Breton Cavalry

When I want to include Breton cavalry as allies for my Normans, I usually use some of the excellent Perry Crusades knights with Arabized headgear.  However, I wanted to make a unit of cavalry that had more of a Breton feel so, picking up a box of Conquest Games Norman plastic figures, I planned on using them straight from the box as my allied Breton contingent.  I am using them as the lighter Breton cavalry from the Age of Ravens source book rather than the heavier form of horsemen.

The Conquest frames include unarmoured torsos and round shields - you can see the frames in detail in the GEG shop [link].  By using as many of the unarmoured torsos and round shields (bar one) as possible, the unit will have a lighter feel and be distinctive from my Norman milites.

Horses will be dealt with in another blog entry, so I will mainly be discussing the riders.   These are the Vallejo paints (other than black and white) I used:

Gunmetal Grey (Mail)
Charred Brown (Saddle) 
Charred Brown (Leg Wrappings/Stirrup Straps)  German Camo Med Brown (Leg Wrap H'light)
Earth (Leg Wrappings/Cloth) 
German Camo Beige (Leg Wrap H'light)
Burnt Umber (Cloth/Belts/Shoes/Shield Wood Base/Figure Bases) Flat Earth (Cloth)
Luftwaffe Camo Green (Cloth) Luftwaffe Uniform (Cloth)
Green Ochre (Earth Cloth Highlight) Leather Brown (Shield Lining)
Flat Brown (Shield Straps) Flat Earth (Spear/Shield Wood Highlight)
Medium Fleshtone (Flesh)
Pale Fleshtone (Flesh)
Brown Sand (Shield Wood Highlight/Figure Base Highlight 1)                                 
Natural Steel (Spear Point)
Umber Wash (Wash)
Fleshtone Shade (Wash)
Black Wash (Wash)
Iraqi Sand (Figure Base Highlight 2) 


Each of the pictures may be clicked on to bring up a larger image in a new window.

The objective was to paint the unit of 12 cavalry to a decent gaming standard in a short amount of time, so I started with the mail on the 8 armoured figures.  I use Gunmetal Grey as the base, adding a little black and white to tone down the metallic effect a wee bit.  A single drybrush was done by adding a bit of Natural Steel.  The saddle is Charred Brown with edge highlights done by adding a bit of German Camo Medium Brown and white to lighten the base colour.  The leg strappings were basecoated in either Charred Brown or Earth with drybrushed highlights of  German Camo Medium Brown
 and German Camo Beige respectively.


Then base colours were added for all the models as described in the list of paints I used above.  All areas except for the flesh and tunics were given a single highlight so that I wouldn't need to revisit those areas once the model had been given a healthy dollop of wash.  The shields were painted in an off-white as a base for Little Big Men Studios shield transfers.

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After a generous splodge of a mix of Umber (Vallejo Umber Wash is pretty much the same as GW Devlan Mud) and Black wash, it's time for more tea.  So, while the pot brews I grab my brush and tissue to make sure there aren't any pools of ink collecting too heavily in the recesses of each model.  They still look pretty flat but the highlighting process will bring the detail out.

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The length of drying time allows me to ponder the pro's and con's in the "plastic or metal?" debate.  I'm openly a "metal bug" and I break it down to four key parameters:

Price, Quality, Feel and Ease

At £1.50 per cavalryman for plastic and £2.50-£3.33 per metal, plastic obviously wins, but the quality of metal over plastic is overwhelming.  The money savings aren't always so great; some plastic WW2 figures go for £0.80 while their WW2 metal rivals are £1.25-£1.35.  

In all but a very few specific cases - Perry Miniatures plastic ansar are better detailed than their metal ansar, for example - metal is more crisply detailed than plastic.  I like the feel of metal figures in my hand.  Some may say that a metal army is far heavier but I'm a man and can handle a couple of kilos of lead on the weekly club visit.  

Ease refers to the ease of preparing and painting the models, and it's in the preparation that I think that the saving on price is deceptive.  I find metal very easy to prepare for painting and can clean and base a unit of 24 metal figures in the same time it takes to put together and clean half a dozen plastic miniatures.  And the superior detail of metal figures makes them more straightforward to paint.  Plastic figures often have areas which are poorly detailed because of the moulding process.  Of course, plastic is easier to chop up and convert but then I'm never in the mood to individualise 128 phalangites!  So, 3-1 to metal.

So, back to the Breton cavalry.  I highlighted the skin and tunics next.  Flesh highlights were done first with Medium Fleshtone then by adding Pale Flesh and white to lighten.  The only cloth I highlighted were the tunics, first using the original base colour then by just adding white or a lighter shade of the base colour; I felt the wash had done enough for other areas.  The shields that were to have transfers added were painted an off-white colour; I feel that this suits them better than a pure white.


As I said earlier, horses are a subject for another blog entry.  I really enjoy doing horses and never find it a chore so I had finished painting and basing them before I started the riders.  For the shield transfers I used Little Big Men Celtic (Dark Age Celtic Designs for large Gripping Beast shields) ones that fit the round Conquest shields almost perfectly.  The banner was based on a Breton medieval flag.  I should note that at various stages of painting, and at the end, I varnished the figures with Testor's Dullcote.

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On the bases, I painted them Burnt Umber followed by a brybrush of Brown Sand then Iraqi Sand.  I used static grass, clump foliage, tufts and flowers (and here's a shameless plug to look at the Basing Materials section of the webshop where you can buy tufts and flowers) to finish off the bases.  In all they took about 10 days to paint the horses and the riders with a couple of hours being spent every evening.