Victrix 28mm French Infantry - 27e de Ligne
Here's a few shots of a battalion of Victrix French Infantry (1807-1812) which I recently sold on my eBay store, Little Soldiers Online...
...and here's how I made them!
I must admit - these guys are fiddly to build, but a delight to paint! Anyone from the 'Games Workshop' generation will find these pretty easy, (keep in mind, however, that the plastic is a little more brittle than that used by GW), but I found them only a little tricky, in spite of being firmly 'Airfix Generation' (and damn proud of it, too!)
Probably the best advice I can offer if you are unfamiliar with 28mm plastics, is this - build and paint each figure in three sub-assemblies;
The point here is to achieve easy painting access to the chest region, without the musket-carrying arms getting in the way. Trust me, it makes life easier, especially with those pesky buttons and crossbelts, and helps give each figure that 'something extra' in terms of final finish.
Also, the relative lack of handling means less chance of your soldiery marching off with bent bayonets!
I start with an airbrushed undercoat that is a thinned down 50/50 mix of Citadel Bleached Bone with Deneb Stone. This is a brilliant combination to use as a base for white cloth, and as there's rather a lot of it on your average French Line Infantryman, you are going to need a good technique for painting white.
Left to right: Unpainted, 50/50 Citadel Bleached Bone with Deneb Stone, layered up to white
My technique for working up to white involves nothing more than layering, starting with a thin, brushed-on re-application of the Bleached Bone/Deneb Stone mix, avoiding only the sharpest creases and folds. More Bleached Bone goes into the mix with each layer, keeping it thin but controllable. Ever have someone tell you your paint should be the consistancy of milk? They were right. The hassle is in the control of this very liquid mix. To maintain control, I add a very small amount of window cleaner (I kid you not,) which does a great (and cheap!) job of improving the flow of the paint. It seems to make cleaning the brushes easier, too!
Something else I do is only use brushes with at least 10mm bristles. Those teeny, tiny 5/0 brushes are fine for dotting eyes, but you're fooling yourself if you think they can hold paint. A nice Long Liner, say a 10/0 with 15mm bristles, is what I use. It takes a little getting used to, but the fine, slender linework and sharp highlights it can achieve will leave you wondering why you didn't use one before.
I slowly alter the mix with each highlight, adding a couple of brushfuls of Vallejo Dead White, until the highest creases and the tops of the knees receive a final highlight of pure Dead White. (Top Tip: Throw away your Citadel Skull White now, and rush out and buy this Vallejo colour. Trust me.)
Simple 40x40mm squares of 2mm plastic card provide the basics for these bases. They are treated to some roughing up by the sandpaper on the 'up' face, to provide some tooth, and the figures are glued on. A plastic putty disguises the edges of each figure's base, then Woodlands Scenics Medium Iron Ore (a nice, red-brown colour) is applied with the usual 50/50 water/PVA glue mix. Once that's completely dry, I re-coat with the water/PVA glue, let that dry, and hit the whole thing with Citadel Khemri Brown. Tausept Ochre is 'wetbrushed' over this, followed by a drybrushing of Iyanden Darksun. A tickling of light grey here and there provides some diversity, followed by a selective wash of Reaper Woodshade. To blend the wash into the base, I splash some water (with window cleaner, to break the surface tension,) over the base - when the wash is applied, it flows more naturally into the nooks and crannies, and fades away from the point of application.
Lastly, the bases are all finished off with Silflor grass tufts. Whoever invented this stuff deserves to have his or her praises sung to the heavens. If you have not discovered this incredible product yet, go find it! You will reduce your basing time by at least a third, if not half, and your bases will be the glaring green envy of your gaming club. This is one of the few hobby products I have ever found that is actually as easy to use as it claims: The tufts come dotted over a strip of clear, flexible plastic. Simply grip the tuft of your choice with tweezers, pull it off, dip in glue, and press onto the base. Done.
Repeat, until all bases are finished, then ring wargaming friends and whine down the 'phone, "Why haven't you finished your bases yet?"
And that's that! The only other thing to consider is the Aigle - the Eagle. On campaign, it was common for this symbol of the Regiment to be carried without a Colour or flag. However, I couldn't resist the rather nice printed flags in the Victrix box, and chose that of the 27th Line Regiment.
I soaked the flag for an hour or so in hot, soapy water to loosen the fibres of the paper, and make the flag 'floppy'. Next, a thin piece of brass wire, which would serve as the standard pole, was inserted beneath the flag, and used to lift it out. The flag was folded around the wire, and thinned PVA glue was applied, to adhere the two halves of the flag together. Left to go semi-hard for an hour, the flag was bent and folded by pressing it around another piece of wire as a guide. (This allows the shape of the fold to 'ripple' down the whole of the flag, and stops it looking like a bent bit of paper!) Once completely dry, the edges were trimmed, touched up with Citadel Blood Red and Enchanted Blue, and the whole flag was given a layer of Vallejo Gloss Varnish to protect it. Over that, as a last measure, a thin wash of Reaper Fleshshade added some detail to the folds.
And now that's that! Or is it? Nope, its straight on to the next regiment!
See you next time.