Welcome to my blog, the story of my continuing journey into the World of Zombie Wargames.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Castle Greyscale

Airfix Castle
This post has pretty much  nothing really whatsoever to do with Castles or grey-scales (whatever they are) but rather for want of a better title I thought  I'd give my opinions on what I'm actually not looking forward to on the blogging front this year and the title seemed to fit.
I wince every time I see someone's pride and joy, a newly finished castle in their perfect painted grey - Normally that blue-ish grey that looks so effective. I should know I used to do the same thing when I built castles!
"But castles are grey aren't they ?" I hear you ask.
Well they may be, but for the sake of me I can't find one that is, though I'm sure you, the reader will no doubt have stronger google-fu than me and find one to prove some point or other. 

Raglan Castle
Case in hand:
This is a picture of Raglan Castle which I retrieved from google after searching for "Grey Castles" in images
OK, it's a bit lighter than some wargames castles I've seen, but matches well with the Airfix castle above.
What's wrong with that then ? Some granites are grey, yes, but granite takes an inordinate amount of time and effort to cut into blocks and other stone is far more suitable for ease (e.g. sandstone) 


To illustrate my point further, here's a second picture of Raglan Castle, but this time when it was not overcast and grey, but is rather bright and sunny (must have had a high speed camera to catch such a shot in Wales).
It illustrates perfectly imo the colour of the castle as it currently is. When it was new it would have none of the speckled brown effect due to ageing but would have had a pristine look about it.
So before you start sending links of a "grey" castle, please do a little more digging.

My Son's left eye with ruler.
The next  winge comment I'd like to make is concerning eyes.

I've always had a thing about those that paint eyes onto figures, because generally speaking they shouldn't be able to (I can't, so I don't even try).
The human eye is not quite a sphere, but has a 'width' of  appromately 24mm with a variance of about 2mm in adults (childrens' eyes are much smaller).
So What ?
Well follow the numbers with me for a second, 24mm is approximately an inch (25.4mm) a man six foot tall has a height of 72". Therefore if our figures were 72mm tall you would have to paint the eyes on them 1mm wide (and about half a mm  in height .
Same eye, opened as wide as he could.
What no gasping or drawing of breath ?  
The picture on the left shows the same eye, opened as wide as my Son could but is still only about 12mm of eye showing (half an inch)
which in the example above would be half a millimetre .
I certainly can't paint half a millimetre, but I'm sure there are some of you out there that can.
However can you paint eyes  on a figure that is 36mm tall  (bottom of foot to top of head) 's using the above numbers, if you can then you would be paintomg the eyes half a mm wide  and a quarter of a mm tall !

 Oh, and obviously the smaller the figures, the more difficult it will be to get anywhere near a correct effect. One problem of course is that extra ball of putty the figure manufacturers slap into the socket, making the figure look like Marty Feldman (look it up you youngsters), which is mostly unnecessary for anything less than a 54mm figure. That ball represent the eye complete with all it's surrounding, top and bottom eye-lids and the bit of the face below the eyebrows too, but those that paint eyes will include it all.
Before I get hate mail from those that paint perfectly good eyes on figures  (that are not squinting or cock-eyed in the least). I think that the problem is not with the painters, but rather with the size and proportions of the figures.
All constructive criticism accepted of course and I still do love seeing all your lovely figures with their eyes, (even if  my own eyes are disproportionally small compared to a figure's).

That's all for this week, please don't take offence at any of the above, it's written with humour in mind and just for food for thought and I hope it's been an eye=opener.

27 comments:

  1. None taken Joe, I literally just started painting eyes on my survivors when I painted my stripper Violet and wanted to have a crack at make up. I certainly cannot be anatomically correct with my ham fisted painting but they aren't too bad, zombies and the undead in general as well as my Gobbos get solid blue or red eyes to promote that evil glare.

    100% agree with the colour of castles, not that I have one planned but I am guilty of all my stonework being grey.....eek!

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    1. I'm pleased you've taken this post in the spirit it was intended. For the fantasists,I have no quibble with eye colouring, sizes or whatever.Yes, the same ideas apply to grey stone walling too, they're mostly not

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  2. Local to me, Richmond Castle is a brown colour. According to Wikipedia, here I quote, it was built using "honey-coloured sandstone". It looks far better as honey brown than it would dull grey.

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    1. Yes, not a castle I've actually been to (one of the few), but all the Northumberland ones (county with the most castles in England)tend to be made from a yellow ochre coloured sandstone. The keep in Newcastle used to look black from industrial pollution but when cleaned in the 60's it was very bright and shiny.

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  3. Most stone castles would have had a coat of lime during the middle ages, so would have appeared white.

    As for painting eyes, I'm completely with you on that (although I have painted them on a few figures - guilty m'lud).

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    1. Interesting refernce to the lime that I wasn't aware of (maybe it's a rich Southerners thing ? - haha), except in Scotland.
      The eye thing is something that irritates me, but I can live with it.

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  4. I hate figures with eyes painted. They look daft and if you apply the 3' rule and can still see them are dafter still. A bit of hi/low lighting is all that's needed, if anything.
    Blind Pugh

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    1. Haha, I'd hoped for a response from you Colin, as I remeber Dave (of Jarvis fame) never painting eyes and his figures looked superb.
      I also rmember seeing an ancient Egyptian army (in 20-25mm iirc) with what I supposed were two fried eggs on their faces. They can so easily look truly awful.

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  5. I never paint eyes on my models.... I think its to hard. Great post!

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    1. I agree with you wholeheartedly HW.

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  6. Proportions of minis in general are often inaccurate by intention - look at hand size on many minis for a start, so painting/not painting eyes is simply a choice of colouring in something that is arguably a visual representation and rarely an accurate scale model. :)

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    1. Thanks PC, I have a figure whose hand is over a foot long in scale!. I also have some 30mm figures which are beautifully proportioned and yet much smaller than the 'modern' 28mm. The trend in sculptin seems to be exageration enabling the picking out of individual details much easier for the able painter. As in all hobby related things, you do whatever you get most enjoyment from doing.

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  7. Castles are grey and rivers are blue!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Branik_Castle

    As for the eyes, I have long envied the painters that could paint eyes on their miniatures, as if done right, it looks fantastic. Miniatures, after all, are miniature men, not men standing far away. There is no point having lovely detailed miniatures if all you do is just slap them with shadowy grey-black paint as everyone looks like that from far away. That being said, I would rather learn how to draw images on t-shirts or add some insignia to 28mm miniatures, than paint eyes. Nobody sees faces on my photographs, anyway!

    PS I did look Marty up and now my eyes hurt.

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    1. Nanik castle eh? - A lovely brown stoned castle (bottom left picture on your link).
      In real-life you have to be really close to see the whites of their eyes",l try it with a friend! You can have the most beautifully painted figures in the world and ruin them by trying to paint eyes, the size of fried eggs or the 'pupils' not being centred.

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  8. Love that castle, I never paint eyes as they look like Clarence!

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    1. I can't say Raglan is one of my favourites, it was just one I recognised on the initial google page - buy I guess Harlech would come close and Krak de Chevaliers, though I'll never get to visit the latter.
      I've stopped trying to paint eyes too- mne look silly.

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  9. Food for thought. I assumed they were grey. I would have loved that airfix castle when I was a kid.

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    1. Thanks for the comment David, I think most people assume they're gret too. I hated the Airfix castle wjen I was kid as it was always outside my price range, so I built a odel of doune castle for my Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin Hood figures to fight over (and in and through).

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    2. Oh nice work. I don't think they even made it over here but I wouldn't have been able buy it either. I remember trying to make card board ones. :)

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    3. Strangely enough I've come full circle and once more now can't afford to buy anything

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    4. Ha ha yep, there's a circle.

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  10. I tend to think its easier to paint things up to match the majorities (incorrect) perception. So, as Mathyoo says, "castles are grey and rivers are blue". If you painted a river a realistically coloured brown, or a castle's stonework brown, people would keep telling you that its wrong and it would lead to a heated debate that would be soul-destroying in its dullness.

    On a wargames table where everything's painted an approximation of the true colours its fine to paint things like castles or rivers wrong. Well, that's my opinion. However, if the tabletop is an attempt at modelled realism then, yes, they need to be painted the correct colour to match reality.

    Eyes. I reckon this is another one of those things that wargames magazines are at fault for driving the hobbies opinion. Once-over no-one, probably, painted eyes as it was all about the gaming and the fun, and not fashionable tabletops. Then the painters available to the figure manufacturers became of an artists quality, the magazines picked this up and photo'd their work and had them write up painting guides, and now its like some sort of dogma that eyes need to be painted as the wargames magazine's painting guides tell you to. So then the figure sculptors need to create figures that are of a proportion that can be painted to suite these trends, then scale-creep happens and most manufacturers ranges don't match up with any other. Again, that's just my opinion.

    I will admit that I do paint eyes on models, most of the time. The reason being that somebody off the Internet will always complain in an anonymous comment because the eyes haven't been painted. The tabletop standard figures sold through Colonel Bills - £6 a figure; painted and based and including the cost of the actual metal sculpt (so a £3-4 paint job) - I've read people saying they wouldn't buy them as they don't feature painted eyes. Ultimately, they're toy soldiers, they don't require eyes! They're not real. Having the depiction of eyes painted on won't help the dice rolls in anyway! Anyway, again, that's just my opinion. LoL.

    I reckon the hobby was probably more enjoyable when there was less options, and definitely more fun when there was less rules and opinions.

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    1. I can't help but agree with your very articulate comments Roy. I thing the castle colour thing probably came from the Airfix model being grey ! Ultimately though I would like to see more realistic coloured castle, save in fantasy games where they can stay grey!
      Having eyes in figures has become very de-rigeur and has led to even more scale=creep which generally means larger and less-well proportioned heads to keep the figure's height as low as possible.
      You've summed up my feelings to overall , when I've played a game no-one inspects the figures to check if they have eyes and neither do I.

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  11. Ah, I recognise Raglan castle! We used to visit there quite often when I lived in Bristol. I always liked it very much.

    As for the eyes, I'll play devil's advocate for a moment. We (humans) tend to recognise certain parts of the body much more readily than others and the face is one of those. This is readily understood when we look at some more primitive art styles (e.g. ancient Egypt). Faces , hands and shoulders are often drawn in ways from which an observer might recognise the subject most easily, without regard to the perspective of other body parts.

    Our models are caricatures; they aren't accurate representations of scaled-down human beings. It's not unreasonable for salient features such as eyes to be exaggerated a bit to make them more "lifelike" to the viewer. Of course, the degree of such exaggeration that is appropriate is a highly-charged topic!

    My 2c worth...

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    1. Thanks C6, I agree Raglan is a nice castle (but not grey, despste google.
      I think in your school of thought too as I look upon figures as a step up from cardboard counters and I've wargamed (not boardgames)with both. painted figures are just asthetically nice pieces to play toy soldiers with. If you can only view a figure's eyes when the figure is held ccloe to your own face then I'll conced eyesare OK, however if you can still see them at arm's length then that a bit silly imho.

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  12. Ha all castles are grey, rivers blue and grass a vibrant bright green!

    As for eyes I do like painting eyes on my figures. I don't always get them perfect but I prefer them with there eyes to me your eyes are drawn to them. Also as part of me trying to up my painting skills its one of those things that would bug you me if I didn't do it.

    I like to paint my figures to the best I can possibly do. I could probably paint more to what I would call a lesser standard but I don't enjoy just mechanically painting stuff I enjoy the relaxation of it so spend more time on it.

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    1. Thanks for the inout Brummie, I'd forgoten about grasses (and brown barked trees too)!
      When view your figures in particular I'm not actuaally drwn towards their eyes, but rather to theoverall figure; it;s only close up that we can see you skills at work and that you have actually managed to put in facial detail )(as well as the eyes!). It's unfortunate that so many painters think they can paint to a similar standard, but actually can't.

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