Thursday, 24 July 2014

US Airborne Normandy - Painting

Mainly just blocking in the colours here to get some idea what the final tone and palette will look like. At this stage it is easy to modify the colours on some parts if it is not working out quite right.

Ordinarily I wouldn't usually bother with this as I pretty much know how it is going to look (certainly when I paint German stuff). The problem with this one is that I haven't painted this uniform before and all of the items, jump suit, webbing, packs etc are all of a very similar colour, so I just wanted to reassure myself that everything would work together yet remain slightly different colours.

It is not easy to pick up in the photo's, but all of the items are different variations on the same khaki palette. By using differing shadow and highlight colours to neighbouring items I should be able to keep that difference noticeable.

Worked up the helmet a little more and it is pretty much done, I'm not 100% happy with the way the netting has come out but there was no easy way to paint this properly so I had to drybrush it (which I don't like doing). I think if I do this again I will try and paint the netting prior to applying it to the helmet.

And last but not least, face has been basecoated and the whites of the eyes blocked in.

Base colour for the jump suit was mixed from 2 parts 988 Khaki, 2 parts 821 German Camo Beige,1 part 819 Iraqi Sand and a small touch of 889 US Olive Drab. I made a start on the chest area using more Iraqi Sand to highlight and US Olive Drab to shade. For the final shadows I added some 822 German Camo Black Brown. Be very careful with the shadow colour, you only need the smallest amount to change the tone.

Light tan colours are notoriously difficult to shade and highlight, it is very easy to end up with a muddy mess. You may have noticed that both the highlight and the shadow colours are present in the base mix, this creates something called colour harmony. Basically, if the colours already exist in the mix, by adding more and changing the ratio you keep the overall tones harmonious (i.e, you are not adding another colour and changing the tone).

A good case in point is the elbow and knee pads. The colour for these was mixed from 50% 830 German Field Grey (dark colour) and 50% 821 German Camo Beige (light colour). By changing the ratios of these colours we can create shadow and highlight colours from the same base mix.

You can see how the whole of the chest area has lightened considerably, this is why I deliberately kept the base colour (midtone) on the darker side. Another good point to note is that the area I have painted is pretty much all I can comfortably manage in one sitting, with acrylics the paint will be starting to go off too soon (I will be mentioning wet-palettes later in the blog). By trying not to do too much at once, I concentrate more on the selected area and don't rush because the paint is drying.

Worked up a little more of the jacket and the right arm.

As I said before, I used a 50/50 mix of 830 and 821 for the elbow pads and the bellows on the pockets. Increasing the amount of 821 for a highlight colour and adding more 830 to shade. For a final highlight I added a touch of 972 Light Green Blue just to give a slightly faded appearance.

Couldn't resist adding the stars and stripes while I was at it, this is from the Archer set (Like I'm going to paint that on !), I just gave it an overall wash with a very thinned application of the midtone just to lessen the brightness.

Still a few more bits of equipment to paint but this is where we are at the moment.

All of the webbing and belted equipment is now done. I tried to use various colours from both Lifecolor and Vallejo and mixed it up a little by using different shadow and highlight colours for each piece to try and separate them from their neighbour.

The entrenching tool handle is not done yet, too much danger of getting paint on it when I do the trousers so it is still in the base colour. I also managed to get the trousers and reinforcement patches blocked in so I can finally see how this is going to look.

The metalwork is a very simplified NMM (Non-Metal Metallic) technique, I don't like using "real" metallics too much. I paint the item with Vallejo Black Grey 862 and then add highlights with 990 Light Grey, starting off with thin paint then the final highlight is more opaque. I think this forced highlight tricks the eye into seeing the item as metal reflections. Obviously easier on biggish parts but works really well for buckles.

Painted up the trousers and finished the boots, these Corcoran jump boots were highly prized by the Airborne and I would imagine were fairly well looked after. Base colour is 875 Beige Brown with a touch of 872 Chocolate Brown, I added more 875 to highlight and more 872 for a shade. For the final highlights I added a little 876 Brown Sand. Once dry, I went over the boots with a wash of Chestnut Ink from Coat D'Arms (they used to make the paint for Games Workshop).

This ink layer ties all of the colours together really nicely and imparts a slight sheen which looks quite nice. The soles were then picked out with 862 Black Grey. I haven't weathered the boots yet, this will be done when I base this guy up.

Yep, still have to paint the entrenching tool handle but nearly done for this bit methinks.

For the flesh base I use 804 Beige Red and then add a little 941 Burnt Umber for shadows. For the highlights I add 955 Flat Flesh to the base then for a final highlight I then add 815 Basic Skintone to the mix. To add a little colour to the cheeks I mix equal parts of 804 Beige Red, 814 Burnt Cadmium Red and 981 Orange Brown and apply very transparent layers to build up some redness.

The remaining bits were painted up in pretty much the same way I have already described and all that remains is to decide on a suitable backdrop for the base. The figure will be weathered at this point but I haven't decided what the groundwork will be yet so I generally do this last.

So, enough of my old waffle, on to the big reveal;


  1. Absolutely stunning.Thank you very much for sharing your techniques,much appreciated..........Thomas Valle Facebook

    1. Thankyou Thomas, glad you like it.