximilian's meeting with Henry VIII in 1513 as in the Royal Collection.

Incidentally, according to Stow, Maximilian's tabard in the above link is black for the mourning of the Empress. Maximilian, writing in 1512, asks his daughter to ensure that mourning is worn by his family and various officials in the Netherlands. He does not seem to have cared greatly for Bianca but at least gave the appearance of mourning.

The second has the arms of Austria and Styria as shown in  Maximilian's Book of Armaments.

*The link to the Triumphzug shows the version in Spain. The German version can be found here but a search for Maximilian or similar needs to be entered. The sketches used for making the print blocks can also be seen here, with some features which didn't make it to the final version.