Speed painting a US infantry platoon

These are WW2 US infantry made by Perry Miniatures. Most of them are plastic figures from the box set, with a few metal figures added in for variation. The metal figures have no jackets on, they are wearing only their shirts. The plastic set is excellent and in itself contains miniatures to create a whole platoon for Chain of Command and other games. A full platoon consists of three 12-man squads, each including an nco carrying a sub-machine gun and one BAR automatic rifle gunner. There is also an officer, sergeant and a bazooka team. In addition, the box contains a couple of .30 cal machine guns, a sniper and various options for weapons, heads etc.

The poses are more natural than in some other sets, and the figures have relatively reasonable proportions, with hands and weapons smaller than on e.g. Warlord or Artizan figures. The details however, are perhaps not always as good as on Warlord’s plastic sets. This is especially true of the metal figures. On the whole though, the set is very good, better in my opinion than Warlord’s plastics.

Considering the fact that these are more naturalistic in appearance, and not quite as ‘heroic’ as som 28 mm miniatures, it seemed approprite to paint them in rather subdued colors. Adding many layers of highlighting and meticulous detailing probably would not have made them look that much better. A perfect opportunity for speed painting, in other words!

This is how I did it. First, I prepared the miniatures by cutting out and cleaning the plastic parts and metal figures with a knife. The most important thing to do at this stage is to remove mould lines, which appear on all miniatures, both metal and plastic. Sometimes you can read reviews that state that a certain set or manufacturer has figures with “almost no mould lines”, or words to that effect. It is true that some miniatures have more obvious mould lines than others. But in my experience there is always a need to remove lines. Sometimes they will only appear after the primer has been applied. Therefore I actually prefer miniatures with readily apparent mould lines, because that makes it easier to remove them. Obviously there are cases, especially on older metal miniatures, when the mould lines are so sharp that they distort details on the minatures, for example on faces and other important parts of the figure. This is certainly not good! But a moderate amount of mould lines is not a problem. Just remember to never skip this step or you will regret it later.

Next stage is basing. I use 4Ground’s Base Render, a loose, slightly textured putty, to smooth over the transition from the small bases on which the figures come, and the larger base on which I mount them. By the way, the Perry set comes with 20 mm bases. But as all my other WW2 miniatures are based on 25 mm bases, I used those here as well.

After letting the Base Render dry (at least 12 hours), I apply some sand to the bases using PVA glue. After that has dried (for several hours), I spray the primer on using Army Painter’s Leather Brown spray can. This is a good shade because it is very close to the uniform of these figures, and because it also works as the base color for the base.

Next stage is to paint the basic colors. In this case this is Vallejo US Field drab for the trousers and shirts, Vallejo Khaki for the jackets, gaiters and webbing, Coat d’arms Tanned Flesh for skin, Vallejo Leather Brown for leather straps and boots, Army Painter Oak Brown for rifle stocks and Vallejo Brown Violet for helmet and bayonet scabbard. This paint scheme is rather simplified. It would not look bad to use a slightly different shade for webbing, and perhaps different shades of leather for shoes and straps. But this works well enough and saves a bit of time. After painting the basic colors, I also applied transfers for the 29th Infantry division shoulder emblem and rank insignia for corporals and sergeants. The transfers I used are made by Warlord Games.

The base colors should be allowed to dry for a little while, then I apply Army Painter’s Quickshade ‘dip’. This is a varnish with shading, which is not water-based and needs to be cleaned with proper solvents. Using it is much messier than working with water-based acrylics, but it does give a very nice shading effect. It also varnishes the figures, protecting the paint very effectively. It is applied to the whole figure and provides shading for all colors except black and metals, which I add in later.

Now the figures need to dry for 48 hours (!). If you start working on them too soon cracks may appear in the paint, and the whole effort will be for nothing – trust me, I have tried it!

When they are properly dry, I start with drybrushing the base, first with Vallejo US Field Drab, then with Vallejo Dark Sand. I also paint the edge of the base with Vallejo Brown Violet (this can be done at a later stage). After that, I highlight the miniatures using the base color. Metal parts are painted black and highlighted with Coat d’arms Gun metal mixed with black, and then pure Gun metal. Skin on hands and faces are given a two-stage highlight with Tanned Flesh (the base color) followed by Coat d’arms Flesh. I think the skin needs two stages of highlight as the faces in particular give the figures much of their character. The uniform on WW2 miniatures on the other hand, looks rather good with just the single highlight – to speed up the process even further, it actually works quite OK skipping even that.

Finally, I add the eyes and give the figures a matt varnish, I use Vallejo’s acrylic varnish.

4 thoughts on “Speed painting a US infantry platoon

  1. Thank you! Actually, I would recommend Winsor & Newton’s Galeria Acrylic Matt Varnish (no 3022802), which is what I am using now – I’ve tried out quite a few.

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