Painting the legendary Razvedchiki 2/3: updated 2/11/11

Thanks to everyone for the feedback following the last piece on painting razvedki.  Mark has kindly come up with some cracking colour footage from the 1955 Czech classic ‘Tankova Brigada‘ which shows a khaki variant of 38 “amoeba pattern” camouflage (this could be Late- or Post-War though – we’re not sure.  Interesting nonetheless):


And, if all this wasn’t enough, here’s an excellent photo of a very good reproduction:

I’ve followed Braxen’s advice and lightened up my Khaki coveralls using Panzer Aces 321 Highlight British Tank Crew.  I like the effect:

I’ve also sourced some more photos of razvedchiki and the 38 camouflage pattern itself:

But I’m (nervously) skirting around the main challenge: painting the amoeba pattern itself.  A trawl of the 1/6th scale kit-bash forums reveals an interesting template to consider, but this pattern would have to be simplified at 1/100th:

What I’ve taken from this, though, is that less is more. Applying the amoeba pattern sparingly, often in opposite alternating positions on legs, arms, tunics, cuffs and collars seems to work well.

The less is more principle works well on the only other examples of well painted “amoeba pattern” camouflage I’ve found:

These 360 degree shots from Chevalier de la Terre’s ‘test pieces’ (if only I could paint to this standard!) are particularly useful:

Chevalier’s method here was to start with a central point from which lines were painted outward a short distance before building up a ball near the ends.  This was followed by a thickening up of the line leading back to the central point (thanks Chev!).

An alternative – but very similar method – is to paint a series of dots around a central point and then link them up with lines of varying thickness.

After trying both methods, I prefer the first as it lets you have more control of the shape of the pattern. With the lines painted, it’s relatively easy to add the blobs on the end and thicken up the ‘arms’.

How have I done in practice? Well, it’s certainly more difficult and time consuming than it looks and I’m not altogether happy with these 2 test pieces:

Here’s what I’ve learnt:

  • Use watered down paint, German Camo. Brown (150) and a fine 3/0 brush helps with the blobs.  Be aware that – on a 3-dimensional surface – if your paint is diluted alot it will run in to the folds if you load your brush too heavily. Try a 1:1 mix of water to paint to start with.
  • Keep your pattern simple first, a curled  ‘X’ or ‘Y’ works nicely. You can always work up to more complicated shapes as your confidence grows.
  • The trick is smooth and consistent arcs of colour. Don’t be afraid to touch up any rough or jagged edges.
  • Keep your base colours pure, i.e. one particular manufacturer’s colour.  You don’t want to waste time trying to match that unique mix you created 2 weeks ago when touching up your errors.
  • Keep a firmer larger brush dampened (but not soaked) in water ready to easily erase any mistakes.
  • Don’t go overboard on the amoebas.  Less is most certainly more at this scale as you can probably see from some of my more outrageous examples! 🙂
  • Don’t fuss (too much).  I’ve got 19 of these chaps to paint.  En masse and at 3ft. away, I’m sure they’ll look better.
As you can see, they’re still looking a little flat.  Shading complicated camo can be tricky. I’m going to use Army Painter Soft Tone rather than my usual Strong Tone.  As you can see, it does give a sense of depth without obscuring the pattern of the camouflage:
Perhaps 2 coats?  As always all constructive feedback welcome…
Oh well, they all need more work and it’s nearly tea time.  Perhaps I’ll scrape 3 entries out of this project rather than the anticipated 2!  🙂

19 Responses to “Painting the legendary Razvedchiki 2/3: updated 2/11/11

  • Hope you liked the film. The burning schwimwagon always gets me.
    Haven’t used the army painter tones myself but quite impressed. Maybe some selective lining in with a sepia ink may complement it? Something I’ll have to try on my 6thAirborne troops. Is that why they are glossy? And did you dunk or brush?

    • I did, thanks.

      Agreed, was thinking of trying some Devlin Mud or, like I did with my FJ, running Strong Tone over the heads and guns, etc.

      The Tones always leaves them glossy, you have to dull-cote to remove. But it leaves a good subtle tone and an additional lay of varnish.

      Perversely, I quite like the gloss finish…

  • I think your scouts/sappers are very good. I will probably use your findings and trials to paint mine
    Amobea camo (I have tried already) is very tough at this scale as if you don’t have enough contrast between the two colors it will not look like anything.

    If I had your figures in hand, instead of adding more army painter, I’d highlight the light parts. But you really need to try to see if it works.

    As for Chevalier’s figures, his painting is most elegant and super clean. I wish I could paint in this style. However, there is not enough contrast to my taste betwen his green and the darker spots.

    Last, if you wish to use thin paint, have you considered using… thinner? I can’t paint with it anymore, my painting made a 20% jumps when I discovered this medium.

    Always following with attention your blog! 🙂

    • Thanks Braxen, that’s very encouraging.
      I like your idea about more hlighlights rather than low lights. The dark brown works really well on the green, but seems flat on the khaki. I’d considered highlighting with a chocolate colour, will let you know how it turns out.

      Thinner is a good suggestion. What thinner do you use with Vallejo paints and what are the key differences you’ve experienced between thinner and water?


      • I use Vallejo’s… thinner. While I almost never come to the end of any of my paints, I have already used up my third bottle of thinner!

        It makes the paint a lot more fluid and… thin while retaining the coverage capacity of the paint to a very good extent.

        Thinning with water decrease paint retention. All my miniatures are now painted with at least two drops of thinner. Honestly it is a very good investment -at USD 2.8 a bottle- that I can’t recommend enough. It does increase the “fluency” in painting for a lack of better explanation.

        • Very useful, thanks. I’ve tended to only use thinners for air brushing so will give it a whirl when highlighting. Thanks for the useful feedback!

  • Your progress looks excellent Justin!

    After doing a few I was going to switch browns, perhaps using P3 Umbral Umber or Scorched Brown/VGC Charred Brown for the amoebas and either highlighting them very subtly, or using it as the highlight over a darker brown (VMC GC Black Brown, etc). Never got there in practice. I agree with Braxen that there was not enough contrast between the amoebas and green uniform, in particular the brown is too “flat” which lessens the contrast.

    I look forward to your progress.


    • Thanks Rex, much appreciated. I’ll experiment with adding a lighter brown to both uniforms. Do you think I should paint directly over the gloss varnish or matt it down with dull-cote first?

    • Well I have to admit, shading with a lighter chocolate borwn has done the trick and thinning is certainlt the way forward. Colours are so much more vibrant. Will post photos soon. Thanks chaps, much apprecaited.

  • Great progress. Thanks for posting.

    Have you thought about giving it a VERY light drybrush of your base colour over the camo. I will give it a bit more of a worn look and break it up a bit. I do it all the time with my 15mm FJ.

    • That’s a very interesting suggestion b-g, do you have any photos of the final effect on your FJ you’d be willing to share? 🙂

  • Thought I’d share a couple of images I located.

    In response to Justin’s imminent deployment of these bad boys, I’ve decided to assemble my own scout platoon as quickly as possible, which in Breakout Normandy equates to two sections of grenadiers with assault rifles (+3 firepower)


  • “no dear your backside doesn’t look big in that…now please put the gun down”

  • Hey Justin, crac’s figures are awesome as always, but yours are looking good. I haven’t used water as a thinner for a long time i always go with the vallejo thinner, it manages to keep a high pigment content rather than the inevitable part of thinning with water (not only changing the density of the paint but also the colour).

    • Thinner it will be then, that seems to be the ground swell of opinion. No more water for me 🙂

  • Anybody got any views on using tamiya acrylic thinners with vallejo paints?

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