Union Infantry 2.0

10 04 2011

When last we left our Union infantry they were still glued to their popsicle sticks.  A great place to have them if you are wanting to paint but not were we need them if we want to get them into the game.


First I need to pop these guys from their bases.  This goes pretty quick using my handy craft knife.


Here are the troops all loose.


Once they are all separated I begin gluing them with white glue to the bases I created earlier.  I have 47 bases worth of mini’s here.

When gluing I am particularly careful to keep the strips from touching the edges of the base or each other.


Command Stands get a front row of office/Flags/drummer bits and a regular infantry back row.  I have a dozen command stands and 35 regular infantry stands.  Here are all 47 stands glued.


Next, I use diluted white glue to attach fine ballast to the tops of the infantry bases.





By the way, if I were informed that a class of preschoolers were going to be given two hours of unmonitored access to my craft table and I could only move or hide one item, I would place the bottle I use to apply glue to minis in this step.  Everything else I own is easily replaceable.


I modified a squeeze bottle by reaming out the tip, placing a short piece of brass tubing in it and molding some modeling putty around it to keep it in place.  I made it originally to put glue in tight places but it’s useful for darn near everything.  I can lay a really fine bead of glue or squeeze glue into really tight places.  The hole is small enough that it doesn’t need a cap and it never clogs.  I have been using it now for 10 years.  It is… my precious..

Sorry… where was I ?  Oh yes.  Miniatures!  Next I paint the ballast dark brown


This step is a pain, as you can imagine.  I know how to squeeze brown paint IN BETWEEN the rows of miniatures.  How do I do it without getting paint onto the legs of the figures?  I don’t.  I make a mess and then clean it up later.  This is why I pre-painted the strip bottoms brown.


Next I dry brush the base a lighter shade of brown.  Again, trousers will be smudged… It’s OK.



Once the bases are painted brown, I touch up everywhere I may have smudged a leg or two.  Next I apply black paint the sides and fronts of the bases.


I then apply white to the beveled back of the base.


Next I apply “splotches” of static grass. (using my very favoritest glue applicator!)




Once I apply another coat of black and white paint to the sides of the bases I am done with the painting.


Next, Labels.  I take the regiment names from the order of battle I created last year and place put them in a Visio document, along with cut lines.  I them print them out onto matte photo paper.


I used to use overhead projector sheets which I stole from work BUT, in one of those depressing changes in office tech that make you feel suddenly very old, overhead projector’s and their transparent sheets utterly disappeared from the modern office landscape.  Bummer.  Photo paper though works like a champ though.

Next, I cut out labels using a straight edge and my handy craft knife.


One the labels are cut I attach them to my bases using silicon glue.


I use silicon glue because it comes off cleanly.  One day I may want to change the order of battle for my minis and I know I can get it all off if I had to.

Next… flags!

Flags are interesting.  About 8 years ago you could buy flags online or at conventions and they came on laser printed paper.  Time have changed.  Now you can go online to a place that has images free flags (such as Warflag) or sells low price PDFs (such as Wargame Vault) or you make them yourself.

Union troops carried a US flag into battle along their regimental flag.  This regimental flag was navy blue and hade a large golden eagle on it similar to the presidential seal.  These flags because really special as the names of battles in which the unit had fought would be handstitched onto the flag.


I have flags I bought from Baccus old school style (printed by Baccus) but I don’t care for regimental colors.  I used Baccus’s us colors and some regimental colors I found on line.


I cut out all the flags.


Then I apply white glue to the back of the US flag and place it on the flagpole.


While the flag is still wet, I bend the flag using a pair of tweezers to make it appear that it is flapping in the wind.

I repeat this process with the regimental flag.


Next I trim the wires, paint the exposed metal brown to match.  I also paint the edge of the flags gold.  It’s hard to tell from the photo but both flags have a gold trim that matches the paint.


Here are my completed 12 regiments.


One last tidbit.  One of the regiments I painted is “elite”.  Without explaining what this means in game play, it is important that this be identified on the table.  To do this I embedded a red map pin on the front right of on the unit’s command stand.  A green unit will have <wait for it> a green pin.   By an odd coincidence there was only one regiment in this batch with a non veteran status so I didn’t get pictures of how I built this.  I will get photo’s when I do my confederates.


Next week… Movement!


Union Infantry Part 1

20 03 2011

Infantry formed the backbone of both the Union and Confederated armies during the American civil war.  In my union order of battle I have 31 regiments of on average 5 stands a pop (155 stands).  By contrast I have 10 artillery batteries (20 stands) and 5 battalions of Cavalry (40 stands).  The vast majority of work in painting an American Civil War army is tied up in painting infantry.

Rather than painting a nearly infinite number of units all at once and NEVER finishing, I have divided the painting of regiments roughly into thirds.  Like to paint whole units when I can so rather than drawing the line at 10 regiments I have decided to paint the 12 relatively small regiments  of Garrard, Lindsey and Hovey’s brigades.  Of these 12 regiments one contains 3 stands and rest have 4. 

A stand of infantry represents 90 men so a 4 stand regiment equals 360 men which is  about the size of a “veteran” unit.  A 3 stand regiment (270 men) or smaller is most likely an “elite” unit on its 3rd or 4th campaign.  5 stands(450 men) could be either “veteran” or “green”.  6 or more stands is most certainly a “green” unit on its first campaign.

To begin with I count out 12 command strips and 82 regular infantry strips.  Command stands (of which each regiment get one) has one command strip and one regular infantry strip


The Command strips are different in that they have flag bearers, a drummer and officers.


The flag poles on these stand are frankly pathetic.  Soft metal has a low melting point and is easy to work with but it not NEARLY as stiff as it needs to be not bend during play.  I have just painted flagpoles on a miniature before and its super distracting to someone as anal as myself.  I end up spending the whole game straightening the flags.  To get past this I replace the flag pole with a .025 gauge piece of piano wire.

To do this I first remove the tip of the vestigial pole…


Next I trim as much of the pole as I can away from the unit…


I then use a craft knife to cut the pole away just above the left hand of the flag bearers…


I don’t bother to cut away the bottom half of the pole.  Its really small, not in the way and I couldn’t get to it with wire cutters if I really wanted to.  Next step is to drill really small holes using a #71 .026 pen drill into the tops of hands/arms of the flag holders…


Finally I attach using super glue a short piece of piano wire in the new hole…


This is faster than it looks.  I did all twelve stands in less than an hour.

Next step is to white glue all the stands to popsicle…


Popsicle sticks are a GREAT solution to the “how the hell do I hold these guys while painting” conundrum.  Sometimes you can paint them on their final base but this won’t work here because I will be mounting them two deep.  Also… white glue works best here because the miniatures stick until I want them to come off.

Next step is to prime them black…


Black is THE right color at this scale.  Purists prime with white so the colors pop but you mistakes really stand out in white.  If a bit of black sticks out on the minis it looks good.  In fact it looks like will defined lines between colors even.

Time to start painting!  As a rule you should paint the bottom garments first and move towards the items on top later.  This has me painting either pants or coats first.  I choose coats (and hats) because it harder and I can be sloppy as its my first color…


This is an icky step.  The soldiers have bags and guns and stuff all over them and I need to squish the paint into all the gaps.  Blue is hateful on these guys. 

I know what you are thinking… I could spray-paint them blue.  I have tried this before… it sucked… a bunch. 

  1. Spray-paint, despite its reputation, does NOT get into all the gaps.  You WILL miss things. 
  2. I don’t have a pot of paint that matches the spray paint so when I mess up later, I can’t cover it up with matching paint
  3. I don’t get the cool black undercoat advantages.  If I make a mistake then blue sticks out. (imagine a line of blue between a face and hair.  ick.

The Blue is the hardest step.  All told it took me 4 hours to paint all 47 stands.

Here is a stand painted blue front and back…



I paint the pants next a light grey blue…


This step took me 2 hours.

Next I paint black onto the minis.  All Civil War soldiers carried a leather ammo bag on their left shoulder across their body so that it would be sitting handily on their right hip so they could use their right hand to draw new cartridges during a fight.  This bag would have been very dark and in virtually all drawings I have seen, black.

I also painted officer belts and the bills of the soldiers kepi’s black…


If you can’t tell what I painted here then you are not the only one.  I could not talk myself out of doing this step but it really is hard to tell what I did.  This step took two hours.

Next I paint haversacks.  Soldiers of this era kept their food and stuff in a giant canvas sack they wore over the other shoulder.  Think a man-purse with raw bacon and apples in it.  This bag was made out of a natural fabric and was a shade of off white…


Though not pictured, drum heads also get a shot of off white.

Next I paint  canteens and some of the guys hair a mediums shade of brown…


After this I paint rifles, drum sticks bases and some hair dark brown…


Next, I paint the blonds in my army.


Finally I paint the units faces and hands a flesh color…


This is a magic step.  Once you have flesh colored dots poking through all the darker colors they look like something.

Here are the completed units…


Next time I will walk through basing, labeling and flags for these 12 regiments!