Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wild Bill Hickok

Of all the western characters I've sculpted, I keep coming back to Wild Bill Hickok. I've sculpted him in three different scales. If you are an artist, perhaps you can see why; the windswept and interesting hair, the dramatic clothes, the unique face, and his uniquely Victorian notion of manhood, expressed plainly in everything from his posture to his dispassionate, but not unpleasant visage.

Here's my 40mm Wild Bill, seen from four angles.

This figure is from KOW48-012, Heroes I. The base is a simple metal washer, and the basing was done by sprinkling sand over white glue, and dry-brushing from medium brown to tan. A tuft of static grass is the one patch of weeds growing in Abilene's street at didn't managed to get eaten by a cow or trampled by a horse.

Wild Bill is interesting to paint because of his penchant for fancy duds. I set off his Prince Albert frock coat with a faint line of gray piping which is not actually sculpted onto the figure. In one famous photo he's shown with plaid trousers, which I did my best to paint (although I chose a slightly different plaid than the one in his photo). His hat is a popular style known at the time as the "Boss of the Plains," or "Boss of the Prairie." It features a low crown but a wide brim, and was usually tan, gray, or white. It pre-dates the Stetson.

His hair was auburn. I began with a dark brown undercoat, a burnt-sienna medium tone, and for highlights mixed burnt-sienna with yellow ochre.

Wild Bill's most famous post was Abilene, the summer of 1871. Cowtowns were dusty, except when they were muddy. His shoes, trousers, and the bottom edges of his coat were dry-brushed with a very faint mix of medium brown and yellow ochre to depict the  ever-present filth which was impossible to avoid, regardless of how dapper you tried to be.

His guns are nickel-plated Navy revolvers, with ivory grips. He fastidiously maintained these weapons, making sure they worked when called upon. I have fired a replica Colt's Navy 1851 revolver, the model he used, and I managed a misfire rate of about 50%! He took great pains to clean, shoot, clean again, and reload his pistols every morning to be sure the cap popped, the spark reached the chamber, and the powder ignited.

All the best,
Knuckleduster Miniatures 

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