REFIGHTING THE ATTACK ON BIZORY 19TH DECEMBER 1944: PART TWO PAINTING THE 26TH VOLKSGRENADIER DIVISION

INTRODUCTION

So, now that I’ve collected the figures, I set out to paint them. The BAD Club has some frighteningly accomplished figure painters. I am not one of them. What follows is a version of a paint job by someone mediocre who’s created something that looks competent from a distance and is certainly good enough for wargaming (if not for winning painting competitions).

THE MATERIALS

The materials I used for the project were:

  • Vallejo: All non-metallic paints;
  • Army Painter: Undercoat spray; Matt Varnish;
  • Games Workshop: Ink wash; metallic paints; basing materials (sand, snow and grass tuft effects).

Some “serious” wargamers are a little snobbish about GW products but I find their metallic paints and ink washes some of the best on the market.

STARTING OFF

Peter Pig figures are relatively free of flash, so cleaning them up was a relatively easy business. The next part of the process is to score the underside of the figure bases, plus top of the Battlefront FOW bases, to ensure that the PVA glue I use works effectively. PVA doesn’t really like smooth shiny surfaces.

Unlike Ancients or Horse & Musket period figures, the WWII bases for FOW lend themselves to contriving the figure locations so that it’s easy to get at for painting. So, much to the horror of purists, I base my WWII figures in their final position BEFORE painting.

Once the glue is dry, I then glue the sand on. Once that’s dry, the figures can then be spray undercoated. A couple of years ago I used a brown spray for a Hunnic army I assembled, because so many of the elements (horses, bows, spears, clothing) were brown anyway. However, I noticed that brown seemed to make a great base for every colour, so I’ve used it for all periods ever since.

After the basecoat has set, I then put on the first coat: flesh, followed by uniform, followed by equipment. My approach to the uniforms was based on photos in the Steven Zaloga book on the Bulge (plus of course the TV series Band of Brothers!). In effect, units seemed to have a hodge-podge of winter smocks (in white), greatcoats (in Feldgrau) and some poor souls in standard uniform. The Feldgrau I painted in the appropriate Vallejo colour, and the smocks in a sort of dirty grey.

After the first coat is set, the next stage is an ink wash, in GW’s Gryphonne Sepia. Good ink washes are such a bonus for mediocre painters such as me!

Volksgrenadiers #6

Once that has dried, it’s the final coat. This involves painting the raised areas of the figures in a lighter colour, so white in the case of smocks and Feldgrau (with a little white, but not too much) for the greatcoats.

Volksgrenadiers #8

I then tackled the bases. I simply glued on some GW snow, and then 1-3 grass tufts on each base. When the grass tufts has set, I glued some snow to those as well to give a frozen feel. All done…

The units I have finished are below. From back to front, they are: HQ (with the Major Moldenhauer equivalent to the front); first Sturm platoon; Schutzen platoon; second Sturm platoon.

Volksgrenadiers #7

Close up of one of the infantry bases:

Volksgrenadiers #9

And the Major Moldenhauer figure:

Volksgrenadiers Major Moller

Obviously, Moldenhauer was in 12 VG Division; I’ll need to research another officer for my 26VG, but otherwise use the same stats.

Next comes the tanks and guns.

Squarebashing the Germans

The British now all painted (just waiting to be based)

brit_fin

…now I turn my attention to the Germans. After the usual clean up and hot glue to craft sticks they are ready to go. They are new ‘re-sculpted’ Peter Pig Germans. I haven’t seen the originals so cannot compare. When comparing to the BEF I would say that they are a little finer – the facial details are certainly finer.

The BEF had taken me longer than I really wanted, it been over 2 weeks (although I have been distracted). For the Germans my original plan was to undercoat white and gloopy wash grey and then varnish ‘stain’, in a similar way to the BEF. But instead I thought I would cut out a stage and go for a coloured primer. I would have normally used a car primer grey (which is light and neutral), but I thought I’d try an army painter primer. I originally looked at the wolf grey (to get a bluish hue), but thought it was a little too blue. The uniform grey seemed to fit the bill, and with that purchased it was down to spraying. I did go a light dusting of white over the figures in the first instance. When using the AP primers in the past I have found that you end up doing quite a heavy coat to cover all the bare metal. A tough of white primer first seems to alleviate that. It comes out a little brighter and stops a little of the capillary action pulling the paint into the recess.

After the priming I was pleasantly surprised that the grey had quite a blue hue to it anyway, so was I was looking for. It was a little dark though, and I did toy with the idea of airbrushing a highlight coat , or maybe a drybrush. BUT … I reigned myself in … this was meant to be a quick project.

germ1

So post the primer I blocked in the boots , rifle stock, pack and helmet.

Then it came to the varnish ‘dip’/’stain’. I suppose in my mind I was going to use AP dark tone. The £1 shop varnish I used last time does have a mahogany tint, and I didn’t really want to the lose the blue grey that I had achieved. The AP dark tone is based on an oily black rather than brown, so seemed to fit the bill. It also meant that the 2 protagonist armies would have a distinct tonal difference.

germ2

After that had dried , then I went back and did the face and hands. I like these to be bright, and doing this before the washes had a horrible dirtying effect. Then a bit of red piping , and a touch of metal. Then a matt varnish and the job is complete.

germ3

Overall I’m not as happy with these as the BEF. Greens and browns are much easier to pull together with this sort of wash technique. My complaints are , they are too dark for my tastes. germ4The AP dip is very strong. The base coat was a little too dark. If I had stuck to my original plan and gone white – acrylic wash , then I could have had more control and that stage does add a highlighting element. The overall figures just have a flat appearance with little in the way of contrast.germ5

 

That said its all about getting the soldiers on the table , for this project I can let it slide.

There are more Germans than British, so I will allow myself another 2 weeks to get these done. I should probably think of this in terms of 37 days … a countdown to war…

A little bit of squarebashing

After being caught up with all the centenary media (esp 37 Days), I thought that this year would be a good idea to do a little WW1. The remit of this project would that it would be up and running in a few weeks. Concentrating on the very early part of the war I needed to be playing while the period was still ‘hot’. With that in mind here is my tutorial on how to paint 200 infantry in about 2 weeks.

The first army will be the small British BEF. My preferred 15mm manufacturer being Peter Pig. The reasons being – neatly cast (no cleanup) , comprehensive range , quirky looking sculpts (with a reasonable high relief – more on that later)…. And finally ‘all round good eggs at PP’

With this in mind I will commit to do the whole of the army in a single ‘process batch’. Here are the steps –

prep1

Debag the figures.
Clean up (none), other than a scrape along the bottom to keep the base flat
Hot glue gun them lolly sticks (the large ‘tongue depressor’ type). Bagful for a £1 at a craft shop/works

prep2

Primer. I picked PSC German Dunkel Gelb for this job. It has a rather pleasing green hue, and it light and bright. As the project would be a ‘wash’ project then at this stage you can afford to be light and bright. The subsequent washes will bring it down (and I like bright!)

prep3

Primary Wash. Mix up a big batch of gloopy paint wash. There wasn’t much method to this. It was just a mix of khaki and green (Vallejo Brown violet) until it was an approximation of the colours I was aiming for.

prep4

Mix to milky consistency, a bit of acrylic flow improver (vital to avoid tide marks). But on a ‘spray primer’ I find that the surface tension means that you do get a good capillary action. The main worry is that this is too much and the paint pools. Flow improver is good for that. The best I’ve found is GW Lahmian medium (but it is expensive) and for smaller batches I’d recommend. But in this case I just use a cheapo (Windsor and Newton)..

prep5As you can see at this stage you don’t have to be be too fussy and can really blob it on. When it dries it will shrink back and you are trying to use the paint over the primer to do your shading.
At this point I’m going to block paint all the main areas of colour. So, webbing and pack with a lighter canvas colour, rifle stock brown. Not leave the face at this point. The face is the only thing I’m going to paint. The face is a focal point for the eye, do this well and all else if forgiven

Shading Wash. Once you this has dried (leave overnight) then comes the varnish wash. This is a red/brown/mahogany darkoakthat I bought from a £1 shop. Thinned down with turps to a very wet wash and lather it on. All the figure brightness will drop anyway at this point. You can use Army painter dips (which are probably better colour ranges) , but the only thing I find is that they give a waxy finish when dry and its hard to paint any detail over later. I might use AP dip for the Boche later. I like my cheap dip, as it had a Polyurethane finish and acts as a hard coat and can easily be painted over.

prep6

Leave to dry for 2 days. This stuff take a long time to dry, and is really stinky , so is best left outside (or in a shed)

Then it is really the home run.

Face painting. A orange brown base coat foe hands and face, then AP tanned flesh and AP barbarian flesh ( I bought a new brush for this, just for a crisp edge). As I said it you do a good face then all else will be overlooked. This triad does give quite a ruddy complexion , but as this was a decision to contrast with uniform (and bring out the greens) .. red and green been complementary on the colour wheel.
You may choice to put in a little paint over the webbing and bring out a strap or two.

fin1

The final stage being the matt varnish. I like a lead chromate based paint (outside job) , 1407 Rail Match Matt Varnish. I have been using this for 20 years and have found no equal (and I tried them all!)

fin2

 There will be more to come on my blog

www.lurkio.co.uk/blog

Ray’s flag method…

flag1

  1. Use existing standard bearer or pike man with bear flag pole, or
  2. Cut off cast-on flag then grind down / file pole using “Dremel “ type router.
  3.  Prepare paper flag around wire template with diameter slightly less than pole/pike. This ensures that final push fit is snug. Use “Pritt Stick” when gluing sides of flags together. Form folds, gently crease against wire & remove from former before glue dries.
  4. Super glue in point made from flattened & shaped brass tube; this only needs to extend into paper flag by about 5mm to ensure that most of the hollow is available to slip over pole/pike, as illustrated.

NB: push fit of the final product enables flags to be swapped on a temporary basis (best varnish the flag if you anticipate frequent handling). Alternatively it super-glued to the pole for permanent fix.

This is my new – more simple – system for making standard bearers without  having to drill the pike/pole to take thin wire. However, if the figure does not have a cast on pole then this system still works if you pre-fix one make from plain wire or brass tube.

Ray Boyles. August 2013