Sunday 31 May 2020

The Guardsmen of the Amsterdam Kloveniersgilde (Nightwatch) - Part 3

In this blog post I give an update on my Nightwatch project.  (Part 1 is here link, and Part 2 is here link)   In this project I am paying homage to Rembrandt’s master piece, The Nightwatch, by converting and painting wargames figures to represent the characters portrayed in the painting.  Rembrandt's painting commemorates members of the militia company that protected Amsterdam District II, commanded by Captain Frans Banninck Cocq.

After completing the painting of the first set of figures (in part 2) I set about converting the next batch of figures. This batch of figures are mostly in the background of the picture and so there is often less of them showing. Digging in to their personal backgrounds though is just as fascinating. Below I’ve shown each figure from the painting with my converted and undercoated substitute.

Rombout Kemp

Rombout was from a wealthy merchant’s family, and he himself had an important position in the drapers guild. His respectability is shown through his slightly old fashioned dress (eg the ruff collar). When the picture was painted he was a sergeant in the company and was shown in a relatively prominent position with a dynamic pose ordering the rank and file in two position.  He married a woman from Amsterdam’s ruling elite and this influence would lead him eventually to become the company's lieutenant and his son to later become its ensign. 

The figures is based on an Avanpost officer who is carrying a partizan. As the Avanpost figures come with separate arms the conversion prices was slightly easier. As I needed to reverse the partizan I removed the original from the figure and drilled out the hand. (Note that Avanpost figures, which are made from resin, often have a brass ‘core’ to their polearms, I expect to keep them straight. Wire cutters were therefore required!)  His other arm was fine and just needed to be raised to the right angle.  I used a Warlord Games head and hat from their plastic Pike and Shotte set. The ruff collar was made out of green stuff. 

Barent Harmansen Bolhamer

Barent was a well to do grocer from Amsterdam.  Not much is known about him other than he was a bachelor who lived with his sister.


In the painting Barnet appears to be in the process of shouldering, or advancing his pike, in preparation to move off.  His arms and and pike position are slightly unusual for wargames figures being on his left hand side. Luckily 1898 Miniatures’ recently released Tercio range have some pikemen in nearly this pose, or close enough for me! A head swap, was required, from an Empress figure, with the addition of a feather from the Warlord plastic set (a very handy set!).

Walich Schellingwou

Walich was born in to a family of wealthy cloth merchants but he had a slight change of direction and became a wine merchant (sounds like a great choice to me!).  He followed his fathers example my joining the militia, and becoming a pikemen. An interesting item is that records have been found that show his household belongings, and these include his pike.  I suppose there is some sense in this as you want you weapons easily to hand in case of any emergency, but it must have been an awkward thing to store!


Another 1898 Miniatures pikeman worked well for this figure.  Walich has his Pike in a low 'porte' position. It is interpreted that he has a strip of red cloth tied to the end of his pike as a practice target for the ‘unknown man’ (see part 1) who is in the process of firing.  Not much conversion needed here as the figures burgonet helmet is a fair approx action of Walich’s fancy head gear in the painting. The feather, this time, is from an Avanpost figure.  

Jan Ockersen

The Ockersen family had a degree of notoriety in Amsterdam society. In the late 16th century Jan’s great aunt had been arrested, tortured and put to death by ‘drowning in a barrel’ for the act of throwing her shoe through a church stained glass window depicting the Virgin Mary.  This had been an act of iconoclasm; she was part of the Protestant movement which objected to the use of imagery in churches. It doesn’t seem to have done the family too much harm in the long run as Jan was a successful cloth merchant, who later in life would rise to a position of influence such that he became the captain of a different company of militia. 


It will no surprise that I used another 1898 Miniatures pikeman for Jan, who’s in a similar pose to Barent above. I just needed to heighten the crown of his hat with some green stuff, and add a Warlord plastic feather. 

Claes van Cruijsbergen

Claes was another member of the militia from a wealthy and an influential family.  He was a draper by profession and held the position  of ‘shield bearer’ in the company.  His role was to protect the ensign (who carried the company ‘colour’, or flag) and, as his role title suggests, he carried a large, concave shield.  It is likely that by this period in the 1640s that regular formations did not actually have shield-bearers who carried a shield in the field during battles; it was probably only something seen in parades.  In this painting, that was expected to honour the most important members of the company, it is not surprising that we see Claes (and the other shield bearer, Jan Pietersen Bronckhorst) carrying a shield.


I have used an Avanpost armoured pikeman to represent Claes, who seems to be wearing armour and a helmet in the painting.  The two shield bearers are shown with their swords drawn, ready to defend the company’s colour, and are both carrying a shield.  I used a Warlord plastic cavalryman’s sword arm, and a The Assault Group ‘Venetian’ shield from their equipment range seemed to fit with the shield in the painting.  I’m sure there would be some device on the shields, perhaps the district’s coat of arms.  I am still investigating this. (I plan to add the shield to the figure once both are painted.)    

Jan Visscher Cornelisen

Jan is another of the the painting’s pin-up stars - the ensign - flourishing the company’s colour that represented its honour and was a rallying point in battle.  The ensign was a dangerous position as he would be expected to take a prominent position during any fighting, and would be an obvious target for the enemy.  Ensigns were expected to be single so that a married man, with dependants, would not have to carry out such a dangerous role. It was a position typically carried out by the youngest officer in the company.  Jan’s prominent position in the painting, and his position as ensign, reflect his influential position in Amsterdam society.


I have used another Avanpost figure for Jan, this time an officer.  I have swapped his pistol for an open hand to carry the company colour.  In the painting we can see that the colour is made up of three horizontal stripes, yellow, blue, yellow.  There is a symbol, probably the district’s coat of arms, in the centre of the flag. This is another thing on the ‘still to be investigated’ pile. 

The Girls

Another mystery of the painting.  The two girls (one is prominent and the other is almost completely hidden behind the first) are a slightly odd subjects to be seen running between the men of the militia.  Many suggestions have been put forward over who or what the girls represent.  The latest thinking is that they are purely a design of Rembrandt’s, and the first girl is an angelic mascot.  She is dressed in fine clothes and is caught in a stream of light as she runs through the throng.  At her belt she carries a chicken, which seems a bit incongruous, but perhaps the chicken’s feet are a whimsical play on the company’s coats of arms which features an eagle’s feet.


At first I was a bit stumped as to what figures I was going to use for the girls.  Luckily the Galloping Major’s ‘Depot Battalion’ range has plenty of 17th century civilian types, and it threw up a couple of candidates, one from the dancers set, and one from the soldiers' goodbye set.  I have undercoated both in a light cream colour (GW Wraithbone) with dark brown wash (GW Agrax Earth Shade) to help form the background for painting brighter colours.       

Here are links to the  websites of the manufacturers used for the miniature figures (so far!):

* Warlord Games -
* The Assault Group (TAG) -
* Empress Miniatures -
* Avanpost Miniatures -
* 1898 Miniatures -
* Colonel Bills - Depot Battalions -

I hope this overview of the next set of Amsterdam characters on my painting table was interesting.  These individual backgrounds help bring the painting, and its characters, more to life for me.  Not only as a wonderful work of art, but also as a fascinating insight in to mid seventeenth century history.     

Until next time 

Andy @ FOGH

Sunday 10 May 2020

The Guardsmen of the Amsterdam Kloveniersgilde (Nightwatch) - Part 2

In this blog post I give an update on my Nightwatch project.  (Part 1 is here link.)   In this project I am paying homage to Rembrandt’s master piece, The Nightwatch, by converting and painting wargames figures to represent the characters portrayed in the painting.

The original picture, just in case you have forgotten what it looks like!

Progress has been slow but I have finally got the first eight figures painted, and also got another batch modelled and undercoated.  Rather than my normal wargames unit, batch paint approach, I have been painting these one figure at a time.  This is quite fun (even therapeutic!) as there isn’t the same pressure to bang on to finish a colour / process as there is when going through a batch.  The downside is that it is a pretty slow approach, and I’m already known at my club for being the slowest painter!

The first eight figures painted, and placed in their relative positions in the original painting.

I have enjoyed the process of studying the figures on the painting and trying to work out how I will paint my model as a representation. At the start this was a bit daunting.  Master painters, like Rembrandt, earned large sums because they were  brilliant at what they do.  A lead or plastic figure and my meagre skills are obviously not going to get close to the same wow factor as the actual painting.  Luckily I am doing this ‘just for fun’ so as long as I can vaguely recognise my painted figure against the picture then I am happy.

Studying the picture very closely has been fascinating.  I have an ever increasing respect for the genius of these master painters.  How they dealt with light, and how they represent perspective is amazing.  As I mentioned in Part 1, it has been very useful to be able to download a high resolution version of the picture from the Rijks Museum site (link).  This allowed me to use photo editing software to increase the ‘exposure’ and see in to some of the dark corners of what is quite a dark picture.  I also came across a very interesting lecture on “The Night Watch: Rembrandt, Group Portraiture, and Dutch History” from Yale University, available on YouTube (link).  In this video it shows a copy of the picture made soon after it was first displayed (supposedly by one Gerrit Lundens).  The great thing about this copy is that it includes the pieces removed from the edge of the original when it was cropped (the horror!) to fit in to a new venue later in the picture’s life.

Copy of the original showing where the original is now cropped. Image has been 'enhanced' to see in to the shadowy background, which inevitably 'blows-out' the highlights.

I have taken an image from the YouTube video of this copy and also ‘lightened’ it.  You can see this brings out some interesting details of the setting of the picture. For example, I hadn’t noticed before that the sergeant on the extreme left of the picture is actually sitting on a low wall or balustrade.  I’ve got him standing at the moment.  Will have to think about that.

Here is a walk through of each of the eight figures painted so far.  (More details of the actual characters portrayed are in Part 1 here link). The figures are in the order in which I decided to paint them.  Unless otherwise noted I undercoated all the figures in black, and then gave them a very heavy dry brush of Vallejo Beige Brown (a technique copied from Matt at Glenbrook Games).

Jacob Jorisz, tambour (drummer)

I decide to go for the drummer first as I wanted to get the drum out of the way, and as there isn’t much of Jacob in the original painting I had more of a free rein for the figure.  The first challenge was that in the original he is wearing what looks like an iridescent silk or satin doublet.  Rembrandt manages this faultlessly, but I had to accept a ‘flat’ approximation of the turquoise / green colour, and then highlighted with a greener hue.  I was pleased that the drum was nice and plain as I find these very fiddly to do normally.  Just a dry brush with some highlights here.  The Avanpost figure was a joy to paint overall with nice crisp detail all over; something I would come to miss in some of the other figures.

Sergeant Reijnier Engelen


Next I moved on to Sergeant Reijnier. In the original he is a very dark figure. As noted above, it seems this figure is seated in the picture, but for now I only have a standing figure.  I tried to show black clothing, with some different highlighting in green, grey and red to show some different blacks. With his armour I tried to give the impression of blackened armour that has then been burnished and polished over many years.

Unknown Man, musketeer

Next is the Unknown Man.  I had a sense of grey with a hint of purple from this figure on the painting, and so this is how I approached the figure.   The original has a very fancy design to the bandolier strap which I didn’t attempt.  The most fun on this figure was the oak leaf sprig on the helmet.  I have written a separate blog post on how I did this here link.  (I suppose I ought to look at a way of showing that the musket is in the process of being discharged in the original.  This is one for the back burner.)

Running Boy, Powder Monkey


I have to admit to just going a bit ‘rogue’ with the running boy figure.  The figure that I had converted appears to be in a scruffy shirt and so I have painted a very scruffy linen type of shirt.  It is not clear exactly what the original is wearing but it is in a darker colour.

Jan Claesen Leijdeckers, musketeer


Although Jan is behind, and in the shadow of the Lieutenant, he is a bit more brightly attired than some.  He is described as a married man and so shouldn’t be too brightly dressed. (It appears that in mid 17th century Amsterdam that young bachelors were expected to dress very brightly, until they married, when they would dress more soberly as befitted men of maturity.)

Jan van der Heede, musketeer


Next, one of the bachelors (i.e. brightly attired!). As he is dressed almost entirely in red I went for a lighter undercoat of GW Wraithbone, and then a wash of GW Agrax Earthshade. The base of the red was a GW Contrast Paint, Blood Angels Red. I then highlighted this up with Vallejo Orange Red.   (I like this red contrast paint and also used it on my British Napoleonic red coats. It does need to go on a light undercoat though.)

Captain Frans Banninck Cocq


On to one of the big stars of the picture.  I left the two officers to last to build up my confidence.  These two figures are very much centre stage in the original picture, and so I know they are the first things people will see.  I’m not sure my conversion is really doing the good Captain justice.  Once I’d mashed the figure about with Stanley knife, pliers and files I think that I’d lost some of the original figure's details.  The paint job helps a bit.  I’m not 100% happy with my final figure, but without another suitable candidate for the base figure this is it for now.

Lieutenant Willem Van Ruytenburch, Lord of Vlaardingen and Vlaardingen-Ambacht

Finally, the snappily dressed lieutenant.  I undercoated again in GW Wraithbone for this very light coloured figure, and followed up with a wash of GW Seraphim Sepia.  I haven’t managed to give the impression of the rich and detailed fabric of the original, but I am happy with the overall impression. The final figure certainly stands out from the crowd, just like he does in the original picture.

So these are the first eight.  I need to work on basing them next and I'm still considering the best way to do this as I want to represent a paved area.   There are then probably another 20 or so figures more to be painted.

Here are links to the  websites of the manufacturers used for the miniature figures (so far!):

* Warlord Games -
* The Assault Group (TAG) -
* Empress Miniatures -
* Avanpost Miniatures -
* 1898 Miniatures -
* Colonel Bills - Depot Battalions -

Until next time!

Andy @ FOGH


Sunday 3 May 2020

Want to see my etchings?

In this post I describe how I learnt about, and used, a modelling product; brass etched parts.

Fresh in the mail form, Scale Link Fretcetera

As more of a wargamer than a modeller I am probably ignorant of many, many clever techniques and products that scale modellers probably take for granted.  One of these was brass etched parts.  I was vaguely aware that some elaborate model kits had additions of tiny brass parts, but I never imagined I’d need or want any of them for my tiny fighting men.  Then recently I was reading the marvellous blog of Sir Sidney Roundwood (link, he of Too Fat Lardies fame) when I saw a reference to brass etched oak leaves.  It just so happened that I had been wondering how to model a sprig of oak leaves for one of the figures in my Nightwatch project (see Part 1 here link).  There is a figure in the centre of the picture with a sprig of oak leaves on his helmet and I had been wondering how to model this.  My initial thought was to add a piece of clump foliage as an approximation.  Sir Sidney’s mention of brass etched parts included a reference to Scale Link, a UK supplier, so I went off to their website to investigate.

Included instructions on using the parts.
Scale Link’s site ( has many many fascinating things on it.  It seems that the brass etched parts have been moved off to as ‘sister’ site Scale Link Fretcetera (  I soon found brass etched oak leaves in several scales.  I went for pack SLF042 – Leaves-Oak. They cover many different scales for different model railway gauges. This pack seemed bigger than the N gauge pack, that was too small, and smaller than 1:32 which seemed too big (the site is perhaps a bit obscure on scales!).  I also ordered some reeds and other plants which I’ll experiment with later.

A sprig with the required tools; scissors and tweezers, with penny for scale
The actual ‘sprues’ lived up to the pictures on the site, and the tiny branches and twigs looked amazing. They are super thin and easy to cut with scissors. They come with some simple instructions, but it’s a fairly straightforward process.

Sprig added to figure

I cut out of the frame a suitably sized piece for the helmet. I then super glued one end of the ‘twig’ to the helmet and let that set. I then bent the twig over the helmet and glued it in that position.

Sprig bent and glued to back of helmet.

Once that was set I then used a small pair of tweezers to bend and shape the twig and leaves into a realistic shape. The figure was already painted and this probably worked best as it would be tricky to get to the helmet through the twig and leaves later. Now that it was set in place I gave the brass an undercoat of black, then painted with Vallejo Yellow Olive and highlighted with Vallejo Olive Green.

The sprig painted.

I am very pleased with the result. I think doing a whole tree with this stuff would be very fiddly, but it seems to be the perfect thing for a sprig in a helmet.

I heartily recommend a look around both Scale Link sites. There is some amazing stuff available when you know where to look!

Until next time.

Andy @ FOGH

The Unknown Man from Rembrandt's picture 

NB. My model figure is a representation of the ‘unknown man’ in the Nightwatch, who is a bit of a mystery. He is turned away from the viewer, partly hidden behind another figure, and is wearing slightly anachronistic dress of the late 1500s. With the sprig of oak leaves in his helmet he is believed by some to represent the glories and victories of the militia in the past, as oak leaves were apparently a symbol of victory. More details on the Rijks Museum site here.