21 January 2020

Soviet Colour Guide

Still in full swing I decided to take advantage of my enthusiasm and do another Colour Guide. After a popular vote with overwhelming majority (2 vs. 0) for a Colour Guide on Soviet Infantry that's what I set out to do. You see? Voting Does make a difference ;-)

Luckily I had still some assembled Warlord Plastic Soviets lying around. So the perfect excuse to finally get that Tank Rider Platoon finished.

-Figure painted earlier-

My painting style is based on the so-called Triad-System or Foundry System in which you use a Shade as the darkest colour. Then you paint over it using what is called a Base Colour (in general the actual colour you want to achieve for the piece you're just painting) leaving the Shade show only in the folds and recesses, followed by a Highlight on the points which will catch the most light. However, I'm using intermediate steps to make the transitions between the different colours much smoother.
Thus typically the steps I use would look somewhat like:

Shade - 50/50 mix Shade/Base - Base - 50/50 mix Base/Highlight - Highlight

In general what I'll give you in this tutorial is the three colours as if used as simple triads. If you prefer the more elaborate approach just add in the intermediate steps mentioned above, or start from an even darker Shade or end with a lighter Highlight.

If fractions in brackets are given these are just approximations. Just try what looks best to you.

Note: I haven't documented every single step for this Colour Guide, so you might want to refer to some of the guides I wrote earlier. To do so just go to the top of the page where you'll find a link to a page containing direct links to all the Colour Guides I wrote to date.
Step 1: Brown Uniform
I might do another Colour Guide on green-ish uniforms later but my existing force sports brown, so that's what I went for.

A: VMC 70.826 German Camouflage Medium Brown
B: VMC 70.921 English Uniform
C: VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand + 70.921 English Uniform (7/3)

Step 2: Rolled Greatcoat
Yes, that's right. It's no blanket, it's a rolled greatcoat some of the figures are wearing. It was used as a blanket as well, though. Allegedly it was worn this way to give added protection in a bayonet fight. Don't know if that's true but it definitely was a custom introduced well before WW2.
When looking on the Internet for Soviet WW2 Uniforms you often happen across Reenactors wearing brown greatcoats. These were only introduced in the Cold War era but are readily available and dirt cheap, so that's what many seem to go for. Some of the Soviets I painted earlier sport brown greatcoat rolls, so you see a little research before delving into a project would sometimes help.
So, the "correct" colour for a Soviet WW2 era greatcoat would be grey. Admittedly a brownish grey, but still grey.

A: VMC 70.889 USA Olive Drab
B: VMC 70.889 USA Olive Drab + VMC 70.884 Stone Grey (4/1)
C: VMC 70.884 Stone Grey + VMC 70.889 USA Olive Drab (4/1)

Step 3: Green Helmets
Like with many other armies Soviet helmets came in a variety of different shades. Personally I think a strong green works well with the brown uniform as it adds some much needed contrast.

A: VMC 70.889 USA Olive Drab
B: VMC 70.894 Camo Olive Green
C: VMC 70.881 Yellow Green + VMC 70.894 Camo Olive Green (3/2)

Step 4: Webbing pouches, rifle slings and Putties
Putties and pouches also came in a myriad of different hues of greens and browns. I went for a very light, almost white canvas for the pouches to represent undyed linen and a marginally darker colour for the putties.

A: VGC 70.062 Earth (VMC 70.983 Flat Earth would work just as well)
B: VGC 70.062 Earth + VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand (1/1)
C: VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand + VGC 72.101 Off White (1/1)

A: VGC 70.062 Earth + VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand (1/1)
B: VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand
C: VGC 72.101 Off White + VMC 70.819 Iraqui Sand (2/1)

Step 5: Brown leather equipment
Soviet leather equipment was generally not blackened. So I went with a reddish brown to represent slightly aged natural leather.
For a change I used the colurs straight out of the pot, so no mixing required at all.

A: VMC 70.895 Hull Red
B: VMC 70.982 Cavalry Brown
C: VMC 70.818 Red Leather
D: VMC 70.981 Orange Brown

Step 6: Wooden rifle stocks
When I'm after a more aged look for treated wood I use a darker triad than I did in my Guide on British Paratroopers.

A: VMC 70.985 Hull Red
B: VMC 70.984 Flat Brown
C: VMC 70.984 Flat Brown + VMC 70.876 Brown Sand

As the above pictures were all taking using the camera of my cellphone I thought it'd do the paint jobs more justice to include a picture of a squad I painted earlier. Interesting to see how much difference proper lighting and a good camera make.

That's how they should look when photographed properly (older figures)

So, just like with earlier Colour Guides:
If you found this guide useful, have a question or remark concerning this or earlier Colour Guides or you'd like me to do a particular Colour Guide in the future just let me know in the comments below.


  1. A masterclass once again. Very inspiring.
    Now......where did I place my painting mojo?

  2. Another useful painting guide Nick :)

  3. Nice one. Shame I just finished my Soviet platoon, though I do have a spare frame to make up some tank riders at some stage.

  4. Great stuff Nick, very useful resource.

  5. Outstanding guide Nick! When I do my Soviets which I will I now have my painting guide!:-)


  6. Really great post - very useful.
    Thanks Nick!

  7. Splendid Nick... a very useful guide.

    All the best. Aly

  8. Once again thanks Nick for sharing your painting guide.
    cheers John

  9. You've done it! Literally you are king man. This guide is the best. Cheers and thanks for your time :)

  10. Another great tutorial - you certainly have perfected the triad system.

  11. This is great Nick, thanks for this. It will really come in handy with a project you have seen during the Painting Challenge, no doubt...in particular, I appreciate the bit about the great coat. I thought they were brown...I have goofed an entire 15mm Soviet force...

  12. Great tutorial--thanks for sharing your secrets... :)

  13. Great tutorial and colour guide. Thanks for sharing this.

    Cheers, Ross

  14. Your Color Guides are great, love 'em. And I bet if you did a YouTube painting session there would be many followers!

  15. how do you know where to place the highlights to make it look so nice, whenever I try doing the same on 28mm figures it looks nothing like your work?