Model Dads takes a trip to Normandy to take a look at Battlefront Miniatures’ 15mm bocage sections:
Please forgive my inability to say ‘sections’ and ‘contrast’, I don’t have a speech impediment – honest!
A couple of weeks ago we reviewed James’ Resins range of bocage. Well, Aaron has kindly written a clear and concise tutorial to take you through the painting process step-by-step. Enjoy :)
How to paint and enhance James’ Resins Bocage
My aim in this tutorial is to give you an idea of how you can paint your own bocage to suit your individual needs. Everything you read below is just my personal opinion/choice on how I achieve a finished product suitable for my FOW battlefields. All the paints I use in this article are Vallejo.
There is very little you need to do to prep the model as it comes ready to paint. However, you may want to model parts of it to make it unique to your battlefield, e.g. different tank tracks, breaches in the bocage etc.
I personally like to adapt my bocage to have removable trees as this removes any transportation or storage issues. To achieve this, I drill a few 3.2mm holes about two thirds of the depth into the tops of my pieces using a pillar drill on a slow speed. If you drill on a slow speed, the Jesomite resin will suffer minimal, if any, damage. Make sure you don’t break through the bottom or the glue will flood out in the next step.
I then cut up several 2cm (approximate) lengths of 1/8inch wide hollow plastic tube (made by Evergreen Scale Models).
Put some super glue into the previously drilled holes and insert a 2cm piece of the hollow plastic tubing. These will be used as trunks for the portable trees (see below).
Painting the base
I like to basecoat all of my models White instead of the more common practice of spraying them Black. I only do this because I think it makes the colours stand out better. I recommend spraying the basecoat on the model as apposed to painting it on as you get a more even surface to paint on. I basecoat the whole model with an airbrush (using ‘White Primer 74600’) instead of a spray can because:
Next I airbrush the stone walls with ‘Surface Primer Grey 74601’. There is no reason you couldn’t brush paint it on, I just find it’s quicker and leaves a better surface finish when painting in large batches.
When the grey layer is dry I like to dry brush the walled section with ‘Ivory 918’. I then paint all the mud with ‘US Field Drab 873’ (so it matches the rest of my army’s bases) & dry brush with ‘German Camo Beige 821’. The dry brushing really makes the tank tracks stand out.
I then pick out any of the wood/timber in the model (gate posts, broken gates and tree trunks) with ‘Beige Brown 875’ and a dry brush of‘German Camo Beige 821’. Make sure you don’t get too carried away with dry brushing the wood/timber or it will start to blend in too much with the bocage.
First coat of varnish
Now the model has had its coat of paint I use an old brush to give a good covering of Army Painter’s ‘Strong Tone’ varnish. Not only does this give it a protective covering, but the pigment in the varnish settles into all the nooks and crannys. This gives a really good depth of shading, especially in the hollows of the walls and the tank tracks. Just watch out for the varnish pooling from being too liberal with the paint brush. The only down sides to this step is it can take up to 24hrs to dry and leaves the model with a very shiny gloss finish.
Grassing the base
Now the varnish is dry you can flock the base. This is also a good opportunity to cover over any painting errors or dark pooling of the varnish. I paint all the areas of the model I want to cover with static grass with PVA white glue, leaving the odd area of the mud untouched.
Using a puffer bottle, I apply a thick layer of Jarvis’ Static Grass Spring mix JHG1’ over the glued area. When I’m happy, I leave it to dry over night just to be on the safe side.
After it’s dry, I use a 2inch house painting brush to brush off any excess grass and it’s ready for the hedgerow on top. From personal experience, make sure that you have a tray (or something similar) under the model for anything involving static grass as you can easily collect the excess for re-use. It also stops the wife moaning about having green patches of static grass appearing in the living room carpet!!
Apply a good coating of ‘Hobby-tack/tac-e-glue/sticky bond’ to the top of the wall that you want to apply your hedgerow/foliage to making sure not to cover over the tree stumps. Wait for the glue to almost go see through as it’s at its most tacky then.
This glue is different to normal glue in that it always remains tacky. This is important as the more you play with the piece, the more of the hedgerow foliage comes off. With the tacky glue you can just re-attach it straight away and it will stick back in to place without a problem.
For the hedgerow foliage I like to use Woodland Scenics’ ‘Clump Foliage’ in Dark Green (FC684), Medium Green (FC683) & Light Green (FC682) as this gives a really good range of different colours. Break it up into irregular shapes & sizes and push it on to the glue filling up the gaps with the various colours and sizes.
I generally buy pre-made trees from various sellers on E-bay. What I do is cut off the plastic base about 1cm from the bottom & drill in a 1.2mm hole up the centre of the tree.
I then superglue in a 1.2mm thick piece of brass rod leaving about 1.5cm of brass rod hanging out of the bottom of the tree. File the end round to get rid of any jagged edges. Now you can pop it in the previously made (and painted) tree trunks on the top of the model. Remove the tree when happy.
For the final varnish, I like to use my airbrush and give the whole model a couple of coats of ‘Matt Varnish 520’. From bitter experience, if you ‘over spray’ with spray can varnish it can leave the model with a frosted/whitened look to it ruining the finished article.Vallejo varnish is much more forgiving if you get carried away and does not leave a nasty smell in its wake. After the varnish has dried, normally 30-60 mins, the model is finished.
Now your piece is fully finished and just waiting to be placed on the battlefield. Get some brass rodded trees put in to it and watch the fun unfold as some daft tanks get bogged down trying to cross them or just sit your tank there in ambush and hit the enemy at close quarters!!
Excellent, very useful stuff, thanks Aaron. Glad to hear that I’m not the only one to receive disapproving looks from Her Indoors over errant clump, flock and grass!
Keep your eyes peel for subsequent tutorials on barbed wire entanglements and minefields.
We both agreed a good old fashioned all infantry shootout would be a great end to a busy week at work, so we opted for a low point Infantry Aces game. After much scratching of heads, we worked out that Infantry Aces only really works if one is able to stitch together several games in the same evening. Now, this is entirely possible for any normal gamer, and indeed the guidelines for Infantry Aces indicate a game should be possible within an hour.
This made us chuckle, because, as regular readers might be aware, Model Dads generally tend to proceed at a pace that make leisurely seem fast. We undertook the requisite form filling, and after a brief look at at each others army list, we got stuck in.
Battlefront’s notes in Cassino gives some excellent tips on the merits of terrain placement and these were studiously applied in an attempt render a playable and realistic battlefield based in Normandy, June 1944.
Justin supplied the beers which Chris did his best to try and finish.