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The Order of the Great Patriotic War

Minsk Offensive Part Three:
Painting An Army
by Gísli Jökull Gíslason

This is not an article on how to paint really well, but how to paint really fast to a reasonable standard. When I started planning a 6000 models per side Total War battle I decided to add 2000 points to my Soviet Army. I had a Tankovy Battalion and half an IS-2 regiment but this time I would be adding an Udarny Battalion with no less than 20 artillery pieces, 4 assault guns, 4 machine-guns and 55 infantry teams. This comes to the total of 83 assembled models and 340 individual infantry figures. All this I had to do in just under two months, alongside work and family obligations.

Read part one here and part two here...

Left: The Order of the Great Patriotic War.

To get the job done I would go for table top quality and paint for speed. This means that the aim is to get an end result that looks very good in play but would not stand to the scrutiny of a very close inspection. This I do very well and it suits my needs. I enjoy the game and I enjoy the game more with nicely done armies and terrain, but I don’t like to spend excessive time at painting so Table Top Quality is the key for me. This article is a step by step description of how my army went from the assembly stage to becoming a fully painted force and what techniques I used.

This article is a step by step description of how my army went from the assembly stage to becoming a fully painted force and what techniques I used.

Force to be painted:

■ Udarny Strelkovy Batalon.
■ Shock Infantry Battalion.
■ HQ with Anti-tank rifles and Sapper platoon.
■ Full Udarny Rota with 2x HMG.
■ Full Udarny Rota with 2x HMG.
■ Scout Platoon.
■ Flame-thrower Rota with 2 sections.
■ 4x SU-76M Assault guns.
■ Full God of War Artillery Battalion: 8x 76.2mm guns, 4x 122mm howitzers.
■ Full Reserve Artillery Battalion: 8x 152mm howitzers.

Step One: Assembly
This step is fairly straight forward, we all need to assemble the models, clean the lines, glue them together. I should mention that I tried Superglue Activator the first time when doing these and it is very fast so only use glue on one side and spray the activator on the other part, if you spray it over the glue then the glue will harden even before you have the time to attach the two pieces. But it is great for gluing tires to guns and the like.

Below: Assembly begins.

Assembly begins
Q: Why do you assemble models before painting?
A: Basic concept is that where the brush won't reach the eye don't see – so there is no need, besides this way you have the chance to try out the models on the battlefield before they are fully painted.

Step Two: Basing
I base my models in two stages. First I apply PVA glue to the base with a brush and dip the model into sand. Incidentally, the sand on the picture is from the Sahara and makes a great finish to models from North Africa as well.

Below: Applying the PVA glue.
Applying the PVA glue
Below: Adding the sand.
Adding the sand

Below: My army after steps one and two.

My army after steps one and two
The sand may seem like a step to many, since after basing with sand I apply tile mortar (left over from my bathroom renovation). The tile mortar is very good for several reasons, it is stronger than filler and has better attaching abilities. I mix the mortar to a paste and paint it on the sand, which gives me a good surface to paint it on. Make sure there is plenty of water in the brush at all times. This way you get a nice texture. But like everything practice makes perfect!

Right: Applying the paste to a base.
Applying the paste to a base
Q: Why put the sand first if you are going to use tile mortar?
A: Two reasons; it is easier to sculpt the mortar, and it attaches better, I have never had problems, even with models that drop to the floor.

The army after priming Step Three: Priming
Self-explanatory since most of you know this already, I use black spray to give me dark shadows.

Left: The army after priming.
Step Four: Dry Brushing
Pay attention since now we are to the essentials of my technique. I dry brush the entire army and paint the base liberally. At this stage I limit myself to 3 colours, all guns and vehicles get Tankovy Green (FWP341), infantry gets Comrade Khaki (FWP326) and on the base I use the single Citadel colour I still have Scorched Brown that I use for all bases in Europe.

Dry brushing is a technique where you take the brush and dry it on something, I use a newspaper that is free and I have in abundance, until hardly any paint is left and then paint the model. It is okay to smear other areas at this stage since that can be easily corrected later, the main thing is speed. I did the army in less than 4 hours.

Right: Getting the colours ready.
Getting the colours ready
For dry brushing I use an old large brush that I cut the hairs on in half, giving me a nice flat surface and excellent for dry brushing.

Below: The dry brushing begins.
The dry brushing begins
The dry brushing continues

Models may seem dark but for vehicles I use a second dry brush coat with a tiny amount of white mixed in.

End result at this stage (actually good enough to field as a new unit to an already painted army – but only to test it out and in an emergency)

Left & below: The dry brushing continues.


The dry brushing continues The dry brushing continues
Step Five: First Details
For first details I only use 3 colours, black or black grey for boots, flat flesh for skin colours and after I have done this I drybrush the base with Battlefield brown (FWP324). It is important to do this after you paint the boots since it gives them a worn and dirty look at the same time. Also at this stage vehicles and guns get a second dry brush coat with a little white mixed in.

Below: Adding the details.
Adding the details
Adding the details
Adding the details
Here you can clearly see the difference in this stage, the top platoon has been through the second stage but the second hasn't.

Also at this time I colour the base edge in different colours, each platoon has its own colour to allow both me and my opponent to easily see which models belong to what platoon, but I try to pick similar colours so you don't notice it unless they stand side by side.

Below: Coloured edges for different platoons.
Adding the details
Here you can see the end result. Of course the red is way off but those are flame-throwers so I opted for a brighter colour to give my opponents a chance to see them mixed into my infantry companies. Notice in the other pictures how subtle the difference is and how it has no effect on the big picture.
Step Six: Individual Details
Okay, there is no easy way through this stage. Here I select the colours I intend to use for each platoon and I paint all the details for each platoon at a time.

Below: The selected colours.
The selected colours

These are my vallejo paints, first line is Comrade Khaki (FWP326), second is browns, third is greens and the last is other colours. I find that FWP paints are very easy to work with and essential for desert forces where a slight variaton makes all the difference to a model with several shades of Khaki for example. For what I am about to do this is too much so I select the paints needed for each task.

Below: More colours.

More colours
The thing that makes the detailing easier than normal is that since the model is already dry brushed in the right base colour you don't need to cover all areas very well since it is okay to have partial areas that escape your notice. Also never mind minor mistakes, you are painting an army and the only important thing is to paint speedily. Major blunders you need to correct however but I leave you to judge.

I always end with the helmets and find that they make a big difference!

Below: Before helmets are painted...

Before helmets are painted...
Below: ...and after.
...and after
Below: Top platoon has been fully detailed, bottom has just the basic colours.
Top platoon has been fully detailed, bottom has just the basic colours
Step Seven: Flock The Bases
The models still look flat. To change that I use flock. Less is more and against the dark brown base a little green goes a long way.

Again I use the PVA glue and paint it on the base with a brush and then put the flock on by holding it between my fingers and let it snow on the base. I do this over a bowl so I don’t spill any, and afterwards put the left overs back into the same container.

Right: Adding the PVA glue.
Adding the PVA glue
Adding the flock Don‘t worry if it doesn't look good straight away, allow the glue to dry first.

Left: Adding the flock.
Step Eight: Varnish
Spray the models with a matt varnish...and they are good to go! No Point in trying to show you a picture of varnish. If you can see it it isn't very good.

The Gallery
Here we have the finished product, 2000 points of painted Soviet infantry, guns and assault guns.

2000 points of painted Soviet infantry, guns and assault guns

Notice the colour variations on the bases - sure the God of War battery is a dead give away but hey what can you do with Stalin's favorite unit. The rest is pretty uniform.

Notice the colour variations on the bases

And to see what I mean here is an example of the detail quality – which isn't the primary objective (right).

Look carefully and you will easily see the quality of each model which in fact isn't painted to any super standard, skin colours in the wrong place, not enough elsewhere etc. But this you can really only see in close ups, on a playing table from the usual distance you can hardly tell any difference between these and those painted to the best of quality.

Infantry up close
Total time was probably around 30 hours – all included. But that is not so bad. I once painted 1750 points in 6 hours. But that was 11 IS-2 Stalins.

Read about how the army did in part one here and part two here...

Below: Here is a final photo of my entire Soviet Army, totaling 6000 points.

~ Jökull.

Here is a final photo of my entire Soviet Army, totaling 6000 points

Last Updated On Friday, July 3, 2015