Paul Sawyer of Warlord games needed a piece of work amending a few weeks before I started on this title. He handed me the artwork, which I’d done a couple of years before using a ‘clearline’ style – the way comic artists work- in colour, but with the underlying black drawing still visible. I’d forgotten about my original intention to do the Bolt Action boxes like this and I’d gradually dropped the black line. This old figure looked particularly sharp and set me thinking.
It struck me that maybe this was the way to do justice to the plates in Elite 202, The British Army since 2000. I was well aware that the shoes I was stepping into with this job belonged to the master of depicting the British army, Mike Chappell, who had recently hung up his paintbrush. If he was still working, he’d be doing this, and I wanted to get somewhere near his wonderful clarity of depiction. If you’ve got a Mike Chappell reference, you’ve got the best.
The plates take you through a variety of uniforms, formal and informal, but in the final plate we see the latest incarnation of the British infantryman – and woman, with their uniforms and kit shaped by the harsh experience of warfare in Afghanistan. They appear in a rig as layered as any Samurai warrior’s, with armour, camelback water supply, wrist satnav, packs and pouches closed with the familiar plastic snap-fasters, kneepad, radio headset and ballistic glasses. Their gear is as purposeful and evocative as a medieval knight’s panoply.
In the four photos of the last plate as it developed there is the half-inked pencil, then a self-explanatory sequence taking us to the almost complete group awaiting the final session, which normally means a sharpening of contrast and picking out of fine highlights.
The later figures in the book wear multi-terrain pattern camo which is designed to look different in varying light conditions. Particularly effective and rather tricky to paint with its tiny spots of cream and tonally close blending areas of green and brown.
This is Author Jim Tanner’s first Osprey and he supplied a particularly well- researched and full brief for his slightly apprehensive illustrator. I hope the plates do him and the soldiers they depict, justice.