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Wednesday, 3 June 2020

My current renovation project ... and the methods I am using

I was recently emailed about my current 20mm-scale renovation project, and I thought that it made sense to explain my thinking and my methods.

Figures
So far, almost all the figures I have renovated were part of my MEGABLITZ/HEXBLITZ collection or were bought ready painted via eBay or at a wargame show ‘bring and buy’.

The former figures were already mounted on flocked, multi-figure, plywood bases, and had to be carefully removed from their bases and any flock removed. Most of the figures I bought via eBay or at a show were either not based or were stuck on thin card bases from which they were easily removed.

The individual figures were then gently washed in warm soapy water to remove any dust or loose particles of flock, and allowed to dry. They were then glued to steel one pence pieces, and once the glue had cured, the bases were given a coat of Humbrol Matt enamel primer (01).

To hold the figures whilst any repainting took place, each figure was placed on a whiteboard magnet.


These magnets are chunky enough to be easily held whilst one is painting, and the magnets are strong enough to hold the figure in place without it falling off. Once the figure has been painted, it can be slid off the magnet by the use of gentle pressure on the side of the steel figure base using the end of a non-magnetic ruler.

From the very start, I found that most figures required some touching up, particularly their footwear. At the start of the project I decided to repaint the weapons carried by the figures as well as their faces, hands, and headgear. This ensured that once completed, the figures had a degree of uniformity, regardless of their origin.

The colours I chose to use were as follows:
  • Weapons (including artillery shells): Humbrol Matt Black (33)
  • Faces and hands: Humbrol Matt Flesh (61)
  • Russian headgear (Helmets, side caps, and peaked caps): Humbrol Matt Dark Earth (29)
  • Russian headgear (Fur caps): Reeves Medium Grey
  • German headgear: Humbrol Matt Dark Green (30)
Once repainting was complete, the figures were given a coat of Humbrol Gloss Polyurethane varnish (49), and after the figures had been removed from their temporary magnet 'holders', the steel bases were painted Humbrol Matt Grass Green (80).

Vehicles and Artillery
With one or two exceptions, the vehicles and artillery I have so far renovated were already painted. Those that weren't were given a coat of Humbrol Matt enamel primer (01) before they were painted.

The undersides of all vehicles were given a coat of Humbrol Matt Tank Grey (67) before they were glued to 45mm-wide MDF bases*. Once the glue had cured, the upper part of the vehicles was also given a coat of Humbrol Matt Tank Grey (67). The vehicles were then painted in either Humbrol Matt Desert Yellow (93) (for the German vehicles) or Humbrol Matt Light Olive (86) (for the Russian ones). This was done carefully so as to leave the underside of the vehicles, the tyres, the tracks, and the windows painted in Humbrol Matt Tank Grey (67).

Artillery was renovated in the same way, except that they were glued to their bases before the undersides were painted.

Once repainting was complete, the vehicles and artillery were given a coat of Humbrol Gloss Polyurethane varnish (49), and the bases were painted Humbrol Matt Grass Green (80).

The end results are no going to win any painting competitions# BUT they are good enough for my needs, which are to have readily identifiable painted vehicles and troops for my wargames.

* I chose to use 45mm-wide MDF bases because they were readily available and would fit easily into my Hexon II hexes.

# I used to worry about my lack of skill when it came to painting figures and vehicles, and would spend hours trying to get them exactly right. One day I realised that this was not only turning into a bit of an obsession, but that the end results didn't look any better than some of my much more crudely painted stuff. Things came to a head when I saw photographs of some figures on another blog, and commented on how good they looked. They were some 20mm-scale Russian infantry ... and they turned out to be figures that I had painted some years before using a very simple method. I had then passed on to someone else, and forgotten that I had painted them!

My simple method was to undercoat the figures using dark grey paint, and then top coat them using Humbrol Matt Dark Earth paint. I then painted the weapons, picked out any packs or ammunition pouches in a contrasting colour, and then painted the faces and hands. The figures' hair and headgear were then painted, and once the paint was dry, they were given a coat of Humbrol Gloss Polyurethane varnish (49). This was allowed to dry for a couple of days, and then the figures were given a thin wash of Windsor & Newton Nut Brown ink. As this dried, it naturally pooled into undercuts and folds on the figures, producing a look of highlights and shadows. The ink was allowed to dry for a couple of days, and then a second coat of varnish was applied before the figures were based.

Some of my Russian infantry taking part in a re-fight of the Battle of Kursk in 2004.
Since then I've tried not to get obsessed with producing wonderfully painted figures, and to concentrate on getting figures and vehicles painted to a reasonable standard. I get far more done ... and they give me just as much (if not more) enjoyment!

14 comments:

  1. A few years ago I too focused more on getting a good, basic paint job on my units, rather than 'Golden Demon' standard as it were. This came about when seeing my gaming chum's painted 6mm & 10mm units that looked great when on the table, but had some 'errors' when viewed close up. Given I only ever really see them at gaming distance, this speeded up my painting, which is sadly still too slow, but I enjoy it as and when time allows.

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    1. Steve J.,

      If I’d enjoyed doing highly detailed paint jobs, I might have persisted with my original painting method ... but the simpler method is not only quicker and the results almost as good, but first and foremost, I enjoy using it.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. Hi Bob,
    The 'Kursk' Russians that you have painted look superb- you've explained very thoroughly your painting regime mentioning all possible considerations for both figures and vehicles. This is excellent information. Cheers. KEV.

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    Replies
    1. Kev Robertson (Kev),

      I must admit, they looked better than I ever expected them to, and it’s a technique I’ve continued to use.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. Hi Bob,
      I like what you do with the painting of 20mm. With my figures I tend to do 'Block Painting'- how I remember the old AIRFIX Catalouge of painted examples of their 1/72nd figure range. I don't do shading or washes - a very simple way of painting my 25mm and am well pleased with my attempts. Cheers. KEV.

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    3. Kev Robertson (Kev),

      I’ve tried all sorts of techniques over the years (white undercoat, black undercoat, block painting, washes, highlighting) but I never seemed to get the sort of results I wanted ... until now.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. I fall between two camps on this subject. For larger scale figures, typically 28mm I like to spend a bit of time as my projects normally have a limited number of troops and and they do have a presence on the table. With 20mm or smaller projects there are a lot more figures so I use much the same techniques as you do and I'm very happy with the results as well. These days, once the figures are on the table it's playing the actual game that I'm focused on. Great to see your WW2 project progressing so well. Cheers Greg

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    Replies
    1. Delta Coy (Greg),

      I can see why you would want to spend time painting more detail on your larger figures, but once you get down to 20mm or smaller figures, the detail tends to be indistinct when seen on the tabletop. ... and it strikes me that in these instances, it isn’t worth painting.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. You cant beat a brown ink wash to make figures 'pop', without needing complex and time consuming painting techniques.

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    Replies
    1. Martin Rapier,

      It certainly does make a difference ... and has the added advantage of camouflaging minor painting mistakes.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. Thanks Bob, I do so agree with your method.. All due respect to the many very talented painters around, but keeping it simple is good enough for me! You are just using a different style, and I think the simplicity and uniformity work well. AND you are getting armies on the table! Looking forward to seeing them in 'action'..

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    Replies
    1. David in Suffolk,

      I have boxes of unfinished projects that date back to my ‘obsessively accurate painting’ days, and by going for a much simpler painting method, I’ve managed to make great strides with my recent projects.

      By the end of the month I’m hoping to get my WW2 project to a stage where I can begin to test my rules on the tabletop.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  6. Simple, functional and easy on the eye. If you're not painting for competitions, then what more do you need? I wished my stuff looked as good.

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    Replies
    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      The figures don’t look too bad on the tabletop ... and that is what counts. If I wanted figures that looked good in a display cabinet or under close-up scrutiny (and never saw much service on the tabletop), I’d pay someone else to paint them for me.

      All the best,

      Bob

      PS. By the way, I think that your figures and vehicles look great!

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