Thursday 12 September 2019

Repainted Fortifications - Part 2

So now we reach the second part of this project. I really struggled with how to repaint the Italian style fortifications, looking at lots of photos of surviving castles and at contemporary paintings. As with the Northern European fortifications all kinds of different stone, plaster and brickwork seem to have been used. In fact some Italian castles, those in the Alpine foothills, look very similar to the limewashed castle in part 1. An issue that further complicated my decision was that some pieces had to be interchangeable between the two different sets. You will see one of the towers from the last set of photos that is limewashed but has the red brick showing beneath in these photos. It doesn't look too out of place here I hope. For future scenarios and games I may have to use some of the other limewashed pieces with this set but my thinking is that when the rest of the table is complete with figures and scenery they should all work together.

A few contemporary images that inspired me during my search are shown below. The first, of Naples in the late 15th Century, is a good example of the mishmash of styles that were used to fortify the city. While many of the walls look to be rendered in some way, Castle Nuovo is of different stonework and the tower on the left in the bay appears to be brick. I chose to go for a style similar to that seen in the details from two of Vittore Carpaccio's paintings. The darker brick helps to contrast with the ornamental details on the walls and towers. I am still getting used to the finished look. What is annoying is that the brickwork of the towers is sculpted with more detail than most of the bricks in the walls. I experimented by painting the walls in a more yellow stone colour and the towers in brick but it was a bit too much of a contrast.

Naples c.1472

Vittore Carpaccio, detail from a portrait of a young Italian knight, 1510.
Another Vittore Carpaccio. Detail from "Arrival in Cologne", from the Legend of Saint Ursula, early 1490s. The walls look to be in an Italian architectural style rather than that of Cologne.
As with the previous set these are old pieces from the Battlements range now sold by Magister Militum. They are not the cleanest casts anymore and are pretty expensive now compared to what I picked them up for some years ago. That being said I really love the fact they have distinctive Italian style crenellations and architecture. They really do set the scene for the Italian wars and I am keen to use them in a siege game in the future. I am now looking at all my accompanying mediterranean style buildings and wondering if they need some kind of repaint, does this ever end!

The pieces are shown here as a castle but of course they can be set up to represent a length of city walls. There is also a breached section in this style which isn't shown here. The troops are under the banners of the infamous Cesare Borgia so this is obviously one of the many fortresses he has taken in his rapid rise to military glory. The miniatures and flags really help to bring the fortifications to life.

The Italian castle. Note that one of the towers has been plastered and the brickwork can be seen underneath.

The castle from the other side. The Italian style has very distinct crenellations.

The gate with a heraldic stone shield above. Note the sally port to the left.

Another view of the gate.

Inside the castle.

A view from above the walls.

Borgia troops exit the castle.

A view of the gate from outside.

The brickwork walls and towers.

The large corner tower.

A view of the large corner tower from the courtyard.

Finally the quickest repaint of them all was one of my oldest pieces. The Hudson and Allen stone keep. This a lovely miniature and I wanted to keep it as a lonely stone tower that could be used for Irish or Anglo Scots border games. I simply gave the whole model's original paint job a wash of brown ink and picked out some of the stone work in a different colour for contrast. It's shown here as an outpost on the Scots English border with a party of border horse arriving. I did say that I wanted this to remain a stand alone piece but then noticed that Vatican Enterprises now make wall sections in the same style that fit specifically into this rounded keep, possibly something for the future. I think I need to get back to painting miniatures or I will rapidly run out of space and money!

The stand alone stone keep. Sitting on the Anglo Scots border with a troop of border horse arriving.

A close up of the keep.

The keep from above.

The stone keep. This is a Hudson and Allen piece.

Sunday 1 September 2019

Repainted Fortifications - Part 1

Is anything ever finished in this hobby? I am always looking back at previous projects and changing bits and pieces either because I am not entirely happy with the result or because I think that whatever I have done is not as historically accurate as is it could be. Over the Summer I have revisited all of my different sets of fortifications, this post shows the first half. Initially these pieces were painted up quickly as I wanted them to be uniform and to get them on the table as soon as possible. I was keener to spend more time on figures than on the scenery.

Some years on and with a lull in any particular miniatures projects I have revisited the fortifications in an attempt to improve the level of detail on them and make them more accurate. This is a tough one as once you start looking at the various fortifications around Europe you realise that all sorts of different materials were used as well as different renders resulting in a bewildering array of styles and colours for the walls and towers of hundreds of towns and castles! This is further complicated by the fact that I was still keen for the different bits and pieces I had collected to be able to be used together. This is more of a challenge than it sounds as I have two quite distinct sets of fortifications, one being more Northern European style pieces, and the other being more distictively Italian in style.

For the Northern European style I have been inspired by Simon Chick's superb set of limewashed town walls for his Hundred Years War collection: Simon kindly gave me some advice on how to achieve this effect. I went down a bit of a rabbit hole looking at many different images before starting. A couple that I particularly like are shown below as I think they give an idea of what I have tried to achieve with this set. The first is of Augsburg from the Nuremburg Chronicle in the late 15th century. This work is interesting as it depicts lots of different cities from that period, all in a distinctive style. This probably means that many of the places depicted are not accurate representations but the scene below does give an idea of what I am trying to get close to with a mix of different towers and buildings. In the second image of Guines in the Calais Pale from the Mid-Sixteenth century the painting shows brickwork and either a different coloured stone or limewashed walls. Medieval  fortifications were often a collection of buildings that had been developed and altered over hundreds of years and then altered even more radically during the Renaissance era and the advent of gunpowder artillery. I wanted the set to look like it had undergone various phases of fortification and upgrading and that could be used as a castle or town walls.

Image of Augsburg from the Nuremburg Chronicle of 1493.

An Image of Guines in the first half of the 16th Century - Detail from the Field of the Cloth of Gold painted c.1545.

Most of the castle pieces shown below are from the Battlements Range sold by Magister Militum. I picked these up years ago and they are now considerably more expensive than they were then which is a shame as they are pretty old resin castings and there are quite a few flaws in them. Saying that I do think they have real character as well as loads of flexibility in how they can all be put together. All of the towers can be used as stand alone pieces. The walls with the wooden hoardings are made of wood and were picked up on Ebay. I am a bit of a magpie when it comes to collecting castles. All of the pieces were plastered using a couple of coats of fine surface interior filler. I left the brickwork showing in a few places to achieve the effect of these being weathered towers and walls.

You may notice that one of the towers is made of red brick and limewashed rather than stone. This piece was an Italian style tower with distinct crenellations that I filed off to help it fit in with the Northern European style. I wanted it to still fit in well with the Italian set of fortifications so I have painted the brickwork rather than stonework showing through under the limewashed render.

The pieces set up to form a castle.

Northern European castle with a limewash covering over the stone and brickwork.

Mounted Crossbowmen leaving the fortress.

The castle from above.

One of the wooden hoardings over the walls.

The second wooden hoarding.

The gatehouse from inside the castle.

The gatehouse from the outside.

A large round tower and the gatehouse.

The tallest tower.

This tower has been painted to show the brick underneath. This is so it can fit more easily with my Italian style fortifications.

Inside the castle.

Another view inside the castle.

A view from the battlements of the tallest tower.

A new addition also picked up from Magister Militum is the bridge shown below. This is a lovely piece that could be useful for many different eras. It is a bit too long for my river but it does look good and has the big advantage of being able to fit my bases on it. You may notice in the photos below that as my river tiles are slightly sunken I had to make a couple of earthern pieces out of plasticard to go under the bridge and make it fit over the river more convicingly. I can see this being the centrepiece for many scenarios in the future.

A stone bridge.

The stone bridge outside the castle.

Habsburg cavalry crossing the bridge.

The bridge from above.

Stone bridge from the old Battlements range.

The Embarkation of Henry VIII at Dover probably painted in the 1540s. Note the two different artillery towers and also the colour of Dover castle in the top left of the painting.

The last photos show a couple of additional pieces I have repainted, two late 15th or early 16th century brick artillery towers and a breached section of the wall. Again these pieces are all from the Magister Militum Battlements range. The breached wall is in fact an Italian style wall which, like one of the towers above, has had the crenellations cut down and has been plastered to make it look like a limewash render. As with the bridge this is a really useful piece and I am keen to play out some siege scenarios putting it to use.

The artillery towers are shown here as additions to walls of earlier centuries but as with the other towers they can be used as stand alone buildings which is useful. They remind me a bit of the artillery towers shown in the 1540s painting above. What is interesting in this image is that even though the two towers look to be of a similar age to one another, they are both of different design, the tower on the left has two floors and the tower on the right has one, they have different crenellations to one another and appear to have been made of different materials or at least been finished differently. A good example of how varied and different fortifications seem to have been even when of the same era and in the same location. I chose to pick out the stonework elements in white as this helps link them with the older style pieces and also brings out the brickwork effect.

So that is the first set. Part 2 will show a stand alone stone keep that I have repainted and the Italian fortifications. The Italian walls and towers were a real challenge, and I am still not entirely convinced by them. I may post up another Italian Wars game I have in the pipeline before discussing them though.

Late 15th early 16th century artillery tower.

The second artillery tower.

A breached section of the walls being assaulted by Landsknecht.

Another view of the breached section of the walls.