Sunday, June 10, 2018

Fritz Grabs the Colours at Zorndorf - A Vignette

King Frederick II of Prussia, after Carl Rochling (picture shown on the book cover above)


Over the past week or so I have been working on the famous Carl Rochling vignette of Frederick the Great grabbing the colours of the von Bulow Regiment (IR46) at Zorndorf. If you are an enthusiast of the Seven Years War then you are probably familiar with the painting.

The vignette stands in front of the painting as shown on the cover
of the Osprey book about the Zorndorf Campaign of 1758
The vignette created from converted Minden Miniatures

The rear view showing the "battlefield debris" of sorts.

A side view. The casualty is also a Minden figure and the drum is
one of the "master" equipment bits that is used to make new drummer figures.

Another front view showing the conversion of the fusilier NCO figure.

How I Converted the Minden Figures for the Vignette

The pictures below illustrate the figures used and the process by which I created the the two figures of Frederick and the Fusilier officer from Minden Miniatures figures for my vignette.

I started with the Prussian fusilier NCO figure and made a small cut underneath the left foot so that I could push it flat to the ground. The right foot was cut from the base and a small saw cut was made behind the knee so that I could bend the leg back a little bit. The back right foot will actually be raised off the ground more than is shown in the picture in order to create a natural walking stride.

The Prussian officer holding a sword was used for my Frederick figure because the figure is already holding a sword in the right hand, per the Rochling picture. I drilled a hole in the left hand so that the flag pole will fit in it. Ideally I would have lopped off the left arm at the elbow and made a new arm, raised a little bit higher, with greenstuff epoxy putty. I am not a figure sculptor so I had to make do pretty much with what was available.

I then filed off the lapels and gorget of the officer and used more epoxy putty to button over the lapels of the coat. I added a little bit more putty to the front skirt of the coat so that it would close more towards the center of the figure. I probably could have closed up the lower part of the coat below the waist a bit more.

Finally, a new officer's sash was built up with putty, front and back of the figure. Frederick usually wore his sash outside of his coat rather than underneath the coat.

On the left, the fusilier NCO figure and on the right, the Prussian officer with sword.

Side view of the fusilier illustrating the change in the legs and the repositioning of the head.
The officer figure has a new sash around the waist on the outside of the coat, rather than being worn inside the coat.
Eventually, the base of the fusilier figure broke off, having been weakened by the cuts to the base, so I had to make a new base for the figure. I drilled a hole into the left foot and inserted a flat head tack or nail into it as a pin. The flat head of the pin provided enough extra flat metal to allow me to build up a new base with putty. The new base was not particularly pretty, but you won't be able to see it once the figure is painted and based onto the stand.

You can see how the fusilier NCO's head has been removed and then repositioned so that it is looking to the right rather than straight ahead. Its legs have been altered so that the left leg is now on the ground, rather than raised; the opposite is true for the right leg with the foot off the ground rather than on the ground.

It All Comes Together Now
Now it's time to take a test pose to see how both of the figures fit together. The fusilier is now looking to his right at Frederick. The fusilier's base still needs to be flattened out a little so that there is more rise of the heel off of the ground. Frederick looks pretty good by now. I did a test of the flag by taking a flag that was already made up - this being a Saxon flag that Mark Allen painted for me several years ago for a Saxon Project that is waiting in the wings. 

A front view illustrating the conversion of the officer figure into Frederick holding the colours

A Word About Saxons
I should point out that Crann Tara Miniatures is about to release a range of Saxons in the Pirna era uniforms. In the event that you can't wait for the official Saxons, then the Minden Prussian infantry with the Swedish cuffs are a near perfect substitute for early Saxons, noting that their grenadiers wore a Prussian style mitre, truth be told.

At any rate, my delay in launching my Saxon army has been fortunate because now I can use the new Crann Tara Saxons, but I will still use some Minden figures, the cavalry in particular, for my Saxon army in the future.

Let's Get Back to the Vignette Story
Everything seems to fit into place and work nicely. I finished off the stand with a Minden casualty figure and added a drum for battlefield debris effect. So now it was time to paint the elements.

A side view of the Frederick conversion. A Saxon flag painted by Mark Allen
is held by Frederick, temporarily, to show how the figure will hold the Prussian flag.

The painting of the figures was relatively easy. I purposely made Frederick's eyes a little bit "bug eyed" to give him that steely resolve that Carl Rochling captured so well. Frederick is definitely starring intensely at the enemy to his front.

I have talked about the von Bulow flag in a previous post on this blog HERE which you can check out for more details. Basically, I use the Kronoskaf flags Kronoskaf as a template over which I repaint the entire flag.

So here is a picture of the finished vignette:

The finished vignette with the hand-painted flag (using a Kronoskaf image as a template). A casualty and a spare drum are placed on the stand to embellish the overall look.

How I Base My Figure Stands
The base was made using my usual basing technique. I use Red Devil Premixed Spackle compound (i.e. wallboard paste) and mix some brown acrylic paint into the one quart container, using a little bit of water to thin out the mix. Then I trowel the brown spackle onto the base and around the figures. If you accidentally get some spackle onto the figure, then take an old paint brush, dip it in water, and then brush the spackle off the figure. Spackle turns highly runny when it comes into contact with water, so it is easy to "wash it off" with water.

Next I dip the base, while the spackle is still wet, into a tub of extra fine railroad ballast that you can purchase from any model shop. Wargame products companies such as Gale Force 9 and a few others also sell small plastic jars of the ballast. I let the stand dry for about 4 to 8 hours, though it actually begins to harden within an hour. The reason for waiting is to give the spackle more time to set and to make it less subject to the effect of apply damp paint to the base.

I use Geo Hex Brown paint, dip my large brush into the pot, and then "stipple" the paint onto the base, leaving some of the original gravel color showing. Stippling is when you put paint on the brush and sort of punch it downwards onto the canvas, or in this case, the terrained base.

Next I glue on some tufts (grass and some field flowers) onto the base with white glue and let the glue dry before applying the static grass. Dab some white glue on the places where you want the static grass to be, but leave some bare patches of gravel for greater effect. It always brings a tear to my eye whenever I see someone apply the entire base with static grass - it just don't look good!

Sprinkle the static grass by hand over the base, applying extra grass, and then turn the stand upside down and give it a good shake. I also tap the back of the base with my index finger to shake off the excess static grass. Now turn the base upright - pucker up and just blow across the topside of the base so that the static grass will stand up. You will still see some of the white glue showing through the grass at this point, but let the glue dry for awhile and the white disappears.

von Bulow Regiment - Minden Miniatures
The von Bulow regiment, second battalion actually, is shown below. I just finished painting and basing the unit a couple of days ago. Frederick would be proud to lead these fellows into battle I think.

The second battalion of the von Bulow Fusilier Regiment

The full battalion of 32 figures. Minden Miniatures and Kronoskaf pattern flags.


  1. That's a wonderful vignette and a great conversion.

  2. A fantastic vignette and infantry unit!

    Best Regards,


  3. Wonderful job on this vignette, love the colors of the flag reminiscent of those on the ground...

  4. Great work, Jim! You have captured the essence of the painting very well, and should be rightly proud of the outcome. This unit with its command vignette and specially painted flags should be unbeatable on the tabletop! Very much appreciated the "How it was done" tutorials, too. Cheers, Rohan