update Gaugamela model

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chris_taylor
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update Gaugamela model

Post by chris_taylor »

A year ago, many of the regulars here at pothos.org helped with the planning for a model of the battle of Gaugamela. I work away from home for many months of the year, so progress is slow.

However, it's about two thirds complete now, ie 2500 figures. They are not lined up in battle order yet and the photos don't do it justice, but I'm uploading them to say that the efforts of those who contributed are still very much appreciated.

The thimble should give a sense of scale.

https://picasaweb.google.com/christaylo ... 17vAn7TdIA#
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marcus
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Re: update Gaugamela model

Post by marcus »

chris_taylor wrote:A year ago, many of the regulars here at pothos.org helped with the planning for a model of the battle of Gaugamela. I work away from home for many months of the year, so progress is slow.

However, it's about two thirds complete now, ie 2500 figures. They are not lined up in battle order yet and the photos don't do it justice, but I'm uploading them to say that the efforts of those who contributed are still very much appreciated.

The thimble should give a sense of scale.

https://picasaweb.google.com/christaylo ... 17vAn7TdIA#
NICE! :D
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Re: update Gaugamela model

Post by agesilaos »

cavalry with shields? I'll get my coat :roll: Should look good all set up
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chris_taylor
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Re: update Gaugamela model

Post by chris_taylor »

Dear all,

Three and a half years ago, this learned group of Alexander fans helped
with advice on planning a model of Alexander's army and I resurrected
the original thread to thank everyone, including Agesilaos who I read
passed away :(

Back in 2013, he sent me Marsden's "The Campaign of Gaugamela" as a
present, to help with planning. I shall remember him for his generosity.

After hundreds of hours of planning, painting, glueing, cutting and
spraying later, here it is: a scale model of the line up of Alexander's
army at the battle of Gaugamela.

In its current form, it was actually finished more than 18 months ago,
but job changes, house move, major renovations and life in general got
in the way of Alexander ...

I now live in a house large enough (and wind & waterproof enough) to
build a base for it as a permanent home. Before I do that, I thought I
share some photos. I'm not a photographer, and no matter what I tried,
no photo conveys the impact of the model standing in front of it. Size,
the number of figures (about 3700) & colouring make it look ...
well, like a historical model.

For those who just want to look at the picture, there's the link:

https://get.google.com/albumarchive/116 ... 7Ggke34iwE

To see the comments & explanations, click on the little info icon.
Numbers in brackets refer to the presumed strength of the unit, which
often had to be guestimated.

Any difficulties viewing or questions, let me know.

My personal favourite is photo is this one:

https://get.google.com/albumarchive/116 ... 7Ggke34iwE

It's a front view of the Companions, in the moment of Alexanders charge, shot
more or less from the angle Darius would have seen them coming towards
him.

There are 250 figures in that picture. Darius would have seen eight
times that number barrelling towards him, plus dust, noise & vibration
created by 2000 horses on the move. He must have known the battle was
lost when he saw that.

The model will remain "mobile", ie not glued down, so anyone who wants
me to experiment to play with "what if" scenarios, just ask. I'll
rearrange the units and take more photos.

I will post questions that I have about the arrangement in seperate
post.

Thanks again to everyone who chipped in with information and advice.

For those who are interested in how it was done, or are considering doing
something similar, read on ...


Scales

The objective was to build a model detailed enough to distinguish a
figure as an individual, but for the model not to be so large as to look
out of place as a permanent fixture in an old barn.

War gaming figures are available in a variety of scales, and the one
that suited best was the 6mm range: each figure is the height of a small
finger nail with the face the size of a tiny pin head, ie detailed
enough for the human eye to perceive "it's got a face, so must be
human".

Any smaller, they're just masses of blobs on grains of sand. Any larger
will either make the model unwieldy, or loses the impact because there
aren't enough figures.

This model has 3700 individual soldiers.

After much experimenting, I chose to stick with the Baccus 6mm range
range of https://www.baccus6mm.com/ for all. They turned out to be the
most detailed, most accurate and most true-to-scale figures currently
available, as well as the most easy to paint accurately.

They were so well cast, that paint flows where you put it, and nowhere
else. Despite the tiny scale, that accuracy made the difference between
an amateur's job and a reasonably professional finish.


Map Scale

The map scale chosen was 1:1000 (1 cm = 10 meters). In the depicted
configuration, with the wings angled off at around 45 degrees, the model
is 320cm long and 70cm deep. That would have equated to an army train of
two miles long and half a mile wide.


Figure Scale

Infantry number scale 1:16 (1 figure represents 16 soldiers),

Cavalry number scale 1:8. (1 horse represents 8 horses)

Height scale infantry: 1: 260 (6mm = 160 cm, the presumed average height
of a soldier in ancient times)

Height scale cavallry: 1: 260 (12mm = 320 cm, the presumed average
height of a soldier mounted on an ancient war horse, with spear in hand)

This apparently skewed and non-intuitive scaling was a compromise
arrived at by a mixture of maths and experiment.

The assumption for the model is that the phalanx in ready-to-fight
formation was arranged 16 deep, which in the scale gave a rectangle of 8
* 4 figures arranged on a 4*2 cm base. In other words, a unit of 500 men
occupies 4cm (= 40m) front line.

When attempting to replicate the scale for the cavallry, using 1:16 it
plainly looked flimsy. The density of horses was too thin and there was
no way of giving it the appearance of a bulk of horses charging.

Partly, that's because a 6mm figure horse isn't much larger than a 6mm
infantry man, so within the model the height scale between infantry &
cavallry figures is distorted.

Partly, it had something to do with the real density of a cavalry unit -
but it was so complicated, with so many unknowns that I can't remember
:)

Anyway, we experimented with what "looked" right, and decided on a 1:8
scale for numbers. So Alexander's companions, assumed to be around 2000,
is represented by the wedge formation of about 250 figures.



Painting:

Figures come on strips of 4 (infantry) or 3 (cavallry) and depending on
the desired formation of the unit, they were either used as is, or cut
into individual figures for later re-assembly onto a their unit shape /
formation.

Figures were first washed with washing up liquid to remove residue that
prevents paint adherence. Once dry, each strip or figure was mounted
onto cardboard strips with blue tack for ease of handling during
painting.

Strips / individual figures were then spray coated with a base coat.
Once dry, the figures were painted in groups of about 30 with Vallejo
paints, which were the most robust and easy to use.

The assumption (as discussed in the thread) was that before Gaugamela,
there was no uniform policy within the army. However, I rather liked the
colourful drawings in Nick Sekunda's Men-at-arms series :) so I took
artistic liberty with the Companions & Peonians: I gave them identical
coats, blue for the Companions, with the Royal Squadron identified by a
golden border, and pink for the Peonians.

Also, the hypaspists wear blue uniforms and blue helmets.

For all other units, I assumed that men wore their own clothes which
would have been in earthy colours, with splashes of blues, greens and
yellows from dyes available at the time, or brightly coloured items
looted throughout the campaign.

I also assumed that some units decorated their shields / helmets in
identical colours / emblems to signify belonging to a group but that
others did not. For the mercanary groups, I assumed no unifying colours
or weaponry of any kind.

To get the effect of the irregularities seen in real life, and the dust
& dirt of battle, I mixed each blob of paint with a smidgen of
another color. So none of the 3700 figures is alike, which add significantly
to the realism of the model.


Spears

To avoid the artifical look of 600 identical figures, all holding their
sarissas at exactly the same angle, I used open-handed figures (= a
figure with an open hand, for the modeller to stick on whatever they
like) and hand-made the sarissas from very thin tailor's pins, about 2cm
long.

To paint the pins, they were stuck into blue tack, sharp side down,
undercoated and painted in wood colour. Then the pin head was snipped
off, the pin glued to the figure with a drop of superglue before finally
painting the iron tip.

I had hoped that the steel-colour chosen would mature to a duller
finish, metallic enough to look different from the brown wood, but not
metallic enough to look like modern steel. It hasn't :( so I'll be
repainting them as the final touch when assembling the model.


Bases:

The figures are standard wargame figures, designed for gaming, not
modelling and the commercially available bases are 5mm thick to allow
them to be moved on a game board.

We tried them, but bases as thick as the height of the figures distorted
the scale and destroyed the look of a "historical model".

So I opted for o.5mm aluminium sheet from a DIY shop and hand cut it to
a variety of shapes to suit formations of a unit. As I'm not a historian
and know nothing about the military, I used Sekunda's Men at War to
figure out likely arrangements, while leaving some room to easily re-
arrange in case I made glaringly obvious mistake.

Phalanx is based on 4*2cm bases with 32 figures in 2 groups groups of 16
each, 4 rows deep.

Companions: 4*3 cm bases with 7-9 horses per base, arranged in
"wedglets" to represent the wedge formation.

Thessalian Cavalry: the units were said to fight in rhomboid formation,
so the figures where mounted in the same density, 7-9 horses per base,
but in the different shape

Infantries: modelling figures come in strips, ie three or four figures
mounted on a strip. for the phalanx and the estimate 10000 - 12000
mercerary infantry, I left the strips intact, to depict well organized
and disciplined units.

To depict a less stringent fighting formation of the smaller mercenary
units (mainly the Thracian Peltasts on the left flank), the strips were
cut into individual figures, painted and then reassembled on a different
shaped bases.


Assembly

The painted figures were set onto the aluminium bases and drizzled with
sand to hide the mounting strips and get the effect of the army being
engaged in the sandy plane of Gaugamela.

The grains of ordinary building sand were too coarse and showed up badly
against figures the size of a finger nail, so I used extra fine sand
from a pet shop, designed for bird cages.

Sand and figures were then glued to the aluminium base by using a 50/50
mixture of PVA glue and water, dripped onto the base with a syringe
until the sand was just covered.

PVA dries clear and is a modeller's dream, but on this scale, the effect
of the thin mixture drying out pulled grains of sand away from the edges
of the base, so all bases have a rim of about 1 mm where the grey paint
of the base coat shows. That'll be fixed with the final assembly, when
the units will be embedded in loose sand (so I can move them about when
I get bored with the look of it).

Once the glue was dry, the assembled unit was washed with a thin coat of
mixed paints (greys, beiges and blacks) to give shading and depth and
then finally coated with high gloss spray paint.

Initially, that gave an unnaturally clean & shiny appearance, but over
time, it matured as expected to a uniform dull-dusty look without losing
its hard wearing properties.


Transport

The figures are remarkably sturdy: with the exception of a few spears
that fell off, all figures survived a house move, months of storage and
several more moves during house renovation: each little base was stuck
to the bottom of a flat box (chocolate boxes worked best) with blue
tack.

With the lids put on, the entire model could be stored in a stack about
three feet high.

Although clearly labelled "this way up", the box with the royal squadron
ended up upside down. Poor Alexander hung off his blob of bluetack for
several months and didn't fall off :)


Final assembly

In a few days, I'll post some questions I came across while building the
model that didn't make sense, or where I wasn't sure over the likely
arrangements and decide after the discussions

Thanks again

Chris.
All men by nature desire understanding. Aristotle.
Alexias
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Re: update Gaugamela model

Post by Alexias »

Sounds like a huge piece of work. Unfortunately the links don't seem to work though.
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chris_taylor
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Re: update Gaugamela model

Post by chris_taylor »

All men by nature desire understanding. Aristotle.
system1988
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Re: update Gaugamela model

Post by system1988 »


Congratulations on this awe-inspiring work! I myself am not an exert on modelism but I can see the ammount of effort that went into this!
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hiphys
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Re: update Gaugamela model

Post by hiphys »

Now I can see at least this huge work of yours! Really grand, thanks for sharing!
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delos13
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Re: update Gaugamela model

Post by delos13 »

Incredible work! Thanks for sharing. You must be very patient to accomplish all that. Are you going to do Persian side next? :)
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chris_taylor
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Re: update Gaugamela model

Post by chris_taylor »

delos13 wrote:Incredible work! Thanks for sharing. You must be very patient to accomplish all that. Are you going to do Persian side next? :)
.... funny you should say that ! One of the reasons I posted the pictures is to get advice from the group here on how to build it up.

During painting, it became obvious that the line up must have been very dynamic. It's a two mile train of soldiers & horses, it will take time for orders to propagate. Alexander engaged the right flank in battle, while the left one must have been still on the move and further away (because of the diagonal approach) from Darius than the right ect, units like the javelin throwers and archers cannot possibly have remained in the same place as they would have been trampled on by horses ...

I would like to build it up in a formation that captures a moment in time: when Alexander formed the cavalry wedge, ie when the left flank was already engaged (for which I will paint Persians).

1. where did the archers who marched in front of the companions (ie to the left of the column during approach) go during the cavalry charge?
2. would the phalanx have been in locked shield formation along its full length, or where the ones more to the left still marching?
3. what formation would the Thessalian cavalry on the left wing have been at the moment - where they all facing forwards (=towards Darius)?
4. did the left wing, currently shown angled off actually approach already angled off and then everyone turned 180 degrees, or did they approach duckling-style and then spread right?


Chris.
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Re: update Gaugamela model

Post by Sweetmemory41 »

Chris, I was looking for the URL as this project seemed very interesting (and massive). Do you still have working links? If yes, would you please share them? Hopefully, you have images as this project seems like an expression of admiration, persistence, and dedication. Thank you.
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chris_taylor
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Re: update Gaugamela model

Post by chris_taylor »

Sweetmemory41 wrote: Thu Nov 24, 2022 5:33 pm Chris, I was looking for the URL as this project seemed very interesting (and massive). Do you still have working links? If yes, would you please share them? Hopefully, you have images as this project seems like an expression of admiration, persistence, and dedication. Thank you.
thanks for asking. I deleted the folder and everything is in storage as I am between houses, so I can't take any new photos.

since the original posting, I mounted it all on an old door by covering the door with tile grout to simulate the natural unevenness of flat terrain, sanded the figures in, weathered the terrain and sprinkled a bit of flocking on for vegetation.

I uploaded a few pictures that I found. unfortunately none that shows the completed model in its own spot and lit at night, which was very nice. if you have any specific questions, let me know.

I tested the link my end, hopefully it works.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/ ... share_link
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Sweetmemory41
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Re: update Gaugamela model

Post by Sweetmemory41 »

Thank you, Chris. I am really looking forward to seeing it. As I clicked on the link, I got a message that the access was restricted and I needed permission. Please help.
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chris_taylor
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Re: update Gaugamela model

Post by chris_taylor »

so sorry the link didn't work. I changed the access settings. try again. if it still doesn't work I'll think of something else.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/ ... sp=sharing
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