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Monday, November 21, 2016

Bolt Action - Late War German Panzer Lehr Tabletop Quality Painting Guide

Welcome to another tutorial from the team at the Bolt Action Alliance, this time I, Patchimus, will cover how to paint a Panzer Lehr squad to a good tabletop quality. I have been heavily influenced by 'The Painting War - WW2' so if you want a more definitive and diverse guide  do yourself a favour a pick this book up. This guide will concentrate on the uniform and equipment only to keep it a reasonable size, that being said I have skipped over the flesh part however you can locate another guide from Master Bryan here that can assist you. All the paints I have used are Vallejo (Running joke among the crew is that I pronounce it Valley-Joe, which is apparently very wrong but I cant help it!) unless otherwise stated.

A word on priming - The way I prime my miniatures is with an Army Painter Black primer spray can, I then follow this up by a light spray of Army Painter White spray paint. In this way all the recesses are black (avoiding those annoying bits of white peaking through when you miss a bit) while the highlights are white and will make the colours pop. This also helps me to identify all the detail as anyone who has ever primed in black will know it can difficult to work out where a particular piece of equipment ends at times.

Brushes - I use four different brushes as a general rule and each has its specific purpose.
  • An Army Painter Regiment brush for base colours;
  • Windsor Series 7 for detail work;
  • Army Painter Psycho for fine detail; and
  • An old crappy brush to mix paints.

Uniform - For the uniform I have chosen a weathered field grey look. These troops have been in the field for awhile and the sun has gotten to their kit. For the base colour I used 50/50 German Cam Dark Green 70.979 and German Fieldgrey WWII 70.830. For the uniform I will not be using washes so the base needs to be dark and then worked up as I highlight. An alternate option is to start with the Fieldgrey and then apply a wash such as an Army Painter Strong Tone and highlight from there.

I then applied a straight Fieldgrey to the majority of the miniatures leaving only the deepest of the recesses with the darker base colour. The process I will follow is to gradually lighten each layer using Fieldgrey mixed with Bonewhite 72.034, then Off White 70.101 and make the highlights smaller and smaller until I am happy there is a nice even dark to light transition. I have no exact measurements to the ratio I used each time, however what I do is use the same pool of paint and just add a drop or two of off white each time I finish a layer, to lighten it up until it looks about right. I use bonewhite for the first highlight as it is a nice soft colour and will not totally dominate the fieldgrey however once you start using an off white or white you will notice that you will only need a drop or two to dramatically change the tone.

If you used the fieldgrey then wash method this is generally a good formula to follow, base > wash > base > highlight 1 > highlight 2.

No Wash vs Wash technique - I have used the no wash technique here to show that it is pretty easy to make the dark to light transitions using variations on similar colours, however it does generally take more time. I use both methods depending on the miniatures I am painting, however my preference is for no wash as I feel I have more control over the tone variation.

Once I was satisfied that I had the appropriate amount of highlights on the uniform, I moved to the rifles and kit. For the most part I like to keep it simple and use the same colours for both the rifles and webbing pouches/harness. I used the following formula - Base (Parasite Brown 72.042) > wash (Army Painter Strong Tone) > base > Orange Brown 72.981 > Orange Brown/Off White. For the metal parts I used Army Painter Gun Metal .

Note on contrast - When you are looking at colours for your miniature you may need to decide between historical accuracy and toy soldier presentation at times. I say this as most WW2 uniforms and equipment were designed to blend it with the surrounds with muted earthy colours so as not to make the soldiers easy targets. We are playing a tabletop game though and we want our toy soldiers to stand out from the terrain from a distance of a meter or so, this requires exaggeration and flexibility with colours. Contrast really helps with this, so choose colours that work well with each other, the example here is the brown against the fieldgrey.

One of the pieces of uniform that makes the Panzer Lehr stand-out is the helmet camouflage. To try and emulate this I have started with Desert Yellow 70.977 followed by a Sepia Wash and then the base coat again. I have then highlighted with Panzer Aces British Uniform 321 and Bonewhite. Base > wash > base > highlight 1 > highlight 2. For this stage I did not mix any paints as the paints I have described provide that transitional colour already.

Note on camouflage - It has been my experience when painting camouflage that the most effective way of making it look good is to spend a lot of time on the base colour. In this instance, it is the light yellow. You can obtain a nice modulation so that when you apply the other colours you don't have to go back and try and highlight the base.

Once you are satisfied with the base colour, add random triangles of Flat Brown 70.984 and then German Cam Dark Green 70.979. Keep the triangles irregular, being careful not to dominate with any one colour and leave enough gaps so the base is visible. Use German Cam Bright Green 70.833 to highlight over the German dark green, this will make the helmet pop a bit more. I added a small amount of off white to the flat brown and highlighted the brown triangles but this is very much optional. I then used a sepia ink to fill in small vertical lines to fill the gaps where the base colour can be seen.

To finish the soldiers off, I black line using a black ink. This process involves using the ink and a very small brush to outline the parts of the miniature. Areas such as the webbing, joins in the uniform, rifles, etc. get outlined, which makes them stand out even more.This really helps your contrast by providing a dedicated border between colours. I also use this ink to draw two small black lines where the eyes are, followed by a dot of white either side of where the pupil would be.

Note on Eyes -  Painting eyes is a funny beast, once you start doing it a miniature never truly looks complete without them.  It is very easy to mess up and in doing so ruin the rest of your miniature (think googly massive eyes) however if you practice and persevere they become second nature and really finish a miniature soldier off. There are some great guides out there to help you and if you don't paint eyes, challenge yourself for the next army and give it a go.

Now this guide will hopefully assist some of you when painting your Germans (any force really, as the techniques are transferable, just change colours) to a good tabletop standard. The styles I have spoken about are not for everyone and no doubt there are many different techniques you can use to achieve as-good-as and better results. Do what I do on my ongoing journey into painting (now at 4 years) and that is to take everything on board and work out what works best for you.

Patchimus Prime

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