The Three Musketeers! by Pat Camp
| The Three Musketeers – scene from the 1973 film.
Starring: Michael York, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain and Frank Finlay. With supporting roles from Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh and Johnny Depp !
These 54mm white metal figures from Andrea are based upon the characters portrayed in the film of 1973 . You may recall that D’Artagnan was played by Michael York, Athos (wonderfully) played by Oliver Reed, Aramis by Richard Chamberlain and Porthos by Frank Finlay. Some great sword-fighting scenes in the film and good fun to watch!
| The box of parts from the Aramis kit.
I bought these originally as a Xmas gift for a group of four very special French people who have been so friendly to me since I arrived over here (quite apart from my fellow modellers that is!). However, as is usual for me, I couldn’t get them finished in time, so I have them until next Christmas and they can do the rounds of the model shows with me this year!
Andrea does a range of figures that are full of character. Unfortunately, I don’t find the quality of fit to be generally good (and these were no exception, but being forewarned did not stop me from getting caught out – but more about that later!) Also, my personal preference is for figurines to be cast in resin, rather than metal.
There are not many parts in each kit: typically a torso with legs and head (although the head is a separate part in the D’Artagnan kit); a pair of arms, brimmed hat with cast in place feather detail, sword, spurs and base . The bases are designed to be interlockable on the kits so you can make up a vignette, but I attached each figure to a separate wooden base.
Preparing the castings.
| Close up view of the Aramis figure.
The quality of the castings is reasonable, but there are some surface irregularities and mould seams  that required treatment . I use the same sort of process regardless of whether it is a figurine, aircraft or ship model, made from white metal, plastic or resin. I start by removing mould seams by scraping with a curved blade – I use a Swann-Morton 15C blade for this – held at around 90o to the surface [4a]. I avoid using the very tip of the blade for scraping, as I like to keep this sharp for cutting work. In some places it is necessary to cut rather than scrape [4b]. For some awkwardly shaped areas, a fine rounded blade is very useful for cleaning up detail and increasing the surface relief, here it is being used where the breaches enter the boots [4c]. The next step is to improve the fit of parts, and a square edged blade is being used here [4d] and on the corresponding socket to obtain a good fit of the arm to the shoulder. The blades are interchangeable in a holder [4e]. Take a look at www.scalpelsandblades.co.uk for further information. A small piece of sandpaper – possibly held by tweezers for awkward areas – is used to smooth away surface irregularities such as lumps and bumps. A scalpel or X-Acto knife can be useful here, as can rotary burrs held in a pin vice and used as a scraper – you can get all sorts of shapes so it is well worth keeping a look out for these at model shows. It is also useful to sharpen up detail around edges – such as belts and pockets – by using a pointy dental tool.
| Preparing the castings.
Before giving the castings a final clean up, I like to prepare them for attaching to a work holder . I use a 150mm length of 10mm round dowelling with a wire type panel pin tapped into the end. Once in place, cut off the head of the panel pin and sharpen the
| Attaching to holder.
end to a point. Drill a hole up into the leg of the figurine – go as deep as you can (say 6 to 10mm if possible) so the pin is a good push fit. I also have a base plate made from an offcut of wood with 10mm holes drilled into it to take the holders – this avoids having to lay the parts down when not in use.
For the final clean up of white metal figures, I like to use a fibre-glass scratch pen to clean away the surface oxide and other blemishes until the casting is nice and shiny . The scratched surface also improves the adherence of the primer coat. However, the glass fibres can be irritating if you get them in your skin, so I wear disposable gloves, use an old toothbrush to remove debris and do the work outdoors (not at the workbench). Oh, and if you have swine fever (or whatever it is called), try not to sneeze onto the fibres!
| Final clean up using scratch pen
Attach the holders to the parts and fix with a spot of superglue . I marked the name of the figure on each holder to make sure I knew which part was from which figure . Now give the figures a primer whilst the surfaces are fresh and clean. Halfords white car primer is my usual choice, although this time I airbrushed on Alclad primer (with some cellulose thinners added). For my latest figurine (Captain Jack Sparrow), I have tried Mr Metal Primer. That was a bit of a shock as it was transparent – I hadn’t been expecting that!
| Parts cleaned up, attached to holders and ready for primer coat.
| Parts stored in pots at time of applying primer coat. There are some extras here as well – Johnny Depp, Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh!
The parts were then given a general undercoat of Humbrol pale grey 28, directed by airbrush “from above” to pin-point the highlights. This was follwed by a 50/50 mix of Humbrol flesh 61 and white applied to the flesh areas. Humbrol brown 160 was added to the airbrush cup and this darker mixture allied “from beneath” to pick out the shadowed areas . I see from my notes that I then applied some matt varnish, so I presume the flesh undercoat had not dried matt.
The flesh colour was mixed from chrome orange deep, violet permanent blue, ultramarine violet, ultramarine, gold ochre (Rembrandt), burnt sienna and burnt umber . Quite a cocktail, you might say! I normally try to have only three or four paints in the mix, in this case additional colours were brought in because the tint had gone awry and needed some correcting.
|. Parts undercoated. Ready for flesh areas to be detailed using oils.
The eyes were blocked in using Humbrol pale grey 28 and the upper halves shaded with a mid grey oil – this represents the shadow cast from the upper eye lid onto the eye. The
| Flesh areas airbrushed with flesh/white mix, and then shaded with dark brown added to mix.
position of the pupils was gauged by the position of the head and by reference to photos of the actors taken from the internet. A circular pale grey spot – slightly larger than the iris – was placed in these positions. In fact, it was not a full circle, as around a third of the circle is covered by the upper eye lid. Try staring into each others eyes (not too wistfully, though) on club night and you will see that the upper part of the iris is covered by the eye lid, whereas the lower edge just lines up with the lower eye lid. Once this had dried, it was followed up the iris itself – D’Artagnan being blue/green, Athos hazel, Aramis grey/blue and Porthos brown.
From this point onwards, we shall need to deal with each figure separately.
|[11a] Paint pallet for D’Artagnan’s clothing. Notice how little paint needs to be mixed – a tube of oils can last for many years!
|[11b] Flesh and clothing areas completed.
|[11c] Details painted in – belts, scabbard, boots, shirt & gauntlets. The model is ready for assembly…….
|[11d] Big problems with fitting the sword arm (see text). Here we see a local area masked off for repainting.
Hair: raw sienna + ultramarine violet + white + raw umber.
Clothing :Breaches: yellow ochre + ultramarine violet + titanium white.
Jacket: as for breaches, but with raw umber added (gives a slightly green tint).
Collar: Burnt umber + ultramarine violet + zinc white to get a shaded linen colour.
Cloak [11b]: The casting includes some “cut marks” where it was wrapped around the arm for protection during sword fights. I did not paint these in (too much of a challenge!). Airbrush undercoated raw sienna and added burnt sienna + sap green mix for darker shade on inner surfaces. Brush shaded raw sienna + ultramarine violet. Burnt umber added for deep shade.
Belts [11c]: were undercoated Humbrol 118 brown and finished with brown ochre + ultramarine violet + titanium white and liquin. A lighter tone was used for the ties of the jerkin. Sword belt buckles were blocked in with Revell 9 Anthracite grey followed by scratches using Games Workshop Gunbolt metal. Some Humbrol 191 silver highlights were added here and there (not too many places – you can easily overdo this).
The metal end fitting at the tip of the sword scabbard was shaded with ivory black and came out looking very good.
Gauntlets: painted brown using brown ochre + yellow ochre light + flesh ochre + ultramarine violet + titanium white and burnt umber! I guess I must have been having trouble getting the right colour!
Boots were given a glaze of burnt umber + burnt sienna. This dried with a little too much sheen and was matted down as one of the finishing touches to the completed model.
| D’Artagnan completed. The misaligned sword is a serious problem and has ruined the model. At some angles it looks awful.
The three Musketeers.
Hair: Paynes grey + ivory black + Van Dyke Brown + titanium white.
Clothing: Undercoated Prussian blue. Top coat ultramarine + permanent blue violet + chrome orange deep + liquin applied to deep shade areas. Airbrushed with matt varnish.
The lace was originally undercoated in red, as per the box art. I decided that I didn’t like the look of it, so changed them to Humbrol HD3 Night Blue. This was shaded with an oil mix of ultramarine + burnt umber and highlighted with ultramarine + titanium white./p>
Gauntlets were undercoated with Humbrol 170 Brown Bess.
SSocks were blocked in with Revell 9 Anthracite grey, shaded with ivory black and highlighted with titanium white.
Boots: undercoated Humbrol 170 Brown Bess.
Hair raw sienna + gold ochre + burnt umber + ultramarine + ultramarine violet + titanium white.
CClothing: Violet shade of dark blue: ultramarine + violet permanent blue + raw sienna + zinc white. Ultramarine deep + burnt umber used for deep shade. However, this tone did not match the base coat so well and I also wiped off too much with final overbrushing. Matt varnish applied – but not happy with the result, so…
Paint stripped off – new start.
CClothes: Humbrol 198 Lufthansa blue. WEM chrome yellow added to darken for tone applied from beneath. Shaded with ultramarine + ultramarine violet + bleu-violet + cadmium yellow + Rowney yellow ochre. Came out well.
Gauntlets: black with trim painted in gold printers ink + linseed oil and burnt umber for shade. This was also used for the hilt of the sword. The sword itself is a photoetched part. This was primered with Alclad and airbrushed Boltgun metal.
Boots: undercoated Humbrol 170 Brown Bess.
| Clothes and faces painted. Next step is to paint the tabards…..
Hair: Paynes grey + ivory black + Van Dyke Brown + titanium white.
Clothing: the first attempt at painting was a failure. I had airbrushed on oils as an undercoat (I normally use enamels, but did not have anything of the correct colour) and it failed to dry correctly. So the paint was removed using cellulose thinners and the surfaces primed with Humbrol 28 enamel.
AA new undercoat of Humbrol 110 natural wood was airbrushed on, with Humbrol 170 Brown Bess added to shade from beneath. Detail shading using a mix of burnt sienna + terre vert was brushed on and looked good.
The gold braid areas were pre-shaded with a deep brown mix of burnt umber and cobalt blue. Humbrol satin gold was tried for the braid itself, but this was not flowing too well so I changed to gold printers ink + linseed oil and burnt umber for shade.
Boots and gauntlets were yellow suede colour obtained from yellow ochre light + cobalt blue + violet blue + Naples yellow painted over an undercoat of Humbrol light brown 63.
Undercoating: The three musketeers were masked up using Silly Putty [14a] and the tabards airbrushed Humbrol 144 blue + 130 white. Some shading was added by adding orange 32 to blue 144 (in fact, a little too much orange).
|[14a] Figures masked up with Silly Putty for undercoating tabards with enamels.
|[14b] Oil painting of tabards completed – here is Aramis sporting his finery.
Top coat: Four shades were mixed from cerulean blue + ultramarine blue + chrome orange deep + zinc white. The deepest shade had burnt umber added. This dark shade was laid into the deep folds of the tabards first of all. The next lighter shade was then applied as stripes each side of the deep shade, then the first highlight was added to the outside of these and this left the outermost areas to be painted with the lightest tint. A good quality brush that was clean and free of turpentine was carefully stroked along the edges of the stripes to blend them. Some extra highlight colour was applied here and there as needed [14b].
The cross motifs were blocked in with Light Compass Gray enamel. Top coat was from 5 shades mixed from titanium white + Paynes Grey + ivory black + silver printers ink + linseed oil. Highlighted wet-on-wet with titanium white.
The border trim was painted with Winsor yellow + gold ochre + yellow ochre pale + jaune brilliant. Ultramarine violet + raw sienna + a touch of alizarin crimson were used to darken the mix. Titanium white was used as a highlight and applied wet-on-wet .
| Detail painting of motifs and edging has been completed.
The inner, shaded parts of the vest were painted a dark neutral blue/grey mixed from Paynes Grey + yellow ochre + zinc white.
| It is interesting just what useful photos you can find on the internet!
A range of neutral greys mixed from burnt umber + ultramarine blue + zinc white were used to shade. The folded fabric was shaded deeply. Zinc white was used as a highlight.
The broad brimmed hats were given an airbrushed undercoat of Humbrol 67 dark grey. The feathers were undershaded with very dark grey (see below for mix) and then picked out with a mix of titanium white and Naples yellow, with black added for shade . The remainder of the hats were shaded with grey and black, with titanium white carefully added in very narrow lines to highlight the leather hat bands.
Sword hilts required quite a lot of fettling to sharpen up the detail. The grips were painted with a dark grey oil paint mix (this was also used to undershade the feathers) and some silver printers ink added to do the shaded part of the hilts.
Having taken care with getting a good fit of the sword arm to the body, it is quite apparent that the hand is outrageously out of line with the sword itself. Whatever I tried, there was no way the hand could be made to line up correctly and the process of filing and cutting meant I had rubbed away paint during handling the part. The air was thick with expletives – I am sure that whilst my neighbours could not understand what I was shouting (just as well), they could tell I was not a happy bunny. The large gaps around the arm pit were filled with Milliput and the area given a local prime, undercoat (masking with Silly Putty) and top coat. It was difficult to get the paint colour to match the rest of the jacket [11d].
The three musketeers.
| Method of supporting figure during gluing. Successful in most cases, but there were some problems.
I used epoxy adhesive to get a strong bond of the main parts. I positioned the parts so that gravity helped to hold the part in place whilst the adhesive set . Despite my best attempts, this was not entirely successful and some there are some annoying gaps here and there. Next time I’ll use cyanoacrylate gel as it will be a lot easier, even if the joint is not as robust.
The wooden bases came from a delightful small shop in one of the pretty towns near to me (where Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt live – how’s that for name dropping, then!). They are holders for night lights but tipped upside down (take the lighted candle out first, though) they make good bases. When the craftsman owner discovered why I wanted the wood, he suggested a couple of other designs to try and put them in my bag as extra freebies! I have in mind to use one for Captain Jack Sparrow when I manage to get the paint job right (it has just been washed off with cellulose because it wasn’t going too well).
| The bases prepared and ready for painting and finishing of the wood with teak oil.
The white metal cast bases had been cleaned up when I did the figure. The mounting holes needed quite a bit of chopping and carving to get the sockets on the feet to locate fully into the holes in the base. I also carved away some of the wood beneath the holes to make sure they were deep enough for the figure to be planted fully in place. The white metal bases were then epoxied into place – take care not to get epoxy onto the surrounding wood as it shows when you come to apply a finish to the wood.
Some lovely nameplates were furnished by NameIt! with exquisite sword motifs engraved each side of the figure’s name. I chose a blue background colour to complement the tabards. A quickly made plasticard “jig” was used to make sure the name plates went on horizontally and in the middle.
Groundwork was added around the metal bases. This was made from Milliput – first a long sausage was laid in an irregular shape to form the outside edge and then pressed into place using a roller. The interspace was then filled with more epoxy putty . I found that if the Milliput was still soft at this stage that a convincing looking ground effect could be obtained by stippling the surface with a stiff hogshair paint brush. Unfortunately, three out of the four bases had hardened too much before I discovered this!
The entire surface was then given an undercoat of sand coloured enamel paint. This matt paint dried glossy (sigh!) so was sprayed over with Tamiya Desert yellow + white.
I used scenic flock material over the Milliput ground work and the gaps between the cobbled stones. Once dry, this was dry brushed with a pale yellow / brown before clumps of static grass were added. The stones were painted with gold ochre + burnt sienna + ultramarine violet + orange. Some highlights were added using Naples yellow and zinc white. The colours were mixed from photos I took of stones taken near to my village .These photos were taken in the snow, so the white background is very helpful in determining the colours.
| Our three heroes completed. They have not turned out too bad – but there are a few details I’ll need to work on at some time. More shading of the insides of the boots. Also, Aramis looks anemic and would benefit from some artificial sun tan – a glaze of raw sienna + burnt sienna should do the trick.
Some flowers were planted here and there. The leaves came from foliage supplied for model railways and the blooms were semolina coloured with yellow food dye (also purchased ready for use for railway modellers). I did this final addition during a club meeting at Toulon under the gaze of my fellow club members.
This was an interesting but not straightforward build . I have been away from figure painting for a number of years (my last one was in December 2003), so it was a useful re-introduction. I have some more figures to do after I have the Airfix Canberra built.