A little competition

As most of you will know, I have been painting up units of French infantry to participate in the Battle of Ligny for the 200th anniversary in 2015. My friend James Oram is the coordinator of this project. You can find out more details of his thoughts in issue 70 of Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy. We will, as a group, collect and paint the vast number of miniatures we’ll need to play the battle.

Painting up hundreds of miniatures can be quite arduous. The trick is to keep it fresh and exciting. To this end, James has some good ideas to keep things rolling with our project. Effectively, we have a competition. We both agree to paint two units a month. For each unit we fail to paint, we owe the other a pint of their chosen beverage!

We’ve been mostly painting infantry but we’ve occasionally stretched out into cavalry and artillery to change things up. Our most recent challenge was a proper competition. As we both were very busy in November, we agreed to paint up a command model for our Ligny game. The winner would then be decided by the chairman of our local games club, Ian Whitbread. The loser would owe the other a pint.

I set about choosing a model and settled on a Perry mounted infantry colonel. I did consider doing something fancy, I had a Murat and a Ney on standby, but neither were at the battle and the idea of painting an elaborate figure scared me a little! What I wanted was something that would look good and not be too complex. After all I had the advantage: the French uniforms are generally more spectacular than those of the Prussians.

Now James is a good painter. He can also produce things in volume very well. I think I might have a slight technical edge on him, but there’s not much in it. So I used all the techniques at my disposal and painted up two models; the second one was sort of a joke, a French captain on a mule! I put my heart and soul into the Colonel, painting the correct uniform (after some painstaking research and plenty of thumbing through Ospreys). I used a combination of inks and highlights so I had what had to be a winner. I even added flowers to the base to make it shine some more.

So came the big day. I arrived at the club and showed off my joke Captain first before revealing my Colonel. James had done a command base with three miniatures, something I had considered, but abandoned as I didn’t really have the right selection of miniatures. I’ll let you judge what was the best painted command. Needless to say, however, Ian found in James’ favour. James won the competition. Why? Composition. Mine was a nice model on horseback, his told a story: a command group with a General receiving information from a subordinate. While I’d concentrated on the technical detail, I’d lost sight of the arrangement of the piece. Naturally, I bought James a nice bottle of Hobgoblin. Well done, sir!

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