Sunday, September 7, 2008

Painting the Punic pachyderm

I finally finished elephant #1 for my FoG Carthaginian army. I actually finished it last week, but held off posting until I took pictures. This was the first 28mm elephant I have painted. It seemed like a daunting task at first, but I learned a lot in my first try and I expect that elephant #2, which will complete the unit, will go more quickly and smoothly.

As I posted earlier, the Crusader Miniatures model doesn't exactly look like an African elephant should. It's a nice model, as elephant models go, but the round porcine body makes it look a bit more like Shep from George of the Jungle than a real elephant. But I have to say that that's par for the course with elephant models. I can't think of any other manuafacturer's model that looks any more like a real elephant. I also think that if any manufacturer came out with a real-looking elephant model, people would complain that it doesn't look right.

My first task was partialy assembling the model. The elephant itself comes in three parts, the howdah in five parts, and the crew are three figures: mahout and two fighting crew. I built the elephant using the miraculous Gorilla Glue super glue and a bit of ProCreate professional scultptor's putty. The Gorilla Glue is my new favorite. It works great and is impact resistant so you don't lose spears or see your model fall apart on the tabletop after a wee bump. The two-part sculptor's putty is pretty easy to use, but stiffer than I thought it would be. Long ago, I picked up some steel sculpting tools on a whim (I had no idea what I'd do with them, but they were really cheap). I finally found a use for them shaping the putty after I applied it to the assembled elephant model. Then, after the putty fully cured, I carved off the excess with an X-Acto knife and went over it all with a bit of fine sandpaper. The result was a smooth, seamless look.

I left the howdah separate from the elephant for priming and painting. It's easier to work with the parts separately. I didn't assemble the final model until after the elephant, howdah, and crew were painted separately.

In progess: elephant on its base with the howdah being painted separately

I started by painting the elephant's skin and eyes. I used a base color of Vallejo Basalt Gray over which I drybrushed lighter versions of the same color. I used Vallejo Ivory for the tusks and toenails with a dark gray wash around them. While painting the elephant's skin, I could hold onto the blanket part, but I didn't want to grasp any part I'd painted while painting the blanket and howdah straps. So, I decided to attach the elephant to the base for further painting.

The business end of the Carthaginian elephant corps

I terrained the base first using the coarse pumice gel medium. Only two of the four legs of the elephant touch ground and I wasn't sure how sturdy it would be while painting, so I drilled a hole in one of the feet and used a short bit of brass rod to connect the model to the base. I'm not sure how much more secure that makes it, but I thought it would help keep the elephant on the base. I use magnetic sheet on the bottom of the base and line the storage box with metal. It can be a pretty good stick and I fear that pulling the base off the steel may put strain on the model if I pick it up that way. (I'll need to line the box in such a way that I can easily pull the model out by the base.)

The base I used was 80mm square (I'm using bases for the 28mm figures that are twice the dimensions of the 15mm base sizes). Painting the elephant on that base was pretty awkward at times, but I managed. I opted for a yellowish tan for the blanket with a blue border. For the straps, I wanted to use Reaper Paints Oiled Leather, but my bottle had dried out and I couldn't find more anywhere in the greater Seattle area. Instead I used Regal's Realms Leather Work paint. It's not very opaque, so I had to use several coats to get it right. (I finally got the Oiled Leather paint, so I'll use that on elephant #2.)

I painted the howdah's interior Vallejo Dark Red and used Vallejo Red Leather for the exterior. I also drybrushed lightened Red Leather over the exterior to bring out the texture.

I decided to go with a darker flesh color for the crew. I figure the mahout would be Numidian and the crew Libyan (although, really, they could just as well be all Numidians). In any case, I figured they would be darker than Iberians, Guals, Italians, etc. I went with Howard Hues Middle East Flesh as the base coat. I think it turned out OK, but I might have wanted a shade lighter for the Libyans. From what I've read, ancient Libyans were lighter skinned than one might imagine, but not exactly caucasian.

The elephant's crew

After finishing the elephant, I attached the fully-painted howdah and mahout, but not the howdah crew, and gave it coat of polyurethane as a protective coat. It's pretty glossy once it dries and I had to apply several coats of dullcote to tone it down. I sprayed the howdah crew separately with the polyurethane and dullcote. Then I completed terraining the base with the rocks and various layers of Woodland Scenics turf.

Somewhat aerial view of the base

Finally, I put the crew in the howdah. Up to this point, I was never sure they would both fit, so I was very happy to discover that there is ample room for both fighting crew.

I still have to get elephant #2, which John is having a hard time getting from the dustributor. There must be some kind of run on Carthaginians since I started painting my army. I've already talked to three people in the Seattle area who are working on armies. We may have a Carthaginian civil war brewing...

1 comment:

  1. Nice! I like the earth-tone color scheme. I should get into some other brands of paint. I've strictly been using Citadel paints. I can find them locally and it's nice to be able to use the painting guide's on GW's site.

    One of these day's I'll get an elephant. I love the variety of scale they bring to the tabletop. I've been reading Kistler's War Elephants. I'm sure I'll be convinced to buy one after I'm done!