A guide to painting 1/16 120mm figures:


Written by Peter Symonds


Before you start:  Work out exactly how you want your figure to look: Go on Google images and search for some genuine WW2 pictures of real soldiers. Every time you see something you think might be useful save the image. There are some good retailers of reproduction WW2 smocks online- find them, find the images of their jackets, save them and print one out of a full length sheet of A4. Iíve a stack of these illustrations and every time I paint a figure I have a picture next to me to keep me on the right lines. Check out this site     Its also worth remembering that colourfast fabric dyes werenít invented until post-war and that laundry facilities for soldiers were pretty limited. After 6 months on the eastern front without a wash a camo smock will fade and stain from a nice pea-dot pattern to a mottled filthy rag. Its often very hard to work out what uniforms are camouflaged and what arenít from original photos. Trying to replicate this is hard, but worthwhile if you want realistic figures.


Above:  Grenadier with MG42


I generally use Vallejo model colour paints for figures and Tamiya paints for vehicles. The Tamiya paints dilute really easily and spray brilliantly but donít brush as well. The Vallejo paints are hard to spray (dilute them about 1:10) but are hyper-pigmented and brush paint superbly. Use the smallest Sable brushes you can get (I use Vallejo size OOOO). Nylon brushes are a bit cheaper but poor value for money. They donít last as long and they donít hold paint as well. The bad news is that to do a decent figure probably needs 20+ colours. Itís not cheap.


Take your time assembling the figure and fill in any gaps between joins with a suitable filler (Vallejo liquid putty, milliput or plastic fillers all work). Prime with a suitable primer (I use the Vallejo stuff in 400ml spray tins). Leave to fully dry.


Above Left: Autumn Plain-Tree      Above Right:  Heer splinter pattern  Zeltbahn Poncho




Painting:  I try and airbrush as much of the figure as I can. Itís quicker and you get a better finish. Use some masking tape to cover the base of the tunic while you paint the trousers. Normally I give my figures camouflaged smocks but field grey trousers: no real reason for this I just think they look better if the whole figure isnít in camo. I paint the uniforms first, then the detail work like belts and leave the faces till last. Again no real reason for this but getting the camo Ďrightí is difficult and you sometimes have to start again so thereís no point spending hours on a face that may end up repainted.


Uniform Schemes:  Most tank commanders wore black smocks with either a black forage cap or field cap or an officers peak cap with a gloss black peak, matt black band round it and the top of the cap in feldgrau or blue-ish sky grey. Itís the easiest scheme to start with. Spray the whole figure in Tamiya Nato Black (which is almost a charcoal grey); highlight the raised areas with a panzer grey and the shadows with a flat black. Heer tank crew had rose pink piping around insignia. SS crew had a silver-white piping. Pre í43 belts & holsters were brown leather. Post í43 belts and holsters were black.


Black Jacket - SS Panzer Commander


Peadot 44 Commander


Splinter pattern Commander



Camo schemes:


Oakleaf:  The hardest of all and best avoided until youíve got some practice. This looks like a pile of dry oak leaves. It uses 6 colours and has a crinkled edge. VERY hard to replicate. For a first go try either summer or autumn plane tree.


Summer Plane Tree:  Spray the tunic with Tamiya Flat earth. Add patches of germ. Cam light green (Val 833) then apply dots of cam extra dark green (Val 979). Look at a reproduction tunic to get the dot pattern right.


Autumn Plane Tree:  Again spray the tunic with Tamiya Flat earth. Add patches of orange red (Val 981) then apply dots of germ cam black brown (Val 822). Look at a reproduction tunic to get the dot pattern right.


Peadot 44:  Spray the tunic with Tamiya buff or Vallejo Germ cam beige or cam ochre (Val 821 or 824). Add patches of germ. Cam light green (Val 833) cam extra dark green (Val 979) and Leather brown (Val 871). Then spend 2 days applying the pea dot pattern. Look at a reproduction tunic to get the dot pattern right and paint half a dozen spots of each colour on one part of the tunic to get the pattern right before doing the rest.


Rommel -  in officer DAK Uniform



Finishing tips: Sometimes the camo scheme Ďjust doesnít look quite rightí. Usually this is because you havenít got enough dots painted on it. Rather than look like a single piece of multicoloured cloth it can look like a ladybird. To fix this paint more spots. You can also weather a tunic by lightly spraying with dilute earths or pale grey paints. This dulls things down and makes them look more realistic.



STuG- MG Gunner


STuG- MG Gunner


Commander & Loader Figures.


Looking for Typhoons


Commander with an eye patch and a nicely folded map.


Peadot Commander with scalf.


Commander and loader in Tank Grey Uniforms.


Faces: Probably the toughest part and impossible to tell you how to do it in a few sentences. The best advice I can give you is to use your eyes and look at your wife/girlfriend etc and see how their faces really look. See how much darker their lips are to the rest of the face (tip- the SS didnít wear lipstick!) , see where the shadows under the eyes are and see which parts of the skin shine. Eyes shouldnít be white- add some yellow to the white to get the shade right. The iris should run from top to bottom of the eye- staring round eyes never look right. Mix some black and some white with your flesh tone and make the figure darker round the eyes and lighter on the cheekbones, bridge of the nose and forehead.


Good luck!