Bases, Faces and Flags – these are the key areas for ensuring that your war gaming figures look the best on the table top according to top commission painter Dave Woodward. Well, I’m a great believer in the first and last of these but painting faces on my rank and file troops is not really going to happen. I’m afraid that I rely on a quick wash or shade over a basic flesh coat and that is about as far as it goes for the troops. I will spend a bit more time on the officers and characters and add a bit of a highlight to the nose & cheek bones – I’ll even attempt to paint the eyes, although as often as not my figures look as though they should definitely go to spec savers….
As for the flags, it goes without saying that if you can add these, your unit will certainly stand out on the table. Part of the attraction of painting Napoleonic troops is the flags and with so many good suppliers out there – the Flag Dude and GMB designs, to name but two – it’s a shame not to ensure that your unit has a flag or two!
So for me, it’s all about the bases. And so we enter another realm of controversy or taste… If you are in the Dan Faulconbridge (Wargames Illustrated) school of basing you will like a straight forward non fussy finish. This view is based on the notion that the figures should blend into the table top – it makes for better pictures don’t you know! I tend to prefer a nice bit of vegetation on my bases – I cant resist adding a few clumps of flowers! It does mean that my units have to drag the scenery around the table and my opponents usually ask where the park keeper is, but I like to amuse! There is also the matter of what colour to paint the base sides. Leaving them black used to be the fashion, then the there is the green edge following, whereas I prefer a brown edge to my bases.
Whatever your taste, I think the guiding rule on bases really is to ensure that you stay consistent with your army and that it really is worth a bit of time spent on finishing your bases off with a bit of detail. One last tip, I have spent ages trying to blend figures onto bases and I have ‘discovered’ the product that I find easiest to use is the Vallejo Grey Pumice paste or the coloured textured pastes from the same Company.
I’m working my way through a pot of Desert Sand at the moment. It’s really easy to apply and will ensure that your figures blend nicely onto the bases without an obvious ‘edge’ showing. The textured paste will take a coat of paint with out undercoating and a quick dry brush will enhance the detail. I still prefer to add sand or a scatter and just use the paste to blend the figures on to their bases. Here’s my next batch of figures on the work bench. The pikemen just need the bases finishing and they are ready for the table. The Prussian Cavalry need a bit more work!