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Category Archives: Painting guides

No plan survives first contact with the enemy…

… or does it?

Well earlier this year I had serious doubts, if I could paint all the minis for my Möckern game at Leipzig. I did not make as good progress as I would have wanted last year and when the new year came there was the daunting prospect of painting all the big Prussian units for the game as well as three small French ones. So I did a mental calculation, where I would need to be at what time to have a chance for things to work out. So I decided that by the end of May I would have to be done with all the Prussian infantry, so the only units left to do would be three Prussian batteries, one French battery, said three French infantry units (which should paint up faster than usual since they will be wearing greatcoats) and a unit of Prussian Hussars. If the same goal would be achieved by the end of June, I assumed that there would still be a snowballs chance in hell for me to pull it through.

So where am I now. Well as of last night slightly more than half the minis for the last Prussian infantry unit (the Leibgrenadiere) are done. The other Prussian infantry units are done. I finished one of the Prussian batteries ahead of schedule. In addition I finished 35 minis for my 40K Tau army and the new river boards (which will also see use at Crisis) are about 70% done as well.

To me this is looking quiet well, especially when I look at the fact that I hardly did anything in April.

Leibgrenadiere WIP

Leibgrenadiere WIP

For those wondering why their shakos are still in their light grey primer state: I always make sure that there are no duplicate minis on a base. But I also make sure that no two minis on the same base do have the same hair colour. Obviously I can only make the decision, which minis go on the same base, once every mini in the unit is done, so they are still awaiting their hair. And it is a bit easier to paint the shakos after the hair, so therefore they are not done yet. Those looking more closely will see that the skin is only in its base color so far. This is just a matter of taste. I want to make sure that the mini inside the unit have the same skin tone. I found that painting skin can be a bit temperamental in this regard, so I want to do all minis in one go here. The freiwilliger Jäger is completely done, since I painted him when I was doing the Jäger for the Brandenburger. Not much danger of a bad mix on a two mini base (especially when you already know which mini is going to be based together with him).

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Painting mud

The recent posts about the minis for the La Bricole painting competition kicked off a lot of requests for my recipe for how I painted the mud. I am happy to deliver, but I have to say that it is so simple, that I am too embarrassed to call it a tutorial.

First a few words on where to paint the mud. Now while battlefields themselves can be wet from constant rain and the like, they are often not that muddy. This requires the soil to be churned up. Either from plowing, dozens of feet walking over the same spot, hooves, wheels, tracks or explosions. So this might not happen at too many places on the battlefields themselves, but it sure happens on the march or in camp. So even with soldiers just arriving on a pristine battlefield, they will be dirty. Obviously most of the dirt will around the feet and ankles, their knees (while striking tents, preparing foot or just sitting on the ground) or if you want on their behinds (usually not worth the effort since it would be hidden by the coats anyway). The exception I make are officers, since they usually had people setting up their tents, cooking their food and most of th time did not have to sit on the ground. So I only “muddy” their feet. With soldiers wearing greatcoats I also muddy up the lower edge of the coat, assuming that it would brush on the ground while kneeling, sitting down or just getting their share of mud thrown up by the shoes while walking or marching.

Now on to the actual painting. Obviously you should have painted the clothing and boots by now, or anything you want dirtied up. What you need is an old, wide brush. The ones usually used for basecoating are just fine. The hairs should not be longer than 1/2 the original length and no less than 2/3. It does not matter if some hairs are longer then others. Now you can use both synthetic or organic (red sable), but chances are good that paint will clog the brush up. So organic brushes are better since they will not melt if you need a solvent to clean them. So the brush should look like this:

old brush

old brush

Pick up paint with it and brush it out on a piece of paper until you have about the amount left on it you would need for drybrushing. Now stiple the dirty areas with paint. For the first step I use Valejo “Flat Earth” (VAL 983). This represents the mud that is still somewhat wet.

Mud step 1

Mud step 1

I now repeat this with Valejo Panzer Aces “Feldgrau II Highlight” (VAL 339). This represents the mud that has already started to dry. Go easier on the spots you already did since you still want “wet mud” to be showing through. And stiple some on a little higher, giving the impression of mud that splashed well… a little higher. In real life the higher you go the less will splash there, meaning there will be less new mud getting there and giving the old more chance to dry.

Mud step 2

Mud step 2

And that is it. I usually paint metal stuff like sword sheaths, spurs and so on after doing the mud. Assuming that there is no fabric it can soak into, I think it will not cling on as good, dry out and fall or rub off faster.

In the end the results should look like this:

Loading 6pdr.

Loading 6pdr.

Bavarian Grenadiers

Bavarian Grenadiers

French Grenadiers

French Grenadiers

As you can see the effect works best on dark and light colours and not as good on tans and browns (what a surprise). Hope you can put this to good use!

 
 

Régiment Joséph Napoleon / Régiment Éspanol

Régiment Joséph Napoleon / Régiment Éspanol

So here it is… the next French unit for my Völkerschlacht / Möckern project. The Régiment Espaniol, also known as the Régiment Joséph Napoleon.

Now it has quite an interesting history. In 1807 the Bourbon Monarchs of Spain send an expeditionary force to serve in the Grande Armée. The around 10 regiments of all branches were split up and served in Denmark. They were still there when Napoleon forced the Spanish Bourbons to abdicate in 1808 and made his brother Joséph King of Spain. For most of the soldiers serving the expeditionary force this was disgraceful and an insult. So when their commander, the Marquis de la Romana, was contacted by a British agent offering transportation to Spain to fight with the allies, he accepted. Unfortunately he and his men were betrayed by one of their own regiments and over 3.500 soldiers became prisoners of war. Later that year the idea was hatched, that there would be enough men loyal to the French to create a unit to fight in the Peninsular. So by decree of 13th February 1809 the regiment was formed. It consisted of four battalions (three Line, one Depot) all organized to French regulations with four Fusilier, one Voltigeur and one Grenadier companies each. The only difference was that the official language of command was Spanish and that their uniforms were of different colour (white with dark green breast). Formation was slow, since the French wanted to be sure that only those would serve, who would not desert at the first possible chance. So the Regiment was only completely formed by spring of 1810. But Napoleon still did not trust them enough. They were not sent to Spain after all, but split up by battalions and deployed to France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

During Napoleons invasion of Russia in 1812, the whole regiment took part. The second and third battalions as part of I Corps (Davout), first and fourth battalions as part of IV Corps (Prince Eugene). All four fought at Borodino, the third and fourth battalions taking part in the attack on the Great Redoubt. They were badly mauled in the retreat from Russia, just like the rest of the Grande Armée. They took part in the fighting in Germany in 1813, where they were decimated even more. So on December 24th 1813 the remaining troops had to surrender their weapons and were converted to a pioneer regiment, which was disbanded on 17th April 1814.

So now on to the minis themselves. At first I had though about using Perry Miniatures for them, since they had been issued with Bardin uniforms after Russia. But on the other hand, they are not only useful for Leipzig, but even more so for Borodino. So in the end I wanted to keep the option open to expand these minis to use them for Russia. So I went for Victrix minis instead, although with a few Perry heads and arms. Flag is from GMB. I was quite stereotypical with the hair this time, as I went mostly for blacks and browns.
I also wanted to use these as testbed for Austrians, since their uniforms were predominately white as well. Usually I paint white uniforms in shades of light grey, with a final highlight of white. But here I went for creme tones, also with a final highlight of white. Not sure yet if I like it or not. The big problem in my opinion is that it a) looks a bit dirty (which is not too bad for the campaign look) and b) that the dirt around the feet and knees does not really come out. So let me know if you like them or not!

Régiment Joséph Napoleon - Régiment Éspanol

Régiment Joséph Napoleon - Régiment Éspanol

Command base

Command base

Skirmishers

Skirmishers

 

Basing 101

Over the past few weeks I have often been asked about my basing. I know that mine might not be the best looking bases around, but I think they are hard to beat when it comes to time vs. looks. So here is how I do it.

First of all you need to prepare the minis and base. Most important is that you varnish the minis before the basing process. This has two reasons. First… during basing the bases will be dipped into sand, so the minis will need the protection. Second… after you are done basing there might be the odd fibre of static grass on the mini and you do not want that to be embedded in the static grass.

You should also paint the edges of the base in the desired colour. I use an olive grass-green for this since it blends in well with the terrain we use. If your minis come on integral bases you should apply some filler around the integral base, creating either a gentle slope (on large bases) or bringing all the ground up to the same level. Otherwise you will get what the Americans call a “pitcher mount effect”. E.g. he minis stands on a slightly raised patch of ground. You should not mind if the end effect is not completely even… real ground is not completely even either. When you are done your base should look like this:

Step 1

Step 1

Next comes the sand. I use sand that I took off a beach in Italy. Obviously that is not an option for everyone, so I will describe what it looks like. The grains of sand are about the size of grains is sugar or salt. Most of the grains are light in colour, some are dark. To keep with the kitchen analogies… like salt and pepper.

To this I added some bird-cage sand. These grains are larger and quite light in colour. These will look like nice little rocks strewn over the ground. I also added some coarse saw dust. You can get this from any carpenter… for them it is just stuff they need to clean off the floor in the evening. But it will give the extra atmosphere to your base.

Next up I paint the base in a chocolate-brown. I brush the paint on in liberal amounts, making sure that it gives a nice thick and especially wet coat. While this is still wet, I push the base into the paint. The wet paint will soak up the sand, tint it brown, and “glue” the sand to the base. If the base is too large to paint it all brown, before the paint dries where you started, simply split the base up in sections . Paint each section and push the base into the sand before you move on to the next section. Just make sure, that the sections do not take on geometric shapes, but rather have rounded and odd edges. At times an edge can show between the sections and you do not want that.

This is how wet your paint should be and what your edges should look like:

Step 2a

Step 2

Step 2b

Step 2

After 2 to 3 minutes (with smaller single mini bases about the time it takes to do the next base) you should push the base into the sand again. Why? Well after a few minutes a good amount of the brown paint will seep through the sand and turn it too brown. Another dip into the sand will give it the right look in the end. And this is what it should look like:

Step 2 finished

Step 2 finished

Next I add some Static Grass tuffs to represent the longer pieces of grass. I use two types. First some miniNatur “Spätherbst”. In the UK and US they are sold under the Silflor label and they should be the “late fall” type. Just glue them onto the base in irregular spots using white glue.

Step 3

Step 3

I also add some “Frühherbst” (early fall) tuffs:

Step 4

Step 4

Do not worry about some excess white glue. The next step will involve static grass and that will simply attach itself to the glue and create some nice blending effects. In this next step I use a mix of two types of static grass to present the flat grass you usually find on fields where it was trampled down by animals or soldiers. I use 4/5 Woodland Scenics “Burnt Grass” and 1/5 Heki “Winterboden”. Now Heki is sold under the Woodland Scenics brand in the UK and US, but they do not seem to sell this type of fibre (winter grass). But to be honest… I do not think that leaving it out would matter. The grass would only be a little darker. To apply it I simply brush on a mix of 3/5 white glue and 2/5 water and push the static grass into it:

Step 5

Step 5

Step 5

Step 5

Afterwards, just repaint the edge of the base where you accidentally got some brown paint onto it and you are done.

Since I was working on my Khemru yesterday, too, I thought I should give you some hints for the desert bases. Those are quite simple. Just use a caramel brown paint. Instead of static grass I simply glue some flock onto the base. The type of flock you usually use for trees. Simple as that:

desert base

desert base

Want to see the finished bases? Well look out for tomorrows posts! 😉

 

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2011 in Basing, General, Painting guides

 

Woodlands MARPAT and ACU painting guide

OK, the recent posts have led to questions on what colours I used and how I painted both my Marines (woodlands MARPAT) and my Army soldiers (ACU). First off all sorry for the lack of a picture walk through… I kind of shot from the hip here after a couple of requests.

Lets start with the technique. Modern camouflage clothing can be a real problem to paint. Patterns like the German Flecktarn, USMC´s MARPAT or USArmy ACU look really awesome in real life, but the thought of painting minis in such pattern can really make one give up on the project before it starts. Who really wants to paint tons of little spots or blocks on a mini, much worse a whole set of minis!

But there really are easier ways. Since we are only painting scale models we only need to fool the eye and that can usually done with really simple techniques.

When it comes to the base colour, you should always start with the dominant colour in the pattern. So for my Marines it was a base of Valejo (VAL) Panzer Aces 339 “Field Grey II highlight”. This is actually a very light brown, much like bleached wood. For the Army I used a base of VAL 886 “Green Grey”.

The rest of the work involved what I call “dry dipping”. This basically works like dry brushing. Only that you take a brush with hard hair, approximately “0” or “Fine Detail” size. Use an old one if possible, since it will be ruined afterwards for anything but this technique. You need to prepare it first, which means putting paint on and pushing it straight down on a piece of paper. After a short time the hairs will be bend to the sides and this is when you can use it.

Before you start dipping, brush some of the paint off using the same method you used while preparing the brush. When there is only about the amount of paint left you would want for dry brushing, push the brush sideways against the mini. When the paint from the brush is used up, refresh. You do not need to dip it into the paint-can every time, but you can refresh it from the paper you used for getting off the brush. Works about once or twice. Do this for every layer of paint, always going from te most dominant colours to the least dominant ones.

In case of woodlands MARPAT this is: VAL 70980 “Black Green”, Black (any manufacturer will do) and Coat d´arms 236 “Horse Tone Grey” (essentially a very light grey or off-white).

In case of ACU this is: Games Workshop “Rotting Flesh” and VAL 70894 “Camouflage Olive”

Since this technique works the same way as dry brushing, the deepest parts will mostly just take on the base colour. Not as much as with dry brushing, since the dipping gets into the recesses to a higher degree, but still not enough. And obviously a camo pattern does not limit itself to the raised spots. So just go back and paint a few small spots of the missing colours with a normal brush into the recesses. Do the same for any spot where you accidentally put too much of one colour.

Now go and prepare a wash. In both cases I used 1 part paint (a dark chocolate-brown for the Marines, black for the Army), 5 parts water (if you prepare a larger amount for future use distilled water since it will not rot) and 1 part white or Elmers glue. The later will help the wash settle into th deep spots, creating a shading on the minis that would otherwise be bleeping hard to achieve on a camo pattern like this. Brush the wash on without remorse.

Now this technique is fast (you can do about 2 to 3 squads in one evening) and the results look good IMHO.

In case you are interested… the boots were done with Coat d´arms 222 “Horse Tone Roan” ( light tan colour), washed with the brown wash and then drybrushed with “Horse Tone Roan” again.

Coyote Brown items (the Marines vests) for example were done in “Horse Tone Roan” with a little white mixed in and then washed with th brown wash.

So once done, your Marines and GI´s can start to deploy to any tabletop field of glory.

Marines

Marines (this is a photo from an older game before I repainted the bases olive)