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Workbench

Welcome to the workbench. This page is constantly changing. I aim to update it in the middle of every month, showing you work in progress from various projects. This is a chance to see behind the curtain (or to see the latest mess I’ve made).

I get a lot of questions about how to make flags, so I thought this tutorial might be helpful. This addresses paper flags. There are ways to make them on cloth, or to paint your own. Some aspects of those processes overlap here, but those approaches ain't what I'm dong here. To my eye, paper flags work great for wargame purposes, which is most of what I do. I am not covering where to get flags, either. They're available commercially on sheets that you can cut out, or you can make them yourself from images and a little software magic.

 

Here we have an 18th century British flag, printed on paper in the style of most commercial flags: two sides joined at the flagpole line. For 54mm figures, I like flags to be about the same height as a soldier, 2.25 inches. In most cases that makes for a square image when you look at just one side. Every nation had its dimensional regulations. You could explore those and apply them to an image's size, but at the end of the day I find 2.25 inches high is a good rule of thumb.

The flag has now been cut out. I use sharp scissors, but you could also use a sharp blade and a straight edge. The key here is to make straight cuts with little to no white left at the edges. I like to keep the unused paper removed from the flag; it makes a handy backer in a subsequent stage.
For flag poles, I like 18-or-s0 gauge floral wire available at craft stores. It comes in packs of wires about 18 inches long, and usually green or silver. You get a lot of flag poles in just one pack. I cut each wire down to 4.5 inch sections; I get 4 per wire. That height is usually more than needed for a 54mm figure, so you have some excess to play with. You usually get such pieces in a pack of ATKM figures that includes a color bearer.

I prime a pole black and then paint the part that will be exposed, be it brown, black or even white for some countries. I like to measure how high up a pole a flag needs to sit to be above the color bearer's hand. I'll pre-measure that height by putting the pole in place and applying a tiny dot of white paint (shown here) just about the holder's hand. To my eye, a flag flying high above its figure looks odd. I like the bottom of the flag to be just above his hand.

Next up, gently fold the flag in half. I like to make a gentle crease where the flag pole will sit, rather than a hard fold. Then apply a bead of white glue to one half of the white interior of the flag. Spread that around with a finger to every part of the right side. Now place the flag pole on the crease and gently wrap the flag around it so the outside edges of the flag align without much/any white showing. Hopefully the glue lets you slide the halves around a little to get them aligned. If you're going to mess up, it's here. The glue grabs too much, a lot of white paper is left exposed, or you get an ugly wrinkle. That's the beauty of printing your own flags. You can just print another and start again. Ruffling the flag (below) also helps downplay small flaws.
Here's my glued effort, left to dry before the next step. Notice that the white dot I made on the staff is gone; barely covered by the paper. The pole also has some excess at the top. You want that for adding any kind of finial. Important: Let the white glue dry before going any further.
The glue is dry and the flag has curved as a result. That's fine. I have also cut the excess pole above the flag to about 1/8th inch. I'll need that remainder, below. At this stage, you could also cut off any white showing at an edge by making a straight cut along the whole edge. You might lose a sliver of color as well, but that's okay.
Here are some ATKM finial and cord sets getting painted. Depending on what color cords you need, like gold, I apply a base of bright yellow. When that's dry, they get a wash of tan or golden brown. The spear head will be painted black, and then gold with an edge of black left showing next to the cords.
I have furled the flag. How far you go with this is a matter of taste. I'm not fond of flags whipping wildly. No one fights battles in a hurricane. But some furling is suggested; a flag shouldn't look like a sheet of plywood in the wind. I like to make triangular folds gently, starting from the top. As that creates layers, keep doing the same toward the outward edge of the flag. In fact, I'd like to see more folds on this flag. Folds shouldn't be sharp. More like creases.
I have superglued the finial to the top of the pole. You might need to drill out the plug of the finial to make sure the pole will fit. I use a Dremel and small drill bit to do that. Make sure the finial is straight from the front and side, and not sitting at an unconvincing angle.
To insert the pole into a figure's hand, I put a small bead of superglue in his hand, and another at the bottom of the pole. Press the pole into the flocking at the figure's base, and holding that in position, rest the flag into the figure's hand. That approach puts it in place without getting superglue everywhere. If you do end up with shiny superglue in the wrong spots, let it dry and then brush a little white glue over it. The white glue will dry matte and clear.

That's it! I hope this helps with making and installing flags on your troops.

And now for something completey different... some Hessian Mirbach musketeers underway for customer Ed Y. These are our second edition castings with the separate hats. I love working with these new versions of our longstanding Hessian troops.
And a set of von Lossburg fusiliers, also for Ed. My favorite Hessian fusilier unit to paint, hands down. I think EVERY fusiier regiment I've ever done for anyone (and myself) has been this one!
Check out our past workbench entries, below.

Among our newly revised AWI figures are our British infantry. These will look familiar to many. The basic figures remain the same as before, even down to the command. They haven't been converted, but have been re-mastered and re-tooled, making for sharper castings than ever. That includes the soldiers, officer and color bearer.

I have even remedied the tricorne where it could have a notch over the soldier's right eye.
Now here are some truly converted figures in progress. I used our Recruit Your Own Regiment menu to create the 3rd New York. They combine bodies at attention with “Leather Cap Head Set #2.” The officer and color bearer are also from the menu, and show the versatility of pose that results from separate arms and heads.
Like the marching British, above, our familiar Continentals have been re-mastered and re-tooled. This set is available on the ATKM site. No need to mix and match figures and heads if you want a basic Continental set of troops.
You really get to see the crisp details of these castings on the soldier's back.
Here's a set inspired by Butler's Rangers – our soldiers in hunting shirts combined with “Leather Cap Head Set #1.” The musician is our classic ensign body, now with a hunting horn option as shown here. This particular combination of officer body, pointing arm, and head look really sharp to me.
One of my personal favorites among our revised sets is these Highlanders in Trews. The now-separate heads really make them looked distinguished.
I went back to the original green to re-create these soldiers, and it shows in a figure that is more robust than before.
This AWI officer was originally part of our Queen's Rangers set, but has universal application, so I've made it available separately as part of our Recruit Your Own Regiment menu.
Likewise this drummer. It has wide application for almost any regiment, so I've made it available separately.
And this fifer. Choose the kinds of heads you want to go with these, like any troops on the menu. None of these three command figures has been revised; they're already at the standard to which ATKM offerings are launched. By separating heads on many of our older AWI sets, I have made them as versatile as these are.

The following are pics of the new and revised ATKM facilities. Shown here is the deluxe painting area with more space than before.

Here we have custom-made display cases (which is a fancy way of saying, "I put them together.") The shelves are removable so whole armies can be pulled out at one time.

The mess of a computer station, where sticky notes reminders rule the land.

The ATKM workshop. In particular, the spincaster and melting pot.
These two little fellows are vulcanizers, used to create molds.

The mold cutting and general-purpose area. Normally the place isn't so tidy, but I got sick of my own mess and cleaned up.

Products on this website are for adult collectors. Products are cast in white metal and are not for children under the age of 14. Items also pose a choking hazard.

 

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