Thursday, 25 September 2014

Waterloo Project: 188 in one go!

It was the other side of Summer when I first showed the blog followers my eclectic mob of 28mm figures making up the Luneburg Battalion.  I promised myself then that I would complete the paint job by the end of August, but real life has intervened too often for me to achieve that and I did it by 19th September instead.
Foreground figures by Victrix, painting, photo and digital effects by CG
Rather than detail my methods of painting etc, which is pretty standard, I thought readers might prefer a bit of concentration on my philosophy on painting a truly massive battalion.  My mantra was always "do it in one go", and thus I felt like the fraudulent hero of The Brothers Grimm tale of The_Valiant_Little_Tailor, who inscribed "Seven in one Blow" on his belt after killing 7 flies!  What I meant by "all in one go" was not getting distracted by trying to finish a small part of the whole "just to see what they would look like".   Some painters of big battalions advocate splitting the large unit into maybe dozens or scores of figures to paint with one colour at a time and then sequence them so one finishes a batch while the later ones are at different stages. But I knew if I did that I might be absolutely ages before finishing and my 3 month target would be totally out of reach.
This sequence shows the battalion in column of companies. The
typical formation for Allied battalions waiting behind the Mont St Jean crest

In this view from above you can see that I have spaced them by eye and
not by measuring the length of companies to leave space for the next
In my rules any wargamer who makes that same mistake will get in a mess!
As the Rifle company (A) breaks out to skirmish to the front ,the rest of
the companies right wheel on their centres to form line.
Whoops! C and D companies are going to collide with the one in front.
The only solution is for B and D Companies to sidestep to fit everyone in.
My approach was not just the same colour across all 188 but break that down into the same component with the same sized brush. So, for example,  188 black shakos and hats with a wide brush, 188 back packs (less a few not wearing them) with  the same brush, all the black cartridge boxes with a slightly smaller brush, then 376 cuffs and later 376 coat turnbacks. All the black straps supporting the back packs and rolled greatcoats with a thin brush, followed by the bayonet scabbards with the same one.....and so on
These three photos show the final line formation with one company as skirmishers

In this formation the line is about 38 inches long

After the first blog about the Luneburg battalion I was going with Kevin to Waterloo and knew I'd come back fired with enthusiasm, so fully expected to get stuck in during June. But when I came back I got drawn into banter on the AMG Forum about Windmill models and got commissioned to build some. So with the fine weather making good drying conditions I deferred my Luneburg duty. But I made real progress during July and August and tried to set myself at least an hour a day, often that first hour after breakfast when I was fresh and not  tempted to divert to other things. Some days I had the time to do a couple of hours at a stretch.
Just for fun here is the whole battalion in two deep line
(foreground figures by Essex Miniatures)

It is about 54 inches long!
My one concession to the batch concept was to tackle them by company. I explained the battalion make up in the original blog, and the companies were different sizes and with slightly different character  due to the pose and manufacturer, so I got to know them intimately. But I never deviated from the "one go" philosophy. For example A Company got all its musket stocks painted, then B Company, then C and finally D, so the whole 188 marched in step throughout the long drawn out process.
Here is the battalion in line 4 figures deep. The standard formation for British line units at Waterloo

When you go through this exercise you can realise why 4 ranks was favoured
by Wellington on the restricted battlefield frontage at Mont St Jean

This is about 27 inches long, which at our 1:3 game scale is approximately 80 metres.
The frontage is about 45 or so figures (approx 135 men) and by my reckoning
135 men shoulder to shoulder is 270 feet or about 80 metres.

But then I hit "the wall".

There must be something about the paint that keeps you going for I didn't seriously falter until I was applying the transfers. I have explained about making your own transfers in previous posts, and I suppose I'm mad but I have designed some very tiny components. In this case it was the Hanoverian white horse symbol for their back packs and shako plates.  The shako plates are only a couple of millimetres square and it was tedious in the extreme to cut them out with a sharp craft knife, put them in the water dish 10 at a time and then place each one carefully with a wet paint brush. I did A, B and C, to stick at it ....see that light at the end of the tunnel....keep going can make it!
I thought Waterloo fans might like to see the 188 in two rank square.

Posssibly a bit difficult to reconcile with the scale ground area that should be
taken up but it looks good and is practical for a four company battalion

But I didn't.......    
      I  had got a batch of insulating polystrene out of the skip (dumpster) at our renovated house, and the Duchess and I were at B&Q DIY store so I bought wooden battens for my 600 mm MDF terrain tiles....and the weather was glorious....and I was reading one of my Stalingrad books...and the Duchess said I MUST use the polystyrene before we move house. So, four 1:144 scale Stalingrad terrain tiles later and D company shako plates finally got applied ....phew!!  After that the slightly larger back pack badges were easier.
A three rank square is rather more satisfying to the eye but takes a bit more organising to get balanced

Finally it was just basing and final varnishing  and adapting the rather nice Victrix flags and my big battalion was actually finished - and "all in one go".


  1. I must say that I am in awe of your staying power - in a good year I paint 50 figures!

    They look absolutely fantastic - well done!

  2. Very impressive indeed. A visual delight!

  3. Magnificent eye candy, thanks...Bill

  4. Agreed! The battalion is magnificent. Especially in a four-rank line. I am smitten. Truly great stuff.

    Best Regards,


  5. Very pleasing to the eye and boggling to the brain.

    So that 2 deep line, an officer would take about 1 minute to quick step from 1 flank to the other?

    Fascinating stuff gaming at this scale.

  6. I agree with the all in one go approach, I fill up my painting space as much as possible and press on full speed with a current project.

    Having done unit at a time before, I found that I would run out of steam with a unit and it might sit on the shelf for months.

    While an all-in-one attack gets the process moving faster and whole armies turn out!

    Fabulous on your own transfers!

  7. Now that looks like a battalion, my own French line began because I wanted to do a skirmisher game, its now 255 men.....

    It looks impressive....


  8. Thank you all for your wonderful comments - much appreciated.
    Ross - pretty good estimation - that's about 160 metres or 180 yards. However, I think we generally under represent that a lot of fairly junior infantry officers, in the British army at least, rode horses into battle. More significant is the amount of space wargamers have to allow for a sort of real time/space formation change. At this scale it's no longer quite so "representative" as in a standard wargame.
    Martin - anywhere we can see photos of what your 255 strong battalion looks like?

  9. Absolutely brilliant Chris!!! I've been waiting to see the results of your painting on these for a while now and it is inspiring stuff. Can't wait to get them to the Waterloo battlefield where they belong. Keep on trucking!

  10. I stand in awe!
    I just love the battalion in column of companies. So rarely seen. Lovely cropping of the pictures as well. I just spent a minute or two admiring the scene
    I have to say that sometimes it requires a good project to get figures painted, but I've never attempted anything on this scale. I like some variety in my painting so an army is feasible. I take my hat off to you with a mighty flourish and a deep bow of admiration at your work.

  11. Any more than 12 figures to paint at a time stresses me out!

    I am simply amazed by this unit and your approach.

    This many figures would take me two years to paint!

  12. Mag-nif-i-cent. Truly an inspiration!

  13. All that hard work has paid off Chris,they do look very impressive .
    All the best mark.

  14. What a great deployment. I like in particular the line formation and the smoke details. Bravo!

  15. Awesome stuff Chris! We should put our armies together somewhere in June 2015!

  16. M'Lord!
    Thank you for your support and for your most gracious suggestion. I must regretfully decline, however, as my army, together with those of my project colleagues, will be busy performing manoeuvres on simulated model battlefields resembled parts of the Mont St Jean area throughout the Summer months of 2015.
    May I respectfully add that compared to your Lordship we appear to be only dabbling at representing parts of that "infamous army"; but they are not static and we do have the aim of actually using them in several challenging wargames.
    I note that on your own blog you lament the small properties and high house prices in SE England, so I venture,Sir, to suggest that you move to more Westerly parts of England's pleasant land and that we may one day unite our armies in some mutually convenient venue.
    For those who like big battalions and have not seen Lord Hill's blog take look:

  17. Excellent stuff Chris, and inspiring as well.

    I must find & read your article on making transfers as well. I have some WWII vehicles that need markings I can't find anywhere in the current marketplace (the Steyr RSO logo and vehicle spec, for example)

  18. Seb, thanks for your support. I don't think I'll ever be doing anything quite like that again, but who knows? Here is the link to my post that features transfers and in it is a link to the suppliers of the paper.