Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Painting WW2 Russians

I've started using a different technique to paint WW1/WW2 era figures.  I use black primer on almost everything, and use multiple highlight shades.  But - that seems lost to a large degree on figures that are khaki, drab, gray green, etc.   So, I took a page from the Army Painter method and modified it somewhat.  I'm sure there's nothing terribly unique in my method, but here it is.

First - spray prime with a light shade of the finished basic uniform.  In this case I used Rustoleum Soft Wheat from the American Accents series.

Next - block in basic colors for skin, equipment, straps/belting, etc.   I also add a highlight color to the basic uniform.  They look pretty ugly now.  OK - very ugly now.  I have to admit, that painting in this style doesn't reward you with good looking troops until they are completed, but in a way that helps drive me quicker to get them done so they look good!

Then apply clear gloss - brush or spray.  In this case I brushed on Future.

Then, the key to the quick style is applied - a wash of Future and black ink.  I use a pretty strong mix - 5 drops of Liquitex ink to a small amount of Future.  How much future?  If you have plastic dixie cups - as in the photos - the Future comes up to about the seam showing on the bottom of the cups.   This shades the figures, adding depth and dimension.  Still shiny, unfinished, and ugly.

I kill the gloss with DullCote, then go back over the figures.  Drybrush lightly with a lighter uniform shade - in this case the same highlight that I applied after priming - Apple Barrel Antique White.  This takes out some of the darkness of the figures, highlights equipment and straps, and generally brings the figure together.  I then go over the figures with some additional highlights - highlight the straps, paint the weapon barrels, highlight the boots, ink line the straps, etc.    The next step is to base - and they're now on their stands drying.  More photos of that stage to come later.

All in all, I paint 8 figures in about 2 hours with this method.  If I did the black prime/3 tone highlights, it would take me 6 hours to do 8 figures.   I think the final effect works well for WW1 and later figures, where I "expect" to see a more grubby figure than a horse and musket figure.


  1. Why expect a more grubby figure in the horse and musket period? Didn't they live outside for 6 months, use bad cloth provided by third rate contractors, and wear paper shoes? (okay, maybe not that last one).

    Greg C.

  2. More grubby THAN a horse and musket period figure. I think dirt/mud/general lack of tidiness in the combat area was a good idea for rudimentary camouflage.

  3. Lookin' Good! I got my Russians done and am about to post some pics...I'll copy you on them!

  4. Hi, I came across your site and wasn’t able to get an email address to contact you. Would you please consider adding a link to my website on your page. Please email me.


    Joel Houston

  5. Brent,

    If you are going this way please try your hand at the army painter way of painting. Instead of using multiple coats of future etc its just one dip (applied with brush) and you are off highlighting if need be.

  6. I'm primarily using this style for WW2/WW1 stuff as the uniforms fit it well. I can see using a similar style for the effect on other periods, but would still highlight them up to match my other figures in those periods. I like the look of the army painter and dip methods (the stain), but I'm afraid that I'd be too tempted to highlight after the stain treatment.

  7. Great job, Brent!

    I think the dirtier methods look great for WW1 and later. Everybody was dirty.


  8. Except the staff officers. :(

    Dave (4 years US Army)