Painting 1/72 scale 1942 German Infantry
By S. Emmett
Previously in Wargames Illustrated I described how to paint 1/72 scale or 20mm scale military miniatures using Vallejo paints. In this article I will describe in more detail how to paint WWII German infantry for the period 1936-42 building on the work of the previous article.
Again I’ve tried to keep it simple so the novice painter can use the guide, yet hopefully its detailed enough to be useful to the experienced painter too. It’s a guide to painting these popular military miniatures using Vallejo acrylic paints, enabling you to re-create this famous body of soldiers with some accuracy.
Painting Your WWII German Infantry Miniatures
Once you have chosen your 20mm scale German Infantry miniatures, cleaned, based and undercoated them, (black or white), chose the paints you need to use from the list in box 1.
At the end of the article is a list of useful references, I recommend you have some to hand before you start painting so you can paint exactly the formation you wish to recreate.
In my opinion, anyone can paint a military miniature; take your time and practice until you achieve the result you’re happy with. Don’t be afraid to mix styles and paints when painting your miniatures!
Step by step Guide:
• Painting Flesh – I use the ‘special forces/Bill Brewer’ using Vallejo paints. I begin by choosing a dark flesh tone, (Cork Brown 843 or light brown 929) and paint the bare flesh parts on all ten miniatures first. I never paint eyes on a 20mm scale miniature, leave the eye sockets dark! Once dry, highlight the nose, cheeks and chin. Paint knuckles and fingers on the hands using flat flesh 955 or 845 sunny skin tone. Use an ooooo brush for this job.
• Painting weapons and metal parts – Carefully look over the mini and see where there are metal parts. Dry brush or paint, (what best suits the look your after) these bits using 865 Oily steel. Paint all wooden parts with 826 camouflage medium brown, this is mixed with beige, (914 green ochre) and applied in irregular stripes creating a wood effect.
• Webbing and Boots – During the early part of WWII German Army webbing is black, highlight with 862 Black grey, add another lighter shade if desired?
German Army boots are usually black or brown, either block paint using 862 Black Grey or dark brown, (such as 822 cammo brown) or dry brush the colours across the creases, (whatever looks more pleasing to you) as you finish one miniatures boots and webbing, move on to the next miniature and so on until they are all painted.
Note: Always keep your choice of paint shade lighter than the real uniform, most colours appear lighter at a distance than the actually are!
• Painting the M36 Uniform – After painting the flesh tones, webbing, equipment and weapons you will need to paint the uniform using a 0000 brush. Undercoat the uniform with 979 Dark Green, (darker than the uniform colour to allow for highlighting), don’t paint in creases, over belts and webbing or paint over equipment; leave a fine line of black undercoat between each different colour to accentuate the shadow effect.
Once dried, begin highlighting using 830 German Field Grey; remember you want to see the contrast between each shade. Highlight the creases and areas that are more visible to the viewer. Again, once dried, add a second lighter highlight, (mix a little 886 Green grey with the 830 field grey) and paint the elbows, knees and any part of the uniform where the light falls most visibly, don’t over paint, you want the illusion of depth!
The collar and shoulder straps are highlighted with a darker shade than the rest of the uniform! The trousers may be an alternative colour to the tunic if representing soldiers from the early period of the war. These are painted with 862 Black Grey, once dry block paint around the trousers using 862 Black Grey mixed with 992 neutral grey,
Lastly paint buttons and insignia using the 00000 brush and paint metal buttons using 865 Oily Steel and 883 silver Grey for the national eagle on the right chest. Remember to wash your brush carefully between colours and dry off toward the point using kitchen towel.
• Steel Helmets – Paint the entire helmet in 862 Black Grey, once dry either block paint around the helmet spiralling from the top down to the rim using 862 Black Grey mixed with 992 neutral grey, (leaving gaps or darker paint between the stripes) and highlight the edges and top with this lighter tone, or dry brush the edges and top with a lighter shade, leaving the sides in the original dark colour, then add insignia, (tri-colour shield and national eagle shield), you’ll need 951 white and 892 red.
If the helmet has netting, I’d suggest dry brushing 886 green over a darker base colour.
• Great Coats – Cover the Greatcoat with 979 Dark Green, Don’t paint in the creases, over belts and webbing or over equipment; leave a fine line of black undercoat between each colour to create the shadow effect.
Once dried, highlight the raised edges using 830 German Field Grey; paint to create contrasts between the shades. Highlight the creases and again, once dried, add a second lighter highlight, (mix a little 886 Green grey with the 830 field grey) and paint the elbows, knees and any part of the uniform where the light falls most visibly, don’t over paint, you want the illusion of depth!
The collar and shoulder straps are highlighted with a darker shade of green than the rest of the Great coat!
Lastly paint buttons using the 00000 brush and paint metal buttons using 865 Oily Steel and use Vallejo’s 883 silver Grey for NCO rank on the shoulder straps and left arm.
Some German Army items such as the waterproof quarter tent shelter/poncho; the Zeltbahn was manufactured with a camouflage pattern known as M31 splinter pattern. This was often rolled up and stored on the assault harness, or worn over the uniform during inclement weather.
• German WWII Splinter Camouflage pattern – Base with 896 Dark Green, block paint the camouflage uniform, leaving creases, armpits and folds black to emphasis depth. Using 823 Luftwaffe Green, paint small thin geometric shapes in a random fashion over the 896 base. Once dry add similar patterns, (don’t overlap) using 826 medium brown, rectangles, and irregular squares look about right.
Once dry paint hard line thin Geometric patterns, ‘z-lines’ and ‘lightening bolts’ using 885 Pastel Green over the Dark green base and brown/green shapes to recreate the M31 camouflage pattern.
• Varnishing – Once the painted miniatures have dried you will need to varnish them as protection from handling, (if you don’t do this, handling will inevitable ‘chip’ the paint or wear it down revealing the bare metal underneath). I recommend using a high quality matt varnish or matt coate. I use C. Robertson & Co or Marabu Mattlack. For best results use a fine brush and lightly brush thin coats of the varnish onto the model, do not paint it on! Once dry apply a second coat in a similar way and allow drying for at least a day before handling again.
Suggested Vallejo Paints for WWII German Army Miniatures
The following paints are a guide only; remember to add black for dark shades or white/grey for highlighting light tones!
• 1939-43 German army
Tunic - 830 Ger. Field Grey
Trousers – 994 Dark Grey
Collar - 970 Deep Green
Jack boots - 950 Black
Low boots -822 Ger. Brown Black
Webbing – 950 Black or 822 Ger. Brown Black
Ammo pouches - 950 Black or 822 Ger. Brown Black
Haversack - 986 Deck Tan
Canteen - 822 Ger. Black Brown or 846 Mahogany Brown
Mess Tin - 967 Olive Green or 865 Oily steel
Gasmask Can – 830 Ger. Field Grey
Helmet - 862 Black Grey
Utility Uniform - 920 Ger. Uniform or 912 Tan Yellow
Before painting your miniature German army unit I recommend that you purchase or look online for specialist unit insignia/uniform information. You will also need to re-search the German Army rank system; the German Army used many different ways to tell its NCOs from officers and soldiers!
All photos are available from Martello International & TQD castings, (available under license from Sgt Mess).
Histoire & Collections Books
Graham Green painting article in Wargames Illustrated
German Army uniforms & Insignia 1933-45 Brian L. Davies
Web site that’s are useful for tip’s, painting and information related to painting can be found here, I would also like to recommend the site’s run by painters such as Steve Dean, Kevin Dallimore, Holger Schmidt and Jon Pattison.