Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Painting German Camo

I get quite a number of compliments on my German forces camo scheme.

It really is rather simple to achieve so I thought I would share with you how I do it, in a step by step format. Hopefully I may inspire a few budding German commanders out there to give it a go...

I'll demonstrate it on a platoon of 3 Panzer II L 'Luchs', but it will work just as well on any German vehicles.

First up assemble your models! Obvious really or you will have nothing to paint!
But main things to remember, do break out those needle files and get rid of excess metal and resin flash, and mould lines. I assemble my vehicles using superglue and a superglue accelerator spray.

Assembled tanks
Once assembled and the glue is dry, undercoat them black. I use a DIY metal primer spray from Plastikote. Cheaply available from local DIY stores and cheaper than the hobby branded paints.
A quick point about spraying vehicles that are not on a cast resin base... do it in two stages... spray the top, let it dry then turn it over and spray the bottom. Likewise with the turret, do these separate to the chassis, assuming you have ones that come off!
Once the spray is dry, touch up any areas the spray has missed with a little slightly thinned black paint.

Black spray undercoated
Once we are all nicely undercoated, now add base colour 'dunkelgelb'. Again I use a spray for speed and ease of use. Battlefronts cans of armour spray paints are excellent. I use their German Late War Armour. Repeat procedure as above, two stages; top and bottom. And once dry touch up any missed areas with a little vallejo "middlestone" paint. Not as crucial here as any missed bits in crevices will be black and in shadow, thanks to the undercoat.

Base sprayed 'Dunkelgelb'

Next I paint the tracks, in dark red/brown ( I use GWs Dark Flesh)

Tracks base painted

Next up I start adding the camo pattern. No I don't use an airbrush! Just regular paint and brush...
Again I use the GW Dark Flesh for the brown and Vallejo 823 Luftwaffe Green for the green.
Now at this point you really can do what the heck you like - stripes; broad or narrow, spots; big or small, a mixture of both, anything goes...

Brown Camo pattern painted
You can do either colour first, and overlap them or not - you really can do anything - from what I have learned the tanks were rolled off the factory based painted yellow, and the crews were issued the camo paint to do themselves, so anything goes!

Green Camo pattern pained
Once dry I now shade wash the whole vehicle in my 'magic wash'. This is simply a 50/50 mix of Vallejo Sepia and Vallejo Black washes. Put it on thoroughly but try not to let it pool too much, spread it about a bit and blot off any excess with a dry brush tip. Again with unbased vehicles you may find this easier to do in two stages; top and bottom of model.

Shading wash with 'magic wash'.

Again once dry, now go over the whole model with a dry brush of Middlestone. I try and avoid hitting the tracks excessively but you will catch the edges no doubt, don't worry. Keep dry brushing until you have a nice blended look to the vehicle. The dunkelgelb will have brightened up, and the brown and green will have a sort of patchy. dirty almost translucent kinda look to it.
Tricks to dry brushing vehicles - use a big broad soft brush, and load a dry brush with the paint (don't wet the bristles first as you do during regular painting), before rubbing off excess on a tissue. Use quick light strokes back and forth with the brush, and as you use up paint on the brush you can slightly increase pressure and also can use a stippling effect with tip of brush (stabbing brush end downwards onto model), useful to get to areas where a swing of the brush can't reach...

Drybrushed with vallejo Middlestone

I now fix up those tracks where they have got caught by the yellow dry brushing, by heavily drybrushing them with mid brown for a nice dirty. dusty look.

Tracks drybrushed brown, details painted in dark brown
Now the detailing...I now paint any items of tools, stowage etc a dark base brown - I use GW scorched brown. Then paint these items as they require, tool handles I paint GW bestial brown, metallic items like shovel heads I paint GW boltgun or vallejo gunmetal. The exhaust I paint GW TinBitz.

Exhaust painted dark brown

Detail items

Once dry, give a light wash again of the 'magic wash', just to give them a little shade. Same goes for the commander, and any other passenger/crew figures your model may have. I then pick out the flesh tones again for a bit of highlight, and retouch up regular German uniform colour. With the black tank crew uniform this isn't really necessary.

Wash details with 'magic wash'
Dry brush a little black on gun barrel end, to make it look like its been firing.

And that's pretty much the painting done, just add decals to finish.

To add decals, I first add a thin layer of polyurethane gloss varnish to the site the decal is to go. This gives a smooth surface for decal to adhere to and minimizes air being trapped under decal which can lead to 'silvering' Once dry add your waterslide decal. Position, and blot off excess water with a tissue or dry brush. Try to squeeze the water out from under the decal using a rolling action of brush across top of decal. Leave to dry.
Once dry, give a light brushing with Decal softener.  This helps flatten the decal into place and can dissolve away the silvery grey film-like edge to decal. Go easy... too much softener and you can wreck the decal!
Again once dry, I go over with another layer of Polyurethane gloss varnish to seal it into place. Again do this with a very light coat as decal may be a little soft from the decal softener. At same time varnish rest of vehicle with the varnish. After all that effort you want to protect your paintwork.
Again, top and bottom at a time.

And finally, as I can't stand that shiny gloss look on model soldiers, now go over with a brush on matt varnish. I use Vallejo Matt AcrylicVarnish. It takes some nerve to use, as its like painting your model with thin PVA glue, but spread it thinly and evenly and allow to dry, and you'll have a perfect matt model.

Excellent work, your troops are ready for the table top! Give 'em hell!


  1. Great tutorial! I had been under the impression you used an airbrush, and thinking about dusting mine off! (Such a drag to clean them after small jobs)


    1. Many thanks. I agree! I do have an airbrush but tend to reserve its use to painting lots of stuff in one go, the same colour. Basically base coating troops that wear a uniform. They are quite a bit of a faff to thin the paint to the right consistency and clean them out afterwards

  2. great tutorial can't wait to try iy

  3. Nice work Scott, I always enjoy seeing the latest models to roll off the secret German armament factory that is your painting table! I particularly like the variety of camo patterns that you get into each platoon. It provides variety and interest, but with the washes and dry-brushing the overall collection still has a cohesive look.

    1. Thanks Paul :-)
      Stay tuned for more German armour coming soon, I'm earning overtime from Herr Speer! ;-)