Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WWII Soviets: Uniforms


For various reasons, I like to paint my Russians with slightly mismatched uniform colors.  I could be that the uniforms were manufactured with variances in the material, the dye, different factories, or perhaps the soldiers themselves have served for differing lengths of time.  For any of these reasons I like to choose a variety of shades of color and paint a few soldiers in each.  This first picture shows the colors I used to paint the soldiers pants.
Soviet pants colors
When painting the pants, you can go pretty quickly, making sure you have a solid and even coat covering all of the area and leaving no white showing through.  Just be sure you don't hit any areas of flesh.  Here is my group after their pants were painted on.
soviets with pants

more pants


I do the jackets or tunics in the same way.  I choose a range of colors and paint them on.  This time, more care has to be taken to not slop onto their pants, hands or necks and heads.  Here are the colors I used.  (I have to admit I'm having second thoughts about 70824 - the German camo orange ochre...)
Tunic colors
And here are some soldiers with full uniforms painted on.  This step can take a little bit of patience, but now your miniature has a lot of color on it and it is starting to look nice!  Some of the soldiers are sculpted with a cloth pilotka hat.  In these cases, I always paint the pilotka the same color as the tunic.  They probably got issued at the same place and time.  Also, my scout figure got a darker green camo suit than the rest of the guys.

If you want to read a really good discussion on Soviet uniforms, check out this blog from A League of Ordinary Gamers.

Next Time: Gear and Boots.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

WWII Soviets: Flesh

As I mentioned in the previous post, I base my figures with white primer.  I do this so that I can get brighter and truer colors when I paint my miniatures.  Part of this method is what I call inside-out painting.  I start with the most inside layers of the miniature and paint towards the outside.  So that means I start with flesh, then go to pants, jackets, boots, gear, weapons, helmets and lastly finishing details.  So my fist painting step is flesh.
As an aside, I had taken some pictures of the individual steps of painting the flesh onthese guys but then I accidentally deleted the photos.  My apologies.
Completed flesh painting example.

Base Coat

Paint all of the exposed flesh with a solid coat of flesh colored paint.  I am using Liquitex Sandalwood.  At this point there is no need to worry about being sloppy, just make sure every bit of flesh has a nice even coat of paint on it.  No bits of white showing through.  Also, you never want to gob on the paint so thickly that details become obscured.  A nice thin covering of paint is the key.  Let the paint dry completely.

Flesh Wash

The next step is a wash of a darker flesh color.  This will deepen the recessed ares of the model like between the fingers, the mouth, ears, and eye sockets.  I sometimes use ink straight from the bottle but on this project I am using one of my own concoctions.  I start with some matte acrylic medium - this is basically acrylic paint without any pigment.  Then I am adding to it some rust brown ink and some sepia ink to get a nice ruddy russian soldier color.  I mix this up in an old contact lens bottle so I can seal it up for later use.  Paint this on to the flesh paint, again you want good coverage, but the skill here is to allow the wash to pool up in the recessed areas.  There should be a difference in color from the models eye socket to the tip of his nose.  Similarly, the lines between his fingers should really pop out.  Let the wash dry completely.
Flesh wash ingredients


The highlight step is done using a drybrush technique.  The paint is the same base flesh color used previously.  Now I use a brush called a shader.  A shader comes to a flat tip, not a point like most brushes.  Dip the very tip of the shader into the paint, and then work it into the bristles by stroking the brush against some paper towel.  You should have about an 1/8 of an inch at the end of the brush saturated with paint.  Now using the paper towel, pinch the tip of the brush and gently pull the brush out.  Don't pinch so hard that you yank out the bristles, you just need to dry the paint onto the brush.  Once that is done, stroke the brush firmly against the fleshy areas of the model so that the raised up portions of the sculpt will "grab" the paint particles from the brush.  This technique should lighten the color on the models chin, nose, forehead, cheekbones, ears, fingers, etc.  You should reload the brush for each model you are painting.  If your brush starts getting gummy, wash it thoroughly in water and let it dry completely before reloading it with paint again.  Dry brushing is a valuable technique for a miniature painter and it is one with which you will need to become competent.
Shader brush and paper towel after highlighting
Another example of finished flesh painting

Next Time:  Uniforms

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

WWII Soviets: Basing and Priming

World War II Soviets

I like the WWII figures I have from Black Tree Designs.  I have a good size collection of Germans and Americans already painted, along with the obligatory pile of unpainted figures from each of those armies.  A while ago I purchased a large platoon of Soviets along with some support figures and weapons also from Black Tree Designs.  I painted 12 of them at the end of 2012, but since then I have not painted any more of them.  Now I have set out 16 more figures to paint as the next part of this project.  At the moment they are just based and primed.  I intend to blog about the entire process of paining this group of figures.  Here in part one I will describe the figures I’ve chosen and then describe my process of basing and priming them.
World War II Soviets


The sixteen figures I’ve chosen consist of; 9 men with the Mosin-Nagant 91/30 rifle, 3 men with the PPSh-41 submachine gun, a gunner with the DP-28, an assistant gunner, a scout carrying a PPSh-41, and finally a sniper with a scoped Mosin-Nagant.  Combined with the 12 figures I’ve previously painted this will give me enough figures to put together two soviet squads.
Soviet Riflemen
Soviets with SMG
LMG team, Scout, and Sniper


When figures come fresh out of the bag they normally have to have all of the flashing removed.  Flashing is all of the excess metal that is still hanging on to the figure and is not part of the sculpted model.  Flashing usually comes from the mold vents or along the edges of the mold.  I carefully look over each figure and cut or scrape off this excess with an X-Acto knife.  I also take a heavy craft knife and scrape the base of the figure smooth enough so that it can stand up on its own.  Some models may need to be slightly bent to get the center of gravity over top of the base so they can stand on their own.
Fender washers and "unclean" miniatures!


I base my WWII infantry on 1”x1/8” fender washers.  You can get a package of 30 of these at your local big-box hardware store for about $5.  Using super glue (cyanoacrylate glue), put a drop or two on each end of the bottom of the figure base, and then glue the figure onto the fender washer.  I try my best to cover the hole in the washer as I do this.  I let them dry before proceeding – you want this bond to be nice and strong.
Some germans glued to their bases
I like to use washers because they give the figure some bottom-heaviness and thus they will stand better on slopes.  I can also put magnetic sheet on the bottom of my storage boxes and the figures will stick to it.  The aesthetic look is also preferable to a thicker plastic base, they are standing much closer to the terrain surface when they are on the battlefield.  For linear warfare figures, like my ACW collection, I use square or rectangular metal bases instead of a round washer.


Once the glue is dry I add texture to the base using gesso and model railroad ballast.  First, take a disposable plastic cup and cut it down to be about 2 inches high and fill it about a half inch deep with ballast.  Using an old brush, paint gesso onto the top side of the washer right up to the edges of the models feet, but don’t touch the model.  I add big globs of gesso to smooth the transition line between the figure base and the washer.  While it is still wet, put it into the cup of ballast and shake the ballast all over the wet gesso.  Remove the figure from the ballast, firmly tap off the excess ballast, and then place the figure down to dry for a couple of hours.
Bottle of Gesso and some ballast in a small cup


Once the gesso is dry the figure can be primed.  Priming is a topic of differing opinions in the world of miniatures painting.  Basically the opinions are black and white.  I choose white.  If you are like me then take your handy can of flat white spray paint and go to it.  If you are a black primer, then feel free to prime in black at this point.  (But if you do use black primer, the rest of this series of posts will be of limited value to you.)  Be sure to use spray paint in a well-ventilated area.  Get decent spray paint coverage, but not so thick that you obscure details of the miniatures.  The primer is there just to provide a surface that your acrylic paints can readily adhere to.  If you don’t get perfect coverage, it’s okay.  At this point, I like to allow the miniatures to dry for several hours before doing anything else, you really want the gesso and primer to cure completely.
With this method of basing, a few grains of ballast will fall off whenever you handle the miniature.  At first it is a pain, and you will be constantly sweeping off your work area.  But after a while, all of the loose ones will be gone, and that is exactly what you want before you paint the base of the miniature.
Based, primed and ready for painting!

Next Time:WWII Soviets: Flesh