Saturday 23 December 2023

Last Bits of the Lorraine Villages

This is certainly going to be the last post here before Christmas, so I wish you all a very pleasant and peaceful Christmas! Since my last blog update I have done a couple of additions to the Lorraine village project. I did then start off to add a couple of further things (barricades and plants growing up the walls), but somehow the mojo took me elsewhere and I've been painting French 1870 infantry. One unit is done and the second is well under way, so I hope to manage a final post for 2023 showing the village units assembled and defended by their "rightful owners", the soldiers of France!

For your entertainment today we have a batch of small trees all based on pins, which will complement the village units, and some of the previously shown houses which have now had various forms of battle damage added to them. Here's the trees. I made a batch of twenty using my often-described methods. Twelve have a sort of dark olive-ey foliage which is what we see in the "Panorama of Rezonville", then there's four each in two brighter shades. A detail I spotted in the panorama was the trunk of one tree struck and shattered by a shell.

When I made the boundary walls there were lots of collapsed sections so I thought it would be more consistent to have some of the buildings also damaged by the hail of Prussian shellfire. I looked at the battle damage shown in paintings and had a think about what types of damage might be seen. I decided there were four effects to model: bullet strikes on the rendered walls, broken windows, shellholes in the walls and the same in the roofs.

The bullet strikes were made by bodging a sharp point through the walls, teasing out a bit of the plaster with the scalpel point and then re-doing the hole to keep it crisp. Finally a little bit of dark wash is painted into the upper part as shadow.

Broken windows were modelled by pushing the scalpel point carefully through the clear plastic glazing. First you aim for a star shape, then cut out a small section or two in the middle of the broken pane. 

I gave half a dozen of the existing houses a shellhole or two. I used pieces of the trusty Wills stonework sheets, carefully cutting out entire stones to produce a hole with irregular edges. Then a slightly larger hole is cut in the existing wall, which is thinned out from inside and the stone hole glued behind it. 

Finally I addressed the dramatically shattered sections of tiled roof, which we frequently see in the paintings. These were more challenging in modelmaking terms, so I only did a couple. It would be easy to just cut a hole in the tile sheet and insert a grid of woodwork, but I like to work out what would be going on in more detail. I researched how the roofs were constructed in Lorraine and worked from that, using styrene strip for the rafters. I carefully carved some whole tiles out of the same material and integrated them with the edges of the cast tile sheets. The idea is to reveal how the pan-tiling was constructed, with vertical rows of "unders", then the joints covered by vertical rows of "overs". When I painted the tiles I did the previously-covered parts in a lighter colour, presuming they would have escaped the smoke and grime which darkened the visible parts. This may have been over-thinking it! Nevertheless I am pleased with how these details have come out.