Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

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!

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