Triumph! Over Entropy: Return to Miniature Painting with the Joseon Dynasty Koreans

Since the demise of my DBA world several years ago, my impetus for collecting and painting new miniature armies has been non-existent despite the fact that I am quite happy with the Triumph! rules developed and used by my local gaming group.  I’ve never been a big painter, but the prospect of having to retrofit my host of DBA armies to new Triumph army lists was highly demotivating and COVID eliminated the need to churn out playable armies for tournaments or theme-night gaming.   The added facts that my gaming partners are all prolific and superb painters and that I have Paul Potter’s number also discouraged me from picking up a brush.

That hasn’t stopped me from admiring new ranges of miniatures as they emerge, and one in particular that caught my eye was the Late 16th Century Korean range by Essex better known as the Joseon Dynasty.  Although my regional historical interests went more toward the Goguryeo Koreans of the Three Kingdom’s Period, the Joseon Dynasty (aka Yi Dynasty) was both long lasting and had interesting opponents in the Ming Chinese, the later Mongolians and the Japanese Samurai.  Plus they were a colorful army, but not as intimidating to paint as your classic samurai.  And did I mention Hwacha rocket arrow artillery?

After a year of contemplation, COVID induced boredom finally inspired me to acquire the appropriate Essex figures and start out on my first army painting project in nearly a decade.   Having spend many hours watching tutorial videos on-line, including Tony Aguilar‘s live-streaming sessions, I decided to take a new approach to this project, in hopes of avoiding the boom or bust burnout of my past efforts.  This time it is going to be about quality over quantity.  Time would not be an issue.  I’ll paint only one element at a time, from primer to completion.  I’ll paint from a wet pallet and try new shading and highlighting techniques, instead of relying on my trusty miracle dip to cover all flaws.  And for this particular army, I will not be afraid of using color, but want it to present with a flat matte finish (no gloss) so that they don’t look too “toy soldiery.”

In this article, I’ll keep track of my progress.  First up are two elements of Horde.  Number of figures aside, I figured Horde would be the easiest to paint, and getting off to a good start would be motivational.   The first element would be a Righteous Militia comprised of local monks, which are depicted here using Essex KRA14.

Horde1

One down.  Twenty-odd to go. 

Next up, the jiyeog ma-eul simingun or local village militia, my second element of horde for the Joseon Dynasty army.   Made up from Essex KRA18 (Late Korean Auxiliary Spearmen).  Unlike the Essex catalog picture which has them all in uniform white robes, I wanted this unit to look like it was a muster of villagers who turned up in their regular street clothes.

levy1

With these figures, I experimented with Citadel’s Nuln Oil in lieu of multi-tone shading, and got mixed results which I think I can correct through adjustments in application.  Overall, I found it so easy to work with that I’ll probably keep on using it.levy2

I was falling behind my element a week schedule, so decided to catch-up with a quick unit of Crossbow skirmishers. Perhaps a little too close-up to do them full justice:

Am thinking I may go ahead and base these up and take new pictures to make things a bit more consistent. Otherwise, still to come:

2x Archers
1x Artillery (Hwacha)
1x Heavy Foot (Halberdiers)
6x Pikes
3x Elite Cav (inc. CnC)
2x Horse Bow


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