Friday, February 19, 2010

Painting 28mm WWII US Paratroopers

Well, time to get back to painting wargaming figures. I'm running a Carentan, Normandy scenario for the local convention this spring, so I've got to get hopping on the forces. I'll be pitting a platoon of 101st Airborne against a platoon of Fallschirmjagers (a la episode 3 of Band of Brothers). Here's a little source imagery for the American Paratroopers.

The uniforms are a sand color, with light khaki webbing and packs. Helmet is dark olive green and boots are brown leather.

I'm starting with Artizan 28mm figures. They come in a nice variety of poses and have plenty of character. The bare metal fig...mold lines, bent gun and all!

I prime in white.

I then do a dark ink pass. This isn't for final shading so much as my aging eyes really need help in seeing the detail of the figure. By doing this dip, I can see where I can expend effort to make the final figure pop.

Next I paint the skin (I use the method of painting the figure from the inside out, so to speak).

For skin I've recently switched over to the Foundry three-tone system, and add in a flesh wash after the shade base coat.

Next I move on to the uniform. This is the base coat with field drab and another ink wash for shading.

I layer-paint the cloth. Base coat is Vallejo US Field Drab, mid tone is Green Ochre and highlight is Dark Sand.

Leather is done with Foundry Tan.

I use this paint progression for the olive helmets and reinforcement patches, as well as the light khaki webbing/packs. Starting from the left, dark green bits start with Vallejo US Dark Green and highlight with Khaki. Webbing starts with Khaki, then the mid tone is Buff and the highlight is Pale Sand.

And the result is a US Airborne fig. Base is glue and sand painted in GW Scorched Brown, highlighted with Vomit Brown and Bleached Bone. Grass is GW static grass.

And here is the current state of the US platoon...plenty of painting to go!

'Til next time.


  1. Good clean result. I greatly appreciate seeing your step-by-step process. I also prime 28mm in light color (I use unbleached linen instead of white) and I like your idea of following the initial prime with a wash to show the figure detail. I'm going to try that next time for sure. Thanks for the tip.

  2. The white primer really gives you a nice flesh tone. I'm way too impatient to do that, but the results speak for themselves!

  3. Hey Kevin, did your order your foudry paints direct from the UK? Or did you find them available closer to home? I was thinking of giving their new fleshtones line a try.

  4. Excellent description of your technique with some equally impressive results. This is going to help me a lot with my 28mm US infantry in greatcoats!

  5. Terry,

    I ordered the Foundry direct from the UK...great service!

    Boggler, Bob and AJ...thanks for the comments! More photos coming in a bit.


  6. Cool, when your ready to do another paint order, maybe we can double up to save some bucks on Crappy Posts gouging us with "brokerage fees"

  7. Terry,

    I have yet to get a package in from the UK that got hit with brokerage. If you can't wait, my guess is you're free and clear on Canada Post gouging.


  8. I really like the colours you've used and the effects you got. I've posted a link to this entry at my blog here:


  9. Kevin, I know this is a Newb comment but here goes anyways. I am a new Canadian gamer and trying my hand at these mini's to play with Bolt Action Rules.

    Questions - What Ink Wash did you use after priming white? Brand etc My first mini's I did in black but like yourself it's hard to see the details once you hit over 40, lol.

    Silly basing question what are you using for your base what size washers are those, and what do you do with the hole inside the washer?

  10. Troy,
    Hello, and welcome to the blog. The wash is a homebrew. Here is the recipe:
    1) Future floor wax.
    2) Some black paint.
    3) A little bit of brown paint.
    4) A few drops of matte medium to keep the gloss of the wax down.
    5) Shake it up.
    You'll have to experiment a little to get the paint to wax proportions right. Essentially, you want to get your mix to the point where your white primer shows through brightly, but the recesses of the fig go black.
    Bases are 1" metal disks bought from one of the many online basing suppliers. Forget which one at this point, but you can find them on a web search, I'm sure.
    Good luck!

  11. Thanks Kevin,

    I started a small test - right now I have them primed black and then dry brushed them white to kind of achieve the same effect you have to help with the eyes to see the details.