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Painting 15mm Scale Miniatures  

By Anthony Karl Erdelji

When working on 15mm or smaller scale figure, speed is a priority along with quality. I'm making it assumption since in this scale there is not much detail on the figure, and if one wanted to paint lots of detail they would be working with larger scale figures. If you wish, you can paint theses little guys with the same techniques found in other articles found on this web page (Good luck paint in the eyes!). I'm not saying that we can be sloppy when paint 15mm figures, but there are certain steps that are not necessary when painting in this scale. Featured in this article are Peter Pig's 15mm World War II Russians.

Begin with removing any flash and mold lines from the miniatures and attach them the proper base for your game system using a liberal amount of cyanoacrylate (super) glue.  If you want a textured base, apply it now. If you want to flock the bases, just move onto the next step.

Attaching the figures to their game base make them easier to handle when painting. Using a healthy amount of cyanoacrylate glue helps to blend the base of the figure into metal base. Once their glue down use additional glue to hide any gaps if necessary.

Next is the primer. First prime the figures with black primer. Once it's dry apply a  coat of white primer. Hold the can perpendicular to the figures and spray just a haze on the tops of figures. 

Using both black and white primers give the best of both worlds. The black primer will hide and spots missed when painting, and the white primer is easier to cover when painting.

Paint in your base colors. For additional detail, you can also add some highlights by drybrushing the appropriate colors (no highlights on the example figure). If you use metallic paints at this stage spray the figures with a flat lacquer, like Testors Dullcote, before moving on to the next step.

In this step I used the following colors:

                     Clothes Testors Dark Earth with a touch of Raw Umber or Khaki added occasionally for variety 
                     Flesh I-Kore Tanned Flesh
                     Helmets Coat d'arms Dark Earth
                     Boots Coat d'arms Black + Testors Raw Umber
                     Gun (wooden parts) Testors Dirt
                     Gun (metal parts) Coat d'arms Dark Gray
                     Base Testors Dirt

I wanted the boots to be black, but using pure black on figures of this scale can look odd, so I mixed in a touch of Raw Umber. Also, I prefer not to use metallics on this scale of figure, so I used dark gray instead. Use whichever you prefer. If you go with metallics you'll need to spray the figures with a flat lacquer like Testors Dullcote before applying the wash in the next step, otherwise the flakes in the metallic paint will smear all over the figures!

The entire figure group and base gets a heavy wash of raw umber with a touch of black added. Make sure to cover everything, but don't let the wash pool. Once dry, the figures are protected with a coat of Testors Dullcote and static grass is attached with some thinned white glue.

Normally, I use a Testors Raw Umber wash at this stage, but my base colors were a bit on the dark side, so I added a touch of black to my wash. The raw umber (or dark brown if you prefer) is a universal wash that will work for any colors used on the figures, with the exception of colors darker than the wash itself, such as black. My normal Raw Umber wash didn't bring out all the detail I wanted on the figures, hence the need to add a small amount of black paint.

To make sure the wash dries properly, I use a 50%/50% mixture of water and Future Floor Polish as my thinning medium. Yes, the stuff you use on your floor. This breaks up the surface tension of the water and prevents the "wash ring" most of you are familiar with when using washes. If Future Floor Polish is not available in your area, you can get the same results by making your wash with a 50%/50% mixture of water and rubbing alcohol, or by adding a very tiny drop of liquid soap to your mix. Not too much, just a hint of soap is enough.

If your using flock to base your figure, attach it with some white glue before spray on your lacquer. The lacquer will help keep the flock on the base. If your using static grass, apply it after lacquering since the lacquer occasionally beads up on the grass. All done!



Small scale armor is even easier to paint than small scale figures. Most of the tank will be one color, unless you want camouflage, then your on your own! We'll be using most the painting principles learned above to paint the tank quickly, yet efficiently. Of course you should change the base and highlight colors to match the tank you are painting, but the rest of the colors listed should remain the unchanged. This is a Russian World War II tank by Battlefront.

The tank gets a coat of black primer. This is followed with Coat d'arms Dark Angel Green spray primer. Once dry the tank get a heavy basecoat of Coat d'arms Dark Earth, trying to leave the black primer in the deep recesses of the wheel wells.

Here we are trying once again to get the best out of two different primers. However, in the case of tanks we don't want to use white since it may splatter on areas that are hard to reach with a brush. Instead I used dark green since it was a close match for my dark earth basecoat and would be easier to paint over than black. An alternative and quicker way would be to use spray paint to apply your basecoat. If you go this route, just prime black, spray your basecoat, and move on to the next step.

The tank gets a wash of black with a touch of raw umber with my Future Floor Polish wash mixture. Once dry the tank get a heavy drybrush of Coat d'arms Olive using a soft, 1/2 inch flat brush.

The black and raw umber wash is obviously used to add some shading and pick out the details of the tank. The drybrush of olive is my first layer of highlighting. To be honest I slightly overdid the drybrushing at this stage and the tank came out more olive than my intended dark earth color! Oops! Ah well, Russian tanks in World War II varied greatly in color so it would be O.K. (Always rationalize your mistakes!)

A second and final drybrushing is done with olive with a touch of Coat d'arms Sun Yellow added. This is brushed lightly on the edges of the tank only. Don't mix is too much yellow unless you want a yellow tank! The tracks are painted with Coat d'arms Chainmail (a dark metallic) and the model get a coat of Testors Dullcote before moving onto the next step.

An alternative to adding yellow to the olive would be to add a small amount of white. This will give the tank a dull, cold look that you may prefer. Again, don't add too much. All of the colors listed so far should be changed depending on what your painting, but from this point on the colors listed will work for any color tank. As before, the Testors Dullcote is to prevent the metallic paint from running with the application of the wash in the next step.

The tracks of the tanks get a heavy wash of chestnut and brown ink with a touch of orange ink added for a good rusted look. The paint chips are painted by stippling on some Coat d'arms sliver on the lower portions of the tank.

 To stipple, take an older brush with just a touch of paint and stab it repeatedly onto the vehicle. It's similar to making a bunch of dots on a piece of paper with a pencil. Stippling is hard on the bristles of your brush, so be sure to use an old one. Keep the paint chips on the lower portions of the vehicle and don't overdo it. Be sure to keep them in areas one would expect to find chipped paint on a tank.

The entire tank get one or more washes of raw umber, concentrating most of it on the lower portions of the vehicle, like the wheel wells. A stippling of raw umber, and a stippling of Testors Dirt follow this.

This is the fun part where your imagination can run wild. Weathering is done with a series of raw umber washes, stippling of raw umber, and stippling of dirt. How much to do depends on how dirty you want your tank. You don't have to be clean or orderly at this stage, just go wild with your brush. Just remember that as dirt dries it lightens in color, so for the most part try to keep the lighter dirt color higher on the tank than the raw umber. During this stage I go back and forth between washes and stipplings until I'm happy with the results.

Unit markings or country insignias are painted in carefully with a 20/0 brush. Any small details are finished, like the machine gun on top, and the engine grills get a wash of black paint. The tank gets a final coat of Testors Dullcote and its finished.