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6 - za Russkies Q&A

Soviet Character Set 1
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6 June 2003comments from Arkadii Rodinko
4 March 2000page first published

4,825 hits since 8 Jul 2002
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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To wrap up this part of the project, I thought it would be a good idea to collect questions from everyone and then get Friar Barb's answers. I also took more photos of the final figures here in my workshop.

Here are the questions and answers:

Do you hold your figures while painting, or do you put them in a clamp or something?

I prefer holding the figure. I rarely use temporary mounting on any figures smaller than 90mm. I try to save steps when painting "wargame" figures, which usually means dozens, if not hundreds, of figures. Anything to speed up the process, so I prefer not to mount them. I have never used any clamps.

soldier playing accordion

How much Slow Dry do you recommend using? How do you mix it in? Do you use a palette?

I use a palette (a small plastic plate/dish). I have started using a wet palette as it keeps the acrylic paint wet for days. This is designed for acrylic paints to keep them from drying out. It resembles a tupperware containter, usually rectangular with a lid. There is a sponge-type material that you wet and place in the bottom of the container. Then there is a special paper that is used as the palette, soaked with water, and placed on top of the sponge. The palette will keep the paint plyable for weeks!!! Fairly inexpensive at about $5 USD-$10 USD at any arts store.

In regards to the Slow Dry, I put a few drops on the palette and dip the end of the brush I am currently using before dipping the brush in the paint. I mix this on the palette (paint and a little Slow Dry). This process is repeated as often as I think the paint needs to be Slow Dried. It comes down to personal preference and a little practice.

chicken-stealing soldier

Do you have any problems with coverage when using the "Old Lady" paints?

I have found that - over black primer - yellows, some reds and some browns do not cover well. Not too much of a problem if you view the "poor" coverage as extra shadow. One way of getting the paint to cover better is to apply the color in short strokes using very light pressure on the bristles. In other words, try just using the tip of the brush.

the surrendering figure

How do you apply the second layer of flesh paint?

All layers are applied with the same methodology:

  • Use the black primer as "outlining" and work out from that "outlining";
  • next layer the same way, but leaving the first layer as a second "outline"; e.g. do not entirely obscure the first layer.

Do you drybrush?

I use drybrushing on hair and some armor.

What size brush do you use?

Brush size varies from a 10/0 to a 000.

soldier with fur cap

How do you know where to put the paint, and what not to cover? do you get to Carnegie Hall....practice, practice, practice. One thing I have learned - when looking at other's figures, I try to imagine what technique produced a particular result I like. And always ask how people did this or that. Most figure painters will happily discuss their works. And not to "over compare" your work with others. Do not get hung up on particular colors, brushes, brands, etc. It usually comes down to techniques of applying the paint, not the paint itself.

Can you explain the "5 o'clock shadow" process in detail?What colors did you use?

Sure, I sit around and don't shave for a few days!!!! Seriously, I either use a wash of dark blue-black or raw umber. This wash is made using the Slow Dry. Exess wash can be removed with at brush dampened with water. This wash applied to the lower jaw, chin and upper lip. If I find that I have applied it too heavy, I touch up the flesh after the wash is dried.

soldier with wine bottle

How did you do the eyes?

Two different ways, depending on the casting of the face:

  • If I can see the pupil on the casting, I apply a white dot to either side of the pupil. I don't worry about excess white as I block in the eye with the first flesh color.
  • If I cannot see a pupil, I just paint a white area where the eye socket is and block the area in with the flesh colors. Don't worry that the eyes look too large when you first apply the white. Just block it in with the flesh.

How do you do hair? What hair colors do you use for Soviets?

Hair is various shades of browns - and for blondes, with some yellow added. This is drybrushed over the hair area. If the hair is to be black, I sometimes highlight the black primer with some gray.

close-up of face

Do you do anything special for lips/mouths?

Highlight flesh color, with a small amount of red mixed in, painted on the bottom lip.

rear view of surrendering figure

Which colours did you use for the basic uniform 'brown' colour?

OK. One thing I really learned is not to get hung up on what color so-and-so used. It usually is not the color, it is how it is applied. Just because you are using identical colors does not mean you will get identical results. And, besides, it is very hard to match colors when looking at digital pictures. Concentrate on techniques. I learned this the hard way. If you like PollyS Russian Khaki...fine. If you like Delta Light Brown...groovy.

Having said that, I think I used Delta Burnt Umber and PollyS British Brown Drab for the basic Russian Brown.

Figure in camo smock

How did you do the camo smock?

I believe I gave the over-all coat a brownish/green drab base, and then highlighted as usual. The camo was irregular patches of black with a medium green inside. The black acts like outlining.

soldier cooking

How did you know how to paint the shoulder tabs and hats the right colors?

Uhhhh...are they correct? My sources showed the Soviets to have the shoulder tabs in the color of the uniform and outlined in red. Osprey, Uniforms of WW2, etc. will show these. As well as the manufacturers website.

Is this the same approach you would use if painting a larger number of figures, or was this a special approach because these were "characters"?

Same approach. Nothing different.

side view of accordion player, showing crates used as seating

Is the static grass coloured after sticking, or is that the natural colour? What make/colour is it?

Woodland Scenics makes large 32 oz. bottles of static grass. You get more than you will ever need. Comes in 3 or 4 colors and for only $5 USD-$6 USD a bottle. Part numbers start with FL (as in Flocking). Go to their website and check it out.

The grass is not highlighted after application. Rather, I blend 2-3 different colors together.

tree stumps

What colour is 'tree stump'?

Hmmmm...any brownish gray. Usually I mix a couple colors and then highlight.

How much would you charge for this project, if a customer had placed an order, or if someone wanted you to paint the same thing?

$50 USD-$60 USD dollars.

the vignette

Which figure is your favorite?

No favorites. All were clean, detailed castings.

Thanks again to Friar Barb's Painting Monastery for some great articles on painting 28mm Soviets for WWII.


Astute reader Arkadii Rodinko of RedArmyOnline writes:

  • The seated officer is in fact a Commasar, as denoted from the star insignia on his sleeves. These should be painted a dull red, with yellow piping and yellow hammer and sickle within the star. The shoulderboards should be painted the same as any other infantry officer - regulations stated that commisars wore the same rank as the unit assigned to.
  • The fellow in the 'cape' is in fact wearing the shelter half/rain cape. This article of clothing doubled as the two, by simply buttoning up the bottom, and tightening a drawstring. It was made in a solid olive drab material, similar to tent fabric.