Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Painting the British 4th Brigade (one of three)

We'll take the 4th Armored Brigade as our test unit here.

So far, everything's gone mostly to plan and I have perhaps 4 hours of my time invested in the project. The next steps take about 10 minutes per brigade each and, drying time aside, an entire brigade can easily be completed in an hour's painting.

First of all, we need to take a step back and discuss some technical aspects of painting 2-3mm scale miniatures.

When I first began collecting 1/700 figures, I painted them as I would any other kind of miniature. This is a mistake. While O8's figs are definitely detailed enough for one to paint them very realistically, if you do this without thinking, you'll create a very bland effect on the table top.

2-3mm gaming is about looking at the grand scale, not the details. Because of this, one needs to be aware of three different visual planes when one paints: the ground, the base and the figure. Figures need to contrast with the base if they're going to be seen at arm's lenght on the table. Ideally, the base should blend with the ground, but this is not always possible.

One can't do much with regards to the ground except be aware of the general theater and season. In our case, it's the Western Desert so we don't have too much leeway. Ground can be brown, tan, sand-colored or greyish and bases will generally have to follow. There will be minimal flocking and very little - if any - green.

Now, this is a problem because both sides obviously painted their vehicles to blend in to the desert. If you do the same, you're going to end up hiding your handiwork and you might as well be playing with counters. For this reason, one should generally paint the base to contrast with the figure. In Africa, though, our palette is strictly limited.

The solution to the problem here, again, is not to try to adhere too rigidly to history. One wants one's troops to look generally correct and to stand out from the back-clutter of base and ground. One should thus choose a plausibly historical paint scheme for the troops which allows them to stand out. In my case, I also want to be able to tell each of my brigades at a glance.

Now, the most common British color used in the desert was plain sand or light stone. However, just before the period in which we're playing (1941-1942), they used what was called the "caunter scheme", and used up to six colors (including light blue) applied in straight lines. Towards the end of the period in question, the British went with "Desert Pink", occaisionally broken with green blotches.

What I've decided to do is to paint the Fourth Brigade in a pinkish plain sand scheme. The Second Brigade will be done in Desert Pink and Green while the 201st Brigade's vehicles and guns will be cauntered. In general, all of these schemes will be light, so the base will be painted relatively dark in order to create a contrasting effect. Of course, all of this probably was never together on the same battlefield at the same time. It's not screamingly out of place, however. My personal line is drawn when it comes to paint shemes that were probably never applied to given unit types. For example, you'll never see my Grants in caunter.

Step One: blocking in the base colors
Step one for the Fourth Brigade consists of painiting vehicles and equipment in Vallejo Dark Flesh, a pinkish tan color. The human figures are then painted in white and all is left to dry.

PROTIP: Taking care to paint within the lines during this phase will pay off in lowered clean up time later. However, if you do paint something you shouldn't. don't waste time correcting it now: you'll have opportunities to make good your mistake later.

The Fourth Brigade with its base colors blocked in

Step Two: wash
Now washes are applied. First of all, a heavy, dark wash of Vallejo Sepia Ink is applied to the base of the units and allowed to thoroughly dry:

Then, a light wash of Vallejo Skin Wash Ink is applied to the vehicles and equipment:

PROTIP: When you apply this wash, make sure you use the tip of the brush to work it into treads and along undercarriages. These should be very dark.

Finally, a very light wash of Vallejo English Uniform is applied to the human figures:

PROTIP: when washing the base, make sure that the immediate area around the figures in very dark for maximum contrast. You may even want to run another coat of ink around the vehicles after the first on has dried.

Washes applied.

Step Three: dry brush
Dry brushing will bring out the detail on the figures. First, I drybrush with DAK Sand. Following this, I mix up Vallejo Deck Tan and Dark Skin, about 50/50, and dry brush with that. Then I take my time and go back and pick out details on the vehicles with my smallest brush (this is probably the most time-consuming part of the whole project). Finally, I dry brush everything once again with DAK Sand.


Next up: detailing. Here's a small (and unfortunately not very good) shot as a sneak peek...

1 comment: