Commission painting and modelling

A warm welcome to Atelier- Robin, the home of rather fine vignettes.

I offer these to the collector or wargamer who wants special models that are nicely presented, full of character and capture some of the essence of their chosen historical period.

With over 30 years’ experience of painting miniature figures and creating imaginative display bases; I can tackle most subjects, using extensive resources of quality artist materials, uniform references and historical knowledge.

I have been successful in painting competitions in the UK (– and often unsuccessful!) and have my work featured in the popular magazines and company websites.

I don’t offer an extensive menu of painting options, I have one ‘standard’ and maintain that as far as I can. I also have some demands from you, the customer. I am not a paint slave and I will not paint just anything. Over the years I have found that I cannot, with the best will in the world, paint crap figures, and lordy, there are so many about. So the creation process involves lots of communication to ensure that the right figures fit into the right scene. You tell me what you would ideally like, I will tell you what I can do.

So for example, a nice idea would be Alexander fording the Granicus at the head of his Companions. I need to have a lot of input as to what figures are suitable – this will involve some figure surgery and converting – and may involve you supplying quite a few alternative figures in order for me to ‘play about’ with the composition of the model.

However, what I can guarantee is that the end result will be a pleasing model that you will be proud to own.

My figures don’t use eye-liner or red lipstick. I try to make these miniatures as naturalistic as I can, accenting as much detail as I can so it simply stands out on its own rather than artificially with over heavy black lining or unrealistic shading.

I definitely don’t use the painting by numbers method beloved by a great many painters. There are no ‘triads’ at Atelier Robin, no formulae, no predictable production lines. Just creativity.

I generally work on a light coloured undercoat ( I really hate black undercoating) and use acrylics, oils, inks; indeed  pretty much anything that comes to hand. I am not in the least bit precious about using this colour or that – I have no interest as to whether the shade of creamy white I use matches GW paints (never ever use these) or Vallejo (these are rather nice though). The important thing is does this or that paint do the job. Is this colour right. That’s for me to worry about.

As to basing the world is pretty much at my fingertips, literally sometimes. I use ground soil, ground coffee, tea leaves, sand, sisal/oakum, silflor (sheet and tuft), flowersoft, grape stalks, lichen, wire, etched brass, flock. Again anything that does the job. The important result is how it looks.

I guess those are the skills that you are paying for.

As for inspiration, I am a great believer that a study of military subjects is only half complete if you don’t understand the culture in which wars are fought. I make extensive reference to contemporary art, textiles and literature. As often as I have a ‘uniform’ book open, I will be looking at paintings and prints for inspiration as well. There are some cracking Knotel illustrations crying out to be recreated with toy soldiers. Piet Snayers shows you what a 17th century battlefield looks like.

I also like to think that I am a well read ‘military’ historian, having studied under three quite prominent and widely published experts, who bludgeoned my unconventionally inclined square brain to fit the round hole of military history. I have a decent personal library and access to lots of information.

My particular interests are the American Civil War, Byzantium, the Duchy of Burgundy, and Napoleon. However, Romans, Normans and the wonderful 18th Century also figure highly.

I hope that does not sound too pompous, it’s certainly not meant to be arsey. I just think it’s important to let you know that I do put a lot of thought and imagination into my work.

There are certain figures and manufacturers I will not touch (unless you pay me quite a bit more!) These are figures that simply don’t inspire – such as Minifigs, or those which take too much work to prepare like Old Glory.

A short list would also include Hinchliffe, Redoubt, Under the Bed and Lancashire games.

Obviously during the initial discussion period we would look at what figures best suit our ideas.

I hate painting cannons and waggons, but if these are part of the composition, I can just about manage them.

I won’t paint fantasy figures of any description.

Generally I will hand paint flags. This way I can ensure that they are accurate and match the figures. However there are now some very good flags available both free and commercially available, I can enhance those. Generally however, you are on your own with Napoleonic flags.

As for shields. I can free hand a few or you can go for decals.

As you can see from the photographs, I am going through a naturalistic ‘dark’ period with my basing as I am trying to reproduce what soil and grass actually look like. However I do understand that many folks prefer a lighter soil and grass effect (and I agree, it shows the figures off better).

So you will need to be clear what general scheme you would require.

As to the composition of the piece, I ask that you put yourself in my hands. In order for me to do may best work, I have to have enormous leeway as to how the final model appears. This ‘no limits’ approach will allow me discretion about what figures go where, what conversions to do and what little additions I need to make.

The base can be more or less any shape you want it – assuming that between us we can get hold of a suitable bit of wood. Obviously the size of the base dictates the look of the finished product. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a couple of figures look good on a small base. Often they don’t. Often it’s the space between figures that tell the story. Napoleon needs to have some room. And who is the closest to him? Not Ney or Soult, but Ali or Constant. His status, the amount of respect he generates will be enhanced if there is a well defined gap between him and his many hangers on.

Of course for a medieval king it will be different. He will be closely followed by his standard bearer, maybe a trumpeter and at least one knight sworn to protect him.

Every base should tell a story. Its no good you having a couple of figures  staring impassively forwards. Or handing a note to a missing aide. No one will be impressed by that. These men we are depicting are doing stuff and inhabit a landscape, with trees, bushes, streams walls etc. Even the debris, the half living, the dead, the broken gun, needs to be appropriate.

Take a look yourself at  contemporay paintings and be inspired..

Obviously I am limited by the availability of figures and what I can do with them – which is limited, I am no professional sculptor, but we will talk about what is possible.

Bloody Hell!.. How Much?



25/8 mm foot  £14 Cavalry £20 Guns waggons £25

15/8mm foot  £5  Cavalry £8  Guns Waggons £8


Now this is quite a difficult one, because some of the material I use is quite expensive and it takes quite a bit of time. But as a rule of thumb if we look at £2 per figure maximum for a really intersting base, I hope you will be pleasantly surprised when it comes out less.

Payment is expected upon completion but before despatch. Post and packing is obviously extra. Collection is possible as is delivery at certain conventions in the north.

I wil not give any predictions of how long these things take. It depends on the ‘muse’ amongst other things – I have limited time available.. However I generally work on only one project (occaisionally two) at a time. There isn’t a production line here, as I get side tracked easily.


One response

  1. Hi Rob

    I can’t see any other way of contacting you so…

    I love the work you have done on your Napoleonic Vignettes and was wondering if I could commission a piece from you. Like you I am a big fan of Tony Barton and my Main Vignette would be using Ab Figures, the idea would be on a 3 inch square metal bases with inserts of 1.5 inch square my plan was AB Napoleon on a horse + ADC etc, next a Tent with Warmodelling Napoleon in front of a desk and then another with Napoleon with Foot on Drum, the outer part of the Stand would have two members of the Duty Squadron. Can I ask if this is something you would be willing to take on
    Also I love your Cabbage Fields and Corn Fields can I ask how much you would charge for 3inch by 2 inch fields.


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