Monday, 11 August 2014

The Great War - Painting Tommies - Infantry

Hello fellow gamers

I decided to write up a post on how I painted my Great War Brits.  I'm using the OQF 18 pdr and HMGs crew as the demo pieces.  As with any of my painting articles, I'm not saying this is how you should do it, simply sharing how I did it and hoping that helps someone.

Pic of end result

Step 1 :- Prime and Base coatUsing an airbrush I used black Vallejo primer and then base-coated the men with English Uniform and the Guns with Brown Violet.

Step 2 :- Highlight Uniform
For this I add Ivory to English Uniform

Here's what it looks like mixed and thinned next to straight English Uniform.  Subtly is NOT your friend, less is NOT more.  We want high contrast.

Brushed from a high angle with 4-5 pffts, here's the difference between a highlighted and non-highlighted fig.

Step 3: Wash
I use Vallejo's washes, I used brown when I did my Soviets, but I think black is the way forward and that's what I;ve used here.  I thin my washes, when they are not thinned I find I end up smothering the figure and the end result is too strong.  Thinned 50:50 wash:water seems to work best for me.
Step 4: Shadow flesh
I like flat brown as the shadow colour for flesh...high contrast baby ;)
I use a size 3 brush to apply aiming to get a good solid block of colour.

Step 5: Base flesh
I'm still using a GW colour - Tallarn flesh, when it runs out I'll use VMC Cork Brown.  I switch to a size 0 for this step and try to leave shadow between the hand and cuffs, and in-between the fingers.  On the face, describe a T on the forehead/nose and a U around the cheeks and mouth.
Step 6: Highlight flesh
Again I'm still using a GW colour - Kislev flesh - when it runs out I'll be looking to get VMC Pale Flesh.  I hit the cheeks, nose, and chin.  That rounds up the flesh...3 layers nice :)

Step 7: Webbing and bags
I use Khaki, which is not very dissimilar from English Uniform
Note: I need to get the flash on that helmet

Step 8: Highlight Webbing and Bags
I add Ivory to Khaki about 50:50.  Try to define the webbing and bags, by hitting edges.

Step 9 & 10: Puttees and highlight
I wanted a slightly different tone for the puttees, so I mixed Russian Green with English's subtle.  I try apply it leaving the shadow.  To this  mix I add a splodge of Ivory and reapply.
Left: First layer          Right: With highlight
Step 11: Boots
Okay an easy one, just paint on Chocolate brown...don't bother with trying to keep a shadow or a highlight.  The one thing you do want is a neat line between the boot and the puttee.

N:B. A blunder worn by the rank and file should be black, whereas the officers had brown, thanks to Smee on the BF forum for pointing this out.

Step 12: Water Bottle
I used flat brown to pick out the water bottle, working around the straps

Step 13: Wooden handle
I think this is an entrenching tool, but I'm not entirely sure...anyway beige brown it is.

Step 14: Bayonet scabbard
I got this wrong on my Rifle platoon, which meant it ended up beige brown.  Here I'm doing black grey for the leather bit and cold grey for the metal end.

Step 15 & 16 Rifle and highlight
For the rifles I used beige brown, then I added orange brown to make a highlight colour.
Step 17, 18 & 19 Rifle metal parts
I paint the barrel, magazine, bayonet and cocking handle black as a shadow colour.
Then I add cold grey to the black and re-paint as the base colour.
Finally I add more cold grey to make a highlight, trying to hit only the edges and tips.
Step 20 : I used another old GW Colour - Snakebite leather on the rifle slings.  It's prety much ran out now so I'll replace it with brown sand.
Step 21 : As these guys don't have rifles I painted whatever they're holding.  I don't like painting with metallics so I attempted some NMM.  I used VGC parasite brown, mixing in progressive amounts of VGC scrofulous brown, then a final blob of sunny skin tone.

I used Ger Cam dark green for the ammo box, adding Ger Cam light green for highlights.  I used sunny skin tone to do the "writing"

Step 22:  I did a blue unit badge on the left shoulder.

Step 23: I chose a few figs and did corporal strips, first in black then in sunny skin tone.  I also did the officer's piping in sunny skin tone.  It's a strong colour to use...but I like it.

N:B. On my rifle platoon I painted officer's pips on the shoulder...I should have put them on the arm...thanks to Evan at Battlefront for pointing this out.

For reference...

Some are better than others, the one on the gunner is a bit messy, middle one is as good as it gets.  I also tried Sergeant's stripes...more practice I think.

Step 24, 25 & 26:  The helmet.
I chose Brown Violet (which as we all know is green) I add progressive SMALL amounts of sunny skin tone to make a highlight.  When I do helmets I go for a creseent moon shape, with the fat bit towards the front.  I paint the rim of  the helmet with the edge of the brush, but not all the way around, just front and back.
Left: With Highlight           Right: Basecoat only
2nd highlight
And finally...tidy up the base with flat brown.
That's the troops done...if you have any questions or you would find it helpful if I went into any more detail on a particular aspect then please do ask.

I haven't gone into how I based them as not everyone liked it...suffice to say I used Vallejo Dark Earth and Vallejo Water Effects...very simple.

As I said at the beginning, this is simply my current (subject to change) method for painting infantry and I hope it's of help.

Take it easy



  1. Great looking Tommies and a fantastic tuto!

  2. Was looking forward to a post like this after hearing about these on the podcast. Really nice process and a solid result.