Thursday, 30 October 2014

Finished oil painting of Richard III and Sir Percival Thirlwall at Bosworth field

Banner now added to Sir Percival's lance.
Oil painting on canvas depicting the moment before Richard III is unhorsed.

The second rider is Sir Percival Thirlwall Richards standard bearer. The banner shows white roses and a white boar.  Richard’s special cognizant was a Boar rampant argent, armed and bristled.

Richard died at the Battle of Bosworth on Aug. 22, 1485, fighting an army led by Henry Tudor, who would become Henry VII. He was surrounded by enemy forces.  The Burgundian chronicler Jean Molinet says that a Welshman struck the death-blow with a halberd while Richard's horse was stuck in the marshy ground. 

Painting before the addition of the banner

The style is more impressionistic than my usual methods and I've used the oil paint thickly to describe the shapes of the armour, sometimes using a palette knife to lay areas of colour down and then scratch through the paint to show edges.

Richards cavalry in the background are very loosely painted (above) and I still have to paint the troops of Henry entering from the left just behind the men-at-arms. (below)

 The standard will be added later when I am more sure of its form. (Now Added). Some say it should show Richards personal banner whilst others say the Royal standard. I prefer the personal banner.

The Standard added

And finally thanks to DSC's comment the crown. 

To see my other Richard III painting (Above) click link below

Two Illustrations of Ralph de Stafford

Ralph de Stafford born 24th September 1301, died 31st August 1372. He was 2nd Baron of Stafford and 1st Earl of Stafford, was a Knight of the Garter and a soldier during the Hundred Years War. He supported the plot to free Edward III  from the control of Roger Mortimer  he fought in Scotland on four campaigns, commanding archers at the Battle of Dupplin Moor on 11 Aug 1332.
My Cutaway illustration of the visor showing position of chin and neck. Watercolour on paper.

In France during 1338 his military career saw him accompanying King Edward and he was present at the battle of Sluys on 24 June 1340. He also fought at the relief of Brest and the siege of Morlaix. He was captured at Vannes being released to be present at the negotiations of a truce at Malestroit.

On 6 January 1341, he was made Steward of the Royal Household and in 1345 he became Seneschal of Aquitaine. He attended the battle of Auberoche, the siege of Aiguillon, and the Battle of Crecy.

 He became one of the twenty-six founding members and the fifth Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1348
Sir Ralph Stafford as seen on the Hastings Brass monument

My illustration is taken from the Hastings Brass monument,  he wears an early bascinet with neck guard on the visor. A copy of this helmet has been made and is on display at the Stafford castle museum.
The cutaway illustration that I painted (at top of page) reveals the level of protection the visor gives to face and neck.

Modern reproduction at Stafford castle museum.
My illustration of Ralph de Stafford as he would have looked. Taken from his depiction on a brass  monument.

To find out how I  painted the Stafford  illustration click the yellow link below. 

To Learn about my illustrated book on armour click yellow link below  

Monday, 20 October 2014

Using Spectrum Noir Markers

My first attempts made with Spectrum Noir (SN) and Docrafts artiste (DA) markers. These Felt pens are designed for card makers and come in sets of six for the SN at around £7.00p. per set and twelve for the DA markers which are around the same price. this is a considerable saving when comparing them to illustrators pens. Both have a wide range of colours with sets that graduate from light to dark tonal differences.

 The SN pens have a fine and chisel nib at either end. 

The two pictures here use 'Cool grey' and 'Brown grey'. NA sets and they blend wonderfully, if you buy the new sets which are hexagonal in profile you(The older pens are square in profile) You can exchange the chisel nib for a brush nib.

They are also refillable with the spirit based inks.

I also purchased the essentials set which has a blender pen which is very useful for making smooth gradations.

Early to mid 15th century harness 
To see another mid 15th century harness click here 

To help the image I used a white pencil to add highlights. This is quite a good technique used by car designers and was especially good for highlighting the edges of armour plates. I also used a fine liner from the Docrafts pens to help with fine line shadows.

The red hose and leather straps plus the wooden cue for the axe use the Docrafts pens with white pencil to add highlights

The trick in using these pens is to firstly use a very smooth paper, I use a smooth Bristol board sketchpad. secondly, always work from the lightest shade changing pens as you go darker and blending as you go. I ignored the lines made by plates joining such as those on the knee and helmet. just blend right through and when happy with the result then add the thin dark line where the plates meet. On top of this I then added white Pencil lines where the light catches on the joints and lastly a gentle blending of white pencil where the light creates highlights.

16th century Close helm

VERY BASIC blending can be seen on a short film. Its not armour but its useful to see.

To see my other painting methods follow

To see my book follow

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Sir Miles Stapleton 1320?–1364.

My Illustration of Sir Miles Stapleton 1320?–1364. He was one of the Knights Founder of the Order of the Garter, was at the Siege of Tournai in 1340. He died of wounds received in the battle of Auray. Sir Miles is seen here as he would have looked if wearing the armour he is depicted in on his Brass monument.

My Illustration in watercolour

The Brass of Sir Miles Stapleton displays the typical Stud and Splint armour of the mid to late-fourteenth century. The design of the brass is stylized, being elongated, which gives the figure a graceful composure but it is unlikely that Sir Miles was anything as tall and slender as his monument suggests. Having said this, most knights and men-at-arms would have been exceptionally fit, and examples of breastplates in the Royal armouries and other museums bear witness to the wasp-wasted figures that some men possessed during this period.
The helmet is of the Bascinet and aventail design, the mail being short, just reaching the shoulders and beneath would have been a padded  lining, the vervelles that hold the mail to the Bascinet are clearly be seen. This type of helmet would have had a removable visor that pivoted from studs at the sides. The shape of the visor for this type of helmet was usually pointed to a greater or lesser degree with varying numbers of breathing holes called Breathes. 

Usually a higher number of breathes occurred on the right  side of the visor, the left being the shielded side and expected to receive more blows in combat. The point of the visor gave the helmet a dog’s skull appearance giving rise to its name ‘hounskull’ but its main occupation was to deflect blows or arrow strikes away from the face. The visor was fixed with removable pins that hinged, enabling it to be taken off the helmet. The pins were usually suspended from the visor on a short chain so that they would not be lost. In Germany, the Hounskull visor was employed with a different fixing. A single hinge situated at the forehead was permanently fixed to the visor via rivets and was in turn attached to the helmet via two or three studs, a pivoted flat plate could then be swivelled over the hinge to lock it into place. This type of visor was known as a Klappvisier.

Often, especially during tournaments, a Helm was worn above the bascinet without the visor.

The body armour of Sir Miles consist of a short mail coat reaching down to the hips called a Haubergeon, this garment had sleeves that protected the armpits and inner elbow gussets.  Above this is a studded garment, which is a representation of either a cloth, covered breastplate or a coat of plates, the evenly spaced studs suggest the latter.  The Brass of Sir Ralph de Kneyvnton, Aveley, Essex, c1370, however displays a garment that has two semicircles of studs at the chest and a series of studs in rows below the waist. We can determine that his coat is of a covered plate design due its rounded appearance and to the chains depicted suspended from it. These chains were designed to hold a sword and dagger if dropped in battle and would have required a metal plate to support the weight of the weapons or in some cases a helmet. 

The studs at the lower half of this body armour could have been to hold a set of plates that surrounded the hips known as a Fauld. Earlier depictions of support chains show the fixings terminating at the belt (brass of Sir Roger de Trumpington 1289 Cambs) but by the 1340’s the coat of plates is seen in sculptures and manuscripts with chain fixings. (Statue of the Guard at the holy Sepuchre 1345 Musee de l’Oeuvres Notre Dame) and by the time of Sir Miles death the breastplate was employed by those wealthy enough to afford the expense.

Gutter shaped plates with a spaudler and three lames covering the shoulder and a couter with two lames protecting the elbow protect the arms. These are of typical design for the period and two small straps can be seen to hold the upper canon as it is known, also a strap holding the couter is seen on his right arm. The lower cannons have no discernable fixings but on other brasses, hinges can clearly be seen and in some cases, a fixing stud that clips into place when the hinges are closed is visible.

The leg armour of Sir Miles clearly shows the Stud and Splint method. The cuisses have rows of studs that reinforce leather plates. The knees have cup shaped poleyns that are riveted to the cuisses at the top and have a leather decoration riveted to the lower edge. The poleyns are also leather that has been moulded to fit the calf and ankle. Vertical metal strips have then been riveted to the plates to reinforce the armour.

The sabatons are pointed, which followed the common civilian shoe fashion and the gauntlets, which are of the hourglass design, are the only pieces that have ornamental edging strips.

An interesting illustration of Sir Miles in later armour and robes can be seen in the Bruges Garter Book.  This beautifully illustrated book was made for William Bruges (1375-1450) in the 15th-century and portrays the founder knights of the Order of the Garter.  Sir Miles is depicted in later full plate armour with fingerless gauntlets, worn above the armour is a tabard bearing his coat of arms and above this is his garter robe. 

My First pencil sketch

Learn about my illustrated book on armour

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Recreating the methods used by Paolo Uccello in his mid 15th century painting The battle of San Romano.

Recreating the methods used by Paolo Uccello in his mid 15th century painting
The battle of San Romano.
By Paul F Walker
On June 1st 1432, 30 miles outside Florence, a small skirmish which we now as ‘The Battle of San Romano’ was fought between the forces of Florence and Siena. The Florantine Niccolò da Tolentino and Sienese Francesco Piccinino led the two opposing armies, which consisted of cavalry and infantry. The battle took the form of a series of cavalry charges that lasted for approximately seven hours and culminated in the defeat of the Sienese after the intervention of Micheletto Attendolo with a second Florentine cavalry force.

My version under candlelight.
The Battle of San Romano By Paolo Uccello mid 15th century

To commemorate the battle, the Bartolini Salimbeni family commissioned a set of three large paintings to be produced by Paolo Uccello. These large egg tempera paintings employed the newly discovered use of Perspective to give a sense of depth to the image with the traditional use of gold and silver leaf but in a highly innovative way.  The three images were completed between 1438–1440, and are housed at the National Gallery, London, The Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence and The Musée du Louvre, Paris. (Roy and Gordon 2001, 4-5)
Religious paintings used gold leaf to enhance the brilliance of halo’s and religious symbols but Uccello used the medium to depict the actual metal surfaces of the knight’s armour. This unusual use of metal leaf incorporated punched patterns and glazed shading which enhanced the overall effect.
In 2014, I made the decision to attempt to reproduce the methods used by Paolo Uccello. Previously I had made studies into the methods of 14th century Egg tempera paintings and Traditional 17th century methods in oil painting. I had also created illustrations specifically of armour throughout a 500-year period so the Uccello painting combined the use of all three techniques.
As I have, limited space, I chose to reproduce a small area situated on the right of the National Gallery painting, which depicts two clashing knights. I omitted the lance and the third knight depicted on a black horse choosing to simplify the composition to aid the visual effect.
Whilst the National gallery painting is rendered on a surface that consists of eight planks of poplar wood joined horizontally and reinforced with vertical strips of canvas my painting is on a single panel of poplar wood covered with fine canvas. (Roy and Gordon 2001, 6)
The original uses egg tempera and natural pigments with walnut oil and linseed oil glazes. Where traditional pigments are easily available, I have tried to recreate original colours, but in the interest of my health, some colours, such as lead white and yellow, are replaced by a safe chemical version.
The panel was first prepared with an undercoat or 'Size' made from gelatine which is created by boiling rawhide, this seals the panels grain and when dry a 'gesso ground’ is added.
 The gesso is made from 'Gypsum' mixed into the rawhide size (marble dust can be used), with the addition of titanium white powdered pigment. Traditional methods may have used lead white pigment but Uccello uses Gypsum.
The process of making the gesso involves gentle heating of the rawhide over a long period. (Up to four days), this process must be slow as rapid boiling will create bubbles, which ruins the paintings surface by leaving small pit marks.
On the fourth day of heating the size, the Gypsum is gently added and left overnight to cool. The gesso will set to the consistency of a firm jelly but will soften when reheated.
The first layer being rough known as the 'Gesso Grosso’, which, when dry, needs to be sanded, or 'Waterblocked' smooth. This method involves using a hardwood block that is planed perfectly smooth and flat. The block is simply dipped into water and rubbed in small circular motions across the panel to create a smooth surface. Four coats of gesso were applied and 'waterblocked' until the surface was smooth and flat becoming the 'Gesso Sottile'.
My version of the portrait depicting Mary of Burgundy, the fifteenth century, drawn in the same way as the San Romano depiction.
Traditional method of drawing used on smooth surfaces include pure soft metals, such as lead, which produces a pale grey line that is easily erasable.   Silver, Tin, Copper and various lead-and-pewter alloys were also used but all need a rough surface and are not erasable. Although the graphite pencil was not used until the end of the 16th century I felt that the drawing methods used would not be compromised by its use.
Uccello uses various aids to create sweeping lines and curves, one simple device being a compass to create the rounded backsides on the horses. His use of perspective is masterly and although very few of his drawings exist, those that do, are concerned with the changing shapes of objects in a three dimensional form.

Gilders Tip and Brushes

When the drawing was complete a red undercoat or 'Bole' made from clay, was added to the areas to be covered with gold or silver. This coating is to give a smooth hard surface to apply the leaf and give warm effect to the gold. The Size in the bole when wetted with alcohol acts as a glue, which holds the leaf.  The method of making bole is similar to creating the gesso but with red clay powder instead of gypsum. 
The ‘bole’ is laid down and smoothed using the same method as the gesso layer; patterning is then added by punching or scoring the surface. Various shaped tools were used to add details such as armour rivets and decoration on the crests. The outlines of the armour were scored with a sharp tool to aid the edging on the silver leaf.
When all the preparatory work was completed the armoured areas were covered with silver leaf and Gold leaf was used on the horse’s decoration and the helmet crests. (The original painting uses silver leaf on the crests).
The leaf is then added using a Gilders ‘Tip’, which is a flat brush of squirrel hair. (Badger hair is also used).
The leaf is incredibly thin, (four millionths of an inch) and just the slightest breath of air will send it blowing away. It is picked up with the Tip and laid down over the area to be covered, after a short drying period the loose leaf can be brushed away with a soft mop brush leaving the area clean. Any gaps or 'Faultings' can be filled with the small bits left over which are called 'Skewings'.

The area is then burnished with a flat rounded tool made from a polished agate stone; the stone can be rubbed on wax to aid the polishing process. The metal should now gleam but a polish with a soft cloth can bring it to a bright shine.
Shadowing was then added to the armour using a burnt umber pigment mixed with oils. This took the form of a glaze that was painted over the armour and removed from the highlights to show the silver leaf. Some of the graduated shading was achieved by dabbing with my fingers, a method used by Uccello which left fingerprints on the work. (Roy and Gordon 2001, 10)
The edging of the armour plates were then enhanced by lining with a fine brush using ink.  Various inks were available in the 15th century such as ‘Bistre’ which is made from the soot that coats the inside of a chimney. Uccello uses Indian ink, which I made from the soot of burned hardwood, traditional woods used were olive and grape vine. The burnt wood is ground down to a fine powder and mixed with vinegar, the mixture needs a binder such as gum Arabic but some woods such as pine contain resins that act as a binder.
When all the armour and gold leaf was complete and the lining dry, the Pigments for the painting were prepared by grinding the colours on a marble slab with a Muller. 

Uccello used colours which were made using various methods. Many colours were achieved using natural pigments, whilst others were chemically made using the technology of the period. In the battle of San Romano, Red lake, Vermilion, Ultramarine blue, lead tin yellow, azurite, yellow ochre, and a variety of natural browns are used. (Roy and Gordon 2001, 16).  The green foliage used 'Verdigris', a pigment that is made from copper. I have made this pigment but do not advise using it, as it is a long process and toxic. The method is simple and can be achieved with copper pipe cut into short lengths. The pipe is sanded clean and suspended  inside a sealable jar with white vinegar. The vinegar must not touch the pipe, as it is the vapour that reacts with the copper. The jar is sealed and put away for at least three months. At this point a green surface of crystals can be seen which when dried can be scrapped into a container and used.  A modern chemical version was used in my painting (for safety).
Other pigments In Uccello’s painting include 'Lead-tin' yellow. This is made by heating lead and tin oxides to various temperatures (Usually between 650 and 800 C) to create differing hues. Lower temps create more orange yellows whilst higher make lemon yellows. Again, I used a modern version.
These greens and yellows were painted on a charcoal black.
 The Blue pigment is Ultramarine mixed with lead white, Ultramarine pigment is made from Lapis lazuli which is a mineral that is mined in the valley of Kokcha in Afganistan. The process of making ultramarine involve grinding the stone into a very fine powder. This is then mixed with water and magnets are used to remove any pyrite particles. The fine powder is then mixed with wax and water and kneaded; this is then pushed through a fine cloth to remove any coarse grains leaving fine grade pigment.
Lead white is made in a similar method to verdigris but again is highly toxic and its manufacture is now banned.
The red pigment of the scabbard and saddle is Vermilion which was made from the mineral Cinnabar which is mined in Almaden, Spain. The mineral is ground heated and washed.
 The foreground horse is painted using white mixed with yellow ochre. Yellow ochre is a natural pigment which is made from clay that can be found throughout the world. The best shades being from Cyprus. The pigment is simply wetted and ground.
Roses and pomegranates use ‘Red lake’ glazes over white and a modern chemical version of Lead tetroxide.  Red lake is commonly known to be made from the cochineal beetle, but this was only used in Europe from the 16th century onwards after the Spanish imported from the new world. Uccello would have probably used Kermes Lake, which is a European form of the beetle that lives in Oak. The beetle would have been scraped from the branches of trees then ground and boiled; the solution is then filtered to remove any unwanted stuff and a solution of water and alum is added. The mixture now needs an alkali such as potash to form a reaction that precipitates the alum. The pigment will settle at the bottom of the mixture. After a process of repeatedly siphoning off the water and replacing it with clear water the pigment can finally be filtered and dried. The powder is then mixed with its medium.
The  Egg Tempera is made from the yolk of an egg mixed with a pigment. It can only be laid down in thin layers and has a very fast drying time thus the modelling of any shadow or form need to be built up from small brush strokes. 
The pigment is added to water and thoroughly mixed; it is then made smoother by grinding it with a Muller. The egg yolk is then separated from white and placed on an absorbent towel. (this removes the small amount of white that is left on the yolk sack. The yolk sack is gently pierced and the yolk added to the pigment mix and thinned to requirements. The amount of yolk in the mix can affect the overall finish with too much leaving a greasy finish and too little giving a chalky finish. The ideal being a slightly glossy finish. The paint can be bottled for use. 

Detail showing the texture caused by dabbing an oil based glaze over the armour. In areas my fingerprints could be made out, which to my surprise is seen on the original.

The paint was first applied to the panel in large areas of flat colour, using the body colour of each segment, Background, Horses, Saddles, Harness and scabbard.  This was then built up in small cross hatched brush strokes to describe highlight and shadow. This process requires patience and an ability to judge the underlying layers tonal quality as it is built upon using stronger colours. Areas of highly saturated colour such as the green in the foliage use glazes to deepen the shade and in Uccello’s original painting the addition of walnut oil to the egg tempera created an increased glossy surface and slowed the drying time.

 The overall effect of the silver leaf is most striking when viewed from different angles under candlelight  as the armour shines but unfortunately it cannot be shown easily in the photographs.

The completed work in daylight

Italian armour mid 15th century 
(a) Helmet (b)Visor (c) Gardbrace (d) Rerebrace/Uppercannon (e)Vambrace/Lowercannon (f) Gauntlet (g) Cuisse (h) Poleyn (i) Greave (j) Sabaton (k) Tasset (l) Fauld (m) Couter (n) Pauldron (o) Breastplate. (p) Mail skirt.

The Battle of San Romano

The Battle of San Romano was fought on June 1st 1432, some 30 miles outside Florence, between the troops of Florence, commanded by Niccolò da Tolentino, and Siena, under Francesco Piccinino. The outcome is generally considered favourable to the Florentines, but in the Sienese chronicles it was considered a victory. As the 1430s began Florence had found itself in conflict with the rival city state of Lucca, and her allies, Siena and Milan.

Watercolour painting of an armet with elaborate crest

The Florentine deployed about 4,000 horse and 2,000 infantry. The clash, which lasted for some six or seven hours, consisted of a series of heavy cavalry fights. It was decided by the intervention of a second cavalry corps commanded by Micheletto Attendolo.


The battle was depicted in three large paintings by the Italian Renaissance artist, Paolo Uccello: The Battle of San Romano. Today the three panels are separated and located in galleries in London, Paris, and Florence:

Armet with Visor removed .

Armet opened

A short History of the battle

The Battle of San Romano was fought on June 1st 1432 between Florentine and Sienese forces. Considered more of a skirmish in military terms the battle may have been forgotten had it not been for the commissioning of these three paintings by the Florentine Bartolini Salimbeni.  

Niccolò Mauruzi da Tolentino at the Battle of San Romano

The troops of Florence were commanded by Niccolò da Tolentino, Whilst the Sienese were under Francesco Piccinino. 

During the 1430's Florence was continually in conflict with the city state of Lucca, and her allies, Siena and Milan. The Florentines attacked with  approximately 4,000 mounted cavalry and 2,000 infantry  and  consisted of waves of cavalry charge and counter cavalry charge. which lasted for six to eight hours. Both Florentine and Sienese troops gaining little advantage until the intervention of troops commanded by Micheletto Attendolo. 

The outcome was favourable to the Florentines, who claimed to have won the battle but Sienese chronicles considered it to their advantage which only extended conflicts.

Paolo Uccelo or 'Paul the Bird' painted three stages of the battle from beginning to end. He depicts accurately, the armour of the 1440's, the cavalry being clad in the typical clean lines of Italian harness' with armet helmets  whilst trumpeters wear open faced sallets that have a nasal bar  that is hinged at the brow to allow the trumpet to move. Armoured foot soldiers can be seen as can crossbowmen.

Whilst the armour is accurately detailed Uccelo has chosen to depict the horses without protection. During this period it would have been more likely that heavily armoured  cavalry  would have had the same protection for their horses. Paolo has also chosen to show flamboyant crests on the helmets and the commanders without head protection, this would have been unlikely in such a battle and has confused art historians in the past who have incorrectly labelled the paintings as jousts.

Both sides are armed with lances, swords and war hammers.

To see photographs of Italian armour click here.

Niccolò Mauruzi da Tolentino strikes Bernardino della Ciarda with his lance 

The Counterattack of Michelotto da Cotignola

The battle was depicted in three large paintings originally having arched tops that fitted the rooms they were painted for. After the death of their commissioner the paintings were divided between the two sons but were soon acquired by Lorenzo de Medici who had them cut to fit  in his home the Palazzo Medici.  Today the three panels are situated in galleries in London, Paris, and Florence.

Reconstruction of Niccolò Mauruzi da Tolentino at the Battle of San Romano showing the original arched top.  Egg tempera with walnut oil and linseed oil on poplar, 182 x 320 cm