Saturday, 25 November 2017

WW2 - German marsh pattern painting guide

At CRISIS in Antwerp I, of course, couldn't withstand the temptation to get my grubby fingers on the new Volksgrenadier sets by Empress Miniatures. They're sculpted by Mr. Paul Hicks again and suffice to say they're lovely.
Also I haven't done another WW2 painting guide for quite a while, so I thought this might be the chance to cover yet another infamous German camouflage pattern.

The "Sumpftarnmuster" or swamp/ marsh pattern camouflage scheme was introduced in 1943. It was a variation of the older and more well known "Splittertarnmuster". It came in two main types namely the M1943 pattern with hard edged spots of red-brown and green, as well as the M1944 pattern blurred edge version.
After the war it was used by the Federal German Bundesgrenzschutz, in short BGS, from 1952 till the late 80's. It was exported to several countries abroad and for example some Libyan units wore it as late as 2007.

-Later BGS Sumpfteran variant-

As with most German equipment, especially late in the war, there is no hard and fast rule for the exact colours and patterns used. The details of the camouflage pattern sometimes varied from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Since my last Painting guide I've switched from a black to a dark grey undercoat using Vallejo Surface Primer Panzer Grey. This has no other reason than me buying the wrong bottle.

A coat of VMC US Field Drab is applied leaving the dark grey primer show in the recesses as black lining.

This is followed by a glaze using VMC Chocolate Brown heavily diluted with Glaze Medium. The glaze is only applied to the deepest folds of the uniform and not all over the model. In effect it's more or less like a wash but applied in a very controlled manner so as not to build puddles.

The uniform is highlighted using a 50/50 mix of VMC US Field Drab with VMC Iraqui Sand followed by a final layer of Iraqui Sand.

Next the green spots are applied again using the Glaze Medium to thin down VMC Refractive Green. I wanted the splodges to be almost translucent. Make sure to paint the spots with hard edges just like in my "Splittertarnmuster" guide.

What I did here was trying to replicate the M1944 blurred edge camo by painting in a darker green, VMC German Luftwaffe Camo Green in this case, into the previously applied semi-translucent spots of VMC Refractive Green. But frankly I don't think this really works in this scale.

Now follow the red-brown spots. Again I use Glaze Medium to apply semi-translucent splinters of VMC Cavalry Brown. Make sure to NOT let the green and brown splinters touch, or worse overlap, but keep a fine line of the beige base colour.

Still trying to create the blurred edge version I paint only slightly thinned down VMC Saddle Brown into the previously painted semi-translucent brown splinters.

Now I paint the rain drops just as characteristic for this Camouflage pattern as it was for the "Splittertarnmuster".  Using a small brush we paint fine vertical lines using a 30/70 mix of VMC Black and VMC German Camo Extra Dark Green. I don't apply the rain drops all over the uniform but only a few groups of two or three lines. As it's not in scale anyway we only want to give the impression and not replicate 1 to 1!

The camouflage smocks were reversible with a white side for use in snowy terrain. The white side became dirty and thus far less effective very fast. Thus the camouflage suits were often worn with the camouflaged side outwards trying to keep the white side as clean as possible for when they were really needed.
First I paint the inside of the smock using VGC Stonewall Grey, followed by VGC Off White.

Here you can see the rather dirty white side of the camouflage suit
Below you can see the finished figure. The lighting unfortunately eats up much of the highlights but over all I think it's actually quite close to the actual thing. At least for a 28mm version that is.

The base is still too busy for my liking. Next time less
grass and more snow.
I also took the chance to give you a comparison shot to show how the Empress Volksgrenadiere fit in with existing ranges. They're a rather perfect fit and should go with most medium sized ranges out there. They're not as chunky as Warlords offerings but more detailed than the Artizan figures.

From left to right: Artizan - Empress - Warlord.

Artizan Designs - Empress Miniatures- Warlord Games
I also added this Painting Guide to the World War II Colour Guides site of this blog. I plan on doing some more stuff in the future, but you probably shouldn't hold your breath.


  1. Beautifully painted camo - on a very nicely sculpted figure. Is this pattern the same one some folks (like me) would call the "Tan-Water" pattern - as worn by some Fallschirmjaeger?

    1. Thank you Dean! Yes indeed it is the very same. It was worn by all branches of the German Wehrmacht.

  2. Oh, masterclass! Thank you very much for a tutorial :)

  3. You have done justice with your excellent painting on the nicely sculpted figures from Empress Miniatures.

  4. You have done a superb job there Sir.

  5. Stunning work Nick and a superb tutorial! More figures you will need to bring next time.;-)


  6. This is astounding, what a great tutorial Nick.

  7. Great painting! This tutorial will come in handy very soon - thanks!
    Really looking forward to seeing you paint the rest of this amazing range!

  8. Thank you so much for this tutorial Moiterei. The only way painters new to WW2 (and other military-related minis/AFVs) like myself can improve is to learn from experienced painters like yourself who are willing to share. :)

  9. Many thanks for this tutorial and the size comparison as well! This comparison comes at just the right time, cause after I have finished my Saga warband, I will start to paint my 272 VGD project, one of the divisions that have seen bitter fighting in the Huertgenwald battle.

    Do I need to say, your painting is masterclass as one expect it from you? ;-)

  10. A wonderful tutorial and absolutely STUNNING brushwork, Nick!

  11. Great tutorial Nick! You really should do more of these ;) The end result is just amazing.

    And a nice comparison shot as well. I've completely missed the fact that Empress now have Volksgrenadiers as well. Just got my tax returns two days ago so could be a perfect opportunity to buy myself some christmas gifts...

  12. Another fantastic tutorial , but please please please do one for your British airborne Denison smock :)

  13. Really a nice meter of this post. I read your post. Thanks for share your post with us.

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  14. Allo Nick, absolutely lovely work here. I think I'll give this scheme a go on my own late war germans on a couple of figs.

    Those Empress Volksgrenadier really do look great - I'm planning to pick up enough for a full squad for my project.