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!

18 comments:

  1. I think you've done really well there with the Denison.
    Only thing that caught my eye was that the canteen looks a bit reddish-brown, when it would probably be closer to the Vallejo English Uniform colour.

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    1. Thanks. I think you're right about the canteens, I'll try a toned down colour for the next batch.

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  2. Wow, they look really good. I have always had problems with denisons, so this will come in very handy. Thanks!

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  3. Nice! Duly bookmarked for later reference, busy doing German camp right now. You wouldn't by any chance have a tutorial for oak leaf pattern, too?

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    1. I'm afraid not. I've not tried oak lead pattern yet, I'm still struggling to get Marsh Patter and Zeltbahn right! If I come across anything useful I'll post it.

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  4. Really smart paint job, well executed and well explained, thanks. FYI the canteen is covered in khaki felt but often the felt tears and whatever colour the makers painted the metal shows through (a kind of green, useless info for 20mm!). The colours of the smock and even the webbing to some extent depend on washing, fading, repairs and modifications so you can't go wrong. Officers often took their smocks to tailors and had a zip put in to make it a jacket. O.R.'s just pulled them over the head as intended. In the '50's they put zips in them as standard (more useless tat...sorry). Pistol holster is the same '37 webbing and blanco'd the same colour. Having said that I've seen '37 dark green, black, white or just washed out and sun bleached. How long does this procedure take you and how many figures do you hope to end up with? I really like these old Esci Brit Paras and I've a shed load still to paint and it's nice to see the anti-tank figure comparison.

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    1. Thanks for the comments. You're right about the canteens, from the images I've been able to find there seem to be all kinds of variations, but all of them nearer to khaki than the colour I went with! Ironically I've stuck with Khaki on all my other Brits, that'll teach me to experiment! Good tip on the holster as well. In terms of timing, it's a bit tricky to tell, as I was having to grab bits and bobs of available time, but I reckon with a clear run I could do a full section across a couple of evenings.

      The anti-tank set figures are slightly larger than the 'red devils', and better sculpts overall, but when painted it up it's not very noticeable, they just look slightly heavier built. More problematic is that the rather good US airborne figures from the same set don't match any of the other airborne sets out there!

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    2. That seems to be par for the course ie smart figures that are difficult to match up. It really doesn't matter in the long run as people are different sizes anyway. If it's really noticeable I keep units to size such as Airfix Sherman's away in a regiment and Armourfast in another. However, once the fun starts...who cares. Your a very quick painter for such high quality.

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  5. Lovely work on these and a great tutorial to boot.

    Well done!

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  6. Alan, you are the best!!
    What a great tutorial!! They came out really nice! :)

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  7. They turned out really well, better than my attempt.

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    1. Thanks Francis. They're nice to work on, the sculpting takes the wash really nicely.

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  8. Jesus Christ, God bless your patience. They look smashing!

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    1. Thanks, although I'm not that patient, I find it takes me ages to complete a whole unit as I get bored too quick!

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  9. Nice work and tutorial! I about to start this project myself.

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