It’s taken a while to get round to this blog post, so thank you for bearing with me. Sometimes it should be very simple to paint a handful of wargames figures, and just sometimes life conspires to do everything to prevent you doing just that. Weekends away, swamped with work projects, friends' birthdays, sorting out the garden – the list goes on, and at each one of them the couple of dozen figures you’d planned the month before are still there, looking at you from the painting table, accusingly. I’m sure you’ve all being there, at least at some point.
Anyway, as promised in the last post, here’s part 1 of a quick walk through on painting Great War German infantry. It is not, I hasten to add, a tutorial or instruction! There are hundreds of ways of getting a decent tabletop result for a 28mm. And many, many better painters than me. You really don’t have to go far to find people all over the internet giving helpful advice on how to paint figures, units and armies. (And these are people who are far better organised than me as well and manage to post blogs less than almost three weeks apart!)
But with those caveats in mind, this is my way of getting a group of figures painted. Hopefully it sits reasonably well alongside the companion posts I did last year on paintingGreat War British infantry.
The fist thing I like to do on a figure is paint up the base. I always find that painting bases when the figures are finished is very fiddly. After you’ve painted boots, feet, shoes or whatever, the last thing you want to do is mess that up painting the ground around them. Of course if you want a muddy or dusty effect, you can always add some weathering to the feet of the figure later. However, I still like to do the base first, and add the weathering last pf all.
Painting up the base also helps set the scene and the tone for the figure. I think it helps you choose the colours for the figure itself. Bases are sometimes described as the frame for the picture, with the picture being the figure itself. I really like this description, but I also like to think of the base and the figure complimenting each other and working hard together, rather than contrasting or one just framing the other.
Here, I was trying to create ruined bases from the area of a shattered concrete bunker. Rain-soaked concrete, rusted metal, faded exterior camouflage paint: these were the tones and the impression I was trying to capture. Flat brushes are great for this sort of painting, when you have a cross-over between weathering and painting.
On to the figure itself now. I always start with the face. Or the gas mask. Or whatever passes for the face. There’s good logic to this – the face tends to be the part of the figure which is the hardest to get to with a paintbrush. So you’re painting from the inside to the outside of the figure. That makes it easier to avoid messing the parts of the figure you have already painted.
And there’s also some reasoning to painting the figure’s face and hands first. It helps to further set the tone for the figure, builds the figure’s character and starts their personality. It’s now that you can decide whether to bother with painting the figure’s eyes, or teeth or scars and so on, building an impression all the time. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve not bothered with painting eyes on my Great War figures. Seen from a tabletop distance, it really doesn’t seem to add much to a figure. However, for some odd, and completely irrational, reason, I feel differently about teeth, and added them on the Obergefreiter here!
I used a mixture of Vallejo colours for the face and hands, from a Green-Brown base, then Sunny Skinton, Basic Skintone and finally a hint of White, with a couple of very fine neutral grey washes for the stubble.
Next it’s the dull part of painting, in more ways than one. It’s the stage when I simply “block-in” the colour of the figure in a base colour. A number 2 brush is used for this and I try and keep the colours down to a minimum. Great War Germans are fairly simple in this regard, as they uniform is plain (Vallejo German Grey mixed 50/50 with Vallejo German Uniform) and there’s not a huger number of additional colours for troops with light kit like these Stellungsbattalionkämpfer.
After blocking in the basic uniform, I did the same for the helmet (Vallejo German Grey), the puttees (Vallejo English Uniform), the leather and wood (Plaka Braun) and boots (Vallejo Black).
I then started adding in the detail. This is a lot more intersting, working through the colours and adding a lighter tone and finally a highlight colour. The figure starts to come to life at this point, with the leather and wood of the rifle (Vallejo Light Brown), the metal of the gas-mask case (Vallejo Gunmetal), the puttees (Vallejo Khaki) and the rifle strapping (VallejoGreen-Brown and then Khaki) being added stage by stage.
I’m then left with a figure which doesn’t have much of the basic work to do except for adding tone and highlights to the basic uniform and the helmets, these being the easiest things to reach, and the webbing, which is best done once the basic uniform is finished.
I’ve also added a couple of the standing casualty bases by the side of the Stellungsbattalionkämpfer figures as a contrast. These also need highlighting from their “dull” state. At this stage, I tend to feel that the figures are about 75% done, with the really fun stage of finishing off still to do.
Hopefully I can get them finished before the weekend and blog the final results before too long (and certainly before another three weeks have passed!)
Finally, a huge thank you to all of you who have followed, commented, read and mentioned my Blog over the past couple of years. The “Followers” counter has now clicked past 300, for which I am very grateful, but feel very much unworthy. Hopefully you enjoy what you see here, will continue to enjoy what's coming and will forgive the pretty erratic delivery as a result of life's ups and downs!
For anyone thinking of starting a Blog I would say this – definitely please do it, as the thoughts and comments of people here have inspired me beyond anything I could have come up with myself. And for that, to all of you, thank you again!