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Poll: How important is historical accuracy to you?

Discussion in 'General Figure Talk' started by Babelfish, May 26, 2016.


How important is "historical accuracy" to you?

Poll closed Jun 23, 2016.
It is the single most important thing for me 14 vote(s) 16.7%
It's important, but the overall appeal & quality of a piece is equally important 55 vote(s) 65.5%
Not unimportant, but less important than the "wow" factor of a piece 9 vote(s) 10.7%
Accuracy is a bonus. I just enjoy painting 6 vote(s) 7.1%
Couldn't give a monkey's. I mainly (or only) paint fantasy or sci-fi 0 vote(s) 0.0%
  1. Forté A Fixture

    My issue with anatomical accuracy is that anatomy does vary from person to person and seeing miniatures that always go by the defined standard dimensions is similar to catwalk models having to be a certain height and dress size.

    King Richard the 3rd for example has been found to have had scoliosis and a visible curvature of the spine. So there's no reason to get hung up on slight deviations from anatomical correctness. Get a group of people in a room and see how many of them are slightly out.
    Huw63 likes this.
  2. akaryu Moderator

    In the early seventies in the Belgian Army recruits drilled with old SMLE's, learned to shoot with the obsolete SA FN rifle, while we proudly toted our folding-cross FAL's! The air force ground troops wearily slogged on till the early eighties with their Thompson MP's, effective at close-quarter if used as a war club! They were still equipped with British helmets of WWII vintage!
    Gellso and mick3272 like this.
  3. mick3272 A Fixture

    You only have to look at Scotland's Defence budget:D

    harrytheheid, marco55, Nap and 5 others like this.
  4. Ron Tamburrini A Fixture

    mick3272 likes this.
  5. valiant A Fixture

    I had an interesting conversation with a chap at one of the shows who was looking at the recent figure I did of my father on foot patrol in Cyprus in 1957. This particular individual was adamant that the British Army had, en masse, converted to using the SLR by this date and would, therefore NOT be carrying the Sten gun which my figure is carrying. It was not until the timely arrival of my dad who put him straight on the details (my dad was a driver/mechanic in REME at the time and the Sten was the only thing that fitted under the seat in the truck), did he retreat, defeated!! Historical accuracy, you see....!(y)
    harrytheheid, marco55, Huw63 and 4 others like this.
  6. rossbach PlanetFigure Supporter

    Any historian will tell you that as a general rule the further you go back in time the more difficult it becomes to reconstruct the past. This is because of the lack of concrete reliable sources. Especially for Classical Antiquity my main field of interest. I learned to live with the fact that I will never know for certain what colour the horsehair crest on an Roman Centurion's helmet would have had . Let alone the colour of his cape. What I do know is what colour deyes were available. So I look to them for inspiration. I do agree with Akaryu quoting Rousselot that we would probably be in for a suprise if we could see what they really looked like.

    Historical correctness is less difficult to achieve with more modern figures but can become difficult the more you go back in time. But if a figure is well sculpted and cast I would ignore incorrect details like spacing between tunic buttons or whatever. Having said that for me a figure needs to have some degree of historical accuracy. I would never buy a Roman figure that looks as if it just came back from the Ben Hur filmset.
    Huw63, valiant, Gellso and 2 others like this.
  7. Oda A Fixture

    Some good points there.Many researchers today believe that the roman army didn't take out of use equipment that was serviceable and that in reality it would have been natural to see units with mixed kits.For instance coolus type helmets having been retained even in times when imperial gallic helmets had started being issued.Sound and sturdy gear that could be fixed,maintained,converted and still function properly would continue being used.A very good example of this is the number of English Civil War helmets that exist in museums where the bowl comes from well maintained late 15th century heirlooms adapted(rather crudely sometimes) for service in the mid-17th century battlefields.A study of the works of the great Ewart Oakshott (an absolute pleasure to read being scholarly and accessible at the same time) will convince anyone that great swordblades could see constant use for more than two hundred years.On the other hand it is a fact that techniques for creating patterned fabrics by printing-known to the middle east even before the crusades-did not reach northern Europe for at least a hundred years after.That does not mean that you cannot depict a 12th century northern european knight wearing printed fabric.It means that you must be in a position to justify it(has he been to the holy land?Has he acquired it through commerce and if yes is he rich enough for something like that?).Of course all this takes you back to the bookshelf.You start enquiring about other facets of human interaction e.g commerce,diplomacy etc and it is at this point that the hobby becomes incredibly interesting for me.I like to treat all my finished figures as living persons or venerated ancestors.I want them to have a background,I want to be able to imagine where they lived,what they ate,what they thought of themselves,their world(well you get the picture).Historical accuracy when taken to extremes is exactly that:the ability to enter in a discussion with your subject as if it were a real person(yes Iam being rather poetic and no I am not in any kind of medication nor do I need one-although that is something that any crazy person would say about themselves)
    NeilW, ChaosCossack, tomifune and 5 others like this.
  8. rossbach PlanetFigure Supporter

    You only have to look at Scotland's Defence budget:D

    Ah.................... back to bows, arrows and Claymores then? Well it certainly won't break the bank unlike the purchase of a Leopard 2 A.... God-knows-what. :nailbiting:
    Oda likes this.
  9. Martin64 A Fixture

    Reading through some posts made me smile - if I prove a "nitpicker" that his suggestions about a weapon or piece of gear worn or not are wrong by providing eye-witness accounts and doing extra research I show that my figure is historically accurate and that I do care about historical correctness! Striving for that goal is not the hobby but part of it.
    While field adaptions of uniform and equipment do happen over and over again I feel that we cannot justify all things by telling that in the field everything is possible. A well researched figure shows peculiarites and special adaptions for purpose and not by accident or chance.
    That said historical accuracy surely needs to be seen with some scope for reasonable deviation - especially for figures on campaign..
    Discussions about that topic backed up by facts are to me still quite interesting as they sometimes provide the background story to a certain figure that adds to the general appeal of it. On the other hand the way some of these discussions are silenced at times over here is not an asset IMHO but that`s another story and another poll...
    My two cents!
    Chrisr, valiant and Oda like this.
  10. rossbach PlanetFigure Supporter

    Well of course!

  11. Ray Stout Well-Known Member

    It doesn't surprise me that Cat. 2 is the most popular, but where it all falls down is Medievel Knights, with a Pristine finish, as if dropped by Helicopter onto the Battlefield, with no dirt, or mud to be seen!! and the St. Petersburg set with fantastic depictions of Heraldry, complete with perspective and shading!!! The Dyes used then were Vegetable based, and after 2-3 days in the field, gorgeous Reds, would look like Brick Reds, Yellows, would be Ocrhe etc. I'm all for a good paint job, BUT, that can still be an acurate good paint job. I once saw a film in 1969 called "Where's Jack", about Jack Shepherd and Johnathan Wilde, set around 1750, and the British Soldier's uniforms were Russet, with faint shades of Red under the armpits. It's the best representation of worn uniforms I've ever seen in a film, and if they can get it right, then we should be able to do it too. Ray
    Forté, Oda, Babelfish and 1 other person like this.
  12. Huw63 A Fixture

    "However the great Lucien Rousselot, having devoted a lifetime of study and drawing the French Napoleonic armies once said " We might be in for a great surprise if we could see what they really wore!"" This quote sums up my view - try to be as accurate as possible based on what we know and surviving equipment and period iconigraphy. Of course the further back the less we know.. what' is important though in my opinion is to also remember we do this for fun and not on a " i know it all basis".

    There are my humble thoughts on the topic.


  13. Oda A Fixture

    Huw you are right.Noone knows it all.Of course we all have an area of expertise if you like or a certain subject we like so much that we have studied as much as possible.That's why fora like PF are so important.I can go on line anytime and ask for counselling on any subject.There's always going to be someone available with more knowledge than me on the given subject.That's why also tolerance and good manners are so important.I f we discourage people from asking we are essentially blocking valuable knowledge and I would like to stress that point:I'm refering to knowledge not information.
    If I am about to paint my first napoleonic and go on line to read about it then I'm just gathering information about it,whereas if I ask someone with a lifelong interest on the subject then I'm benefitting from his/hers accumulated knowledge and there's a huge difference there.

  14. Oda A Fixture

    Ray,you are also right.I am a great fan of the Russian painting style.Almost every time it's a tour de force (the artists are almost certainly graduates of fine arts schools like the Repin academy) and almost every time they are completely unhistorical.It would probably be impossible for anyone,be he a prince,duke,emperor to go to battle dressed like that and look that clean during or after the battle.Nevertheless it's magnificent and almost impossible to equal(at least by people with my skills).

  15. rossbach PlanetFigure Supporter

    The Russian painting studio's only aim is to generate money. Painting (hallmark: intricate emboidery patterns) is generally done by trained professionals (mostly women).

    Historical accuracy? Well...... they also paint stock figures from the major manufacturers, which I sometimes see up for sale at Creepbay.

    The figures themselves are no doubt as accurate as can get. As to the finish they get............... well. No matter what the historical subject is they all seem to get the same standarized treatment.

    I have a book by Mr. Black Publications in which two Russian ladies present a vignette about a Russian knight on horseback. Technically everything is perfectly executed along the familiar lines. The scenery is complete down to frogs, a crow, flowers and waterlillies. The garden gnome however is conspicuous by its absence.

    To me it would appear as though the whole scene has more to do with the artistic ideals of its creators rather than with realism or historical accuracy. I think it borders on kitsch. But that is a rather personal interpretation isn't it?

    Huw63, Oda and akaryu like this.
  16. Ray Stout Well-Known Member

    If you look at contempary illustrations from 13-15 centuaries, you can see they have no ideas of Perspective, or Shading, yet time and time again in Competition you see representations of modern ideas of how THEY think it should look. There were strict rules about Colours that could be used for a Coat of Arms, so, if you're going to spend good money, and so much time and effort on a figure, just take a little more time to do the research. Some of my best ideas for depicting a figure, or composing a Diorama, come from researching the subject. To say,"Oh it's Artistic License" isn't good enough!! I could say the same thing, if I painted Winston Churchill wearing a Swastika Arm Band,but I can't see that being as readily accepted as a Wrongly represented Knight!!! Ray
    valiant, Huw63 and Oda like this.
  17. akaryu Moderator

    Another example is the ronin bust that keeps showing up here and on ebay, superbly painted in intricate and very colorful silks which even a yakuza pimp wouldn't dare to wear, but never seen in a subdued pattern suited to Japanese taste and a ronin's social status!
    tomifune, Huw63, Forté and 1 other person like this.
  18. Oda A Fixture

    Paul and Piet you are quite right.As I pointed out Russian painting is technically flawless but historicaly flawed.It's a tour de force,an exhibition of an artist.It's like the solo of a virtuoso.It might not be attractive but ,boy,can he play!It's just that until I am able to paint like that I will not be judgemental for fear of having people think that I do so because I cannot match their skill.As for Japan(my all time favourite),Piet you are absolutely right.No self respecting Japanese-even the richest Edo merchant-would be caught dead wearing such garments.If one looks at Japanese prints he would see that Japanese taste is all about combining dark solid coloured fabrics with brightly patterned ones but in a very subtle,tasteful way without ever getting to look like harlequins.But to return to my previous example:pablo Picasso was perfectly able to paint very naturalistic portraits using all the classical methods.It was after he had mastered classical Western painting that he decided to turn it down and develop his unique evocative style.That pretty much sums it up for my view on Russian painting.It is not historical but it is technically challenging.If I ever master it I will be able to abandon it with a light heart.Until then it remains a hallmark of technical skill for me,always tempting,always taunting.That does not mean that I will stop painting figurines or that I will try to paint everything like them.It's just that I will always strive to sharpen my skills as close to theirs as possible.

    kenshin393, valiant and Huw63 like this.
  19. rossbach PlanetFigure Supporter

    All that's said is true. However we should realize that when painting figures we, by applying the principles of overhead lightning, are merely emphasizing an already existing 3d shape. By applying lighter and darker variations of a basic colour the detail on a figure is made to stand out. Indeed we borrow from the artists on canvas. Does that elevate figure painting to a form of art? Haven't really thought about that. I would like to think it might give what we do an 'artistic edge'. But no more than that.

    I see figure painting primarily in technical terms. So in itself there's is nothing wrong in painting intricate emboidery patterns on a miniature something the Russians appear to be quite good at. As a matter a fact I admire it because it calls for excellent brush control as well as the ability to draw. I daresay that, technicaly speaking, this is much more demanding then applying colours to a 3 dimensional colour plate. Basically that is what figure painting is really all about, isn't it?

    So chapeau to the Russian studio painters for that. The only problem I have with it that they apply a technique that might also be suited to decorate porcelain to each and every figure they can get hold of. Painting these patterns in order to replicate for example heavy expensive 17th century brocate cloth that was actually used to make clothes that were worn by those who could afford to does make sense to me. That is what I call historical accuracy. Applying that same technique indiscriminately to every imaginable Medieval subject does not make sense and is therefore historically incorrect. So in that respect I am a nit picker indeed.

    The Russian painters probably couldn't care less about our reflections however. Their product sells otherwise they would not be doing it. And that is what matters to them.

    Oda, akaryu and Huw63 like this.
  20. Andrew Perren PlanetFigure Supporter

    Right now if we can all just agree on the definition of "Accuracy" then ....................:p

    Seriously, don't we each define for ourselves the point at which a figure (in our case painted/sculpted or both) is considered accurate - to us. Does it meet our expectation, compared to what we reference as "fact".

    So far I've read a lot of responses that I'll paraphrase into " Yes accuracy is pretty important - unless its a ( insert pet subject here) then it's really important." That's not remotely surprising as it is a completely normal thing to do and totally personal to each of us. No opinion is invalid on historical accuracy - It's when you try to project your opinion onto someone else that handbags start.

    I think the poll just serves to give each of us a chance to indicate where our line is drawn. For what its worth I do consider this part of my hobby to be an artistic pastime every bit as much as historical reproduction.

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