Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Great War in Greyscale - 'The Dogs of War' - Belgian MG Dog Carts


I've been slowly steaming along with my Great War project and have just finished these two Belgian dog carts with their Carabinier crews - one towing a Maxim machine gun and the other hauling its ammunition supply. As I explained earlier I'm doing this project entirely in greyscale in homage to the images and films that are such a significant part of our collective memory.


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Though dog carts may seem somewhat anachronistic for modern war their use was a significant part of Belgian society for centuries, hauling everything from milk to firewood, and so it was only  natural that they were utilized for this military role.

Belgian Carabiniers, wearing their distinctive Tyrolean style hats, leading their dog carts to the front.

From my reading these poor beasts suffered greatly in the opening months of hostilities, faithfully assisting their masters in the defence of their nation and often paying the ultimate price.


I'm a big dog lover so I was immediately taken by these great 28mm castings from Brigade Models. They are quite finely cast, easy to assemble and have very little flash. Highly recommended.


I've mounted them on round 60mm Litko bases. After a bit of experimenting I've decided to go with a very muted and dark goundwork in order to allow the figures to better stand-out in contrast.


Below is a couple shots of the dog carts accompanied with some supporting Belgian troops (and a destroyed church in the background). The NCOs and Officers are mounted on hexagonal bases (again, from Litko) to better differentiate them from the rankers - a great tip shamelessly lifted from the talented Mr. Roundwood.



Next up will be some early-war German infantry to act as counterpoint to these lads...

39 comments:

  1. Looking good Curt abs very interesting how your doing the project.

    Christopher

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Christopher!

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  2. These look fantastic. I'm loving the greyscale painting technique btw. They look really effective.

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  3. These really do look fantastic. The tonal effect of the greys works exceptionally well. Looking forward to see more when they are ready.

    Cheers,
    Ross

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    1. Thanks Ross! The greys began as a bit of a hit-and-miss but I think I'm getting my stride now - trouble is that I'm usually so bloody slow! Oh well, its a self-indulgent project so there is no real hurry I guess.

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  4. They look stunning!! I thought the whole idea simply fantastic and was looking forward to seeing it develop. Top marks

    Ian

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    1. Thanks Ian! Your encouragement helps me stagger along :)

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  5. Curt - I'm blown away by how these look. Keep it up - it's a fantastic project.

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    1. Thanks Tamsin - much appreciated!

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  6. Bloody beautiful Curt, truly amazing work!

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    1. Cheers Fran - very kind of you to say so!

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  7. I am thoroughly impressed at your pooches!

    Looking forward to seeing how this progresses....I

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    1. Thanks Chris! I'm happy I'm swaying you to the dark (and light) side!

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  8. These look absolutely tremendous. The final group photograph really does show just how amazing this project is going to be.

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    1. Thank a bunch, Michael. Yeah, I wanted to try to compose the figures with a black backdrop and a piece of monochrome terrain to get an idea of where I'm going with this. Once the setting is 'controlled' (i.e. all in greyscale) then it seems to come together.

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  9. This is really coming along brilliantly. My mind rebels at even the thought of trying to paint in gray scale. I love this project.

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    1. I know how you feel! I'm constantly looking at my painting desk with all these black and grey paints scattered about wondering 'what the hell am I doing'! I'll need to do some Napoleonics soon just to get a dose of colour.

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  10. Fantastic work Curt!!!! These look simply brilliant!

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  11. Thanks all for your words of encouragement - it really is very much appreciated. I've found it quite challenging working within such a reduced colour range (like one!) but it has made me appreciate the flexibility and power of blending and subtle tonal changes.

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  12. Hey I would love to see them in the "colorized version" amazing work Curt - I wonder did they use any of these dog carts for units in mexico under Maximillian? Also would be interesting for Colonial wars in Africa or the boxer rebellion?
    PS any news on your food for powder (hmmmmmm - Dog carts to haul maxim machine guns in (BP) food for powder whats the movement rate?)

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    1. Thanks Dave. Yeah, I have to get some of the officers and NCOs colourized but I thought I'd get the greyscale down first as I can always come back later to touch-in the colour. Right now I'm kind of liking the 'purity' of the simple greyscale.

      'Food for Powder' is on the roster as I think we have a game scheduled sometime for late June early July. I'll keep you posted...

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  13. A really nice project, Curt; the models are wonderful (and you are going to think in grey...).

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    1. Thanks very much, Juan! Yes, I've always liked the aesthetic of monochrome in photography and film so its fun to experiment with it in miniature.

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  14. Amazing - I really like to paint tones

    Very interesting project

    Miles

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  15. Quite incredible! Very cleverly done.

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    1. Thanks a bunch, Scott! Same goes to your recent WWII stuff.

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  16. very very cool they look amazing

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    1. Cheers Kent! BTW I'm really liking your new SYW blog - well done!

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  17. Bugger the painting, what an excellent post - interesting history, good background, and as a fellow dog lover it certainly resonates...

    PS. Painting is good too... :o)

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    1. LOL, thanks Steve. Yeah, my heart goes in my throat when I think of all the animals in that war, doing their best for their masters.

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  18. Awesome stuff as always dude. Trying to imagine the paint progression on this stuff just shorts out my circuits.

    Definitely resonates as dog lover as well...poor guys...

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  19. Brilliant stuff Curt. I've never seen this style of grayscale painting before, I like it. There is something very poignant about the early war Belgian uniforms, they look like they could be marching off to fight Napoleon, almost. Very antiquated.
    Interesting too how much press there is out there about today's wardogs, and how we still take our best friends to war with us.
    Cheers,
    Mike

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    1. Thanks Mike. Absolutely. There is something wonderfully (and sadly) antiquated about the uniforms and gear of the 1914 armies that really captures my imagination - the death of an age, literally. Thanks again for your comments.

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  20. This is 1 of the most interesting projects I have seen.
    Great work Curt, bringing history to life!

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    1. Thanks very much for the encouragement, Paul!

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  21. Curt as a Belgian myself I like these very much. Also the greyscale painting is excellent, it gives them something special.
    PS: even after WWII dogs were used for hauling milk. My mother has done that when she was young. She also told me that the dog was a part of the family. He worked for them so he had lots of respect.

    Greetings
    Peter
    http://peterscave.blogspot.be/

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  22. Peter, thanks so much for your comments! When I was painting these I was wondering when the use of dog carts ended in the low countries. It nice to know that some were well-treated and had good homes - they deserve it as they are such good companions.

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