Sunday 23 July 2023

Lorraine Churches Completed

The two churches forming part of the Lorraine FPW project are now complete. As both models are based on actual churches, I thought I'd show you photos from my research folder, so you can see how far they reflect the originals. And also how far they don't -because the often-discussed constraints of space and groundscale mean they have to be "condensed". So there are simplifications, volumes are reduced, three side windows become two, and the details are somewhat larger in proportion to the whole building. Nevertheless they do reflect the originals in style, colour and atmosphere.

The first original is the church in the village of St Privat, a key point in the epic battle of that name and the site of a famous painting by Alphonse de Neuville.  This photo is obviously taken immediately after the battle and is the only photographic record that's come down to us. I did find a very rough sketch taken from the other end of the building, but that's it for source material.Althought the famous churchyard wall and gate is still standing the church was demolished and a more elaborate replacement built in a different part of the village.

Photographed roughly from the same angle as the above shot, I am fairly happy with the way this evokes the original, subject to the constraints I mentioned. How did I know what the roof and spire were like, you may wonder. Well all the village churches in these parts had roofs of the same pantiles as the houses. There are a number of paintings of the battle which vaguely show the shape and materials of the spire, so I've gone by the one that is most accurate in other details.

These are very much the standard elements of the Lorraine village church, which don't vary as much as in other regions of France. I experimented with a new way of representing semi-exposed stonework, which as come out OK-ish, but not all that I was hoping for, so I'll experiment further in future. I've posed the model with a stand of Perrys chasseurs a pied, painted by Garry Broom.

The second church is inspired by the one at a place called Bremenil, which is nearby in Lorraine, although not specifically fought over in the FPW. What made me choose it was the nice, unusually-shaped spire. I nearly went with the the church of Rezonville instead, and one correspondent kindly sent me further images, but I just liked this one best. I had hoped to show the interesting way the main roof slopes down to the front, but the condensed proportions didn't allow this in the end.

This church is still standing, despite heavy damage in World War One, so it's easy to get modern images of the colours and details such as the door surround. As mentioned in a WIP post, I made the spire from the Redutex texture sheets, but I completely overpainted them in fact.

As with the Lorraine houses, the stonework and rendering varied within a certain range of colours. In the end I made the crosses on both churches out of 1mm brass sheet for robustness, sawn and filed to shape. The worst that tabletop accidents can do to a solid brass part is bend it or break it out, either of which can be quickly repaired. 

Monday 17 July 2023

Lorraine Houses Completed

It's been a little while again but here we are with all the Lorraine houses that I've been working on since February completely built and painted. There's still two churches and a tavern 80-90% painted, and some unpainted "bits" to come. But all seventeen, count 'em, seventeen houses are finished. I think my wargaming needs would have been met with half a dozen less ordinary houses, but I convinced myself that once masters had been made and cast, it wouldn't take much longer to complete this more generous number... 

For photography purposes I have divided them into five groups of three or four houses each, and there's a front and a rear view of each group. Comments below, but I've probably missed a lot out. If you would like to know how anything was made, or why it looks the way it does, please ask away.

Lorraine villages consisted mainly of a continuous row of houses each side of the street, so I've pushed each group together acordingly. The end walls are mostly rendered stonework without doors or windows.

Although this style of architecture goes back to the Middle Ages, if not Roman times, the details did evolve. By the time of the Franco-Prussian War nearly all the woodwork was painted in soft colours. Usually it's pale greens and blues, but I've done one in a yellow ochre colour which was occasionally seen, and some barn doors are left unpainted.

Despite the unpretentious nature of the basic buildings, the more prosperous farmers of Lorraine loved to add neo-classical details to their house fronts. 

The backs lacked ornamentation. In reality there were often outhouses extending the buildings to the rear, but because of the tyranny of groundscales (as discuused before) I've had to leave them off.

Most houses included all the elements of a farm within the one building. You'll see there's a door roughly in the centre of front and rear facades. A corridor connected these front and back doors, and living accomodation was on one side of it. That's where you see glazed and shutttered windows. On the other side of the corridor there was space for animals (stable/ byre/ pigsty) and a barn, hence the large door. 

The walls were built of rubble/ field stone and rendered over for weather protection. This rough stonework was different colours to the "cut" stone used for door and window surrounds, and occasionally visible quoins, ie cornerstones.  Contemporary paintings show the render to be a variety of shades from near white to ochre or tan. I painted the walls in several colour variations and then got a "blotchy, splotchy" effect by flooding on dark washes and dabbing at the result with a tissue.

The round and oval "portholes" on some buildings are to ventilate a hayloft situated above the barn or byre.
Yes I know the figures make the doors look a bit shorter than they should. Can't be helped in the context of groundscale constraints. The Perry plastic FPW are very tall chaps indeed. 28mm my a***! 

Getting nice roofs is a lot more important on wargames buildings than in real life, because we see the models almost exclusively from above when playing a game.The roofs here are made from sheets I scupted and cast in resin. I wanted to get the proper effect of "canal" pantiles at the edge, ie with two interlocking layers of tiles. The castings came out a bit ropey here, but I've painted on the effect I wanted and I'm quite pleased with how it came out in the end.

The evidence shows the roof tiles were all of the same sort of tan/ red shade rather than the bleached, pinkish pantiles you see on Mediterranean roofs. The only variant is that some roofs were distinctly darker than others, presumably from the effects of age and smoke. I got this effect partly from painting some roofs darker than the rest and also washed thin black over the whole roof in some cases.