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

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