Colour Guide for Painting Desert British Infantry

North Africa

Colour Guide for Painting Desert British Infantry

By James Brown

The dust-coloured Khaki Drill fabric of the British Army’s tropical uniform was rapidly bleached and faded by the desert conditions. To reflect this, I have chosen quite a pale finish. I have started with a black undercoat because this approach is familiar to most painters. Feel free to use a white or coloured undercoat  – some people prefer it, particularly when dealing with light colours.

Paint references are for the FWP Colour range.

British Desert Uniform
Flesh (faces, arms, hands and legs)

Flesh Stage 1: 875 Beige Brown

Stage 1: Battlefield brown (FWP324)

Flesh Stage 2: 860 Medium Fleshtone

Stage 2: European Skin (FWP385)

Flesh Stage 3: 955 Flat Flesh

Stage 3: European Skin (FWP385)

Face Detail

5-o’clock shadow is a quick, easy way of giving a miniature’s face added character and realism. I used a very thin glaze of 816 Luftwaffe Uniform WWII, mixing much more water than paint. I also used a similar technique to apply a hint of 984 Flat Brown to the lower lip.

5 o'clock shadow wash/glaze: Luftwaffe Blue (FWP401)

Lip wash/glaze: Oxide Red (FWP382)

5 o'clock shadow example 5 o'clock shadow example




Base coats

Bayonet Scabard: Black (FWP300)

Water bottle and entrenching tool handle: Battlefield Brown (FWP324)

Backpack, staps and webbing: Comrade Khaki (FWP326)

Highlight Colours

Entrenching tool handle: Motherland Earth (FWP383)

Water bottle: Wool Brown (FWP328)

Backpack, staps and webbing: Military Khaki (FWP327)


Stage 2

Stage 1 Rifle Butt:  Battlefield Brown (FWP324).
Stage 1 Bayonet Handle: Boot Brown (FWP323).

Stage 2

Stage 2 Rifle Butt highlight: Motherland Earth (FWP383).
Stage 2 Rifle metal: Dark Gunmetal (FWP480) + Panzer Grey (FWP303)(50/50)

Stage 3

Stage 3 further Rifle Butt highlight: Motherland Earth (FWP383) + Rust Orange (FWP360) (50/50)
Stage 3 Rifle metal highlight: Dark Gunmetal (FWP480)


Stage 2

Stage 1 Socks: Battledress Brown (FWP325).
Stage 1 Boots: Black (FWP300).
Stage 1 Shirt and pants/shorts: Comrade Khaki (FWP326)
Stage 1 Helmet: Sicily Yellow (FWP362)

Stage 2

Stage 2 Socks highlight:  Comrade Khaki (FWP326).
Stage 2 Shirt and pants/shorts highlight: Sicily Yellow (FWP362)
Stage 2 Helmet highlight: Crusader Sand (FWP363)

Stage 3

Stage 3 Shirt and pants/shorts: Dry Dust (FWP364)


Adding a few paint chips to the helmet is a good way of making your figure look a little battle-hardened. Carefully paint small chips and scratches, first with Panzer Grey (FWP303), then with Cold Steel (FWP481). If the chips look too stark, you can soften the effect with a very light drybrush of Crusader Sand (FWP363).