Thursday, 5 June 2014

Craig H- Painting the Bundeswehr

Craig H has returned, this time he is looking at how he painted his Fallschirmjäger from Eureka Miniatures. While he claims to be not much of a painter, he has done a mighty fine job on these I think! Now to persuade him to come out for a game..... Over to Craig

Let me get started by saying I’m a complete novice when it comes to painting. My only real experience was painting a Skaven Blood Bowl team back in the 1990s – and they came out looking more like a retro 80s New Wave fluro boy band than a menacing Chaos-warped football team (Chaos offers gifts in many ways....-Ed). So I approached painting my Bundeswehr force with trepidation.

I took a lot of time to do some research first. German uniforms use a disruptive camouflage pattern known as flecktarn (or flecktarnmuster). This is a combination of the words Fleck and Tarnung and together simply means ‘spotted camouflage.’ As the name suggests this is a pattern of colours to create a dithering effect, to eliminate hard boundaries. The standard Western European pattern is a 5-colour scheme of greens, browns and black.

Bundeswehr Wustentarn, or desert camouflage, is the special design utilised in Afghanistan. It cuts out two colours and goes for a simple 3-colour scheme of khaki tan, with medium brown and dark green spots. And when I say spots I mean really small ones, but more on that later…

Suprisingly, Craig has decided to go without the non-regulation headgear!

Starting out, I mounted the team on some old Warhammer bases I had lying around. I then primed the team with white primer. I thought long about whether to use black instead but white worked quite well to create the lighter look I was aiming for. Shopping around, I settled on a range of paints from Vallejo and Tamiya as well as some washes from Games Workshop.

Finding the base ‘khaki tan’ colour turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. I tested a range of options and initially tried out a test figure with Tamiya Desert Yellow, and then Vallejo Iraqi Sand. However, I found these efforts resulted in a base colour that looked too brown when combined with the other camouflage colours. The tan is intended to get a lighter brown result. In the end I went with Vallejo Buff , which by itself gives the figures a butter cream look (and reminded me of a 1970s Volvo 66 my father used to own). Don’t worry though – in combination with the other two flecktarn colours it turns out quite well.

Next was painting the faces and arms in Tamiya Flat Flesh (XF-15) (with a Reikland Wash from GW), then another light layer of Flat Flesh for the cheeks, chin etc. With the weapons I sent with a black base. I intend to put highlight over the weapons , but for now that gives a good contrast colour.

So on to the tricky part, the spots. I chose Tamiya NATO Green (XF-67) and Vallejo Beige Brown. I went for a beige shade rather than a darker brown as I felt this seemed to reflect the small difference with the base colour. Looking closely at actual photos, I saw that the pattern of the dots is not uniform or random. In a lot of places, the browns and greens flow into ‘splotches’ of colour, with dots cascading from the edges. These the splotches are often seen along the pants inside leg, or on the inside of the arms, as a way of breaking up the soldier’s silhouette.

The toughest thing was to avoid adding too many spots, particularly the green ones. In reality, there are large areas that are completely clear of brown or green spots. Although it is a 3-colour scheme, the green appears a lot less than the other two colours. This makes sense in a desert environment, but getting the right distribution is tricky. A couple of times I had to repaint over areas that seemed just too predominantly green.

So, with an unsteady hand and a fine detail brush I got to work. Getting the spots as small as possible and appropriately spaced proved difficult. In the end I settled for a more general pattern. The spots may be bigger than reality, but I consider that the outcome captured the essence of the flecktarn design.

For the boots, I went with Tamiya Desert Yellow (XF-59) or Tamiya Khaki (XF-49) for the webbing and side packs etc. This served to add a little variety to the colour scheme. Finally, I used brown wash in the folds of the fatigues for shadowing and along the seams to make them stand out.

The bases I painted in Vallejo Iraqi Sand, and added some desert flocking as a layer. Finally with a fine detail brush I added a German flag in black, red and gold.

All in all I’m reasonably happy with the outcome, for what was only my second effort at painting. More practice and less caffeine would have probably ended up with smaller, closer grouped spots, and a finer level of detail but I think that these are a good representation of what a Bundeswehr combat team would look like. There are a few touch-ups required, such as buckles, and getting the combat canine right but for now I think they’re ready for combat.

While I haven’t gotten the painting bug (yet) I am already thinking about a new project. There’s an Empress Miniatures Force Recon team on my shelf that, with a couple of conversions, would look good in Polish GROM colours. Already back to hitting the websites for some research…


So there you have it, a good way to paint those desert Germans you have lying around! Now Craig, it is time to get those Germans out on patrol!


  1. Nice post Craig, when can we have a battle?

  2. Great stuff Craig. I like the idea of you adding some Polish troops. Then is it on to the baddies?