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"How To Paint and Base 6mm WW2 In A More Cinematic Style" Topic


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World War Two on the Land

1,191 hits since 20 Jan 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Leftblank20 Jan 2018 7:37 a.m. PST

Blog with tutorial: amsterdam6shooters.nl/node/1131

"On many internet paint blog pictures it was hard too see the difference between a 6mm Axis and an Allied unit.

Besides, WW2-basing looked static, Napoleonic in fact: the miniatures are centered or evenly spread out on a base, and standing in line. In Hollywood and my favorite video games, soldiers run for cover.

I don't want to sound derogatory. If you want your miniatures to 'blend in' I understand. But I respectfully disagree. I want my 6mm-miniatures to stand out, even in this camouflage war. Recognizable – just as my 6mm-Old Guard or my Black Brunswickers.

So instead of a more conventional approach I experimented with brighter-than-normal earth colours, as much colour distinction between the uniforms as historically possible, and a scenic 'cinematic' basing. My 6mm soldiers kneel, hide and runn behind scenery. I use signs and of course decals. I made diorama bases to get a gritty Band of Brothers/Saving Private Ryan/Return to Castle Wolfenstein-look, clearly visible from a meter distance".

Finally I wrote this instructable. Content:

which vehicles to buy: GHQ or something cheaper?
which infantry to buy?
basing system; why you should use a logical universal basing system for 6mm?
painting: how to exaggerate the minimal uniform colour differences
decals: tedious, but don't hesitate, Just Do It!!
Spielbergian basing: how to make more individual bases with miniatures hiding between ruins, houses, oil drums and walls with propaganda posters
final words: difference between 6mm Napoleonic an WW2 painting projects

stephen m20 Jan 2018 8:12 a.m. PST

Very interesting ideas. Especially a thank you for pics of various manufacturers infantry. This is a big fail in my mind. Only GHQ, and Baccus give us good clear pictures of all their figures. I wish they could be larger but I really hate the murky dark examples and pictures of figures based and then the bases are covered in foliage which totally hides the figures.

N0tt0N20 Jan 2018 8:19 a.m. PST

My entire old school Napoleonic collection is rigid parade dress – all they used to make. I've been changing my thinking as better castings have become available. Now I am seriously considering re-basing everything for visual effect instead of game mechanics and bookkeeping. You've really hit on why we use miniatures instead of cardboard counters. Thank you for your excellent summary of ways to make that happen. I had already adopted pushing the color spectrum as far as I could, almost cartoonish to get the correct effect at arm's length. Well done!

daler240D20 Jan 2018 8:21 a.m. PST

great post with some great ideas. I do have to disagree though about the GHQ price premium. The difference in quality is startling. I have smaller actions with fewer figures so find it reasonable to spend 2 bucks for a tank.

MajorB20 Jan 2018 8:40 a.m. PST

Some great ideas, but I absolutely hate it when figure bases have terrain on them that "magically" moves with them like Birnham Wood.

N0tt0N20 Jan 2018 9:27 a.m. PST

MajorB, wrestling with that exact issue. Finding the balance.

williamb20 Jan 2018 9:48 a.m. PST

interesting ideas. I am in the process of re-painting my infantry for better differentiation of armies.

JARROVIAN Supporting Member of TMP20 Jan 2018 10:50 a.m. PST

For 6mm WWII and Moderns I prefer Mainforce Miniatures from Magister Militum.
They come ready based and mainly prone. Some command troops are kneeling or standing, as do HMG, mortar and over shoulder SAM.
Easy to paint and store, and extremely robust.

stephen m20 Jan 2018 1:47 p.m. PST

Mainforce has some things going for it. I have a few, mostly lmgs not covered by my main source H&R as prone (in use) figures.

I am still trying different systems but thinking of using prone figures to represent units adopting a more "entrenched" attitude. Various systems use different terms such as "tactical", "cautious", "prone", etc., basically any time a force is more interested in utilizing natural cover to reduce their exposure, even while moving.

Durban Gamer21 Jan 2018 4:58 a.m. PST

Interesting ideas and very creative. Having figs carry around large terrain items on their bases doesn't work for me, especially when on roads or in towns.

Very true that using different shades for bases per nationality is a great way to help tabletop recognition in games and when packing up quickly afterwards.

Using paint-tinted crack filler rather than flock for covering bases has helped my 1/300 WW2 figs stand out very nicely.

farnox22 Jan 2018 2:58 p.m. PST

One thing I have gravitated toward,that was touched upon, is the lightning of the shades. My WWII armor started out as historically correct but was way to dark on the gaming table. Brightening up the colors made a world of difference but did not look out of place either.

goragrad22 Jan 2018 9:03 p.m. PST

As a middle ground on the armor, PF-Cinc comes in at $1.50 USD for most tanks.

Actually my preferred manufacturer. Clean castings with with the correct lines and no exaggerated detail – no rivets the size of helmets…

Mark 124 Jan 2018 4:48 p.m. PST

I understand the assertions about "gaming pieces" versus "collector pieces".

I took that same view years ago, and many of the items in my active forces box(es) are at that level.

But a few years ago I started hanging out in various wargaming / miniatures fora, and seeing / learning the techniques others have developed, and quite frankly my enjoyment of the hobby took a significant step upward! Now, when I play with my older gaming pieces … well, they are certainly usable. But when I game with my newer pieces I get an extra jolt of pleasure every time I pick one up to move it. And I have done several refurb projects after gaming with some of the older pieces, because it was disappointing when I was gaming with them. So I am a convert to better looking / better painted / better modeled figures. And BTW that applies to terrain as much as the actual game pieces.

As to infantry bases, I too am not a fan of having a squad of infantry carry a chunk of terrain into environments where it is not appropriate. But I don't see much alternative. I have to put a cluster of figures onto a base. In the past, those bases might have been just small squares of sheet styrene, or even cardboard. This was often painted brown or green, or even the color of the infantry uniforms. Early on I put the infantry so close together that they almost looked like the en-bloc infantry that GHQ brought out in the early 1990s (still offered, but best avoided). Then I moved to putting figures in a straight line on a rectangular base. Then I moved to putting them in the four corners of a slightly larger base.

Now I put them on round stands (US penny coins), and I texture the ground on those stands so that the molded-on base of the figure is obscured into the depth of the texture, and I color that texture in earth tone, and I flock with two or three kinds/colors of grasses, with a few small stones (model RR talus) and some schrubs (model RR foliage). It's a bit of a variety of stuff, but applied in very small doses, so the terrain on the stand is actually rather muted and does not stand out much.

The round bases also help it not stand out. Somehow the eye spots edges more easily when there are corners.

I put some minor variation in the poses and/or locations of the poses, so that a platoon of bases do not look identical. But I also standardize enough so that I can tell a lot about what the stands represent without too much close inspection. To this end I put 4 figures to represent a standard full strength infantry squad, 3 figures to represent a full strength "special" squad (ie: engineers or large weapon crew), 2 figures to represent a small team (command stand, sniper stand, small support weapon crew, MOP / AOP, etc.).

I gamed with one fellow who used rounded irregularly shaped stands for his infantry. Might have cut each to some random shape, or might have had only a few shapes, but rotated the facings of his figures to make it look like a larger variety. In any case I very much liked the visual effect … it made the stands stand-out less, or blend in to the table more, in my opinion.

My preference is for GHQ individual infantry figures. I love the casting quality and the details. But alas the combinations of poses in each pack is persistently a disappointment. I sometimes use H&R infantry figures. The poses and combinations in the packs are quite appealing, even if the casting and sculpting qualities are less (these are the older H&R designs … haven't seen the new infantry figures up close yet). Painted well, they look good enough, although they don't delight me as much when I pick up the stands to look at them (or move them).

Adler poses are very good too. And the casting quality is also very good. I can't get past the big heads to use them for a large portion of my forces, but I do use them in particular cases, like for my Russian tank-riders.

Just my $0.02 USD worth.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Leftblank29 Jan 2018 6:40 a.m. PST

Thanks for reading and commenting, everybody.
I push it to the extreme (my most recent base is an SS-Commander in Chief base in zombie Wolfenstein-style, I rather make fun than paint a historically correct nazi fanatic) but as Mark 1 nicely points out, it's more or less a continuum with quite dark 'realistic' units on one side; and not entirely historical, but very recognizable bases with scenery on the other side. And many options in-between.
When researching the manufacturers and painting styles, I missed a clear how-to-guide for 6mm WW2. I just hope that this pictorial guide will help new 6mm-gamers to get an idea what they want, or might not want in this scale, and will save them time.

siggian25 Jun 2018 12:28 p.m. PST

I appreciate the hat tip in your post.

I just wanted to point out, as someone who likes to paint detail on 6mm figures, that it doesn't matter to me whether someone can see that detail at 3' away. My satisfaction is when someone else picks up a figure or stand and takes a closer look.

I should mention that I find the Adler figures actually easier to paint than GHQ, Irregular, or H&R. That's because the detail I want to have is already molded into the figure and I just have to pick it out via paint use a dip/wash. With the others, if I want the figure to have a belt, I need to paint it on.

Mark 128 Jun 2018 5:57 p.m. PST

Seeing this thread come back to life, I thought I might add a pic or two of my infantry, based as per the approach I described above.


This is a squad of my French North Africa colonial force. I used GHQ's Romanian infantry, as the somewhat out-sized helmets can serve as a stand-in for tropical sun helmets.


This is a platoon of infantry from my Romanian force, made up of the same figures painted in Romanian colors. Of note is how I use the number of figures to help distinguish the "special purpose" and "small team" bases from the standard infantry squads.


As I mentioned in my prior post, I put large weapons crews 3 to a base. But I don't mount the guns on the bases, preferring to leave them un-mounted. This gives me two significant points of flexibility.
1) I can separate the crews from the guns during gameplay. Some rules adjudicate the actions of (and against) the crews differently than the guns. So for example small arms fire might kill or chase off the crew, but not harm the gun. My approach allows that to be done in the games quite easily. But also, even for games that don't adjudicate the crews separately, they will often require tracking if a gun is set-up and ready to fire, or just being towed or not yet set-up. I can manage all of that without putting markers, just by putting the gun on the crew base when it's set up and ready to fire.
2) Besides the gameplay advantage I get a really strong bonus on efficiency in building my force, without giving up the flexibility of my force. I paint up fewer crews than guns. I never use ALL the guns I have available for any of my forces in one game. Here for example you see French arty crews, and French 105mm guns. I can also use these crews for my French 75mm guns. I chose these as an example because I took the picture with the guns on and off. But a better example of flexibility is the AT guns for my Romanian force. Depending on what year the game is set in, my H&R kneeling gun crews might be used with GHQ's 37mm Bofors AT guns, H&R's 47mm Boehler AT guns, or C-in-C's 75mm Pak 97/38 AT guns. One set of crews can cover the whole war, when I need three different gun types for the same.


At game time, my H&R Russian infantry maneuvering for advantage, backed by some C-in-C armored cars. Clearly, the grass on the bases is a bit of a clash with the ploughed fields they are crossing. Sigh -- whatcha gonna do? Can't not base them at this scale. But my more recent work (this set of troops have been in my "ready forces" box for 20+ years) have a bit more variety in the flocking, and a few rocks, to help blend in with a wider variety of terrain.

Just a few examples…

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

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