Just curious if anyone has an interesting way of identifying units - number on the corner of a base or something similar. With my French, I am finding the banners to be too similar with the infantry, and they are difficult to identify, even though so far I have been able to build each regiment with a theme - greatcoats, no greatcoats, mix; it won't take long before I run out of variations!
Well, instead of bases, just make subtle changes on the bases. Some with tufts, some with a particular coloured tuft like yellow flowers, others with more bare earth and so on. That's all I do and it works. The number thing would spoil the effect of the bases. Sometimes, you can make the base pattern run so that they fit together a bit like a jigsaw, or make the scenic effect do that. Another way is to place a little blemish on the banner or the packs of each figure or something. You know, nothing obtrusive that would look out of place, but would make them recognisable to you. I always try to make such markings blend in so that I know what they are but it doesn't look obvious to anyone else.
when ever I'm using a dark colour on any fig, I tend to scrawl a couple of initials or numbers on the bottom of the base eg. 66th = Berkishire Reg, PMR = Parliament Manchesters Reg, and the same with officers names, just enough of the name to prompt my memory. It's not a great system especially when time passes and I think "what the hell is FRR"?
I've been very OCD with my 40k minis and indexed the underside of the bases with a letter code for each unit/unit member and followed it up with a small index card listing the basic stats for each mini. When I first started 40k this really helped remind me what I'd modelled on each figure. I've got very heavily converted orks and I used to have trouble recognising the difference between the various armaments.
I am going to go with Al's. Funnily enough I was going to use flowers for my Japanese, and never even thought to do the same with the Naps! So I have a pack of flower tufts. Bingo! And a shot up banner will make for another different unit. I was very resistant to the thought of numbers or labels on the bases because you are right - they take something away.
Sounds like I might be able to vary these enough now.
On my 6mm stuff and on my 1/3000 naval I have a 1cm wide strip on the back/side of the base respectively. This carries the unit name, and in the case of the 6mm units a few critical BP stats. The 6mm labels are all colour coded for even easier recognition and have a brigade badge so that the units don't get mixed up. The naval stuff has an appropriate ensign on each label.
In both these cases I find it's essential to do this. For 6mm it's impossible to fight big battles without it. With it it's very easy to spot at a glance which brigade commander goes with which brigade, and where all his units are. And for naval it makes it a lot easier to identify the ships quickly, especially destroyers.
I wouldn't do the same for 28 or 15mm. I did toy with the idea of sinking a small hole in one corner of each base and filling it with paint, a bit like the pip on a dice, to colour code each squad. That way it wouldn't detract too much from the fancy base work and tufts. Jury's still out on that one.
Completely agree on the small scale stuff. When I was making my Hunsdorf battle Baccus minis, I did label them - otherwise I couldn't have been able to know who was who. With my Flames of War, I have used the historical names of Company, Platoon commanders when I have been able to find them, and then radio call signs (21C, for example) on the bases on the bevelled bit. Looks decent, I think. My GHQ 1:2400 WWII and 1:1200 Napoleonic, all have the ship name on the base.
Once the scale increases - I think Al has it - a label becomes intrusive, and ruins the effect of the base.