Thursday, September 18, 2014

Painting a WWI US Marine

Some of this I talked about in my post almost two weeks ago; WWI USMC Weekend Work New Uniform Color. So there is some repeat information here.

The US Marines made up only a small portion of the AEF that deployed to Europe in 1917. The 5th and 6th Marine regiments along with the 6th MG Battalion made up the 4th Brigade of the US 2nd Division. The Marines entered the fray in their P1912/1917 “Forest Green” uniforms. These are very similar to the US Army uniform from the period differing primarily in the style of the pockets and of course the buttons all had the EGA symbol on them. Pershing refused to allow Marine replacement uniforms to complicate the already difficult logistics situation so the Marines were issued with US Army uniforms when they needed new ones (and not necessarily the whole uniform, sometimes just the pants sometimes just the shirt). He actually ordered the Marines to completely switch to the US Army uniform but based on the accounts I have read I don't think this actually happened. Essentially veteran Marines ended up completely clothed in Army uniforms by the end of the war.  However, Marine replacements continued to be sent over in their Forest Green uniforms creating a very rag tag look to the Marine regiments.

One of the objections that Pershing and the US Army had to the Marine uniform was how similar in color it was to the German Feldgrau uniform. My first attempt to represent this was with Vallejo Olive Grey and Feldgrau, mixed at 1:1 for the base coat then highlighting and shading from there. This gives a reasonable representation and in reality there probably were Marine uniforms close to this color. Quality control is not high on the list at this time and there was a fairly wide variation in uniform colors. But I really wanted a color a lot closer to the way the uniform is described. Kristopher Battles, a US Marine combat illustrator had taken a number of color pictures of Marines wearing WWI uniforms for some sketches he wanted to do and these were published on his blog. One of the two uniforms featured is pretty much spot on to the color I wanted to use.
I'm going for the uniform on the right, but with the helmet color on the left. The uniform on the left looks very brown, but in some of the photos in the fields it looks very green.

I experimented with some color mixing on my own but I couldn't quite get what I was looking for. I reached out to my friend Anne Foerster and asked if she was willing to take up the challenge. Getting a yes answer I sent over the pictures and she responded in less than 15 minutes with a series of colors to try. Being head of the Reaper paint department these were, of course, Reaper paints and since I had them in hand I gave it a try. She pretty much knocked it out of the park on the first try. There are two variations both of which occur in the shade coloring. At this point I can't really tell the difference although when the light is right Uniform 1 does appear a bit more brown. Here is what I’m working with:

P1912/1917 Uniform, Variant 1                                    P1912/1917 Uniform, Variant 2
Reaper MSP 9064 Brown Liner                                    Reaper MSP 9065 Grey Liner
Reaper MSP 9082 Jungle Moss                                   Reaper MSP 9082 Jungle Moss
Reaper HD 29834 Field Grey                                       Reaper HD 29834 Field Grey
Reaper MSP 9090 Misty Grey                                      Reaper MSP 9090 Misty Grey

I usually work from my shade color up. For Variant 1 I mix the Brown Liner 1:1 with the Jungle Moss, this gives the shadows a browner look. For Variant 2 I substitute the Brown Liner for the Grey Liner, this gives a blacker shadow. Seriously use what ever you have on hand the difference is not great enough to see unless the light is right and you know what you are looking for. If I was going to pick one to work with all the time I would go with Variant 1 primarily based on the various pictures of Marine uniforms that I can find on the web. Most of these uniforms tend to have a bit of a brown cast to them. I do like the new variants better they come a lot closer to looking like our right hand uniform.

Here are the variants
There are four uniform color variations here. The difference is a bit more apparent here Uniform 2 does seem to be a bit darker than Uniform 1 in the group photo. From left to right; 2012 Vallejo Version, 2014 Vallejo Version, Variant 1, Variant 2, Variant 2 in mixed uniform.

The is the original done in 2012. I used the Vallejo Olive Grey and Field Grey as my base coat. These I worked up and down rather than from my more usual working from dark up.

This is one I did when I decided to post on the LAF for the Great War Paint Club. Its still Vallejo Olive Grey and Field Grey but its a bit greener. I used Vallejo Olive Drab as my shade color

Here is our Uniform Variation 1 using Brown Liner and Jungle Moss as the shade and working up.

Here is Uniform Variation 2 using Grey Liner and Jungle Moss as the shade and working up.

This is a mixed uniform but uses the Uniform 2 base.

My steps are as follows:
Step 1    Brown Liner 1:1 w/ Jungle Moss
Step 2    Jungle Moss
Step 3    Jungle Moss 1:1 w/ Field Grey
Step 4    Field Grey
Step 5    Field Grey w/ Misty Grey as desired for highlighting. I have found that a 1:1 with these two is about the highest highlight you should use. A little Misty Grey goes a long way!

Belts and such can be various shades of drab and khaki as desired to suit you, some of the belts I have seen have quite a bit of green in them so really if you have a combination you like I would continue to use it

My Skin tones tend to go through a lot of changes but I’m quite happy with the current one:
Step 1    Reaper HD 29821 Sunburn
Step 2    Reaper MSP 9259 Bronze Shadow
Step 3    Reaper MSP 9260 Bronze Skin
Step 4    Reaper MSP 9261 Bronze Highlight

Those are quick and dirty steps and quite frequently I use 1:1 mixes between the different colors as I work my way up from the shadow to the highlight. To ease transitions I will glaze things back with Sunburn. Although for a dirtier look I have used Reaper HD 29849 Umber Brown (and this color is not yet released, it is part of the Reaper BONES II Kickstarter, sold my soul for this one) as a glaze instead.

I have also found the FOW Brown Shade 200 (this is a re-branded Vallejo product, it might be one of their washes) to be quite useful for a quick wash across anything that would benefit from a little depth, in particular anything done in the drab US Army colors.

But for those of you who want to know everything these are the colors I’m using for the various bits (I don’t necessarily stick to this all the time, variation is a good thing):

Belts, pouches, backpacks and dusters
Vallejo Green Brown (879/114) or US Field Drab
FOW Brown Shade 200
Reaper MSP Green Ochre 9128 + a bit of whatever I used as my shade
Now to get some variation so everything doesn’t blend together to much this where things deviate

Reaper MSP Green Ochre 9128 2:1 Reaper MSP Faded Khaki 9129

Belts, pouches and backpacks.
Reaper MSP Tanned leather 9031
Reaper MSP Tanned leather 9031 1:1 with Reaper MSP Khaki Highlight 9123

Reaper MSP Uniform Brown 9127
FOW Brown Shade 200
Vallejo Green Brown (879/114) + a bit of Reaper HD Field Green 29834

Reaper MSP Muddy Soil 9244
Reaper MSP Basic Dirt 9245
FOW Brown Shade 200
Reaper MSP Brown Sand

Reaper MSP Harvest Brown 9200 + a bit of Reaper MSP Ruddy Leather 9109
FOW Brown Shade 200
Reaper MSP Harvest Brown 9200

Helmet Strap
Reaper MSP Ruddy Leather 9109

Reaper MSP Jungle Moss 9082
FOW Brown Shade 200
Reaper HD Field Green 29834 2:1 Reaper MSP Jungle Moss 9082
Glaze with Vallejo Olive Drab 889/

I think that’s it!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Another USMC WWI Wednesday - Finishing 3rd Platoon

I know this has gotten strung out a bit so I finished up the 3rd Platoon tonight. Tonight's work consisted of catching some of those little details that sometimes get forgotten at the end like buttons and buckles and the hoses for the respirators. This kind of work just seems to take forever! But I finished the details up and then applied the grass tufts to the bases. After that little step I dismounted them from the bottle caps (and immediately mounted 4th Platoon on those caps). I grabbed 1st and 2nd Platoon and got everything ready for a quick flat coat. When I sealed 1st Platoon, over a year ago, they came out a bit shiny. Since I was going to be sealing I grabbed them, dusted them off and put them in the lineup. So now I have 48 finished Marines all sealed and ready to go. Once 4th Platoon is finished I'll move on to the support weapons.

Here's tonight's work:
Here you can see the instant water after its dried. Has a really nice "wet" look to it.

3rd Platoon all "tufted" up

A Bomber

Rifle Grenadier

Rifle Grenadier


Rifleman, will get some NCO stripes later


Sho-Sho Ammo Carrier (for the French Chauchat Automatic Rifle)

Sho-Sho Gunner (This is the Brigade Games version. Its grossly out of proportion, the The Great War Miniatures version is much better)

4th Platoon, mounted up and ready for some paint.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Another USMC WWI Tuesday

After taking a break on Monday I hit the paint palette again. I finished painting 3rd platoon tonight, I was down to helmets, weapons and anything misc that I had missed previously. There are always something that I seem to miss. Once the basic mini was finished I went ahead and moved on to basing. Tonight I got the paint on the bases and applied the Woodland Scenics Instant Water. Once that was applied I set them aside to dry. The water takes about 24 hours although at high altitude it usually doesn't take that long. I'll touch up the bases tomorrow and apply some grass tufts and 3rd Platoon will be done. I spent a little time making sure that the bases for 4th platoon were clean, I found some flash around the edges so I figured it was a good time to take care of that.

So a few pictures from tonight's work:
All the paint work is complete on 3rd platoon.

A few close ups. I can see a couple of things I need to go back and fix.

The bases are painted and the instant water has been applied

Some more closeups. Its hard to see the water in the pictures though, but its on most of the bases.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A New Kolinsky In Town - Scharff 3000 Kolinsky Sable Brush

I ordered a Scharff 3000 Kolinsky Sable Brush from Secret Weapon Miniatures when I ordered more bases for my Marines. I have had it for almost a month and  I pulled it out for the first time last week. Its a nice brush, holds a very nice point, its a bit stiff with a nice spring to it. It looks a lot like a Raphael 8404. I would certainly recommend it as a replacement if you are still looking for a source for your favorite Kolinsky brush. The company is located in GA and the brushes were initially reported to be made in the US. I actually called them to verify this and that information is incorrect. These brushes are made in France (which you can clearly see stamped on the handle) and are being imported, which further invalidates claims that Kolinsky brushes are banned (of course if you have read some of the links I have posted in the past then you know this already). As long as a company fills out the paperwork that the Fish and Wildlife Department wants filled out then their brushes can be imported to the US.

These have a much thinner and lighter handle than either my Raphael or DaVinci brushes. The DaVinci is still my personal favorite and I may start looking for an overseas source on these. However, this one should be a good stand in till I can start replacing my DaVinci brushes.

The business end. On top is a Raphael 8404 #1, in the middle is the Sharff 3000 #1 and on the bottom is the DaVinci Maestro Series 34.

Here are the handles. The Scharff, is just your stand straight handle and a bit on the thin side. My preference is still the DaVinci handle with its triangle shape and its thicker than either of the other two. I find it much more comfortable to use.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

USMC WWI Weekend Work

Painting started on Saturday at our regular CMPA painting workshop. We were meeting at Grey Matter Games, but the store is closing so we have to find a new home, again. We have a couple of possibilities but finding room on a Saturday is kind of tough.

During that session I managed to finish the shirts and made good progress on the belts. Belts are just tedious. Doug brought me a sheet of neutral gray paper so I'm trying that out to see if it helps improve my photographic efforts.

The shirts are a little rough, I think I'll go back in with a glaze and see if I can smooth them out

After some chores and a little football (YWoohoo! The Packers pulled out a win!) I went back down to the workroom to do some more work on 3rd Platoon.
They are getting down to the finish. I have hair, weapons and helmets to do then its on to basing.