Sunday, 1 March 2015

Grande Armee: Painting the infantry of Archduke Charles Austrian Hauptarmee of 1809 in 6mm

Archduke Charles of Austria has gone down in history as one of the only men who ever defeated Napoleon on the field of battle whilst in sole command of his army (as opposed to coalition armies such as that at Leipzig in 1813) at Aspern-Essling in the Danube campaign of 1809.

Having a learnt contempt of Austrian battlefield abilities stemming from numerous Austrian defeats over the last decade Napoleon was also contemptuous of the abilities of the Austrian Emperors brother Charles.

Charles was a manic depressive, criticised roundly by his contemporary Von Clausewitz for being cautious BUT was an organisational genius who rebuilt the Austrian army and its military doctrines from the ground up after the humiliating defeats of 1805. A sharp eye for battlefield situations, intuitive in his dispositions and aggressive when he went over to the attack, Napoleon badly underestimated Charles ability to match him pound for pound on the field.
Charles gave a lot of ground to draw the French army into an advantageous position for the Austrians to attack it, including the surrender of Vienna.

Despite taking Vienna however Napoleon knew that the main Austrian army was still undamaged and in the field under Charles, and as the Austrian forces in both Italy and Poland were doing quite well for themselves Napoleon resolved to chase down Charles and destroy him in a main force engagement.

Charles watched as Napoleon started to cross the Danube at the island of Lobau between the small villages of Aspern and Essling.

Then he pounced...

After a 2 day battle Napoleon had to admit defeat and withdrew.

The two armies sat quiescent for 6 weeks before the apocalyptic showdown of Wagram, where Napoleon narrowly defeated Charles and once again brought the Austrian Empire to its knees.

This is infantry regiment 17 'Prinz Reuss zu Plauen' in 6mm and how I painted them:

Before anything else is done a good undercoat of matt black needs to be applied to the miniatures. This undercoat also acts as the deep shadows for all parts of the miniature that don't receive any other paint.

The majority of infantry uniforms for the Austrian army in the Napoleonic wars was white and as such a basecoat of blue-grey is applied to provide the shadow areas of the bulk painted parts of the miniature.

Once all of the basecoated areas are finished the highlighted areas need to be painted. The white, being the predominant uniform colour of the era, is painted along all straps and bandoliers where possible and on the jackets waistcoats and trousers in blocks of colour to indicate shadows and contours.

At this scale miniature painting is all about accuracy and contrasts with the greater the accuracy and the higher the contrast the better painted the miniatures will appear to be.

With well detailed miniatures such as Adlers 6mm figures it is relatively easy to provide the illusion of accuracy. The packs and muskets are painted in single block colours of Flat Earth whilst the bed rolls had a dark grey basecoat with light grey highlights accentuated with thin white straps (look closely.... they are there!)

Each infantry regiment in a Napoleonic army, whatever the nation, would have collars, cuffs and turnbacks of different colours. These were known as a Regiments 'Facings'. IR17 'Prinz Reuss zu Plauen' had facings of light brown.

With the facings on a  regiment completed the majority of work that remains is the heads and a bit of time needs to be taken on the faces as these are, as with all miniatures, still the focal point of the human eye.

Mimicking real human skin colour isn't all that effective at this scale however and as such I go for a much redder basecoat using Vallejos Beige Red.

This is then highlighted in small blocks with Vallejos Pale Skin.

The finishing touches are applied with simple red paint on the lips!

The final painting touch is provided by using Games Workshops Burnished Gold paint to illustrate the bronze helmet plates that all German Helmets were fixed with and a narrow yellow band around the helmets comb.

... and thats it! Another regiment finished painting.

Next; the Battalions flag! Each one of these is approximately 6mm by 20mm in total and are sourced from Napflags ( which is an online free resource hosting almost every single flag from every nation of the Napoleonic wars.

These flags need to be fixed to the miniatures in such a way that they provide extra support for the banner poles, which at this scale can be somewhat fragile to knocks, are tough enough that they will last 'the duration' and fixed in such a way so that they display a frozen representation of a flapping flag.

Heres how I do it:

First of al paint the flag with PVA glue using a nice fat brush!

Choose a large (really large!) needle, and pick it off of the mat by sliding the needle under the central underside of the flag. Use a pair of tweezers with a tweezer arm on each side of the needle on the top side of the flag and push down...

... until both sides meet and match up perfectly. Then, with the flag still attached to the needle, use the  tweezers to twist and turn the flag into an approximation of flapping...

... then pull the flag off of the needle taking care to leave the tunnel created by the withdraw from the needle in place, and through which you then slide the banner pole. Once on the banner pole you pinch together the excess flag and with a touch of super glue, affix it to the head, or hands of the figure.

Thats it! Done! and looking great!

In the final analysis this is what a base of 6mm figures should look like, complete with casualties, officers and a whole lots of screaming psychos!

Now, about those bases (more on that later!)

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