Painting Belgians part one – the infantry

I’ve been meaning to produce a painting guide for our Great War Belgian figures for a rather long time. Since I’m currently working on a project that involves painting a large number of them now seemed a good time to actually do it. This first instalment will cover the different types of infantry. Subsequent posts will cover the other models in the range.

As I have got a lot of them to paint I was aiming for the fewest steps possible, ideally a base coat and single highlight on each area. That didn’t always work out since some parts ended up having four different layers of paint. All of the colours used were either from Wargames Foundry  (WF) or Games Workshop (GW).

All three figures were sprayed white. The flesh was given a basecoat of WF Flesh (5B), a drybrush of WF Flesh  (5C) a wash of GW Seraphim Sepia and a second (lighter) drybrush of WF Flesh (5C).

Line infantry

Infantry wore a dark blue greatcoat and blue grey trousers. The piping on the trousers was changed from red to blue in 1911 but the older colour had not been phased out by 1914. In fact many soldiers wore no piping on the theirInfantry front trousers. The Shako was dark blue but normally worn with a black cover. Many of the infantry discarded the shako in favour of a circular forage cap which was dark blue with red piping. The regiment number was displayed on the front of the shako and forage cap.

The greatcoat was given a base coat of WF Storm Blue (39A) and dry-brushed with WF Storm Blue (39C). The result was a little too bright so a couple of coats of GW Badab Black wash was added to darken the final colour. The shako was GW Abaddon Black with a light dry-brush of GW Administratum Grey with a red pom-pom. The regimental number was (badly) painted in white in a red shield design on the front of the shako. The trousers were a base of GW The Fang and a dry-brush of GW Administratum Grey.


Carabiniers wore a dark green greatcoat and “Belgian grey” trousers. The piping on the trousers was changed from yellow to dark green in 1911 but as with the infantry both or none could be seen in use by 1914. In practice the greatcoats were so dark that they Carabinier front 2appeared black. Their Tyrolean style hats were made of black felt.

The Carabiniers are the easiest to paint since pretty much everything is black. You could even get away with doing the trousers in black as well on some figures since the grey cloth could tend to be very dark. The greatcoat was given a base of GW Abaddon Black with a dry-brush of GW Stormvermin Fur. A second highlight of GW Administratum Grey was added to bring out a few more of the details.



Grenadiers wore a similar uniform to the infantry. According to the Handbook of the Belgian army the greatcoat was the same colour.  Looking at surviving Grenadier frontexamples of both however show that the Grenadiers coats were more blue than the infantry ones. Their trousers were dark blue with broad scarlet piping. In the field they wore the same style forage cap as the infantry.

The greatcoat was painted the same colours as the for the line infantry. However to give it a slightly more blue colour only one coat of the black wash was applied. Collar patches were added in red.

The trousers were given a basecoat of GW Kantor Blue and a dry-brush of GW The Fang.



The equipment was painted the same for all three figures.

The backpacks were given a base coat of Foundry Rawhide (11A) and a couple of coats of GW Devlan mud. The water bottles had a basecoat of Foundry Light EquipmentDrab (12C) and the haversack Foundry Rawhide (11B). Both were given a wash of GW Devlan mud.

All of the black items (the mess tins, ammunition pouches and belts, boots, bayonet scabbards and spades) were GW Abbadon Black with a dry-brush of GW Administratum Grey. The handles of the spades and the rifles were painted in WF Rawhide (11A) and highlighted with GW Ushabti Bone. The gun barrels were silver with a black wash. The hilt of the bayonet was highlighted with GW Administratun Grey.



The Handbook of the Belgian army 1914 (The Imperial War Museum ISBN 1-901623-07-6) is a reprint of war office manuals, one from 1906 and one from 1914. It contains a wealth of information concerning pretty much every aspect of the Belgian military. No illustrations but a lot of detail.

Armes Militaria magazine is a French language publication with several issues containing articles on the Belgian army. Back issues are available from their website. In particular issue 66 has an article on line infantry and issue 71 has one on Carabiniers and Chasseurs a pied both with good colour photos of the uniforms.

Nap of the Earth

Our new PacFed vehicles are designated as grav tanks, so when I assembled some I wanted them to be hovering just above the table – not flying, but not sat on the surface either. I spent a little while think about how I would achieve this, and came up with a solution using one of our normal flying stands.


The first thing I did was to find the balance point of each hull – to do this I used a hexagonal pencil and balanced the model on it. It’s quite a delicate operation, but you should be able to make the model balance. Note how far along the hull the pencil is in relation the model – this is the model’s centre of gravity, and where you want to mount the base. When you do this, make sure the turret is on the model (which I forgot to do :-() – the weight of the turret, especially a large metal turret like the Cougar’s, can shift the balance point significantly.


The grav skirts for each vehicle have holes in the middle, in which the resin hulls sit. This means that if you turn each vehicle over you can get at the bottom of the hull. I drilled a hole about 6-8mm deep into the resin using a 5mm bit. Be careful not to go too deep, you don’t want to come out the top of the hull ! The sheet of bubble wrap stops the model slipping and protects the paint job from scratching.


I then took a normal plastic flying stand (clear or black, the choice is yours) and cut the post down very short (about 6mm/¼”). I then fixed this into the hole in the hull using some gloopy superglue (you could use an epoxy like Araldite, a contact adhesive such as Evo-Stick or even a hot-glue gun – anything with a bit of substance, but not a runny superglue).


If you’ve got the balance point right then the model should sit happily on the base while the glue dries – if you wanted to be safe then you could support the model until it’s set. To make a super-stable model you could put one of our base-weights in the base, but I haven’t done so.

And that’s it – you now have PacFed tanks that hover about a quarter of an inch off the table with no visible means of support !

Painted Houses

These should really have been ready when we released the 2mm buildings, but they weren’t (lack of spare time as always). But I’ve finished painting up some samples of the new houses and churches, which is much nicer than looking at unpainted castings or the printed masters ! If you click on the images you’ll go to the product page on the website where you’ll find even more pictures.

Back to Neu Celle

Neu Celle has had to take a back seat recently with the preparations for SELWG and Crisis, but I managed to find some time in the last couple of days to do a little more work.

The buildings have all finally been drybrushed, which has pulled together all of the staining and shading from the washes, and I have to say I’m pretty pleased with the final result. The combination of the staining from the various wash stages and the lighter drybrush has resulted in some pretty worn and weathered looking buildings, exactly what I was after. All that’s left to do for now is paint the doors and other details, and then I’ll be able to put them on the table (at last).

I’ve also painted the rubbish skips and Moisture Collector Units (MCUs) which we released recently. All of the models were rinsed in clean water first to remove any dust from the 3D printing process, then given a quick white undercoat from a spray can once they had dried. The skips were easy to paint, just a simple coat base of paint followed by a heavy wash to dirty them down. Incidentally, after a slight redesign of the models we’ve dropped the price by about 65p or so, which has to be good 🙂

The MCUs were superglued to 1¢ (euro) coins to act as bases (and weigh them down nicely so they don’t topple over). They were then washed in Citadel Badab Black, followed by a drybrush in white, then some small coloured details (just a red band around the top). The base was textured using Tamiya textured paint (this is very expensive but I had some left over from a previous project, so I might as well use it up !). A little bit of flock on the base and that was it. The MCUs will be very handy as small terrain pieces in both 15mm and 6mm – there’s not much to give their scale away.

Down and Dirty … again !

You might remember that I had the odd trial and tribulation with the ink washes on my desert township. Having watered down my GW Agrax Earthshade, the airbrush spattered (probably the fault of a cheap airbrush or at least low pressure in the compressed air can), then when I switched to a brush it ran, pooled and did all those things you don’t really want a wash to do. But I persevered and ran a coat of wash over all of the buildings.

Coming back to them after a day or two drying in a nice warm shed, it’s not as bad as I feared. In one or two places, especially where the wash had accumulated, it’s dried to an odd dusty whiteish colour; googling around, I’m not the only person who’s had this problem – it seems that the solution is to make sure the wash is properly mixed (give it a really, really good shake – not just a couple of desultory wafts). But the patchy bits, dark spots where the wash has spattered, even the odd tide mark, all add to the dirty, used effect that I’m looking for. And there are some mysterious unexplained black spots that look suspiciously like mould, but I’m sure it’s not …

I went back over the buildings again with come undiluted wash, this time being more selective and brushing it into the crevices and angles to enhance the shadows (I went over the white deposits and got rid of those). I also used it to darken the bottom of the walls, using a dryer brush to blend it out towards the middle and top of the walls (gravity helps here).

So I have to say I’m much happier now, the effect is pretty much what I’m after. The final stage of painting the walls will be a good drybrushing in the original Deck Tan colour

Painted Mobile Phone Mast

A couple of weeks ago we mentioned our new 15mm Mobile Phone Masts which were available through our Shapeways Store. I’ve finally had a chance to paint the first of these, the tower mast with three antennae.

I first stuck the model onto a 40mm round figure base, with a large washer stuck underneath to weigh the base down and make the tower stable. I made a little stand from it from a square of plastic card with a bolt in each corner made from hex section plastic rod. The base was then covered in PVA and sand. Normal superglue works fine when sticking Shapeways plastic parts, you don’t need any special adhesives. Once everything had dried, I undercoated with a spray can of white primer.


I then painted it in two shades of grey, a pale grey for the base and top framework and a green-grey (Tamiya Slate Grey) for the tower body (although this isn’t too obvious from the photos). After a black wash and drybrush, the three antennae were picked out in white. The final touches were a few splashes of orange-brown wash for rust patches (these towers are out in all weathers after all). The base was painted in Tamiya Flat Earth, drybrushed a pale stone and then patches of static grass were PVA’d on.

So that’s it – a simple enough paint job, bringing communication to the backwaters of the galaxy.

The other phone mast, the larger lattice tower, is being saved for a later date – I have a slightly more elaborate base planned for it.

Down and Dirty in Neu Celle

Last time I airbrushed my collection of 15mm desert buildings with a base coat of Tamiya Deck Tan, leaving them looking rather pristine for a beaten up, backwater colony on Mars. The next stage of painting my Martian desert township of Neu Celle was to give all of the buildings a dark wash to dirty them down a bit. Using my newly rediscovered airbrush (only a cheap and nasty Humbrol model, but good for work like this) I planned to give each building a coat of the new Agrax Earthshade wash (I used to use Devlan Mud for this, Agrax Earthshade is the closest match in the new Citadel paint range). Applying a wash using an airbrush seemed a bit odd, but I read about it in a White Dwarf article once, so it must therefore be a Good Idea™.

So I watered down a pot of Agrax (not much, since it’s thin enough already), put it in an airbrush bottle and off I went.

It didn’t really work. It spattered, ran, pooled … all the things that could go wrong when airbrushing. I’m not sure why, it might have been because I thinned the wash, it might have been my cheap airbrush (but that worked fine last week Tamiya paint). After one building I gave up, reached for a large brush and reverted to old-fashioned methods !

I slopped the wash on quite generously, making sure that I concentrated on getting the walls darker at the bottom (gravity helps a lot here !) and that there was a nice dark line in the deeper crevices and joins. The photos below show the results while still wet.

Once dried, the end result is … well … OK. It’s patchy (this is fine, the last thing I want is a regular finish anyway), has tide marks (not so good, but hopefully won’t be obvious after drybrushing) and most annoyingly, in some of the crevices it’s dried to an odd, pale dusty colour – not the dark shading effect I wanted at all !

Now at this point, the fashionable thing to do would be to blame all of the ills of the world on Games Workshop – after all, the old Devlan Mud wash worked brilliantly on my previous buildings, the new equivalent doesn’t, therefore it must be their fault for changing the paint range. I’m not going to do that (yet), since I mucked around with the wash by diluting it which could well have changed its properties. I’m going to give the buildings a selective second coat with undiluted wash, and I’ll make a more informed decision at that point.

While washing the Villa model, I discovered that the wall around the roof had become warped – I don’t recall it being like this when I base-coated the models, so I can only assume that I’ve inadvertently put another model on top of it and it’s warped a little bit (it does get hot in the shed during the summer). No problem, a little hot water and some gentle pressure and it’s back into line again.

A Whiter Shade of Pale

Things are all white in Neu Celle, my fledgling Martian colony. I think it’s time to introduce some colour. The other buildings I’ve painted so far have been done with a quick but effective method which I think looks pretty good, so I’m sticking with it here. Therefore the next stage was to basecoat the buildings using a pale stone colour. I chose Tamiya XF-55 Deck Tan (not the similarly named XF-78 Wooden Deck Tan), which is a very light shade. Since I had a lot of buildings to do at one go I dug out my old Humbrol airbrush from the shed and decided to use that. After transferring the paint to an airbrush jar I thinned it down about 2:1 with Tamiya acrylic thinners and off I went.

The whole process went pretty quickly, definitely much better than using a brush. I held the models in one hand (with a disposable plastic glove on) and sprayed them in mid-air rather than on a table – that way I could get at any bottom edges and made sure there was no ‘shadow’ where the airbrush couldn’t reach (I know the building above is on the table, I needed my other hand to hold the camera for the photo !).

The Humbrol airbrush definitely isn’t a precision instrument, but for this job it was ideal. I haven’t used it for a while and had forgotten some of its quirks – the compressed air ‘powerpack’ (an aerosol with a screw thread for attaching the airbrush hose) gets cold as it’s used, and like anything that gets cold, the pressure drops – so you have to increase the pressure via the control screw every so often. A couple of times I had to stop completely and warm up the can again to restore the pressure. One tip I do remember is that if the plastic tube that takes the paint from bottle to spray tip gets clogged, a good replacement is a plastic paint brush protector (the little clear plastic tubes that come with decent paintbrushes to protect the bristles). However I can’t knock it for this task, especially since I bought it off a mate at the wargames club for a tenner !

The next stage will involve the trusty airbrush again, although I might need a new powerpack for that …

I Name This Town …

So my little German colony on Mars now has a name – Neu Celle. I’ve named it this because I have fond memories of visiting my Aunt and Uncle (who was in the BAOR in the 70s) at the original town of Celle (the one on Earth) in Northern Germany. They lived in married quarters which I am led to believe were German officers’ quarters during WW2 (I must see if they have any old photos). I wasn’t too old – I made my first trip there in a pram on the back seat of my parents’ Simca (no child seats in those days, or rear seat belts for that matter !) but I can remember Hamburg Zoo, coloured chickens, a ride in a Stalwart (Uncle Bob was in the REME – the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers), a barbecue in the rain halfway up a Mountains (the Harz Mountains maybe ?) and cockroaches (the block of flats was infested !).

Work has continued on the construction of my outpost in the (terraformed) Martian desert. The first task after giving them a wash was to undercoat – I used a spray can of industrial white primer from a hardware store (in this case Toolstation – much, much cheaper than the B&Q or Homebase chain DIY stores). There’s no point using your expensive Citadel or Army Painter spray paints on a job like this, you want a good, hard-wearing coat of industrial primer that will stand up to knocks.

So at the moment it’s like Christmas come early in Neu Celle. Next time we’ll give it some colour …

SF Desert Township

I’ve started out on a project to build a 15mm township from our desert buildings range (we finally have enough spare castings to let me do this – we’ve been selling them as fast as Phil makes them !). At Maidstone Wargames Society we seem to have settled on a near-future, terraformed Mars as the setting for our 6mm/15mm/starship games, using the Modified Mars site as a guide.

I haven’t named my little township yet – since I’ve been fielding German ONESS forces in our two campaigns so far, I’ll probably stick to that and come up with a suitably Germanic moniker for it.

Having picked out the models I needed (one of each of the ten models that we make, with duplicates of the three smallest houses) I ran the bottom of each model over a sheet of coarse glasspaper to smooth it off and flatten any irregularities (do this in a ventilated place, preferably outdoors, and don’t breath in any of the resulting dust – wear a mask if necessary).

The next stage, as with all resin models, is to give them a good wash in soap and water – washing-up liquid (dish soap) is fine – this removes the dust from the previous sanding, and also cleans off any residues from the casting process. I just chucked the lot in the washing-up bowl with lots of hot soapy water and gave them a scrub with an old brush, then sat them on some newspaper to dry off.

I’ll try to give a blow-by-blow breakdown of the whole process of making the township, including painting, basing, detailing etc. I tend to be fairly erratic and have bursts of activity followed by periods of nothing happening, so you might need to be patient …