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Cavalier, 1640's

I purchased the PiLiPiLi120mm Cavalier figure some years ago. Although still relatively new to figure painting (I migrated from aircraft to figures about 3 years ago), this past summer I decided it was time to give the Cavalier a try. With the IPMS-USA National convention being held in my hometown of Kansas City, I set August 1st as my deadline — the convention was held Wednesday, 2 August through Saturday night, 5 August 2006.

Preparing the figure – and myself…
I think this PiLiPiLi offering is a high quality, well-sculpted figure with good proportions. Since it has been out a number of years, perhaps a lot of figure painters have forgotten about it. There were a few air holes that had to be puttied, but not many. On balance, I would recommend this figure to anyone who has been painting figures a while. The relaxed pose with his sword lying across his lap is different, and very appealing in my view. I believe it offers a lot of possibilities.

You can see from the PiLiPiLi box art image that I didn't paint my figure in the suggested colors. I have the Osprey Elite Series #25 book, Soldiers of the English Civil War (1) Infantry by Keith Roberts, with very beautiful illustrations by Angus McBride. On the cover of that book was a Cavalier in a blue outfit and with white details, and a red sash, so I decided to use that cover graphic as a guide to attempt a more interesting and hopefully, more eye appealing color scheme. I also decided to paint the fancy lace collar at his neck, in a light tan, off white, rather than an all white collar. I thought the white would be too stark, plus I think white is difficult to paint on figures for a painter of little experience, such as myself.

Later, when I started to get more interested in the historical period surrounding the era of Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector, I took Historicus Forma member Dave Cox's suggestion and purchased the Airfix four figure gift set from the period in 54mm. I also bought two other Osprey books that cover the period. I would also recommend these Osprey books, with no exception: Osprey Elite Series #27 book, Soldiers of the English Civil War (2) Cavalry by John Tincey with illustrations, again, by Angus McBride and also the Osprey Warrior series #44 book, Ironsides by John Tincey with illustrations, equal to the skill of Mr. McBride, by Graham Turner. Oh, if I could draw like that!!!

Painting the Cavalier
I painted the base coat of the figure using acrylic paints from Hobby Lobby Craft Store here in the American Heartland. (Anita's All Purpose Acrylic Craft Paint was the brand name; at a price less than one USA dollar a bottle.) And then I used Winsor Newton tube oil paints over the acrylic base coat. When the oil painting was completed, I masked off the leather gloves, shoulder sling for the sword scabbard, boots and the sleeveless "coat" before spraying Testors Dullcote Lacquer over the figure. I masked the leather parts because I wanted to keep the natural sheen of the oil paints on the leather areas.

Creating the base
I attached the figure to the cement wall after the figure was finished. (I had drilled a hole into the seat of the figure and into the top of the wall at the beginning of the project.) But at the initial phase of the project, a piece of brass tubing was glued into the seat of the figure that would be attached to the hole in the top of the cement wall, later.

Now, before the completed figure was attached to the cement wall, I bought a wooden disk from the same Hobby Lobby store, about 30mm in height and 115mm in diameter. This wooden disk was glued to the bottom of the cement wall with 5-minute epoxy glue. Then, the wooden disk was covered with a papiér maché product called Clayshay that I bought from Aves Studio.

Unfortunately, this product is not available outside North America, at least not yet. It is just super for diorama bases, terrain, or for making walls, masonry floors, etc. Unlike plaster of Paris, Clayshay is very strong, and can be carved, sanded, or have holes cut into it. It will not shrink and starts to harden in one hour.

I mixed the Clayshay tan powder with water and applied it over the wooden disk, with a palette knife. I then smoothed it with my wet fingers that I had dipped in a container of water.

When the Clayshay was cured on the wooden disk, I carved the masonry pattern into the surface with a hobby knife. Looking at the early picture of the figure and looking at the final pictures, you can tell, hopefully, that I changed the colors of the masonry rocks on the base. I had a lot of trouble coming up with colors that would look like masonry but still be in the color range that would compliment or harmonize with the colors in the Cavalier's costume.

Using oil washes and oils mixed straight from the tube on my auto safety glass palette, I repainted the circular base about 5 or 6 times. Or… maybe more! We old folks lose tract easily. However, I hear we learn by doing?

Finishing off the piece
I didn't attach the Cavalier's right hand holding the sword or the sword scabbard, the resin part that sticks out in back on the figure, until almost finished with the project. These kinds of pieces are very easy to break off. Been there, done that, and bought the T-Shirt, eh? So I try not to attach anything that sticks out on any kind of modeling project (i.e. armor, aircraft, ships, etc.) until the bitter end.

So what happened at IPMS?
I am thinking this may be my best effort so far (although I haven't been satisfied with the facial skin tones on any figure). However, a lot of the problem areas with this project are not easily defined in these pictures.

At the IPMS National Convention in Kansas City, there was a period of several hours during Saturday afternoon 5 August before the awards banquet that night, where we modelers could confer with the judges seated behind a long table. I brought my Cavalier up to the table and asked the head figure judge for his comments. He helped me a great deal by what he said.

For one thing, he told me the judges pick up all figures and look up at them from below. My figure must have come unglued from the cement wall as it rotated slightly to the left and right on that brass tubing "pin", to reveal an area under the buttocks that was unpainted. Not good! He also told me that the Cavalier's hat wasn't completely seated upon the head and that the left upper arm in the blue sleeve area had a flat spot on the upper arm where I had sanded off a seam and didn't round the sleeve back into the correct contour. And although he was very articulate and kind in his remarks, he still was right on the money!

Now, I only mention this here because I hope that other novice figure painters, who enter IPMS contests, will read this paragraph and use this information as a guide. "Fore warned is fore armed!" I now realize, just like aircraft modeling, that for an IPMS contest, basic construction is still the most important thing. And as I said, it is difficult to see these construction errors in the pictures of my figure.

But I believe I will do a lot better on the next figure project. I am glad I took the opportunity to talk with the head figure judge. And more importantly, I made a new friend.

  • 01Cavalier_box_art
    Official PiLiPiLi boxart
  • 02Cavalier
  • 03Cavalier
  • 04Cavalier
  • 05Cavalier
  • 06Early_base_colors
    Early Base Colors
  • 07Cavalier
  • 08Cavalier
  • 09Cavalier
  • 10Cavalier

About the Author

About Rick Brownlee (MiamiJHawk)

I am primarily a figure painter and have been painting figures about 3 years now; still consider myself a novice. However, I started building models in 1965 and as a retired newspaper artist, I now have time to build models all the time, just for the fun of it and as a way to express my creative inn...


We talked about the figure before but it is great to know now the background of it. Thanks for sharing Rick
SEP 21, 2006 - 07:00 PM
you really did a nice work with it, i like the leathery tones and the whole "pastel" tones of your fig -good laugh when you say the judges turn the fig upside down to check wether everything is really painted! Happy we are internet modellers in that we can actually choose the pics we send :-)
SEP 21, 2006 - 07:12 PM
Nice interesting feature Rick, thanks. I've commented on the figure before to you and on HF so you know my thoughts but one again, lovely job on the figure and base. I love it. Take it steady Vic PS. Boy, those judges look closely don't they
SEP 21, 2006 - 08:45 PM
Gentlemen: Thank you for taking time to comment about my first article on the Big A. It is a strange feeling to see your name in print @ Alguhan: You're welcome Wampum. I like to remember the beginners so I felt that I should mention about the conversation with Mike Polk, the fine head figure judge and what he said in his critique. @ Jean-Bernard: Appreciate your kind remarks, Jean. I'm still seeing the photos of your remarkable scratch-built boat that the two Russian sailors will be a part. Just incredible work. So eager to see more WIP of this super project in the days ahead. @ Vic: Thank you, my friend. So good of you to respond. And yes, the judges really take great care in looking for flaws. The competition at an IPMS National event is fierce. Some of the best modelers in the World come to this kind of event. One of the main things, the head judge told me is that they are looking for consistency. The same quality work throught the entire model, the entire project. As I said, I learned a great deal. Hopefully, this "information" will show up in my future work, right Colonel Tarlton? |:-)
SEP 21, 2006 - 11:15 PM