Showing posts with label How-To Article. Show all posts
Showing posts with label How-To Article. Show all posts

12 June 2019

How-to : Removing paint from plastic figures

Removing paint from plastic figures

Ive used this technique with old models and figures, even those that have been covered in two or three coats of thick enamel paint. It works equally as well with hard and soft plastic plus its a technique that's not just limited to smallscale modelling.

You'll need the following items :

Household oven cleaner
Plastic gloves
Plastic bag
Plastic bucket
Detergent (washing-up liquid)

Household oven cleaner in a spray-can form is cheap and readily available in practically any supermarket. Its used to dissolve thick carbon and burned fat deposits from off the inside ovens and off frying pans. Luckily for us modellers it also dissolves enamel paints without affecting plastic.

In this example well use a couple of old soft-plastic polythene figures. They're all in good condition, but have been painted with thick blobs of enamel paint.

A word of warning oven cleaner is caustic and may cause burns to the skin or eyes or respiratory problems if not used correctly. I would stress that it be used with caution. Minors should never use these products themselves,they should ask a responsible adult to do it for them.

Start by laying out the plastic bag on a flat surface and place the model or figures onto the bag.

Put on your gloves. Make sure you use plastic gloves to protect your hands as oven cleaner can burn the skin. Don't use latex gloves as the oven cleaner may dissolve the latex.

Hold the oven cleaner spray in one hand, and spray the model liberally. With the other hand you can turn over the model while holding it over the plastic bag so as to get into every nook and cranny.

Close the plastic bag with the model inside and tie a knot, place into the plastic bucket and leave overnight. The plastic bucket is so that if any oven cleaner leaks out it will not stain the floor.

Rinse any over cleaner off your gloves and put them away and leave over cleaner to work overnight.

24hrs later, get out your plastic gloves again and take the bucket to somewhere you have access to a cold water tap and a sink.

Put on your gloves, take the model out the plastic bag you'll find a huge gooey mess. Throw the plastic bag away and put the model into the sink.

Turn on the cold water and you'll find the paint will fall off as you rinse it. Now with the toothbrush and with a little detergent you can remove any stubborn remnants of paint stuck in little nooks and crannies.

Give them a final rinse and leave to dry. Rise your gloves and don't forget to clean out the bucket or container.

Once dry that's it, finished. Shiny new figures, ready for painting.

27 February 2019

Youtube video : Winter wargames sand table using salt as snow

Decorating a new sand table for wargaming using fine-grain salt to simulate snow.

This was for a 1/72 scale wargame but the technique can be used for games in any scale.

After uploading the video I realised that the sound is very muffled, but the images speak for themselves.

There are subtitles on the video, to see them you'll need to open the video in Youtube itself and on the bottom bar, look for the “Closed Captioning” icon “CC” and click on it.

More videos are planned for youtube so if you want to subsribe to get updates, just click on the subscribe button below

Hope you enjoy it.

We baptised the table on Saturday with an Ardennes game, photos and game report to follow soon.

28 June 2017

8th Army Uniform - 1/72 Scale Painting Guide

There was a time when I thought my Airfix sand-coloured plastic figures really looked the business with the exposed parts of the skin painted with good old Humbrol Matt Flesh - and of course to a 10 year-old kid they did.

And that kid still lives in my head, and even though various decades have passed since then, and even if I spend maybe a little more time painting my figures nowadays, I do still try and keep things as simple as possible,

Drybrush & Wash Technique

The figures below were all painted using a simple technique that brings out the detail well and allows you to finish off a large number of figures in a relatively short time.

I'll cover the preparation, basing and undercoating in a separate post in more detail, but the painting technique itself is straightforward and simple as follows.

  • Paint a large batch of figures in the base uniform colour. 
  • Once dry, give them a very heavy drybrush of a much lighter colour to highlight the raised uniform areas, straps, buckles, rucksacks, etc. 
  • Block paint flesh areas and weapons.
  • Finally finish off the whole batch with a wash to bring out the details. 

Acrylic Paints / Colours / Wash

Acrylic paints are the best for this job and I generally use colours from the Vallejo range.

For the 8th Army figures I've used the following.
  • Vallejo Khaki - base uniform colour
  • Vallejo Iraqui Sand - heavy drybrush.

There are various products on the market sold exclusively as "washes" or "dips", but I've found that - at least for me - the best option is to use a good quality artists' acrylic Raw Umber diluted with water to a consistency of milk. In this example I've used the following
  • Van Gogh Acrylic Raw Umber

You just need to squeeze out a half-thumbnail sized blob into a bottle top or similar recipient, mix in water to get the right consistency, and paint a generous dose onto each figure.

The wash will settle into the folds and crevices of the figures and once it has dried you'll see a very pleasing and subtle highlight and shadow effect.

Further Detailing

The 8th army uniform can range from sun-bleached sandy white to the darker hues of khaki brown and even green. This all depends on the issue of uniform, the amount of time exposed to the sun and elements, etc., so you might want your figures to have more variation.

You can use the same technique but paint in more detail before the final wash, and play around with variations on the straps, pouches, rucksacks, helmets, etc., using lighter browns, sand, other shades of khaki, greys, and so on.

Another option is to also try with different washes using deeper shades and / or consistencies of artists' acrylics.

If you want to certain figures to stand out, such as as officers or special units, or even whole squads, once the wash has dried you can further detail the figures by touching up certain areas, dark-line, highlight, etc., etc

Colour Guide

The illustration below is a guide based on Vallejo colours for painting 20mm British & Commonwealth WW2 8th Army figures.

One final note : Boots

The British wore black boots but if you've ever walked around, even for a very short time, in dry dusty terrain you'll already know that whatever colour your boots might have originally been, they will soon become the exact same colour of that same terrain,

For this reason I prefer to leave the boots in a dusty shade to try and match the flocked base.

There are plenty of options for painting the 8th Army and many of us have various preferences for colours and techniques so please feel free to add any comments.

09 October 2016

Speedpainting Esci Zulus - some progress on the horde of figures

This is definitely a quantity over quality job, and speed is of the essence, so I'm hoping to finish them all off and be ready for basing sometime at the end of the week.

I'll also give a runthrough here on the technique I'm using to speedpaint the figures. It works (well, at least for me) on painting very dark / black skin tones.

First step is to give a heavy basecoat of tough black-gloss enamel paint.

This is followed by a very heavy drybrush to bring out detail and highlight the raised surfaces.

I then prepare a wash using water based artists acrylics. The acrylics will bring out the shadows and highlights on the black skins.

I use Van Gogh which are excellent consistent quality and work really well. I used a mixture of Raw Umber and Burnt Sienna.

Mix the two until you get a thick but creamy consistency ... and yes, it does look like something disgusting that the the dog just dropped.

Finally add a little black to dip into for some slight shading when you paint the wash onto the figures, and the next day when they are dry you should have figures that look something like this.

You can then just paint up the details.

So I'm now about halfway there, most of the figures in progress are in the picture below.

Once I've got them based I'll add a final update on the Zulus and in the near future some pictures of them in action in the upcoming game.

03 October 2016

Zulus, thousands of 'em - New Spears and Shields

Not thousands, but well over a hundred and fifty of 'em.

Old Esci Zulus, from four separate sets that are at least 15 years old, maybe even older.

They were all given to me many years ago by my mate Carlos, and they've been lounging in different boxes full of mixed figures since then

Well with a game coming up organised by Carlos, I remembered I had these Zulus he gave me and promised to paint them up. When I dug them out of their box I aslo discovered that the majorty of the shields and spears have nearly all been lost over the years - victims of multiple transfers to and from different boxes, maybe lost in the bottom of another box, or perhaps even a landfil somewhere, victims of a past clearout of trash.

So with 150+ Zulus and only 20 odd shields and spears, what do you do when you've promised to have them ready for the game ? No choice but to improvise and make your own.

The shields were made from rugged card that were cut into oblong shapes. I made a shield shape similar in size to the original shield printed multiple copies onto the back of the rugged card.

A broom with some nice thick stiff plastic bristles was the spear donor.

Some flat-nosed pliers were used to squash the end of the plastic and a sharp knife to make the spear point.

And I'm quite pleased with the way the spears turned out.

So the next step, paint them all up.
Come back soon, more pics to follow.

13 June 2015

How-to : Rivers, Ponds and Marshes using X-rays

mprovised Rivers, Ponds and Marshes using X-rays

Some time ago a friend from our wargame group, Juan Reyes (Brazo de Nelson Wargamers Club) had a brilliant idea of using cut-outs from old X-rays that he painted over with gloss paint to use as wargame scenery to make marshes.

In a recent game scenario we needed a wide river section to cross the entire table, and so inspired by Juans marshes, we cut-up some old x-rays with scissors to make improvised river sections.

These are not painted, just the bare X-rays but they actually work very well.

The game was one of a series of scenarios weve gamed from an Arnhem campaign. The bridge spanning the river is an Airfix Pontoon Bridge, mounted on supports made from Lego and painted concrete grey.

27 September 2012

Smallscale (1/72, 1/76, 20mm) Polythene figure conversions

Smallscale (1/72, 1/76, 20mm) Polythene figure conversions

Polythene figure conversions ; simple replacements of helmets, heads, limbs, torsos & other body parts

There's a huge selection of small-scale plastic figure sets of all types on the market with wide and varied poses but in spite of that the need for some additional pose will always arise, and besides, we are modellers and can’t live without making some kind of modification to everything we lay our hands on.

Well need the following items :
Dressmakers pins
Straight edged craft knife
Pin Drill
Strong Cutters / Pliers
Mouse pad (or some other similar cushioned base)
A handkerchief or similar

Before we embark on full-scale amputation, study the figures a little first to see where the cut can be made and how you might be able best join up with the new torso.

The beauty of using plastic figures is that if you make a mistake, they are cheap enough to replace.

Once youve decided where youll need to make the cuts, place the figure onto a cushioned surface which will absorb the cut of the knife and stop the figure from slipping I use the cushioned reverse side of an old mouse pad or thick cloth.

A very sharp flat blade hobby knife or scalpel is needed to make a clean cut in the plastic and I usually use the thin disposable types with little sections that can be broken off at intervals.

It’s handy to have a little dish or saucer around to put the heads, helmets, arms, etc., into so that they don’t end up on the floor as Ive spent a good deal of time crawling around looking for bits that have dropped and have disappeared forever.

Once you have the heads, helmets, limbs, etc., you will need to insert strengthening pins into them which serve as pegs to hold the these pieces onto the new body.

First start by sticking the pointed end of the pin into the head / helmet / limb, where it will be attached to the new body (taking care not to stick the pin into your finger)

Once this is done, take some strong pliers and cut the pin so as to leave a “peg” of about 2-3mm sticking out.

While you have the pliers gripping the pin, before you cut, put a handkerchief over the part of the pin that will be cut off and so youll catch the piece youve cut and it wont go whizzing over to the other side of the room.

This way youll avoid finding the other half of the pin it hard way later when you might suddenly find it stuck in your foot or somewhere worse.

We need to make a hole in the torso where it will be receiving the new body part. Do this with a pin drill, and make a generously sized hole so as to give us some room to play around with when we attach the new piece.

Now try the fit to see how it looks and make adjustments to the hole if necessary.

When you’re satisfied apply some superglue liberally to both surfaces. If you made a hole with quite a lot of room and the peg is able to move around a lot, that’s not really too much of a problem because the glue will seep into the extra space and give a firm hold.

If there happens to be a gaping space at the join, fill it with white glue on a small paintbrush, and keep adding more white glue if necessary until the join line is no longer visible.

Figures modified in this way can safely be used for wargaming as the joint is quite robust and under normal handling conditions they will be perfectly fine and the parts shouldnt separate.

26 May 2005

Copper Wire Armature Trees

Copper Wire Armature Trees

The technique of using twisted copper wire to make tree armatures is quite well known to railway enthusiasts, diorama builders and wargamers.

The twisted copper wire armatures have been covered with various layers of white glue and black paint and the foliage has been made from steel wool (like Brillo but without the soap) covered by dried herbs and scatter material.

You can also use lichen, as can be seen on one of the trees in the photographs.

05 February 2002

Smallscale (20mm, 1:72 1:76) Paint Guide for WW2 US Uniforms

Guest Article by Antònio Santos - Smallscale (20mm, 1:72 1:76) Paint Guide for WW2 US Uniforms

By Antònio Santos

We have the idea that the US WW2 Army uniforms were all alike, with almost no variation. This is perhaps because of the primacy in modeling of topics related to the German army, leaving others in background.

US Army Painting Scheme

The examples presented here have been made ​​with the help mainly of illustrations in books or magazines on the US Army (WWII). As for colors, I tried to select the most approximate, carrying out comparisons between the various options (color) brands, and other modelers, or publications related to the topic. Here I used acrylic-vinyl brand colors Vallejo Model color.

They are water-based colors with rapid drying and serve to metal or plastic.

They come in 17ml containers and are neither toxic nor flammable. The indications equivalent to Humbrol and Revell colors are the most approximate, and in the case of not being able to determine equivalence, have indicated a second option (2).

Keep in mind that colors have been chosen for the smaller scales, in this case 1:72.


They are five brands: Matchbox ; Airfix ; Heller / Airfix ; Revell ; Hasegawa.

From these figures half of them have been changed, some more, some a little less .. As I mentioned, I used acrylic and the good results that have contributed paintings are now my favorite, at least for the figures! For the faces and hands, I used the color 845 and once dry apply a wash, in this case with 874 color to enhance the shadows.

The other colors correspond to the instructions given in this article painting. All the paints here are diluted with water or alcohol, and dried pretty fast. Also stressed that when we use the paintings for the first time, you should remove the paint in the bottle with a toothpick. The reason is that, as much as we shake the bottle, the paint stays at the bottom, and so it might be a little more dilute than what we expected .


American uniforms had great influence on the military trends during the years following the end of the war, on almost every other army with their steel helmets and canvas equipment Both officers and sergeants all wore the same uniforms as the privates, and from a distance could only be distinguished by their individual weapon: whether it was a pistol, machine gun M3, one Thompson, or M1 carbine.

This first example is considered summer uniform and was used on D-Day . The color of the jacket could also be in olive green. The soldiers of the paratroopers divisions were carried in gliders and they also wore this uniform with the difference that they had the American flag on his right arm, near the shoulder

As a curiosity, because of the prestige of the paratrooper boots, the commander of the 82nd Division authorized the use of these boots for their soldiers. For that, it was only necessary to make a single parachute jump during training (not only did they have the right to use the paratrooper wings ).

This did not please the 505 Airborne Infantry too much and in response, issued a notice that any paratrooper conducting a single glader landing was authorized to wear leggings & boots !





Uniform used in the invasion of Italy (Anzio)

Jacket, like the first example, would be olive green. The American army used canvas with brass buckles painted black. Thick canvas was cheaper and more durable than leather during the time of the campaign. 

The belt had a metal rings to fix the cartridge, the canteen, bags and bayonet scabbard.


Paratrooper, in this case, of the 82nd Division during the Normandy campaign (1944)

Use the characteristics as a paratrooper boots, special for diving, strongly tied with laces up the shin to protect the ankle while landing on the ground.

They were elite forces, they dropped behind enemy lines, charged with challenging missions, which had to resist until the arrival of the Allied forces (armored and infantry).

Among the paratroopers the usual place for the first aid kit was on the front of the helmet below the camouflage netting.


This uniform color, was used from 1942 and during the Normandy campaign, it became clear that it was not convenient for European forests and overnight subsequently it was replaced by the green uniform.


The Americans on D-Day also wore a camouflage uniform that was later abandoned to avoid confusion because they could be confused with the soldiers of the Waffen-SS who had a very similar uniform !!

This uniform was not very frequent, mainly used by the Corps in the Pacific, one very similar was used by snipers, or in some special missions camouflage consisted of five colors:.. Base color, khaki brown, dotted with brown and green spots, and two lighter shades of the same brown and green.


For these small scales, in my opinion the first three will be enough The helmet (M1) was usually covered by a net, avoiding reflected sunlight.

The tank crew, wore a fiber helmet with ventilation holes

Outside the tank for additional protection it was possible to use an M1 helmet.

Other features of the garments of the armored divisions was a lined jacket with front zipper.It was very popular with the troops and everyone wanted one a design still in style in both military and civil fashion!


This is the wool coat of the US Army.


With the arrival of winter, not everyone received the right clothes, so many had to improvise.

Before receiving white coats with a hoodfor camouflage in the snow, they took what they had at hand. Here are pieces of sheets. Additionally, some helmets and tanks, were painted white. When winter equipment was distributed, it also included some curious rubber soles (black) with an light edge to be placed on the outside boots the idea was to avoid direct contact with the frozen ground.


Turning to the figures, I refer to one that has a white layer This  sheet paper is divided into three parts. Two lower and one for the upper body.The paper I used is plain paper A4 sheets, and each piece was crumpled and rolled in hand to form a small ball, eliminating the stiffness of the paper.

After unrolling, the pieces have sides cut to size and placed and glued individually. With a small knife the paper is fixed in place. Finally to harden the paper it has been soaked in SuperGlue (cyanoacrylate).

The doctor uses a waterproof jacket (1945). On helmets with netting, instead of a cross painted, some used a piece of white cloth, with the red cross placed in front.


Pacific Uniform

Marines wore a shirt that was different from those of the other forces. It had only one chest pocket, unwrapped and placed to the left side, where the Marine Corps insignia was printed in black.



818  Red Leather
820  Off White
830  G. Fieldgrey WWII
845  Sunny Skin Tone.
874  Tan Earth
875  Beige Brown
886  Green Grey
893  US Dark Green
912  Tan Yellow
914  Green Ochre
922  Uniform Green
938  Transparent Blue
940  Saddle Brown
947  Dark Vermillion
950  Black
951  White
980  Black Green
982  Cavalry Brown
984  Flat Brown
988  Khaki
992  Neutral Grey

In this article I have tried to be as accurate as possible , both in the colors and descriptions of the drawings. That does not mean that there are no errors or other possible better options (in this case colors! ) And I am available to receive any correction and / or suggestions, mostly about colors.

  • Tropas Aerotransportadas de Ejército de EE.UU.1940-90.Gordon Rottman. Tropas de élite,17-Ediciones del Prado.1994
  • Desembarco aliado y ruptura del frente. Stepthen Badsey.Batallas de la Historia,1-Ediciones del Prado.1994
  • The US Army 1941-45.Philip Katcher, Chris Collingwood. Men-at-army Serie,70-Osprey Military.1998
  • US Paratrooper 1941-45. Carl Smith, Mike Chappel.Warrior,26-Osprey Military.2000
  • The US Army in World War II(I).The Pacific. Mark R Henry,Mike Chappel. Men at armS,342-Osprey Military.2000
  • Uniformes de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale. Peter Darman.-EDDL.1999
  • 2ªGuerra Mundial-Soldadinhos de chumbo.-RBA.Lusomundo-editores,Lda.1999
  • Modelismo Aplicado.-Graficas Reunidas,SA.1996 -Euromodelismo,109.-Accion Press.2001
Los dibujos han sido basados, principalmente, en información obtenida de estos libros y también en algunos catalogos (Italeri, Revell, Tamiya, Airfix) y revistas de Steel Masters.Antònio Santos,

© Antònio Santos, 05th-February-2002