Friday, 15 February 2013

Airborne, Step-by-step

I've been meaning for a while to get a step-by-step run through up on how I painted my Brit Paras, and this week I finally found the time to do it.

British Airborne, in action between tea breaks!

Before I start, it's worth taking a quick look at the iconic feature of the British Airborne, the Denison Smock; a handy starting point is the rather good page about it on Wikipedia.  In short, there seem to have been two major variants used during WWII.  At 1/72 I'm not going to worry too much about the cosmetic differences involving buttons etc, but it is useful to note the difference in colours, with the earlier smocks (which would be more suitable for North Africa and Italy) on a sand coloured base and the later smocks (used in Northern Europe and appropriate for D-Day and Market Garden) on a more olive green base.

On to the painting then.  The aim of the game here was to produce minis that I'd be happy to use of the gaming table rather than miniature works of art, so I was aiming to get a convincing look without spending too much time fussing over the detail or shading and highlighting.  The figures used were all from Italeri, the sten gunner from the 'Anti Tank Teams' set and the rest from the (former Esci) 'British Airborne'.  Paints were a mix of Vallejo and GW (although I'm not sure what their equivalents would be in the new range).

back row: German Camo Medium Brown, Reflective Green, English Uniform, Russian Uniform, Black Grey, Khaki Glossy Black
Middle row: Mournfang Brown, Mechrite Red, Gretchin Green, Tallarn Flesh, Leadbelcher
Front Row: Badab Black, Devlan Mud

After priming with GW Chaos Black, I started with the basecoat.  VJ English Uniform for the battledress, helmets in VJ Russian Uniform, webbing and gaiters in VJ Khaki, boots VJ Glossy Black and weapons in Mournfang Brown and Leadbelcher.  Two of the models had the smock basecoated using GW Gretchin Green and one in VJ Green Ochre, to represent the earlier smock.  Painting is pretty rough at this point, as later coats will tidy it up, and I haven't painted all of the webbing, as some will inevitably get painted over again when doing the camo.

The first camo colour is done first, using VJ German Camo Medium Brown.  The earliest smocks were allegedly hand-painted using mops, and the pattern continued through the war, so I went for big, bold patches of colour and didn't worry about being neat. The 'stripes' on Denison smocks run in all directions, so I tried to avoid it looking too neat.

Green patches next, in VJ Reflective Green.  Again it was put on it quite bold strokes, trying to cross patches of brown at angles.  It doesn't matter if the paint is a little thin either, in fact it can be helpful, as on the real smocks the colours do seen to show through one another to some degree.  Once the green was on I tidied up the webbing in Khaki.

Everything is looking a bit bright and, to be honest, a bit shoddy at this point but this is where the washes come in.  Shading was a simple matter of a wash of GW Badab Black for the guns, which was followed up with GW Devlan mud over the whole figure.  I've not tried the new washes from GW, I only hope they work as well as these ones do!

Once the wash was dry, a quick highlight was achieved by simply using the original base colour on any raised detail.  The helmets had a quick drybrush with khaki to bring out the netting, and the boots a rough highlight with Black Grey.  I didn't try and highlight the smocks; it's a ridiculously time consuming thing to do and, in my opinion at least, the camo should stay quite dark so that the webbing and other details don't get lost.

So there you have it, how I've been painting Brit Paras.  Do let me know below the line if you've found it useful (or, indeed, if you have any suggestions on how I could improve the next batch!).

Tally Ho!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Xmas X-Wings and Gaming Gifts

A bit late, perhaps, but I'm going to cast my mind back to the heady days of 2012 and reflect on what the Christmas period brought along to join the Slippery Slope.

It would be fair to say that whilst I didn't quite have the Christmas I'd planned, it was still a pretty good one, and surprisingly productive from a gaming and modelling point of view.  The original plan was that Mel and I would spend Christmas with my folks down in Dorset (South West England to those not so familiar with the UK).  However heavy rain and flooding across the country soon put paid to those plans, as we watched the updates of cancelled and delayed trains mount up online (you know those people you see on news reports being passed hot cups of tea by well meaning volunteers whilst having to spend the night stranded in some community centre somewhere?  Well, I didn't want that to be us!).  At one point it looked like we'd be spending Christmas on our own, until Mel's sister took pity on us and made room for us to join them and the rest of Mel's family just down the road.

Well fed and rested, and with the flood waters receding, we finally headed south.  I think I've mentioned before that much of my interest in modelling came from my Dad who, in a burst of nostalgia, presented me a with a rather lovely little pre-painted kit of an X-wing to assemble, bless him!

The same thinking seemed to have somehow infected my sister, who provided more modelling material in the form of some Plastic Soldier Company Panzer IVs (I know what one of my next projects is going to be!)

As if that weren't impressive enough, we even managed a bit of gaming (sort of...).  At this point it's important to note that my Mum is a fanatical watcher of TV soaps (even over Christmas) which the rest of us find pretty tedious, so we planned ahead with some games to distract the rest of us.  On a whim, I'd picked up 'Zombies!!!' already, and Mel retaliated with Lego Creationary (think Pictionary, but with Lego).  Lego won the toss and much hilarity and confusion ensued as we all tried to guess at the increasingly disastrous (and possibly alcohol fuelled) attempts to build something even vaguely recognisable.

Mr 'Dad' demonstrates traditional west country 
ceremonial costume, complete with flashing ball

Much fun was had, brussel sprouts were consumed, and wine flowed.  But all good things come to an end, and we slogged back to Derbyshire with the intention of having a nice quiet New Years in, just the two of us.

Yep, you guessed it, that didn't quite go to plan either...

A bit of a family crisis instead saw us hosting Mel's sister and our two little nieces (it seemed only fair, as they'd taken pity on us the week before).  This is where 'Zombies!!!' comes in again.  In a surprise twist, the elder of the two, Isobel (10), turned out not only to be quite comfortable with the idea of the undead roaming the streets, she also turned out to be a proficient and distinctly devious board game player, who proceeded to win time and again against the (so-called) grown-ups!

Things look 'dicey' for Mel's survivor

For anyone after a simple, 'beer and pretzels' type game I can recommend 'Zombies!!!', it even got Mel quite hooked, and she's not normally much into games.  The rules take a couple of run throughs to get used to, but once you have they're pretty simple and don't get in the way of the fun.  The objective is simply to be first to the helipad to escape, with each player taking it in turns to move and fight with their character and then move a random number of zombies (the game comes with about 100 zombies of two types).  Straightforward enough in concept but the random map (each player draws a new map tile each turn until the helipad one turns up) keeps things fresh for each game, while the event and item cards positively encourage back-stabbing and underhand tactics throughout.

Never trust a 10 year old with a chainsaw and hand grenades, that's all I'm saying...

Normal Service WILL be resumed

Just a quickie to remind everyone (including myself) that I'm still about.  Work, life and continuing computer troubles have kept me from doing much more than making the odd comment for a while, but I'll be trying to get some posts in and updating shortly.

Meanwhile, I've finally found time to paint something!  Here's a couple of not brilliant pics of some Airfix Afrika Korps painted up in fieldgrey.  With a bit of a squint they'll do fine for Ost battalion troops in Normandy, and add a bit of variety to my German Infantry.

The chap on the bottom left appears to suffer from the "Curse of Airfix German SMGs", and is carrying something highly improbable, in this case what looks like an MP41 (which was never issued to front line troops).  I suppose I can squint at it and pretend its the German manufactured version of the Beretta, or maybe not.

Also, many thanks for all the kind words said in response to my last post about the British paras.  To those of you who asked if I could do a step by step...

Now I just need a day that's not freezing cold and a howling gale to get the undercoated!