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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bolt Action - Painting Commonwealth Forces in the Desert

Howdy gang! The past couple of months have seen me locked in a bitter painting war with my brand new army: An Australian desert force from the famous 9th Division. The army was initially themed around the defence of Tobruk but has since subtly sprawled and now could now happily take part in most of the major battles in which the Australians fought in Africa. The aim is for this army to be done by Easter weekend – aka Conquest! The models are from the Desert Rats box by Perry Miniatures. Nemesis A did a great review on these a little while back – well worth checking out.

As Bryan only recently wrote a couple of fantastic articles chronicling some of the details of the Aussie 9th Division (who in addition to fighting in Africa, also fought the Japanese in the Pacific), I won’t go too much into the background (maybe another article later on) – instead I’m just going to run through how I’ve been painting up the Aussies, which will also work for 8th Army British or other Commonwealth forces.

Credit where it’s due – the uniform and skin colours where nicked from a great painter whom I only know as ‘Rafa’. For the life of me I can’t remember where I scrawled it down from – I think it could have been from an issue of Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy.

Apologies straight up for the poor quality of some of the photos – hopefully they’re good enough that you can see what’s going on in each step.

All paints Vallejo unless stated otherwise.

Step 1: Undercoat

 I don’t really know why I chose to undercoat in this colour. I think I figured that Vallejo Dunkelgelb Surface Primer was kind of in the ball-park when painting a yellow/khaki sort of uniform. I think it turned out alright, but you could probably substitute black, white or another shade of yellow without detriment. Applied with an airbrush.

Step 2: Base colours

The base colour for the uniform is a 50/50 mix of Flat Earth (983) and Green Ochre (914). I like to water my paints down to a reasonable degree, enough so that you should need around 2-3 coats to get complete coverage. This will give you a nice finish.

The base for the skin is a mix of Orange Brown (981) and Hull Red (985). Add just a tiny bit of Hull Red to make the Orange Brown look less ‘fake tan-ey’.

Hats and (and socks – see next pic) are painted with US Field Drab (873).

Webbing and gaiters are painted Khaki Grey (880). Anything metal, plus the boots get a lick of German Camo Black Brown (822). Anything wooden is painted with Flat Earth (983).

Step 3: Wash

Slap on a big fat wash! I used Army Painter Strong Tone Ink, but Devlan Mud would also work. Don’t go too crazy on the wash, but you want to get some shading happening.

Step 4: Base colours again!

Once the wash is dry, go back and reapply each of the base colour above. Treat this kind of like a first highlight – leave the recessed parts alone and concentrate on anything raised. You want to be covering the majority of each of the different surfaces with this step, only leaving the darkest spots alone.

Step 5: Uniform & Skin Highlight I

Highlight the uniform with straight Green Ochre (914). The skin is highlighted with a 75/25 mix of Light Brown (929) and Flat Flesh (955). Repeat Step 4, but leave more of each surface, turning your attention to the obviously raised areas of the model. Your paint for highlighting should be even thinner than for your base coat. Have paper towel handy to wipe your brush on before each stroke – this will stop the paint from running off the brush and pooling in unwanted areas.

Step 6: Uniform & Skin Highlight II

Highlight the uniform with a 75/25 mix of Green Ochre (914) and Iraqui Sand (819). Now, we’re looking at only the most raised areas of the model.
The webbing and socks are also highlighted with a 75/25 mix of Khaki Grey (880) and Iraqui Sand (819).

The skin is highlighted with straight Flat Flesh (955).

Step 7: Highlighting of Other Stuff

Getting towards the end now:
Hats are highlighted with Khaki Grey (880).
Wood grain is carefully painted on using Games Workshop Desert Yellow.
Metal parts are highlighted with Dark Grey (994), then a final time with a little bit of USAF Light Grey (121).
Helmets (including helmet webbing) are painted Games Workshop Taucept Ochre and then highlighted with the former plus a little Iraqui Sand (819). Helmet straps are P3 Olive Green.
The Keffiyeh was done by adding White (001) gradually to US Field Drab (873), painting a lot of layers until you are left with basically pure white.
The pins on the hats are painted with Taucept Ochre and then given a bit of sparkle with a dot of White (001).

Step 9: Take a decent photos!

Here are some I prepared earlier! I’m showing you these as they’re the only ones I have based (the rest will be based in a big batch at the end), and also because I got to play with a DSLR to get some decent pics!
The basing was done with an airbrush. Flat Earth (983) and USAF Light Grey (121) are airbrushed over a base of Iraqui Sand (819).
Hope you guys enjoyed this little guide, and please feel free to share your own delicious painting recipes on the forums.

This article brought to you by the talented Tobu. 

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