World War 2 Colour Guides

Late War German Colour Guide

Over the last few months I've recieved some requests as to how I'm painting my WW2 stuff. As it seems like there's quite some interest I've decided to write colour guides for my various armies. Please keep in mind these are not ment to be exhaustive or overly historically accurate. It's just the way I like MY miniatures to look.

The main problem concerning historical accuracy in my eyes is if you're going 100% accurate the miniatures might end up looking too drab on the table. So I'm generally going for brighter/ richer colours than might be 'true'.

Beeing a pot painter and having mixed most of my paints years ago all percentages given for colour mixes are just rough estimates and should be adjusted to individual needs/ preferences.

I'm working heavily with black lining using the black undercoat as some sort of darkest base colour. This certainly is no must but in my eyes helps to distinguish different albeit quite similar colours like for example VMC Fieldgrey and VMC Russian Green.

Step 1: To start things off I've already finished the base and given the miniature a thorough undercoat of Vallejo Black Surface Primer.

Step 2:  The tunic was painted in Feldgrau. Remember there's nothing like 'the one true' Feldgrau. German uniforms always came in a thousand different shades with almost every company having its own recipe for Feldgrau. Especially in the final last stages of the war, due to ever increasing supply issues, the colours could range from khaki over greenish or blueish grey to a dark brown. As I'm still looking for a nice brownish fieldgrey feel free to tell me your recipe in the comments.

A VMC German Fieldgrey + VMC German Grey (~1/1)
B VMC German Fieldgrey
C VMC German Fieldgrey + VMC Green Grey (~2/1)
D VMC German Fieldgrey + VMC Green Grey (~1/1)

Step 3: The trousers were painted in a little more greenish hue. Here I've to apologise to everyone I've sent a colour guide by mail as I mentioned a mix of VMC German Grey and VMC Russian Green for the base colour. As you'll probably have noticed this looks somewhat odd. So here's the 'right' triade:
A VMC German Camo Extra Dark Green + VMC Russian Uniform (~2/1)
B VMC Russian Uniform
C VMC Russian Uniform + Green Grey (~1/1)

Step 4:  The Feldmütze was given a Splittertarnmuster. I've already written tutorial about how to do Splittertarn so if you like to learn more just read on *here*.

Step 5:  The Brotbeutel (Bread bag) and StG44 ammo pouches were painted in khaki. Like the uniforms, these items were issued in a wild array of different shades. So there's nothing stopping you from using a greener/ more greyish or even reddish shade. Maybe just go for a more ragtag look and use different colours within the squad. Just remember not to overdo it as they might end up looking more like a bunch of armed peasants than a military unit.
A Citadel Steel Legion Drab
B Citadel Tallarn Sand
C Citadel Karak Stone

Step 6: The leather straps on bread bag and Koppeltragegestell Y(webbing in english I guess?) were painted. Mess tin and field flask were done too.
Leather Straps:
A VMC German Camo Black Brown + VMC Flat Brown (~2/1)
B VMC Flat Brown
C VMC Flat Brown + White (~3/1)
Mess tin and drinking cup:
A VMC USA Olive Drab
B VMC USA Olive Drab + VMC Brown Violet (~1/2) 
C VMC Brown Violet
Field Flask:
A Foundry Peaty Brown Base 61A
B Foundry Peaty Brown 61B
C Foundry Peaty Brown Light 61C 

Step 7: From 1941 on the lace-up ankle boots replaced the jackboot so iconic of the German Landser of WW2. The M44 type boots were issued in natural leather and not to be blackened with shoe cream.
Boot and rifle sling:
A VMC Hull Red
B VMC Dark Flesh
C VMC Cavalry Brown
Shoe sole: 
A Foundry Deep Brown Leather Shade 45A
B Foundry Deep Brown Leather 45B
C Foundry Deep Brown Leather Light 45C

Step 8: Rifle stock and socks. Instead of gaiters socks were often worn folded down over the bootleg. These were either army issue socks or privately purchased.
A Foundry Storm Green Shade 27A
B Foundry Storm Green 27B
C Foundry Storm Green Light 27C
Rifle stock:
A Foundry Spearshaft Shade 13A
B Foundry Spearshaft 13B
C Foundry Spearshaft Light 13C 

Step 9: Most commonly belts and Y-Straps were made of blackened leather. But shortages in leather led to the adaption of canvas support straps first introduced for the Afrika Korps in 1940. So here's how I'm doing all my blackened leather. Keep in mind though to not paint black hair the same way on the same miniature. It will look odd... believe me I know.
Blackened Leather:
A Black (here I simply used my Basecoat of Vallejo Black Surface primer)
B VMC German Grey
C VMC Black Grey (also used for the laces)
D Foundry Stone Shade 57A
E Foundry Stone 57B 

Step 10: Now to the (in my opinion) most delicate but most rewarding part: Painting the skin. The face beeing the natural focus of most miniatures it deserves a little more attention than the use of just a triade. Also done in this step were the insignia like the Litzen on the collar and the eagle on the Feldmütze (Field cap) These were done in a very light, almost white grey.
A Foundry Flesh Shade 5A
B Armypainter Wash Soft Tone
C Foundry Flesh Shade 5A
D Foundry Flesh 5B
E Foundry Flesh Light 5C
F Foundry Boneyard Light 9C
The lower lip was painted using
A Citadel Cadian Flesh Tone with some red added
Step 11: Now on to the metal parts
A Citadel Leadbelcher (the smaller parts were done using just that)
B Citadel Ironbreaker
C Armypainter Dark Tone Wash (1-2 coats. Let dry before second coat)

Fallschirmjäger Colour Guide

It has taken me a while to finish this and frankly I'm hardly doing anything on the hobby front lately.
Nonetheless here's my Colour Guide on how I do my Fallschirmjäger.

Step 1: As before the figure was undercoated using Vallejo Black Surface Primer.
The trousers were done using my recipe for Feldgrau as detailed in my 'Late War German Colour Guide'. For the Jumpsmock I used:

A VMC German Field Grey + VMC Green Grey (~2/1)
VMC German Field Grey + VMC Green Grey (~1/2)
VMC Green Grey
D VMC German Camo Beige

Step 2: Next in line were peaked cap and binoculars. I know it's a Heer peeked cap but I urgently wanted to have a Fallschirmjäger NCO sporting one.

Schirmmütze/ Peaked cap
A VMC German Luftwaffe Uniform
B Foundry Late Field Grey 78B
Foundry Late Field Grey Light 78C
Feldstecher/ Binoculars and yellow piping
Citadel Foundation Tausept Ochre
Foundry Base Sand Shade 10A
C Foundry Base Sand  10B
Foundry Base Sand Light 10C

Step 3: Paraphernalia like drinking cup, bread bag, Zeltbahn and the black leather on boots and belts were done like in the 'Late War German Colour Guide'

Step 4: The national emblem was done using a light grey. The ammunition pouches as most other German equipment came in myriads of different shades.

Munitionstaschen/ Ammunition pouches
A Foundry Drab Shade 12A
Foundry Drab 12B
Foundry Drab Light 12C

Step 5: For skin and metal parts I used the same recipes (well I guess you know by now...) detailed in the 'Late War German Colour Guide'

Step by step: Splinter pattern camouflage

A few people have asked me to do a quick tutorial about my approach to WWII splinter pattern or officially "Buntfarbenmuster 31".

Please remember I'm not doing a 1:1 replica of the original pattern but a version suited to be viewed at gaming distance. When referred to Vallejo colours go for the Vallejo Model Colour line of products. The figure used is a German Fallschirmjäger from Warlord Games. So here we are:

Step 1:
Priming and basing the model

So far nothing new here. For basecoating "Acrylic-Polyurethane Black Surface Primer" by Vallejo is used. It gives a nice flat finish when applied by airbrush and can be brushed on to touch up areas not covered with the airbrush. Of course you can still use any kind of base coat you're used to.

Step 2:
Base colour and black lining

Now the schmocks base color is painted on using Foundry "Moss 29A" . Any light yellowish green or even Vallejo "Iraqui Sand" mixed with a little green will do. I also used Vallejo "Buff" already and it looked nice but I prefer a more greenish tone even when the original pattern tends to be more greyish in tone.
As a big fan of black-/ dark lining I pay attention to let the black base coat be visible at the seams and around items of equipment. To me it makes the figure pop in the end but it's definitely not essential to get a nice camo done.

Step 3:
Middle tone

Now the middle tone is brushed on using Foundry "Moss 29B" leaving the base colour visible in the deeper folds of the cloth. As before you can use any light yellowish green.

Step 4:

Now the highlights are set by carefully brushing on thin lines of Foundry "Moss 29C" on the most raised areas of the schmock. And here we are... the most boring part is done.

Step 5:
The brown patches

Using Vallejo "Hull Red" the brown patches are painted on. In my opinion it's easiest to start at the corners and/ or seams and paint on simple triangles. Be careful to paint sharp tips for the triangles as it's the most important part to make the camo look right. You'll see it will not look half as decent when you paint on simple brown blobs. For the patches not placed at the corners or seams it's best to stay with randomly set triangles and join two or more (being close of each other of course) by a simple thick line (like above the gas mask canister or below the haversack).

Step 6:
Highlighting the brown patches

In this step the brown patches are highlighted. Therefore I used a roughly 70:30 mix of Vallejo "Flat Brown" and Vallejo "Iraqui Sand" giving you a nice terracottaish brown. The mix is painted on leaving only the edges and maybe the deepest recesses (for example at the crook of the arm) of the Vallejo "Hull Red" visible.

Step 7:The green patches

For the green patches I used Vallejo "Olive Green" using a roughly 3:1 ratio i.e. 3 brown patches to 1 green patch. Again it looks best when you pay attention to sharp tips. Be careful to attach most (but not all) of the green patches to the brown ones.

Step 8:
Highlighting the green patches

For highlighting the green patches the same approach is used as for the brown ones. The colour used is a roughly 60:40 mix of Vallejo "Luftwaffe Camo Green" and Vallejo "Golden Olive".
For simple gaming needs you could end here and still have a very presentable version of the Buntfarbenmuster.
Alternatively you also can do it without all the highlighting of the patches and apply a coat of your preferred wash or dip. But remember to go for lighter colours then as the wash will tone down the colours quite a bit.

Step 9:
The "Raindrops"

Some would argue that the so called "Raindrops" wouldn't even be visible at this scale, especially at gaming distance... and you're perfectly right. But for me the raindrops are the cherry on the cake of painting this very camouflage. It's almost like painting eyes... for some people it's absolutely needless - for the others (like me) it's the last bit of effort which brings the figure (or in this case the camo) alive. But I disgress...For the raindrops a very thin brush (I already tried it using a needle with some success) is used and simple pairs of fine lines of Vallejo "German Camo Dark Green" are painted on vertically.I only paint on pairs because it's only ment to represent the raindrops. Trying stay historically accurate and paint on more would cover the whole schmock with these lines and ruin the effect.

Step by Step: Marsh Pattern camouflage

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

US Winter Infantry Colour Guide

When I painted the US Winter Infantry from Warlord Games for Pat (of fame) he asked me to do a colour guide so he might match the rest of the infantry to those I painted.

Step 1: As with most of my miniatures the figures were given a thorough undercoat using Vallejo Black Surface Primer applied by airbrush.

Trousers on the left were done using:
VMC Chocolate Brown
B VMC Flat Earth
C VMC Flat Earth + VMC Iraqui Sand (~1/1)

Trousers on the right:
VMC German Uniform + VMC German Grey (~1/1)
VMC German Uniform
C VMC German Uniform + VMC Iraqui Sand (~2/1)

alternatively you can also use:
Foundry Storm Green Shade 27A
B Foundry Storm Green 27B
C Foundry Storm Green Light 27C

Step 2: For the winter jacket I went for the earlier more olive green colour.
A VMC German Camo Extra Dark Green + VMC Russian Uniform (~1/1)
VMC Russian Uniform
C VMC Russian Uniform + VMC German Camo Beige (~2/1)

Step 3: The M-1 steel helmet.
A VMC USA Olive Drab
B VMC USA Olive Drab + VMC Brown Violet (~1/2)
C VMC Brown Violet + VMC Iraqui Sand (~4/1)

Step 4: The woolen long coat took me quite a while as I was never really satisfied with its look. Unfortunately the colour recipe I used for my 15mm US Airborne didn't work.
A VMC Chocolate Brown
Army Painter Strong Tone Wash
C VMC Chocolate Brown
D VMC Flat Earth
Army Painter Soft Tone Wash
A VMC Flat Earth
Trousers & Scarf (pullover or whatever)
Foundry Storm Green Shade 27A
Foundry Storm Green 27B
Foundry Strorm Green Light 27C

Step 5: Helmet cover and the thing he wears around his head
Helmet Cover:
Foundry Arctic Grey Shade 33A
B Foundry Arctic Grey 33B
C White
The thing he wears around his head:
Foundry Rawhide Shade 11A
Foundry Rawhide 11B
C Foundry Rawhide Light 11C

Step 5: The webbing.
VMC US Field Drab
B VMC US Field Drab + VMC Khaki (~2/1)
C VMC Khaki

Step 6:Boots and gloves. For the gloves you can almost take any (reasonably drab) colour you fancy. I deliberately painted the gloves to look like fingerless gloves (is there any specific term in english?)
Boots/ Chin strap:
A VMC German Camo Black Brown +  VMC Flat Brown (~3/1)
B VMC Flat Brown
C VMC Flat Brown + VMC German Camo Pale Brown (~3/1)

Step 7: Skin, rifle stock and metal parts. These were painted using the same colours detailed in my 'Late War German Colour Guide'.

 As always I hope this was of help for some of you and if there are any questions left feel free to ask in the comments.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Just discovering your blog. Your painting guides are of very high quality. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Did you dry brush the US Infantry Winter? If so what colors?

    1. Hi there,
      except for bases and maybe fur I never dry brush anything.