How to build and paint barbed wire entanglements

Aaron completes his triumphant trilogy by writing-up his approach to barbed wire entanglements.

How to paint and enhance Jame’s Resins Barbed Wire Entanglements for an European / Eastern Front battlefield.

My aim in this tutorial is to give you an idea of how you can paint your own barbed wire entanglements to suit your individual needs.  All the paints I have used in this article are from the Vallejo range.


There is very little you need to do to prep the model as it already comes ready to paint. However, you may want to re-model parts of it to make it unique to your battlefield, for example adding casualties, extra gravel/rocks, Steve McQueen 🙂 etc.

Painting the base.

I like to basecoat all of my models white instead of the more common practice of spraying them black. I do this because I think it makes the colours stand out better. As usual, I recommend spraying the basecoat on the model as apposed to painting it on as you get a more even finished surface to paint on. I basecoat the whole model with an airbrush using ‘White Primer 74600’.

Next I airbrush the whole base with ‘Model Air Khaki Brown 024’. There is no reason you could not brush paint it on, I just find its quicker and leaves a better finished surface when painting in large batches.

When the brown mud layer is dry I dry brush the whole base with ‘German Camo Beige 821’ and then dry brush the rocks/stones/gravel/craters with ‘Ivory 918’.

For the brass rod pickets, I paint them in ‘Gunmetal Grey 863’ and then paint over the top of them with ‘Model Air Metallic Rust 069’. When finished, this gives a weathered appearance and makes it look like the model has been in place for some time.

First coat of varnish

Now the model has had its coat of paint and, using an old brush, I give it a good coat of ‘Army Painter Strong Tone varnish’ pickets and all. Not only does this give it a protective covering, but the pigment in the varnish settles into all the nooks and crannys. Just watch out for the varnish pooling.

Grassing the base.

When 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 varnish. I paint all the areas of the model I want to cover with static grass with PVA glue, leaving the odd area of the mud and craters untouched. I then stick on clumps of ‘Mininatur 727-31s’ grass tufts.

Using a puffer bottle, I apply a thick layer of ‘Jarvis Static Grass Spring mix JHG1’ on to the glued area. When I’m happy I leave it to dry, normally over night to be on the safe side.

After it’s dry, I use a 2inch house painting brush to brush off the excess static grass and it’s ready for the barbed wire.

Barbed wire

I generally buy the barbed wire from various E-bay sellers as and when I need it. For the foot traps (centred criss-cross section), I cut a length of about 77cm. For the barbed wire coils, I cut a length of about 100cm for each of them.

I then tightly rap the 100cm wire around a round object (in my case a craft knife handle) and stretch each one out to the desired coiled length of the entanglement model.

To paint it I use my airbrush with ‘Model Air Metallic Rust 069’ to match the pickets.

When dry, I wrap one end of the 77cm ‘foot trap’ barbed wire around a picket and keeping the wire tight, loop it around the next picket in a zig-zag pattern until finished.

Taking a small file I run it along the top of the barbed wire foot traps to take the rust paint off. I find this gives a nice sem- rusted feel to the piece and gives it more depth.

Attaching the wire coils is a bit more fiddly and a very time consuming part to this model. Starting at one end and using thin wire loops, attach the wire coil to a picket post.

Twist the thin wire loop until tight. Cut off the excess thin wire loop to suit and tuck it into the model to hide its appearance.

After the first thin wire loop is positioned and to make the wire coils stronger (and prevent them from being pulled out of shape) I run a length of thin wire along the inside of each wire coil wrapping it around every picket it passes and effectively anchoring the wire coil into place. This makes it easier to position the remaining thin wire loops and will prevent any major pulls to the wire coils which will be extremely difficult to repair after the model is finished. Continue securing the wire coils to the pickets with the thin wire loops along the rest of the model until you have the desired effect.

Touch up any exposed wire (thin wire loops, thin wire inside the coils or scratched picket posts) with the Rust paint to match the rest of the model. Then take a small file and run it along the top of the barbed wire coils to take the exposed rust paint off.

For any barbed wire crossing a crater, I generally cut the wire short and turn it over on its self several times to give the effect that an artillery shell has broken the wire and pushed it back with the force of the explosion.

Final varnish

For the final varnish, I give the whole model a couple of coats of ‘Matt Varnish 520’.  After the varnish has dried, normally 30-60 mins, the model is finished.

Finished piece

Now your piece is fully finished and just waiting for some daft soldiers to try and cross them!!

That’s Aaron’s last piece on painting and modelling his range of resin scenery.  You may be interested to know that Aaron is now selling painted and flocked items on ebay – go check them out – could save you alot of time…

5 Responses to “How to build and paint barbed wire entanglements

  • Any clues on the barbed wire, cos all I’ve seen is 1:35th stuff on ebay, which I guess is too big?

  • The 1/35th scale barbed wire maybe “technically” out of scale, but to get any higher (i.e. 1/100th scale) will only make the wire to weak to hold its shape with general use. You have to balance up “technically correct scale” for “barbed wire that is capable of holding its shape” and then you can spend more time playing with your model, rather than reshaping the squashed barbed wire coils.

  • Hmmm no MD updates? Are they:
    Busy writing up an aar for some 4000 pts a side extravaganza? Or, cos the suns come out, they’re all down the seaside building beach fortifications with their buckets and spades?

    • Heh – something like that! It’s been my wedding anniversary this weekend so the wife and I had a weekend away. Chris has been working on a different project. I’m on leave towards the end of this week so, hopefully, I’ll be able to get some time for painting. What have you been up to?

    • Oh – and Mass Effect 3 was released…. 🙂

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