Friday, January 7, 2011

15mm Warriors - Scaling Back to Paint Flames of War Miniatures

Recently Flames of War has pried my interest away from my Lizardmen army after I picked up some Operation Market Garden intelligence briefings - my favorite WWII battle.  Before I jumped into my next FoW endeavor I'll share with you my experience during my first go around with 15mm mini's.  In 2008 I was given a British Para company for FoW. They don't see much action, much similar to the real 1st Airborne Division, aka the Stillborn Division (that's not a sick joke - read A Bridge Too Far).  Prior to getting my hands on the paras I had never painted anything besides 20-30mm figures.   Despite the rather straightforward painting guide in the D-1 book* and the solid advice of Art of War Vol. 1, painting 60+ of the buggers looked daunting. Particularly, I was concerned how difficult it would be to get effective shading and highlighting at this scale.

I painted these one platoon at time, ending up with 3 platoons, extra PIAT teams, company HQ, snipers and a blister pack's worth of machine gunners. With each platoon I modified my technique slightly, until I did the final platoon and though "dammit, why didn't I do this the whole time." Here's how I developed my  technique as I moved through the company.  Note that I used Vallejo paints for the entire company, with the exception of the bases.  If you haven't tried Vallejo, I'd highly recommend them particularly if you're setting out to paint WWII mini's as the colors are close to being 100% historically accurate.  The little eye dropper bottle are fun too.  Sorry for the poor quality pictures, they where taken before I built a light box.

Everything on the 1st platoon is basically straight up layering. The helmets were dry-brushed to bring out the netting texture.  The weapons were given a black wash to dull the metal, but otherwise the unit is very basic. I did pick up a few gems of painting know-how with this unit.  First, block painting worked really well on the weapons and equipment.  I left the small spaces between the metal and wood panels on the rifles, SMGs and the PIAT black, and its looks good without highlighting.  Somewhat similarly, I only used two colors on the flesh: Beige Brown for the base and Flat Flesh, dulled with a bit of brown, both from the Quartermaster paint set

I unfortunately used too much gloss varnish (don't use spray varnish at night, kids), and the subsequent dull coat didn't, uh, dull it down enough. This was the first and last time I tried the gloss and matte varnish technique for extra chipping and dinging protection.

2nd platoon saw a few modifications. I dry-brushed more for the webbing, and got more creative with the basing, building a small fence out of matchsticks (more on basing later).  For the machine gunners, PIATs and command section I tried using some Delvan Mud to shade the trousers, but I was not terribly pleased with how it came out and gave up on using the Citadel washed any further on this scale.  I know others have used the washes successfully, but I didn't seem to work well only using it on part of the model.  I wont' bore you with pictures of these guys.

For the 3rd platoon, snipers, and warrior team I dry-brushed the hell out of the figures and they came out the best. Dry brushing seems to work very well on this scale and I plan on doing more FoW miniatures this way.

For the camo jump smocks, the base coat of English Uniform was heavily dry brushed over the black undercoat followed by another heavy dry brush of Green Ochre. The green and brown streaks were then painted on in pattern similar to the real life counterpart.

The ground on the bases is light weight wall spackle (or filler), thinned down with water and drop of white glue to turn the material into a doughy paste that can be applied with a sculpting tool.  Before this dried out, I sprinkled on random patches of sand for texture and pushed pebbles and twigs into the material.  As I went on through the company, I got more ambitious adding various debris, fencing, sandbags and some various types of paving . The paving and sandbags were done with green stuff.  The short stone wall is made of pebbles collected from the yard.  I attempted to make a few stone walls from match sticks for a sniper and Lt. Pine Coffin's bases, but the wood grain texture sticks out too much and in the future I'll be using plasticard for bricks.  The 3rd platoon doesn't look coherent as to its basing, but that was mostly an experiment. The guy sniping through the the wooden fence is pretty kick-ass, though!

My next FoW project is all lined up.  Since I'm generally a tight-wad all year and spend very little on myself, the misses gave me a little home made coupon for Christmas and forced me to go drop some cash at the local game store.  She's a real keeper.

When I discovered the FLGS was out of Lizardmen Salamanders, my intended purchase, I wandered over to the FoW racks and realized that my British paratroopers need some Germans to fight!  Thus, I came home with this pile of loot:

I'm already working out plans to recreate the various camo patterns necessary to painting the Germans, so once things getting cooking I'll have some real nice hobby advice to share with y'all.  The overall plan is to build up a good sized force of Germans and add a few elements to my paras to have two forces to recreate some of the fighting at Oosterbeek.  Why Oosterbeek and not Arnhem?  Because I'm not building that damn bridge, that's why!

*There's also a guide in the more recent A Bridge Too Far source-book which has good info for painting faded jump smocks, but  D-1 is more thorough.  Battlefront is now packaging all the D-Day and Normandy books into a two volume set, so you'll have to scrounge a bit to find D-1 on its own.


  1. Don't worry about glaze. Remember your models will be moved around so they willbe protected. I need to look more into flames of war? Is it like epic? It seems quite exciting given all the vehicles.

  2. I'd say FoW is similar to Epic in the sense that you're playing with larger groups of models than you would in 40k. I've only played one game of Epic and that was ages ago, so I couldn't make a rules comparison.

    I'm a big fan of scale FoW, but I'm more of an infantry man myself. I will probably add some tanks to my budding German force sometime in the future.

  3. Yep, and if I had it my way I'd have some US Airborne, Irish Guard tanks and even more Germans so I'd have everything from the two Market Garden source books!