Mobilization! A self imposed “Leopards” painting challenge

Rounding out our week of Infantry articles, Lee has been painting up his West German infantry and takes us through the process.


With Iron Maiden coming out I found myself in something of a pickle.  I wanted to paint British stuff but the release has gained the club two more Team Yankee players, both playing Brits.  So, really I need to bite the 5.45x35mm bullet and paint up my Soviet kit to maintain the NATO/Pact split.  But I can’t do that because I never really finished the West German stuff off.

Clearly I need to pull my finger out and put the Hun to bed..

You may recall that Mark and I started a “Tale of 2 Leopards” and whilst Mark reached a satisfactory conclusion, I never really wound my story up.  Partly this was because I was a bit more reliant on the supply chain to fill some holes (apparently a Leo 2 heavy force isn’t as viable as you may think) but also because I just paint very slowly.

So I’ve been making an effort to clear the backlog.  I achieved one big chunk of that by painting the LARS, Luchs and Rolands in one large block, using the simpler Olive Drab scheme to speed things up.

That leaves the two platoons of Marders, Jaguar and M109 to paint , plus an extra pair of Gepards.  But also a load of Infantry.

Seeming as I inadvertently created an “Infantry week” in my scheduling; my plan was to force the issue on myself and blitz the remaining Infantry in one go, in one week to support this article.  The total to-do list was:

  • Two full strength platoons (each with 16 figures)
  • The three Jaguar 2 gunners
  • Two sprues of tank commanders (probably only need one sprue given the Leo 2 are populated – but hey, spares are good)
  • Four loose figures to populate a couple scenic objectives.

So, 49 figures to paint.  By my calcs that means, worst case,  98 tiny German flags to paint…


I’ve seen bigger soviet hordes painted quicker than a week…

Let’s go!

Friday Night

I had planned to get started on Friday afternoon but Matilda conspired to scotch any efforts to get on with work during nap time (naps are awesome!  Why do toddlers insist on not having them??).

The West German infantry were mostly clear of mould lines so the boring preparation steps was fairly quick to conduct.  The only real issues were the Milan missile tubes (one of which sported quite a deep mould line discontinuity) and one of the MG3 gunners.

I then posed the figures on the base to work out suitable groupings; I prefer to have all figures doing more or less the same thing so shooting, running, making tea, that kind of thing.  For the most part the figures went straight into the holes but a couple needed trimming to fit.  The old school Epic player in me likes the indented bases but I would have thought that the figures would be sized for the holes by now!


Those were the days…

With the figures super glued in, I then applied Vallejo basing pumice (excellent stuff – makes life much easier), hot glued them to the clump nails I use to hold the figures when painting and called it a night (ha!  No I didn’t.  It wasn’t even 11pm so I got on with assembling the last vehicles for the German force)

Saturday Night

Family duties called during the day but I managed to get the airbrush up and running in the evening to prime the figures with two good coats of Vallejo “UK Bronze Green” surface primer (73.607).  The first coat is applied with the airbrush spraying down on the figure and the second coat firing up so as to try and get a good coverage all over the figure.   Bronze Green is my go to base coat for WWII German Infantry.


Sunday Night

After the US GP finished I found I had a couple hours to kill before midnight.  So with the primer providing my shadow base I applied two layers to each figure:

  • Vallejo Model Colour (VMC) German Field Grey (830) – applied relatively heavily leaving the Bronze Green only at join lines and deep creases on the uniform


  • VMC Green Grey (886) – applied slightly heavier than a normal highlight coat to make the figures lighter than their WWII counterparts.


That was the uniforms done.  Not looking too shabby but that was the easy bit.

Monday Night

A break to get some Grand Tornie training games in for Skip and Chris.  Good luck chaps!  I also got word from Dice Saloon that the FV432 and Infantry had arrived.  Excepting review fodder, they’ll be sitting on the shelf for the next few months or so but given the headache getting the last two platoons of West German infantry gave me, I’d rather them now than not get them at all!

Tuesday Night

With the uniforms done, the next task was painting the firearms.  The German kit tends to have olive drab, later NATO Green, furniture.  The metal parts are the traditional blued steel (i.e. near black) finish.


I did a google image search for the main fire arms represented: G-3 Battle Rifle (above), MG-3 GPMG, Panzerfaust 44 and HK69 Grenade Launcher; plus the Milan ATGW.

First I painted the metal parts black, trying to leave the furniture in the bronze green base coat.  I also did the boots and tank crew berets at the same time.


Next, I painted the ammo belts of the MG3 and drybrushed the guns and berets with VMC “Black Grey” (862).  Finally, I got a 4B pencil and gently ran it over the black areas of the weapons to try and capture the metallic sheen of the edges.  I also painted the sight aperture of the Milan on.


With that done, I started on the olive drab parts.  The helmets and webbing were also done at the same time as they are the same colour.

First I base coated the relevant areas in VMC “US Dark Green” (893).  Next I applied Vallejo US Olive Drab Surface Primer over this in a thin layer.  I find the surface primer give a better shade than Brown Violet.  Finally, I highlighted with VMC Khaki (988).


I had a half hour of painting time left, so I started painting the national flags on the upper arm.  First I painted a VMC “Flat Yellow” (953) square.  At the same time I did the missile tube markings on the MILAN.  I then painted a thin VMC Flat Red (957) line, trying (and usually failing, making it too thin) to fill the middle third.  At the same time I painted a small red dot above the trigger for the fire selector – the “S”/”E”/”F” marking, mostly to add a point of interest.   Figuring I was running out of steam, I called it a night.


Coming along

Wednesday Night

The “recipe” I use for the flesh areas is based off one I read in Wargames Illustrated a few years ago.

First I base coat the flesh areas in VMC “Beige Brown” (875), trying to keep the currently painted areas as untouched as possible; inevitably the guns need tidying up on the figures where they have them to shoulder.

Once that was all done, I then added the first, broad, highlight in VMC “Beige Red” (804), leaving “Beige Brown” in the deeper areas as a shadow.
Finally, I add fine highlights using VMC “Flat Flesh”.  I usually find it’s about this point, with the flesh painted, where the figure comes together.


With a bit of time to spare before my self-imposed down-tools (and if I knew Matilda was going to keep me up the rest of the night I may have skipped this) I applied VMC “German Camo Medium Brown” (826) to the base, again helping to improve my opinion on the paint job.  Things definitely look better the more finished they are!


Caution!  Wet Paint!

Thursday night – Article Deadline!

I applied a drybrush of VMC “US Field Dra” (873) to the base and boots of the stands, followed by a gentle drybrush of VMC “Iraqi Sand” (819) to really pick out the texture.  I then used VMC “Brass” (801) to paint the front and back edges of the ammo belts, leaving Black Grey in the middle for the belt links.

Using the airbrush I applied a coat of acrylic floor polish to act as gloss varnish.  It’s a bit old school aircraft model maker in nature, but its works.  The gloss varnish helps stop the ink wash from spreading under capillary action, giving a sharper finish so its well worth doing.  Plus it helps the figure’s paint job resilience in use!

I then used Citadel Colour’s “Nuln Oil” wash, applying it carefully where the tunic met the trousers, flesh met clothes and where webbing met anything else.  I also applied a broader wash to the helmet to help the definition of the scrim.

I’ve always struggled to find a wash that I like.  It used to be the case that I’d make “magic wash” by mixing black ink with floor polish but the major manufacturers eventually realised where the market moved and made washes that basically shared the same properties, making life easier.  My old go to was the Vallejo black and brown shades that came in the original FoW “utility set”.  When they ran out I tried the various Vallejo washes but they had apparently changed the formula to have a matting agent which makes it go chalky so I stopped using it.  I was advised to look at the modern GW wash “Nuln Oil” and this seems to do the trick nicely.  I do now have a bottle of the battlefront “Colours of War” “Ordnance Shade” and that seems to give a similar finish, without matting.

I then applied matt varnish to seal.  Now it’s just a case of basing materials.  Nothing fancy, just some stilfor grass clumps and broad swathes of static grass.


All done bar the landscaping!


Still wary about painting the Russian Infantry


Tank Commanders – more painted than I could possibly need!


TOW Gunners for Jaguar 2 – the jagdpanzers themselves are next week’s job


Spare figures to populate objectives – always handy


MILAN team




So there you go!  Basing left to do over this weekend but that clears one big chunk of Hun!  Next week I’m going to try and blitz the remaining vehicles.

7 thoughts on “Mobilization! A self imposed “Leopards” painting challenge

  1. I love the detail on the Milans. I may have to go back and add some myself. Just one question: Where are your Fliegerfausts?

    1. Thanks!

      I had one platoon of Infantry and the fliegerfaust already painted. My original plans didn’t have the extra infantry so these are a late addition.

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