Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Art of Small Soldiery: Putting 6mm into Perspective

...In which our protagonist attempts to show how little 6mm figures actually are.

I can't claim any credit for the battery idea. If there's anything that's recognizable all over the world and always the same size, it's batteries-- and far wiser people than I realized this a long time ago.

Admittedly, I've generally avoided dwelling on how big (or little) the figures I'm working with actually are. Instead of drawing attention to the toy soldiers themselves, my focus has gradually shifted towards what those toy soldiers are meant to represent, to make that mini look like the real soldier might have, and the miniature army look like a real one.

For a while now I've been using the Canadian penny to show how big figures are. Of course, out of the six-and-some-odd billion people on the planet, only a miniscule fraction actually know how big these things are...

In my current Borodino project, I've taken this philosophy even further, trying to take advantage of the excellent Adler miniatures to give the impression of movement and action. I've tried to make every base a vignette, and tried to highlight that dynamism in my photography. Heck, my most poplular posts recently have probably been the massed army shots, where I've employed every last bit of 6mm scenery in my feeble collection to try and bring the scene to life for the viewer.

Headphones make really big speakers for really little men. I mean really big speakers. It kind of reminds me of that scene from Apocalypse Now... except there are no helicopters, no napalm in the morning, and this is not Charlie's Point.

But what if I took a step back? What if, for just this one post, I really went and concentrated on the toys, rather than the soldiers? I mean, I can do my very best to make them look big and real, but the fact remains that they are pretty damn small. And really, that's the remarkable thing, isn't it?

So how do I go about showing the Liliputian marvellousness of what is perhaps my finest batch of toys? Attempting to accurately convey a sense of scale has been one of the eternal difficulties for figure painters. In this case, anyone who has painted 6mm figs will of course have a good idea of how big they are, but what about gamers and painters who deal exclusively with 15mm, or 20mm, or the gargantuan 28mm?

Bon Appetit! Plates, unfortunately, come in all sorts of sizes. This one happens to be quite small, which makes the little fellas look a great deal larger than they actually are.

And so I concocted this series of pictures: 6mm Napoleonics shown alongside everyday items. Neat, huh?

...Okay, so it's pretty lame. I'll concede that much. But you're not paying anything to see this, so don't complain.

Talk about a crappy site for a battery! Ha ha ha! ...Yeah, I guess I'm not quite ready to quit my day job to become a stand-up comedian. Also worth noting: I did not bring any miniatures into the bathroom for this. These are fresh, unsullied rolls that have never been within 10 metres of a toilet.

This would've been a good shot if it was in focus. I suppose I could have taken another picture, but let's be serious here: in this day and age, you just take 10 shots all at the same time, and if none of them turn out, this is what you get. Deal with it.

Funny story about this one. Well, actually it's no funnier than the rest of this post, but I'm still gonna tell it. Anyways, I've been renovating my basement recently. Eventually I hope to build a nice little hobby area down there (among other "more important" things, whatever those are), but in the meantime it's all just a lot of dust, swearing, and sharp and/or dirty stuff that generally succeeds in destroying clothing and not doing much else. I've got lots of tools and whatnot, including a greatly under-used carpenter's apron that generally seems to end up in the least accessible part of the room. Consequently, I keep stuffing my pockets full of nails and screws whenever I'm using them, and when I come up at the end of the day to change, I almost invariably discover myself trailing leftovers all over the bedroom. Nails and screws do, however, make good objects of comparison in this sort of situation.

Also, you could probably make some pretty nice 6mm poplar trees if you flocked some screws.

Not such a good picture here. From a technical standpoint, it's in poor focus. Aesthetically, the horsemen should be riding towards the centre of the picture to make a more satisfying image. And rhetorically, the unfortunate choice of background suggests that A Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars is available on CD, which, to the best of my knowledge, it is not.

Another good idea let down by faulty execution. With all the blurry pictures in this set, I must have drank too much coffee beforehand. Or more likely it was the hours of hammering studwalls together in the basement-- hard on the nerves. But hey: at least it's a good poker hand!

A portrait of the Artist as a Brobdinagian

Next time: more Russians. And I really mean it this time.


  1. Some nice photo's in the set (to say nothing of the minis).

    The battery idea is fine for 6mm and serves as a guide well but gets lost on 20mm+ and dwarfs 2mm :-)

  2. Damn you're good...
    What you do with Adler figures is amazing... I wish I had half the talent at this that you do.
    I noticed there wasn't a ruler in any of the photos? :P

  3. Lol, presenting your miniatures like that is a truly delightful idea. :-)

  4. This is a really great blog, I can't believe I've not seen it before. I was happily painting 6mm adler (and blogging about it) but got sidetracked into other projects. This is a great inspiration to get back to them.

  5. very nice stands. I have left out my own 6mm project. Unfortunately, it takes too long to complete armies. My current gaming buddy and I are focusing on playing DBA or boardgames. So little time.

  6. very nice looking figures and basing, I've left a reply to your question on my site, cheers
    Kent by the way how do you paint so well so small i had fun with 10mm

  7. These photos show off your wonderful painting on these tiny soldiers. Yours look so good I'm actually considering going to 6mm for 7YW in the future. I might pick up some samples at the next 'con to try. I doubt I can come close to your excellent efforts though. Stunning stuff.

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