Painting Freehand

Hello again everyone - what's this, two posts in two days?!  Something must be up!  Well, those of you following the progress of the Army of Freedom only have a few days left before their unveiling at the close of WW2 Month here at Palladian Guard - hopefully they'll be posted in the middle of next week.

But before that, I wanted to take a quick look at freehand painting.  For me, this is divided into two parts.  Large-scale freehand is normally what you see on Golden Daemon-winning 40K miniatures.  Enormous eagles or angels painted onto the back of a Land Raider in exquisite detail.  If this is the sort of thing you want, Ron over at FTW has some breathtaking minis and good tutorials for beginners.

But what I'm talking about today is more for small-scale, historical stuff.  Badges, insignia, pips, medals, flashes ... that sort of thing.  So, how do you do it?

The late-war Latvian
Legion patch

    Perhaps my favourite part.  Headologist knows my passion for WW2 research all too well - he was even foolish enough to ask a question about German epaulettes a few days ago and get a deluge of texts and diagrams drawn on MS Paint in reply ...

    For this, I'm going to be concentrating on my Latvian Legion, and the US Airborne from the Army of Freedom.  What sort of badges will I need?  My first step is the books.  I have an Osprey series which covers every one of the 38 SS Divisions in WW2.  For the 15th Latvian, I needed Book 3 in the series, and I looked at the badges section.  There are three different badges to replicate:
    • The 'Eagle' badge worn by all SS and Waffen-Divisions, on the left arm.
    • The 'Latvija' national arm badge, worn either on the upper right (pre-1943) or lower left sleeve.
    • The 'SS' runes on the right side of the steel helmet.
    The famous 82nd
    Airborne Divisional
    For the US Airborne, things are a little simpler and because of programmes like Band of Brothers, it's quite easy to get the information.  Most of this came from a Google search, but the US would only need:
    • The US Flag on the right arm (with stars facing forward, hence the 'back to front' look)
    • Divisional patch on the left arm - in this case, the 82nd Airborne.

    The key part of painting freehand with models this size is appreciating your level of skill, and approximating the design to something you're capable of achieving.  I had to make quite a few concessions to accuracy so that I could paint these on - I used an ordinary Citadel Fine Detail brush.  It's key to make sure you still highlight and shade - for example the red is Scab Red then Blood Red - this makes the badge look organic and part of the uniform, rather than just 'painted on' or like a decal.  I know it is painted on, but it shouldn't look it ...  I'm using some of Warlord Games' miniatures for these tests.

    Early-pattern armshield, worn on the right arm
    Bit blurry, but you can just make out the eagle on his other arm.
    The second model has the late-war patch on the lower
    left arm, as well as the SS runes on the helmet
    A top view shows the shoulder straps
    And the finished models
    My approximation of the
    82nd Airborne patch
    My best shot at a US flag - not quite 13 stripes
    and not even attempting the right number
    of stars - but looks good from a distance.
    The finished models.
    Some insignia - that's a British major's crown - in fact just a
    liquid Green Stuff dot painted black and then white
    I'm fairly chuffed with those - my freehand painting usually ends in disaster, so I was pleased that these look okay from a distance.  Let me know your thoughts on this, and weather or not you've had any sucess yourself.  Again, thanks for reading, and be sure to tune in next week for the finished Army of Freedom!

    The Colonel


    1. Superb stuff as ever, they turned out fantastically. The research is my favourite part too, but I defer to you on matters WW2 and Germans in particular lol

    2. All looking very nice. I've only painted US flags freehand at 28mm and they are a nightmare. I couldn't imagine doing one so small. Well done that man!

    3. Nice work, on WW2 Germans I usually put on epaulettes and helmet markings, but not to the level of detail you do! Maybe I'll put more effort in on my next batch.

    4. Wow, very effective stuff. Once again making me reconsider whether I should add more detail to my Guard.... Darn you. :)

    5. These are great, I don't know if it would be appropriate for your setting, but I would love to see a campaign armband. Maybe something like "Bbritannien", it starts with an eszett, but that looks like a capital "B".

    6. Thanks a lot guys, appreciate all your comments:

      @Headologist: Only too happy to help ;)

      @Mad Padre: They are - I did them with great difficulty but breaking them down into their obvious steps helps. Although I can't think of a country with a more complicated flag. Why couldn't I have picked some airborne from Muscat? That would have been easier to paint.

      @Vladdd: Cheers, I usually don't even do the helmet markings, but since I only have one platoon of these guys I was inspired to try it out. I'll look forward to seeing yours!

      @Dai: Haha, don't worry I'm looking at my ranks of 60 Guardsmen too and thinking I should go back and add more detail ...

      @Chris: Hmmm... you know what, that's not a bad idea. I've been very thoroughly sticking to history for this but there's no reason that I can't invent some bits for the campaign. I'm thinking either a commemorative cuff title (like the ones for Crete or North Africa), or an armshield (like Crimea). Watch this space!

    7. Those look great man! I'm always hesitant to do the little freehand insignia like that, but you make some excellent points - focusing on the 'feel' of the insignia at arms length makes a lot of sense. Keep up the great work!

      1. Thanks, Mordian - yes I struggle to get the detail but as you can see from the overall pics I don't think it matters too much, particularly on a bunch of 20 models in a platoon.


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