Since December I've been churning out Soviet infantry at a steady rate in preparation for the Bolt Action campaign my gaming group is planning for later in the year. Likely the Fall to accommodate life on the part of other participants. This is why low maintenance cats make the best families and children. I'm very pleased "D Day" is far off because it gives me a long timeline to completely finish two Bolt Action armies as well as build a terrain set I hope will be worthy of playing on. Painting WW2 also gives me excuse to explore history in the guise of research for the project. On the back burner are considerations for developing a campaign system around the one off engagements that encapsulate the Allied push into Fortress Europe and developing a Weird War 2 setting that offers everyone cool and interesting variant units while still appealing to my sensibilities of the genre.
I have been posting my progress on the painting groups I participate in and was asked what colours I had been using to paint the models. The models aren't my best work or especially polished but it still wasn't surprising because the colours of the Red Army aren't so clearly defined or as popular as some of the other forces. Most of the guides contradict one another at some point because production was decentralized over such vast areas so a universal standard didn't really exist.
With most of my models painted I was short subjects but managed to dig up two officers I had remaining from a second HQ I'd pilfered the nurse from. Included is a step by step documenting the colours but more importantly it's organized for efficiently painting multiple models. When it comes to painting I don't believe in cutting corners; I prefer to engage my slacker tendencies at work or other pursuits I don't care about but feel obliged to perform. Painting efficiencies are all about knowing the painting process of a model and building a plan that capitalizes on colour choices and coverage to speed it up. Go big. My preference is one model at a time but that doesn't work. I used to have a ceiling of 5 models or so I found tolerable. Painting rank and file troops for Bolt Action I would suggest painting at least 10 models at a time or as many as 20. It sounds horrible I think so too but it gets things done.
I started the paint with an almost complete paint of the base colours. From the first photo I started with khaki because it is a subdued colour that can be painted over easily. I wouldn't describe how I applied the paint as sloppy but I didn't take as much care as I might have had to if I used colours that require a lot of effort to overpaint. Khaki covered the bulk of the figure. I didn't worry about painting inside the lines. If I was painting many figures I would have painted all of them before moving on. I was more careful with the spot colours and maintained sufficient brush control to get them where they had to go.
The base coat was followed up with a pair of GW washes. I didn't overload the brush while dealing with the flesh; Just tried to hit the recesses and outline the hands and facial features. I was more liberal with the Agrax Earthshade. I didn't just want to load the folds but apply a tint to all of the surfaces since I would be applying a layer of khaki a second time and wanted it to stand out as distinctive from the base.
Here are the figures with a single layer over most of them. Notice I only used black to mark the facial features; Eyes and mouth. I do this in case I mess up badly and need to clean a black mess off of the face. Having the flesh paint on the palette at the ready means I can respond quickly with a fix. If enough of a mess happens a single coat may not fix the error completely but it will prep the problem area for a flesh fix later in the process. Any time I add fine details like this I try to be careful because fixing mistakes with such a strong colour is a hassle.
I use camo beige as a secondary highlight on the uniforms. The Japanese uniform and orange are for the wood grain and leather respectively. Just recently I realized that there was much less brown leather involved worn by the Soviets. After a review of photos and colour plates I realized I'd been wrong the entire time I'd been painting my figures and much of that leather was rough canvas. I don't look forward to fixing all of that webbing and rifle slings but I'll get at it at some point. This is a great example of why research should proceed making a panting plan! If I remember right the single source I used for painting my early models was someone's figure collection I saw online. I thought it looked good but didn't bother confirming it was accurate. In a way I'm happier for it. canvas straps paint up much faster than leather effects. These HQ figures are an exception to this issue as the officers had more leather accoutrements.
By this point I hit the third highlight and things started coming together, GW's khaki edge is a solid time saver. Earlier on I'd been tinting Khaki or Cam beige to achieve a final highlight. Sand completed the paint on the leather. The green of the helmet was a bit of a mix up. I normally use Vallejo 70.967 Olive Green to apply layers and a highlight to the Luftwaffe green helmets. Since I was out and about I didn't have that luxury but Nurgling Green did in a pinch. Just a touch of it cut with the base colour provided the layer and adding a bit more provided the highlight. Right at the end of the paint process comes the black. It's an absolute that covers a multitude of sins. Whenever I see black on a figure dividing areas Of different colours I relax a bit. I can work a little faster and spare a bit of accuracy because I can overpaint into the area that will be black with impunity. With it being primarily spot work I had to exercise some care. Doing the fine work in one go is easier for me because I'm not moving between precision and sweeping strokes.
Smoke and woodgrain washes tint the leather and butts of weapons. I like the effect but find the woodgrain a bit much; Like a rich cherry or mahogany. It seems a bit much for the utilitarian Soviets. I recently picked up a more natural tint and may try it out instead. What could be more wonderful than more repaints?
I still haven't added the black-grey highlights or painted buttons or buckles but this is close to a stopping point for a rank and file model. The flesh is clearly layered and has depth even if it isn't particularly lifelike on close examination. I leave it like this so I can come back to it when I'm feeling it. I enjoy playing around with glazes to vary flesh tones and bring more realism to them and a neutral tone like this is easy to work over. Hopefully the colour guide will help if you intend to paint Soviets of your own but the organization of your painting process can be applied to any painting project and is the better takeaway from this post in my opinion.