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Ptolemaic Phalangite Project: Phase Four

Details, Details…


It was actually time for the eighth and final “underpinning” step.  Now it was time for a wash to pop out the detail.  A lot of painters should be familiar by now with the concept of the “Magic Wash”, based on Future or Kleer acrylic floor finish.  It’s often used as a last step, both to protect the figure, and to pop out detail with ink mixed into the finish.
Using Future as a medium is also useful in an interim step, to help the ink wash flow to the intended deep points in the detail, without pooling on top of or staining the upper surfaces.  It serves the same purpose as adding a little surfactant, like liquid soap, to a conventional ink wash.  But I like using Future for this, at this point in the sequence and again later, and so I did it here.  Jeff had done some careful ink washes with a very dark brown wash; I suspected I could just about match that with Winsor & Newton Peat Brown ink carried by Future and diluted with water—and I would not need to be as neat, as the wash would do what I wanted all on its own!

Well… no.  The W&N Peat Brown was nowhere near dark enough.  What was I thinking of?  Must have been a W&N Brilliant Watercolours or calligrapher’s ink shade.  So I tried adding some of the carefully hoarded store of old, original Citadel Black-Brown ink.  Yep, that did it.
My technique was to mix just enough wash for one figure at a time.  Using a small white plastic tray, I’d take one brushful of W&N Peat Brown, two brushfuls of Citadel Black-Brown, and one brushful of a mix: half Future, half distilled water.  All using the same old Grumbacher #1!  Then I put that mix into the details.  I didn’t wash the figure all over: I didn’t really want any of this to darken the green tunic color, and on the flesh, I only needed it to provide shadows in the eye sockets, and delineate the fingers and toes.  But the white armor got a thorough wash, which made the upper surfaces look rather messy.  But detailing will take care of that.  Here are the two sides of each of the three figure types, once washed; first the right side:

And now the left side:

After that, the first real detailing step was to go over the flesh again.  In order to try to match Jeff’s flesh color, I needed to add a little red to the flesh base coat.  A little VMC 947 Red did the trick.
For the second detailing step, the tunic, I thought adding a little VMC 953 Flat Yellow to the base coat color would lighten it properly.  After the first couple, I noticed that Jeff’s highlights were a little bit, well, “chalkier”.  So a touch of VMC 820 White, along with the yellow, was necessary to make the VMC 082 Flat green a good highlight match.  These photos show both the flesh and tunic highlights; first the right side (fuzzy again!):

And again, the left side:

The third detailing step was the fabric armor.  Plain VMC 820 White brightened it up: just a thin coat over the pteruges, and a second coat to smooth them; then just a light touch to highlight the “lozenges” of the quilted corselets and the sections of the quilted helmets.  On the “Macedonian” figures in linothorax, I just put down a couple of thin coats of pure white over the whole body armor; much of it would be painted over in red, in…

The fourth detailing step, being the red decoration on the armor.  This was simply VMC 947 red again, on the tips of the pteruges, and the yoke of each linothorax.  On the front of the yokes, I just “painted within the lines” to leave a white edging; on the back, there was no sculpted yoke, but Jeff had just painted red down to the waistline, so that’s what I did, too.  Here are the two views of the finished armor; first the right sides.

And now the left sides:

A sharp-eyed observer may note that the left-hand (“Macedonian”) figure’s helmet and shield have become a noticeably redder hue.  I wonder how that happened!  We’ll just have to wait and see.

The fifth detailing step, or series of steps, involved the greaves.  On the back rankers, that is to say the newer figures, it was less complicated: the greaves and their straps are cast on.  On the front rankers, the older figures, I would have to paint them on as Jeff had done with his samples.  I felt a panic attack coming on!
First went on a heavy coat of black to shape the greaves and set boundaries for them.  I chose Folk Art #479 Pure Black because it has dense pigment and a heavy body.  Over that came a couple of thin coats of Vallejo brass.  Then—here comes the first nervous part—VMC 950 Black to set a background for the straps, and then Vallejo red for the straps themselves.  Note to self:  I’m getting too old and shaky to do this freehand any more!. 

On the back rankers, it was just a matter of first painting a coat of Vallejo brass over the bronze undercoat: I didn’t mention it, but I skipped the last coat Brass on the cast greaves in the “Underpinnings” phase until I had a better idea of how I was going to get the final color to work out.  But then looking carefully at Jeff’s samples, I saw that his painted-on greaves weren’t as red as his shields and the skull of his Macedonian helmet.  So I just caught up here and did the brass, then black and red for the straps, in between more panic attacks.

The sixth detailing step involved highlights for the straps supporting the aspis and scabbard, and the scabbard itself.  First came a coat of VMC 983 Flat Earth.  Then a line of black delineated the chape from the scabbard, and brass highlighted the chape, as well as (as much as I could reach them) the sword grips.

The seventh detailing step left me with little to do on the shields and helmets.  Another coat of brass on the front of the Macedonian helmets, followed by black to infill that portion was really all that was required.  Finally, the magic to bring the helmet skull and shields to match Jeff’s reddish brass: a simple wash with Winsor & Newton orange ink!  D’oh!  Couldn’t have been simpler, and it made a good match, to my eye.  All that worrying for nothing.
Last bit: a few bearded faces to follow on to the one Jeff had done.  I’m not doing them all, as I like variety.  If Jeff wants to do the rest, he’s more than welcome to. Here are the usual fuzzy group shots of right sides:

And left sides (better):

Here are close-ups of each of the three figure types, with everything done that I was going to do!  Why is it this time the right sides came out in focus, and the left sides were fuzzy?!?!  Sigh…




And just for comparison, here again are Jeff’s two samples of the older figures:


And that’s it!  Well, a good spray coat now followed, in turn followed by a diluted coat of Future over the metal bits to make the armor glisten again, and to provide a gloss surface on the shield face, for Jeff to apply the transfers he’s been making. 
Now all I’d need to do was pop them off their film canisters, wrap them individually, add in the 1st Corps pikes and spare figures which Jeff had sent, and get them in the mail to their general!

Hopefully, Jeff will wrap up the series with some photos of the figures once they’ve been armed, based, and are ready to fight.  I enjoyed this project immensely.  It was a lot of fun figuring out how to try to get as close to Jeff’s effects as I could.  I feel that I was fairly successful, although I’m nowhere near as good a figure painter as he is, and certainly not a real artist.  Now, what’s next?  I’ve been staring at some A&A phalangites, thinking about doing much the same project all over again; but my Maccabeans are calling…



(Jeff butts in:   Thanks Allen for a nice job of following the style, they look great, and a thorough and detailed report too. I hope this helps everybody understand a bit about the process of making a 28mm ancient game regiment.  I will carry the ball forward in part five, where the figures are based and given the final touches to allow them to show up as needed reinforcements in the ongoing Syrian Campaign!)


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